Alumni Profile:
Forbes 30 under 30

Forbes Names two Oak Grove School Alums “30 Under 30”

Forbes magazine recently presented its third annual “30 Under 30”, a list of 30 young men and women under the age of 30 who are changing the world. There are 15 categories of 30: Art & Style, Education, Energy & Industry, Finance, Food & Drink, Hollywood & Entertainment, Law & Policy, Marketing & Advertising, Media, Music, Science & Health Care, Games & Apps, Social Entrepreneurs, Sports and Technology. Each list is vetted by a panel of three expert judges in the respective fields.

This year, we were thrilled to discover that Oak Grove School had TWO alums featured in Forbes 2014 “30 Under 30”:  Leif Dautch (Law & Policy) and Matt Nava (Games & Apps).

Matt Nava ‘04

This is Matt Nava’s second year on the Forbes list in the category of Games & Apps. Matt attended Oak Grove from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating in 2004. He went on to study at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Working as the Art Director for thatgamecompany, Matt was instrumental in the development of two award-winning video games, Flower and Journey. The company’s mission was to “create timeless interactive entertainment that makes positive change to the human psyche worldwide”.

Flower has been likened to a haiku and Matt describes Journey as a quest for enlightenment where players must work together for the benefit of all. A primary consideration in creating the game was how to develop a sense of empathy and compassion in the player. Journey was nominated for eight BAAFTA awards and has been named “game of the year” many times over.

Matt is now co-founder and Creative Director of a new studio called Giant Squid and the world is eagerly awaiting the release of his new game project. He’s 28 years old.

Last year Matt spoke at Oak Grove’s Annual Fundraising Tea. He is often asked how he has been able to create games that are so different and he credits his educational experience at Oak Grove as one influence: “Krishnamurti said ‘truth is a pathless land’ which I took to mean that in order to find your voice you needed to step out of the known. In order to innovate you have to take risks including the possibility of failing. Our company creates an environment where it is safe to fail.  Oak Grove was like that for me – a place where students are encouraged to step out into that “pathless land” that K talked about and find their own way. It’s something that helped me in my career and I’m certain it is happening for future generations of students too.”

Leif Dautch ’03

Leif Dautch was named in Forbes Law and Policy category. Forbes staffers themselves admit that it is incredible to be able to create this list as most people are barely out of law school by the age of 30, let alone blazing trails in their field. Leif attended Oak Grove for 11 years, graduating in 2003.  He went on to Yale and then Harvard Law School.  Always drawn to public service, after a stint in the private sector, Leif landed his dream job as a deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice.

In addition to his parents, Leif credits his schooling at Oak Grove for nurturing his inquisitiveness and deep love of learning, qualities that have been key to his success in the legal field and life in general.

In 2009 Leif was the keynote speaker at the Oak Grove Graduation Ceremony. At that time he encouraged the students on the podium “to be unafraid”. “You graduates,” he said, “are ready, you are well prepared. There will always be pressure to conform but you don’t have to.  You can be everything. You don’t have to fall prey to the false dichotomies of life. You can be utopian and practical, you can be driven and open-minded, you don’t have to obsess about success but you don’t have to be afraid of it either.  But above all else be kind because it’s the right thing to do.”

At Oak Grove School we strive to create a non-competitive climate of inquiry that fosters mindfulness, understanding, creative expression, and awareness of self, others, and the world. We hope to inspire students to truly make a difference in the world.  When a school chooses to educate outside the box, it is extremely validating to have two alums honored publicly for their innovative service to the world. We also know there are many more of our graduates who are doing great work in the world and while they may not receive the same degree of public recognition, we honor all of them. Congratulations Leif and Matt!  And thank you to all of our alums who are out there making a difference in the world.

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