Innovator | Mobilizer | Head of Innovation at Camera Culture Group, MIT Media Lab
John is the Head of Innovation & New Ventures at the Camera Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab. He is an innovator, mobilizer, and human super connector. He constantly builds community and is a ‘moonshot’ thinker innovating as he goes while incorporating the latest technologies. He believes wholeheartedly in 21st century collaborative creativity in innovating with direct human or environmental impact. There he supports developments on new imaging platforms, and developing hardware and software technologies to augment human vision. He is also developing a large-scale online learning platform, called REDX (Rethinking Engineering Design Execution) bringing young people together from around the world, currently in three cities in India (Mumbai, Hyderbad & Nashik), to solve some of the planet’s most important problems. He does this through rapid prototyping and helping to foster an environment of entrepreneurship to take ideas into the real world for impact. He has been a co-instructor of MIT's Computational Photography and Imaging, Fabrication and Ventures, and for MIT's Engineering the Medical Tricorder.
John was on of the founders, a 19 year veteran of Citizen Schools, an education initiative that is now in 8 U.S. states, has 500 staff, and a 32 million dollar operating budget. John held titles of Chief Mobilizing Officer establishing the organization from a concept paper in 1995. He helped to redefine how learning happens across the US using business collaborations and after school programming. John is active in the TED community having attended 10 events and speaking at 10+.
He was an Executive Curator of TEDxBoston, and introduced the Adventure concept to the TED organization. Adventures, where participants go behind the scenes at the most innovative labs, venues, and pivotal places to learn and invent together, generate transformative collaboration and nourish lifelong learning. He since programmed some 150 Adventures for over 10,000 people and hosted and trained over 300 Adventure Catalysts (TEDx Organizers) from 82 counties and all 50 US States to put Adventures into practice worldwide. In 2012 John founded Ideas in Action and established an unprecedented conference 260 innovators on stage whose talks have been viewed by 20 million+ times.
John is a graduate of Hamilton College, and worked as a teacher in Boston Public Schools and principal for several years. He later went on to receive Harvard University’s Loeb Fellowship in 2008. John’s accolades include being recognized by BostonInno’s “50 on Fire” in 2014, finalist 2013, named Top 10 Education Troublemakers – Deconstructing Education Brick by Brick by Business Innovation Factory 2011, and he was named one of Boston’s Ten Outstanding Young Leaders in 2006. John served on the Massachusetts Governor’s Readiness Project, the Lt. Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, WGBH Community Advisory Board, and the boards of many Boston education and youth organizations, including past and current President of the Boston Hamilton Alumni Society. He was a Connector at Boston World Partnerships, member of LeadBoston and City to City Leadership Exchange, one of ten Harvard University Loeb Fellows, and was featured in the E100 Network of ENTOVATION International Ltd.
John is an active photographer (www.johnwernerphotography.com - 9 million views to date), a Getty photographer, and his work has been used by TED.com, MIT Media Lab and the White House.
John loves loves racing triathlons and qualified and raced at the 70.3 Ironman World Championships 4x. John is a 2x USTA All-American. John earned a spot on Team USA for the 2013 ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships (top 6% of the nationals (96 of 1400/12th in his age group).
John also loves coaching for Brookline Youth Lacrosse (7 years now), commuting by bicycle 365 days a year, and spending time with his wife Erika Alvarez Werner and their three children.