Taxi Dog Team

Founders

  • Victor Syrmis & Howard Grossman

    Entertainment Producers & Founders

    Producers Howard Grossman and Victor Syrmis each have decades of experience in the entertainment industry; working with many renowned writers, directors and actors, they have played a central role in creating major projects, including films, TV series, and Broadway plays. Howard and Victor decided to produce a television series based on the popular children’s book, The Adventures of Taxi Dog. After creating a 10-minute live-action pilot, Victor and Howard consulted with experts in the field of education and realized that their production team had created a great tool for teaching Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).

Education Team

  • Molly Stewart Lawlor, MADirector of Curriculum & Research

    Molly oversees curriculum development and research for Taxi Dog, and is the primary author of the Taxi Dog curriculum. She also serves as the education advisor to the Taxi Dog production and writing teams. Molly holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology and is currently completing her doctoral studies at The University of British Columbia in Human Learning, Development and Culture. Her research specializes in child development and wellbeing, evaluations of social-emotional learning (SEL) programs, primary prevention specific to mood disorders, and the promotion of social responsibility within schools. Primary author of MindUP, an SEL educational program, Molly has served as a consultant to the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. Additionally, she is published in research journals and has presented her work at many international conferences.

  • Nicole Novak, M.A. CCP-SLPDirector of Internal Communications/Curriculum Co-writer/Learning Differences Specialist

    In her role as Director of Internal Communications, Nicole serves as the communications hub for all team members, facilitating inter-team meetings and working closely with consultants and the Founders. Nicole is also a co-writer of the Taxi Dog curriculum and provides integral guidance on leveling the Taxi Dog curricula for learners with disabilities. She earned her Masters in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has experience in early childhood education as well as clinical work. Nicole specializes in working with students with language disabilities, particularly nonverbal disorders and autism, and uses her own certified therapy dogs in her practice.

  • Dr. Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Ph.DSenior Research Advisor

    Dr. Schonert-Reichl is a Professor at the University of British Columbia and an internationally recognized expert on SEL. Dr. Schonert-Reichl's research on child emotional and social development has resulted both in new theoretical insights and in the development of programs used by schools and mental health organizations. Her research has been published in scholarly journals as well as The New York Times, The Toronto Star, Today’s Parent Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Schonert-Reichl serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) Research Advisory Group.

  • Michelle Sipl M.Ed.Curriculum Co-writer

    Michelle recently completed her Masters at The University of British Columbia in Human Development, Learning and Culture, specializing in Social and Emotional Learning. She has extensive classroom experience, and was the Director of the Montessori School of Rancho Palos Verdes. As an education consultant she has worked on The Hawn Foundation’s MindUP Program and CASEL’s SEL TED project.

Creative Team

  • Martin RobinsonLead Puppeteer/Senior Puppetry Advisor

    A puppeteer on Sesame Street since 1981, Martin has won Emmys for his characters Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimy the Worm, and the Yip-yip Martians; he also has worked on numerous feature films, as well designed productions at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Martin is passionate about puppets and about using them to help educate youth, and is lead-consultant on a new Maxi puppet being made at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

  • Bill KroyerProducer and Creative Design Consultant

    An Oscar®-nominated director of animation and computer graphics, Bill pioneered the technique of combining hand-drawn animation with computer animation. Co-Chair of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and a Governor of the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch, Bill is director of the Digital Arts Program at Chapman University in California. An educator himself, he teaches his unique animation techniques to students around the world. Bill is the lead creative consultant on the entertainment components within the Taxi Dog Program and works closely with the writing and production teams.

  • Danny SeckelActor – Jim

    Upon graduation from Baylor University, Danny apprenticed at the Actors Theatre Louisville then went on to NYC where he became intimately acquainted with taxis. After working in commercial and regional theater, Danny ended up in Los Angeles where he appeared in numerous film and TV roles including: iCarly, Pair of Kings, The Girl Next Door and Community. He also appeared as himself when hosting shows for TBS, TV Guide, GSN, and E!.

  • Aaron MendelsohnWriter & Co-Producer

    Aaron Mendelsohn has been a working screenwriter for over 20 years. He has written for film, television and digital media and is best known for co-creating the AIR BUD movie franchise, which, to date, has sired eleven sequels. In addition to Taxi Dog, Aaron is developing family television projects for the Cartoon Network and Hasbro Studios, and he recently completely his fourth term on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America West.

Board of Directors

  • Maria Del Toro, A.B.DComissioner, New York City Planning Commission and Former Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Public Policy for the YMCA of Greater New York

  • Clarice Kestenbaum, M.D.Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and former Director of Training in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

  • Charles M. Miller, M.D.Director of Liver Transplantation, Cleveland Clinic

  • Lane WeissSuperintendent, Saratoga Union School District, Saratoga, California