About Us

The Team

Lisa Van Dusen is a practicing artist, the creator and host of First Person, a civic engagement champion and a social impact evangelist at SV2—Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. Lisa is also particularly passionate about the arts as a catalyst for social change and creating models for resilient communities in the face of climate change. A native Michigander, she has called Palo Alto home since the pre-internet era. Lisa first put down roots in Palo Alto as the founding executive director of Cable Co-op, and among other pursuits, went on to birth and lead Palo Alto Online, relaunch Leadership Palo Alto and hold numerous civic leadership roles in Silicon Valley. Lisa was featured at TEDxGunnHighSchool in 2017 where she talked about "The Joys of Otherhood". Lisavandusen.com is a platform for her voracious curiosity, fearless question-asking, and desire to learn.

Lavanya Mahadevan joined the First Person team in 2015 as production manager, bringing her own unique alchemy of question-crafting, writing, editing and production skills. Wise beyond her high school years and an award-winning multi-media artist, Lavanya contributes her creativity and critical thinking skills to the First Person team. As of fall 2016, Lavanya is Stanford-bound.

Taylor Shoolery joined the First Person team in 2014 as production manager, bringing extraordinary storytelling skills and instincts to the series. She now tells the stories of a wide range of artists from her perch at the Education and Social Practice Department at SF MOMA where she's bringing art alive. Be sure to check out her First Person podcast here.

First Person

First Person is a collection of conversations with groundbreakers who are redefining life in Silicon Valley and beyond. This periodic video series focuses on people living boldly for the better in Silicon Valley through a wide variety of pursuits, professions and passions, from innovators and entrepreneurs to professors and public servants. Some are well knownothers not at all, but all are leaders, ahead of the curve and "swimming upstream" in some fashion. Creator and host, Lisa Van Dusen conceived First Person in 2010 and has been capturing illuminating on-camera conversations with people who are rethinking, re-examining and reinventing Silicon Valley ever since. These video conversations can also be found online at Palo Alto Online and the Midpeninsula Media Center.

Videography is provided by the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online—generally chief photographer and videographer, Veronica Weber.

Actually, in Silicon Valley


Actually, in Silicon Valley offers Lisa Van Dusen's glimpses into the dualities, delights and sometimes demonic nature of daily life in Silicon Valley. Because of this region's notoriety, the world has certain impressions of what life is actually like here. Some of those impressions are spot on. (Think the HBO series Silicon Valley.) But there there is way more to life here—both in Palo Alto, the birthplace of Silicon Valley where Lisa lives, and throughout the Valley. It's just like any other place in many ways and then something happens that is either entirely contrary to the classic image or is otherwise unexpected. This occasional blog offers up Lisa's take on life in Silicon Valley—the routine, the extraordinary and the in-between—through drawings and writing.