Christian Benimana, the programmes manager of MASS Design Group in Rwanda, joined MASS in 2010 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) of Tongji University in Shanghai, China (2008). He has been involved with design/build projects, development initiatives, operational and administration leadership at MASS, as well as teaching at the architecture school of the former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). He is currently the chairman of both the Education Board of the Rwanda Institute of Architects and the Education Board of the East African Institute of Architects.
Benimana was a designer on the Rwinkwavu NICU/OR project, project manager for the construction administration of the Maternity Waiting Village project in Malawi. In addition, he has worked on the Liberia Health Infrastructure Standards and Guidelines for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and a master plan for the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Lambarene, Gabon. He is currently leading the implementation of the African Design Centre, a project based apprenticeship that is set to be the BAUHAUS of Africa. He is particularly interested in the innovative use of materials and technologies for sustainable designs.
Zoé Bezpalko, is a designer, environmental engineer and globe trotter who strongly believes in the smart use of technologies and design as the key for solving global issues. She started her career as an environmental engineer in France and Colombia before managing a project with designers in South East Asia, on sustainable innovation. This project led her to uncover a new interest in design and its potential impact on the world. She moved to San Francisco in Summer 2014 to start an MBA in Design Strategy at CCA. She now combines her competences and passions within her role at the Autodesk Foundation – the first foundation to focus corporate philanthropy on design that addresses environmental, social, health, and education challenges. As the Design + Impact Lead, she is helping influential customers and organizations using tools and technologies to maximize their impact.
Dr. Sophi Martin is the Innovation Director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. She develops and executes scaling strategies for technologies coming out of the Blum Center ecosystem, working with faculty and students to grow their impact. She also supports social innovators across the campus and Blum Center network in the Big Ideas contest and Social Innovator OnRamp curriculum. She contributes to the strategy and implementation of Blum Center growth, DIL, and the Development Engineering Designated Emphasis. From 2010 to 2014, Sophi worked for the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in corporate relations and research administration. Sophi holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering and a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Berkeley.
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