Ilona is an intrepid industrial design engineer, builder, farmer, and educator. At the early age of 21, she began her career designing products for healthcare, including an embryo transfer pump for InVitro Fertilization and safety systems for wheelchair-seated drivers. Both designs now hold patents.

As co-founder of the MWBE certified company Sprout by Design, her motto is: Design, Build, Educate and Grow! Ilona operates her company with an eye towards social, environmental, and economic impact. As such, she designs & builds greenhouses, gardens, and hydro/aquaponic systems in urban settings. She pairs those structures with curricula and workshops that use nature (plants, chickens, worms, bugs) to teach children, individuals with special needs, seniors, formerly homeless adults, and high-risk teens about design thinking, STEM subjects, and health care prevention.

Ilona gets her hands dirty in gardens, classrooms, and vacant lots; educating thousands about our food sources, healthy eating, environmental stewardship, and opportunities in the emerging green economy.

Ilona speaks 5 languages; has co-authored a book on design for the Base of the Pyramid; was a finalist for the INDEX: Design Award; holds patents; is published; and has been featured on the news, in films and in Michelle Obama’s book “American Grown.” She has presented at many conferences and events, including the Just Food Conference, The Food Rich Summit: Innovating Solutions for Food Poverty in NY, Planting the Seeds for a Stronger Community and at ThatMatters Live “Eat Local: Channeling Your Inner Urban Farmer.”

Ilona’s designs have been exhibited in museums all over the world including Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York, Pasadena Museum of California Art, and Axis Gallery in Japan. Her open-source “Learning Landscape,” designed for elementary education in Uganda, has been replicated over 27 times in 10 different countries, where an estimated 4100 students are playing and learning.

Summits Attended: 2019 NY Mentors

Diverse representation is a priority for us. We're proud to say that our Summit speakers are 80% queer women, 50% women of color, 25% Black & Latinx, and 15% transgender and gender nonconforming.