ELIA Life Technology PBC is a company founded on the belief that positive change is not only possible,
but inevitable.
Andrew Chepaitis, ELIA President/CEO

ELIA Life Technology PBC

We are a public benefit company based in Brooklyn, New York. We measure our success on our ability to effect positive change in the rates of Education, Employment, Literacy and Independence of All* people who are blind or have a visual impairment. Those goals are both societal and economic. They may require patience and perseverance over the course of decades. Or we may be at a tipping point. Regardless, our stakeholders are an atypical group of people and institutions that share our long-term goals, and help us achieve our short and medium term successes. 

Our work is informed by research data, with an aim towards understanding, and adding to, the critical data from the field of visual impairment. We are constantly asking questions - “How can we make tactile learning and reading more intuitive? What are the core problems and their dynamics? What are the daily needs of people who have a visual impairment and what technology could help tackle each one of those needs? What mainstream technology can be re-investigated and applied to our field to bring about positive change? What new technology could help us leapfrog over inefficient, older technology? What current tools in the toolbox would be more useful, except for the lack of complementary technology?”  More generally we ask “What is the scaffolding of products and services that are needed to reach a tipping point of a core societal challenge?” And we ask social science research questions -  “Once a new platform technology is available, what other resources would make it more useful?” We are of the belief that there must be a better way to approach the challenges.

We also believe that there is an economic opportunity to do well while doing good. Our shareholders have invested their faith and capital in both our mission and our ability to return capital to them at an attractive rate. We intent to surpass their expectations in both regards, while surpassing the expectations of our customers. It is not helpful to be shy about our intentions, so we have stated them here. Our Public Benefit Company (PBC) statement regarding our operating principles can be found here. 

We welcome all collaboration from individuals, corporations, educators and not-for-profits to achieve the shared goals.

A description of the ELIA Team's ongoing research can be found here.

*The name ELIA is derived from our mission - to bring greater Education & Employment, Literacy and Independence to All people who have a visual impairment.

The ELIA Idea Team

The ELIA Idea team is a dedicated group of creative designers, engineers, rehabilitation professionals, operations professionals, researchers, and investors. We collaborate across all disciplines. Each of the members of our team have worked for large organizations, where they learned best practices in their profession. They joined The ELIA Idea for the shared purpose, to do work that is meaningful, and with the belief that at this unique point in time, they can make a difference in the lives of perhaps millions of people.

Andrew Chepaitis
President & CEO

Andrew started the company with the belief that modern technology could be integrated in novel, intuitive ways to benefit people who are blind or have a visual impairment.   

He leads the company’s operations, including product development, grant writing, product support, and stakeholder outreach efforts. Under his leadership, the company has attracted and leveraged roughly $450,000 in investors financing to win $2.5 million in SBIR product development grants, and to launch the company’s current suite of products. He has served on the national alumni boards of Lehigh University and the Hopkins School (New Haven, CT). He was recently given Lehigh’s second highest alumni award. He has served the National Institutes of Health as a grant reviewer. He is the author of four patents. He holds an international business degree from Lehigh University, and an MBA from the University of New Haven. He is a former equity research analyst (Credit Lyonnais USA) and lacrosse coach (Hopkins School (1991) and Yale University (1992)). In his free time, he chases his three children (ages 4, 4, and 6) around.

Reed DeWinter Industrial Designer / Grant Management Reed works with the engineering team to ensure the usability of products. He liaisons with engineering and management to ensure a linear and efficient project workflow is maintained.  He is a key member of the grant development team. He has helped lead a broad scope of design programs, from orthopedic instrumentation for Stryker Orthopedics, to consumer electronics and branding for MTV, and event design and planning at Nike. His professional focus is on incorporating user friendly, ergonomic features and styling details, while maintaining functional, manufacturing, and cost requirements for projects. He has also performed market research, including focus groups and cognitive mapping, to help develop successful products for medical companies such as Unilever, Chrysalis, Becton Dickinson, and Philips. He is the author of two patents.  He has a BS from the University of Cincinnati’s Industrial Design program.  

Reed DeWinter
Industrial Designer / Grant Management

Reed works with the engineering team to ensure the usability of products. He liaisons with engineering and management to ensure a linear and efficient project workflow is maintained.  He is a key member of the grant development team. He has helped lead a broad scope of design programs, from orthopedic instrumentation for Stryker Orthopedics, to consumer electronics and branding for MTV, and event design and planning at Nike. His professional focus is on incorporating user friendly, ergonomic features and styling details, while maintaining functional, manufacturing, and cost requirements for projects. He has also performed market research, including focus groups and cognitive mapping, to help develop successful products for medical companies such as Unilever, Chrysalis, Becton Dickinson, and Philips. He is the author of two patents.  He has a BS from the University of Cincinnati’s Industrial Design program.

