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Gene Keselman named MIT Innovation Initiative executive director

Longtime U.S. Air Force officer, entrepreneur, and nonprofit executive joins the initiative to help build out the next phase of its mission.
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Gene Keselman has joined the MIT Innovation Initiative as its new executive director
Gene Keselman has joined the MIT Innovation Initiative as its new executive director
Photo courtesy of the MIT Innovation Initiative.

Gene Keselman, an accomplished leader with considerable experience in the military, startups, nonprofits, and corporate and academic environments, has joined the Institute as the new executive director of the MIT Innovation Initiative.

Keselman started his new position on Sept. 11 and will lay out a strategic vision for the next phase of the initiative. Among his duties will be building on recent progress made in the areas of education, research, and community building, including the undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship and innovation and the launch of the Hong Kong Innovation Node. Keselman will also look to pilot new programs and activities that further the initiative’s goals of enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship across the MIT campus and beyond.

“We are very excited to welcome Gene to the team,” says MIT Innovation Initiative Co-Director Fiona Murray. “His experience designing and scaling programs combined with his desire to create partnerships and channels throughout the innovation ecosystem, positions him well for the executive director role.”

“I’m confident that under his leadership, the initiative will continue to thrive and progressively realize our mission of establishing clear and effective pathways for our community to move ideas from conception to impact,” adds Murray, who is also the Bill Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean of Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Keselman comes to the Institute after having served in a number of leadership roles, including as co-founder of Esports One, an analytics and data startup that originated out of MIT and uses advanced machine learning technologies to enhance the electronic sports industry. He is also the co-founder and board director of the Foundation for Innovation and Discovery, a Washington-based nonprofit that connects the U.S. government with new technology. In addition, he has worked as a space and defense industry consultant supporting corporate stakeholders and advising C-suite decision makers.

A longtime officer in the U.S. Air Force, Keselman will continue serving the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering at the Pentagon as the chief of technology development of the Joint Reserve Directorate, providing critical future technology and engineering bridges between commercial development and military capitalization. Now a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he spent 12 years on active duty after receiving his commission through officer training school. He has held a variety of positions spanning military fields, including nuclear operations, space operations, and acquisition, and has run numerous operational and research and development programs in the intelligence community. He has also been published in academic journals on space science, is certified as a U.S. government chief information officer, and is fluent in Russian.

Keselman earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s of science degree in information systems from George Washington University. More recently, he earned a master’s of business administration degree from MIT Sloan, where he was also an associate investigator in the Operations Management group performing research for a study on wearable biosensors and performance in multiplayer games.  

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