Much like our name suggests, Gnist’s story began with spark. Over coffee and croissants from the cafe next door, we met to simply exchange ideas. However, discovering a common passion for reimagining learning ignited something in each of us. We began experimenting with shared projects and ideas, the sum of which has morphed into Gnist today. We bring the spirit of our initial meeting – one of serendipity, relationships, inquiry and hope – into every project we work on today.

Julka Almquist

Designer and researcher

Julka is a designer and researcher whose interdisciplinary, human-centered work focuses on understanding people and communities and transforming ideas into meaningful designs. She has worked as a design researcher at IDEO and the Mayo Clinic and taught design students at Art Center College of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the founder of the organization Field Experience where her exploratory work extends naturally into leading experiential learning activities to inspire organizational creativity and curiosity. She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. at the intersection of anthropology and design from the University of California, Irvine and she currently lives in Minneapolis, MN.

Jesper Broberg Bang

Managing director

Jesper is the founder and managing director of Gejst Studio based in Aarhus, Denmark, where creative and innovative thinking is the key element in creating digital strategy and experiences. He uses his educational background in business management and strategy and more than 20 years of entrepreneurial, creative and digital experience as an external lecturer at Aarhus University. He is the co-founder of the nationwide research project “Digital Catalyst”, which aims to inspire and educate Danish board-of-directors to better handle digital initiatives and innovation as part of their strategic management. His work is characterized by the belief that strong relations and empathy are the fundamental building blocks of any meaningful collaboration.

Rob Strain

Designer and strategist

Rob is an American designer and strategist who works with organizations and leaders who find themselves at big starting points or pivotal turning points. He likes nothing more than helping others dream into what the future can be, and then get concrete about the actions, systems, and leadership required to realize it. He began his career as a first-grade teacher in San Francisco and spent more than a decade supporting change and innovation in the education sector, including serving as the Chief Program Officer of Teach for America-Bay Area and partner at Transcend, a leading school design non-profit. He currently lives in San Francisco, CA.

Brittany Erickson

Educator / Partner

Brittany helps educators and professionals tap into deep learning and creativity in their work. Based in Denver, CO, she is currently a partner at Transcend where she launched and leads the organization’s school design practice. Through that work and prior experience, Brittany has been on the front lines of dozens of innovative design projects across the US and globally. She draws on prior experiences as a sixth grade teacher, in business strategy, and as a researcher to craft provocative experiences that help folks rediscover their love of learning and creative potential. She holds a BA and a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University.

Ciara Coogan


Ciara is a social anthropologist at Gejst Studio, where she helps schools, companies and organizations better understand and connect with their students, clients and members. Ciara’s human-centered approach is driven by curiosity and empathy when investigating people, communities and cultural motivations. She is experienced in navigating differing perspectives and loves to learn with the people in question. Inspired by Design Thinking methods, she turns her findings into meaningful concepts that often convey unexpected root problems and secure a sense of relevance to the people they’re aimed at. Ciara holds an MA in social anthropology from Aarhus University in Denmark, and draws on previous experience from field studies in the Philippines, New York City and Copenhagen.

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