 

Steven Getz Lead / Electrical Engineer Steve is the company’s senior electrical engineer. He has an extensive background in electrical, software and systems engineering, physical electronics, electromagnetics, and computer hardware and software design. Prior to working on the engineering team, he was the Director of Technology Assessment for Animas Corporation, a venture capital funded company. He led the company’s efforts from its initial start-up phase to its current development team size of 35 employees. He has also worked for GE, PolyPharm Corp., Safegate Airport Systems, and Surgical Laser Technologies. He holds an electrical engineering degree from Drexel University and a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, Steve specialized in digital signal processing and neural networks, fiber optics and computer hardware development. He is experienced in evaluating and integrating electronic components, as well as developing software applications for hardware devices.

Steven Getz
Lead / Electrical Engineer

Steve is the company’s senior electrical engineer. He has an extensive background in electrical, software and systems engineering, physical electronics, electromagnetics, and computer hardware and software design. Prior to working on the engineering team, he was the Director of Technology Assessment for Animas Corporation, a venture capital funded company. He led the company’s efforts from its initial start-up phase to its current development team size of 35 employees. He has also worked for GE, PolyPharm Corp., Safegate Airport Systems, and Surgical Laser Technologies. He holds an electrical engineering degree from Drexel University and a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, Steve specialized in digital signal processing and neural networks, fiber optics and computer hardware development. He is experienced in evaluating and integrating electronic components, as well as developing software applications for hardware devices.

Byron Johnson Research & Operations Byron manages basic and applied research efforts for ELIA Life. He also helps to lead general operations. He has a comprehensive understanding of research design, data analysis, logistics, and organizational leadership. This expertise is applied to ELIA Life’s pilot programs, marketing, product evaluations, Kickstarter preparations and execution, and community building efforts. Byron holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from St. John’s University and a Master’s in Behavioral Neuroscience from Queens College (CUNY). By the time he completed his graduate studies, Byron was lead research assistant in a visual psychophysics lab and an adjunct lecturer for a statistics laboratory. Byron graduated from St. John’s as a McNair Scholar.     

Byron Johnson
Research & Operations

Byron manages basic and applied research efforts for ELIA Life. He also helps to lead general operations. He has a comprehensive understanding of research design, data analysis, logistics, and organizational leadership. This expertise is applied to ELIA Life’s pilot programs, marketing, product evaluations, Kickstarter preparations and execution, and community building efforts. Byron holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from St. John’s University and a Master’s in Behavioral Neuroscience from Queens College (CUNY). By the time he completed his graduate studies, Byron was lead research assistant in a visual psychophysics lab and an adjunct lecturer for a statistics laboratory. Byron graduated from St. John’s as a McNair Scholar. 

 

 

Dan Periard Systems Engineer Dan serves as the senior systems engineer for the product development team. He brings a keen understanding of the integration of mechanical and electrical engineering components into a cohesive system. Dan has led the development of a number of products that are growing in use by the military, including digital video systems and handheld ballistic computers. Previously, he worked at Lockheed Martin on several projects that involved a close interaction with end users to develop the system requirements and design. While a graduate student at Cornell University, working with Prof. Hod Lipson Ph.D. and Evan Malone Ph.D., he was awarded a 2007 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics for Innovation for their of 3-D printer system integration design that was known as the Fab@Home. Dan holds an aerospace engineering degree from Clarkson University and a Master’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. He lives in Akron, OH with his wife and three daughters.

Dan Periard
Systems Engineer

Dan serves as the senior systems engineer for the product development team. He brings a keen understanding of the integration of mechanical and electrical engineering components into a cohesive system. Dan has led the development of a number of products that are growing in use by the military, including digital video systems and handheld ballistic computers. Previously, he worked at Lockheed Martin on several projects that involved a close interaction with end users to develop the system requirements and design. While a graduate student at Cornell University, working with Prof. Hod Lipson Ph.D. and Evan Malone Ph.D., he was awarded a 2007 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics for Innovation for their of 3-D printer system integration design that was known as the Fab@Home. Dan holds an aerospace engineering degree from Clarkson University and a Master’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. He lives in Akron, OH with his wife and three daughters.

