Leadership Team

Ben Willman

Acting Executive Director

Ben Willman is the Director of Strategy and Programming for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, where he leads efforts to bring innovation ideas for the federal government through a structured program from problem exploration to prototyping with users. Ben was most recently on the 18F delivery team, working in Product Management and Experience Design on the USCIS and the Peace Corps teams. Prior to 18F, Ben was a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Department of Veteran Affairs helping to modernize how the VA delivers products and services to veterans.

Ben has been on the founding team of several startups as a founder, CTO and product strategist. He is passionate about building products and services people love and advocates for Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Service Design approaches to innovation management. Ben actively teaches and mentors startup teams on how to use Lean Startup, including as a long-time mentor at the Lean Startup Machine. He is also an experienced technologist as a CTO, systems architect and developer working with a variety of technologies and languages.

Joshua Di Frances

Deputy Director, Director of Operations

Josh is the Director of Operations for the Presidential Innovation Fellowship program. Before joining the PIF program, he was on CVS Health’s Digital Strategy and Innovation team where he worked to accelerate innovation through healthcare and technology strategic partnerships and investments. Josh also worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—a Harvard affiliated academic medical center—in their Innovation Hub (iHub) where he helped Harvard Medical School professors to commercialize technology. Prior to Brigham, Josh served as Director of Operations for a biotechnology start-up that focused on novel gene editing technology.

Josh is a graduate of Boston University where he holds a B.A. in Biology with a Concentration in Neuroscience. He is currently pursuing Executive Coursework at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and graduate coursework in Strategic Management at Harvard University Extension School. Josh is also a proud volunteer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Saran Kaba

Operations Specialist

Saran Kaba is the Operations Specialist for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Saran worked as an Organizational Management Professional for a number of nonprofits in New York, including: Equality Now, amfAR, The Center for Reproductive Rights and The Participatory Budgeting Project. Before joining PIF, she served for a year as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa; bringing her expertise in organizational development and grants management to a nonprofit called The SEED Project (Sports for Education and Economic Development), with a mission to empower the next generation of African leaders through basketball.

Saran received her M.A. in Public Administration from Baruch College, School of Public Affairs and holds a B.A. in International Studies from The City College of New York, CUNY. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Born and raised in NYC, and the daughter of a UN diplomat, Saran lived in Guinea for 7 years. Saran enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures. Co-author of a children's book (The 3 Little Birds), she strives to bring educational support to youth throughout Africa and especially in Guinea.