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Esther Dyson        

Executive Founder of Way to Wellville

Esther Dyson is a Swiss-born American journalist, author, businesswoman, investor, commentator and philanthropist. She is a leading angel investor focused on health care, open government, digital technology, biotechnology and outer space. Dyson's career focuses on health and continues to invest in health and technology startups.

Dyson is executive founder of Wellville; a ten-year, nonprofit evidence-generating project devoted to implementing and refining models for investing in community health (not health care) that return profits to investors and health to the participants and their communities. Wellville advises the five US-based Wellville communities on accelerating their own health initiatives, in Clatsop County, OR; Lake County, CA; Muskegon County, MI; North Hartford, CT; and Spartanburg, SC. Dyson is the W2W lead for Muskegon, and is actively involved in overall policy and fundraising for the project.

Aside from that full-time role, Dyson spends her extra time investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health care (somewhat constrained to avoid conflicts with Wellville). On the health side, she is an investor in 23andMe (also a director), 4D Healthware, Applied Proteomics, Basil Health, Big Health, Care.Coach, Clover Health, Dopamine Labs, Eligible, Enso, Hawthorne Effect, Health Loop, HealthCelerate, HealthTap, i2Dx, Joany, Medesk, MedicaSafe, mEquilibrium, Nanowear, NeuroGeneCES, Nuna, Omada Health, PatientsLikeMe, PatientsKnowBest,, Proofpilot, Resilient, Sapiens, StartupHealth, Syllable, Tocagen,, Valkee, Vital Score, Wellpass (director) and Zipongo.

Over its 10-year life, Way to Wellville will measure its progress both year by year and at the end, using both specific program-based metrics and the overall community goals. Its mission is not just to help five small (<200,000 people) communities get healthy, but to develop and refine business models for doing so and to inspire other communities and government entities to copy its methods. Its motto is “Don’t rent your health. Invest in it!”

Wellville favors implementation over innovation: applying approaches known to work, at scale in small communities where scale/density is relatively easy to achieve in terms of both resources and political buy-in. Each community sets its own priorities and goals around issues such as early childhood experience, obesity/diabetes, mental health, dental health, smoking, addiction and overall human capacity and health disparities; Wellville assists in finding partners and funders and in managing accountability.

Speech Topics

Don't Fuss About Training Our AIs. Train Our Babies!

The importance of human capacity and self-awareness at a time when AI will become more "intelligent" but not more capable of genuine empathy. Esther Dyson argues that we need to invest in our next generation of human beings instead.

Present Without Leave

An inspiring tale of eternal curiosity. A life history to inspire kids and students of all ages. Esther Dyson's father's boss was Oppenheimer (at the Institute for Advanced Study). She left that bubble at the age of 16 to go to Harvard and write for the Harvard Crimson. At 17, she dropped out to spend half a year traveling, including two months with her then-boyfriend, who was serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco. From 2008-2009, she trained as a backup cosmonaut in Star City outside Moscow, Russia. Then she asked the basic question: Why are we spending so much time & money fixing preventable health conditions when it's often too late? She then began Wellville, a 10-year nonprofit project, working in 5 small US communities to foster health equity and long-term thinking. In this talk, Dyson talks about what she's learned and is open to curiosity and questions.


Video: Esther Dyson | Watch NOVA Online | PBS Video
Hear from innovator Esther Dyson about how she's pushing companies to change the world. Watch online: Esther Dyson from NOVA. On demand, streaming ...
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Steve Case and Esther Dyson, Renowned Entrepreneurs & Investors, to Speak at the 5th Annual mHealth Summit ...
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SAN FRANCISCO — Esther Dyson is one of the most active investors in the rapidly emerging health IT sector. But she recently ceased investing to focus her  ...

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