Our Team

iThrive Games Team

Dorothy Batten

President, D.N. Batten FOUNDATION

Dorothy drives the overall strategy and direction for iThrive Games. Through the foundation, she makes grants to support innovative approaches to tackle mental health and environmental conservation issues, as well as supporting community programming in Charlottesville, VA. Ms. Batten serves on the board of RARE.org, the Women’s Initiative, the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, and the Alumni Board of Trustees at the University of Virginia. She served for 10 years as a Director of Landmark Media Enterprises LLC. Previous board experience includes involvement with Amazon Conservation Association, the University of Virginia Art Museum and Arts Council, University of Virginia Contemplative Sciences Center, Norfolk Academy, Peabody School, and the Paramount Theater. She received her master’s degree in counseling from Capella University, her MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, and her B.A. in Economics and Business from Hollins University.

Susan Rivers

PhD, Executive Director & Chief Scientist

Susan executes the overall strategy and direction for iThrive Games. Adopting a creative leadership style, she supports the talented and passionate iThrive Games team in their collective efforts to use evidence-based games to help teens thrive. A social psychologist, she uses her expertise in emotional intelligence and designing social and emotional learning interventions to inform the development of game-based interventions and establish a collaborative and innovative network of teens, game developers, psychologists, affective scientists, funders, and investors. She has published extensively in scholarly journals and books, is the co-author of several curricula on social and emotional learning, and speaks at national and international conferences and events. Susan earned her B.A. from Skidmore College and her PhD from Yale University.

Jane Lee

Director of Production & Ambassador of Fun

Jane directs the production of game assets and products for iThrive Games. Utilizing principles of project management and design thinking, she is in charge of making sure iThrive Games’ core activities are accomplished on time and within budget. With a background in research and evaluation, Jane has worked with youth on several grant-funded intervention and prevention programs including juvenile substance abuse and teen pregnancy. Using her expertise in impact measurement, Jane designs project plans and allocates resources with clear goals and deliverables. An active gamer, Jane is thrilled to combine two of her passions. Jane received her B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University.

Heidi McDonald

Senior Creative Director & Head Troublemaker

Heidi directs iThrive Games’ developer outreach activities and provides creative direction on game development projects. She leads retreats, workshops, game jams, and conference events designed to engage top industry and academic professionals in conceptualizing, creating, and testing games to support teen thriving. Drawing on her experience as an award-winning game designer and writer, she translates iThrive Games’ teen thriving concepts into actionable design resources for game developers. Heidi has published and lectured extensively on romance and sexuality in games and how they relate to players’ emotional engagement. She is known for her collection of magnificent hats and for popping up around the Greater Los Angeles area dressed as her pirate alter-ego, Lizzie Bones. Heidi earned her double-major B.A. from Chatham University in communications and film & digital media. She graduated summa cum laude while working full time and raising three children.

Michelle Bertoli

M.A., Director of Content & Lead Science Writer

Michelle delves into the scientific literature and translates research on positive psychology and adolescence into resources for game developers and others who are invested in boosting teen thriving using the power of play. Drawing on years of experience researching evidence-based strategies for building social and emotional skills in youth, Michelle looks to cutting-edge studies and theory on what it means for teens to thrive and how gameplay can support that process. Michelle brings to iThrive Games expertise in writing about psychology, social and emotional learning, and positive youth development in peer-reviewed outlets, grant proposals, presentations, and educational curricula. She is co-author on several scholarly journal articles as well as two book chapters about emotional intelligence. She can easily lose track of time playing one of her favorite video games, The Sims or Lego Harry Potter. Michelle earned her B.A. from Vanderbilt University and her M.A. from Yale University.

Cat Wendt

Manager of Communications & Marketing

Cat develops communication strategies that advance the impact of iThrive Games. These strategies include media outreach, social media, special events, web marketing, partnerships, and community management. Combining a decade in game development with her background in marketing, she is a creative leader who incorporates her passion for visual design, interactive media, learning, and art of all mediums into her professional lens. She has worked on more than sixty released games in a variety of capacities: design, writing, art, marketing and promotions. She is also the director of the IGDA Foundation Women in Games Ambassadors Program, served as co-chair of the IGDA Women in Games SIG for more than five years, and was honored to receive an IGDA MVP award in 2015. Cat earned her B.S. in public relations from Montana State University-Billings and is currently pursuing an M.B.A from San Francisco State University.

Sean Weiland

Associate Producer

Sean supports the iThrive Games team with planning and logistics for events and game related projects. From inception to execution, Sean documents and coordinates all of the little pieces between the team and universities, researchers, and game industry professionals. Coming from years of working in the indie game development space, he is used to wearing many hats and making it possible to go to every live event feasible to show his work. He is excited to be putting his experience towards making games a more positive experience. Sean has an M.S. in game production and management, a B.A. in theatre, still makes games (and ukuleles) in his free time, and is a world-class bartender.