Claire Periard Social Media & Project Management Claire is leading the social media effort for ELIA.  She graduated from Clarkson University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Architecture. Claire has held several positions designing commercial and industrial buildings. More recently she acted as procurement lead for multi-million dollar capital improvement projects, specializing in vendor relations and project management. Claire has worked on capital projects up to $85M in total and personally lead $20M in contracts.  In college, she was a member of the Division III volleyball team and helped found a new chapter of a campus sorority. She was also a student blogger for the university, acting as the voice for the female engineers, a representative of the student athlete committee and coordinator of philanthropic activities for the Panhellenic Council.

Claire Periard
Social Media & Project Management

Claire is leading the social media effort for ELIA.  She graduated from Clarkson University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Architecture. Claire has held several positions designing commercial and industrial buildings. More recently she acted as procurement lead for multi-million dollar capital improvement projects, specializing in vendor relations and project management. Claire has worked on capital projects up to $85M in total and personally lead $20M in contracts.  In college, she was a member of the Division III volleyball team and helped found a new chapter of a campus sorority. She was also a student blogger for the university, acting as the voice for the female engineers, a representative of the student athlete committee and coordinator of philanthropic activities for the Panhellenic Council.

Walter Stoeckmann Mechanical Engineer Walter is our senior mechanical engineer. He has over 30 years of engineering experience and is exceptionally good at manufacturing engineering. He has expertise in material selection, scale-up, and sourcing parts for production. He contributes to the team’s mechanical engineering capabilities, evaluates potential vendors, defines product validation protocols and evaluates testing results, tracks project costs, and helps author progress reports. Additionally, he develops the design documents, such as component and assembly drawings. He collaborates in the creation of user documents, such as product technical sheets and user guides. His broad experience in product development supports the commercialization of the products, including the use of best practices, such as Design-To-Cost to ensure the product pricing will meet end user expectations. He has worked with companies such as 3M Corp, Zimmer Orthopaedics, Perkin Elmer, and Convatec. He is the author of nine patents and holds a degree in engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

Walter Stoeckmann
Mechanical Engineer

Walter is our senior mechanical engineer. He has over 30 years of engineering experience and is exceptionally good at manufacturing engineering. He has expertise in material selection, scale-up, and sourcing parts for production. He contributes to the team’s mechanical engineering capabilities, evaluates potential vendors, defines product validation protocols and evaluates testing results, tracks project costs, and helps author progress reports. Additionally, he develops the design documents, such as component and assembly drawings. He collaborates in the creation of user documents, such as product technical sheets and user guides. His broad experience in product development supports the commercialization of the products, including the use of best practices, such as Design-To-Cost to ensure the product pricing will meet end user expectations. He has worked with companies such as 3M Corp, Zimmer Orthopaedics, Perkin Elmer, and Convatec. He is the author of nine patents and holds a degree in engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

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Advisors

Kieran Antill
Design Director

Kieran works with the engineering team through to the ELIA education team to help define the simplest solution for all things ELIA. He is an accomplished commercial creative director, (ex-Managing Partner of Leo Burnett New York), artist and designer (ranked as the #1 Art Director worldwide at Cannes festival of creativity in 2010) having created products, advertising platforms, exhibitions and even off-broadways plays across his eclectic career. Working across Sydney, Singapore, New York, Chicago and London he has launched some of the most ground breaking campaigns for non-for-profits like WWF (Vote Earth/Earth Hour), United Nations (World Humanitarian Day/#theworldneedsmore) and for international brands like Canon, Diageo, Samsung. Ebay and more. He been an invited speaker at Cannes Festival of Creativity, the Social Good Summit and the Art Directors Club of New York. Kieran is Australian but along with his German wife Natalia, he likes to regularly travel and work around the globe.

  Monique Alofs, OTR/L, COMS Usability Specialist Monique has coordinated operations and user interactions at ELIA. As an Occupational Therapist and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, her focus has been on the independence and quality of life of customers. She serves as an advisor to the engineering team regarding usability and design, and a liaison to research partners as well as distributors and suppliers. Monique holds Master’s degrees from Columbia University and Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Vermont. Her experience includes work with Leader Dogs for the Blind, The Department of Veteran’s Affairs Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center, and numerous hospitals and skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in the New York City Area.

 

Monique Alofs, OTR/L, COMS
Usability Specialist

Monique has coordinated operations and user interactions at ELIA. As an Occupational Therapist and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, her focus has been on the independence and quality of life of customers. She serves as an advisor to the engineering team regarding usability and design, and a liaison to research partners as well as distributors and suppliers. Monique holds Master’s degrees from Columbia University and Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Vermont. Her experience includes work with Leader Dogs for the Blind, The Department of Veteran’s Affairs Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center, and numerous hospitals and skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in the New York City Area.