Meet the Team
Lori Brewer Collins
Founder & President
As the Founder and President of Cultivate the Karass, Lori is the heart of the organization. She had the privilege of being Jake Brewer’s mother. Cultivate the Karass is an extension of Jake’s legacy; he continues to inspire her, and us, every day.
She is a sought-after speaker on Cultivate the Karass’s behalf and works to raise awareness, engender participation, find alliances, and represent Cultivate the Karass alongside other groups. She spearheads fundraising efforts and oversees all Cultivate the Karass activities.
Lori is an internationally recognized executive development facilitator and coach. For over 20 years she has worked with leaders in complex, cross-cultural settings including Fortune 100s and global multinationals. She is especially effective working with senior-level leaders.
Lori served as Manager of Custom Solutions for the Center for Creative Leadership – EMEA and was Lead Faculty. She was also one of CCL’s original thought leaders in the Organizational Leadership practice. She served as senior principal and executive coach in two firms: Cambria Consulting and Axialent. Earlier in her career, she was Manager of Leadership and Corporate Culture at Saturn Corporation, General Motors.
Lori has an M.Ed. in Human Resource Development and Counseling from Vanderbilt University, a B.A. in Business Management from Michigan State University, and is a Certified Executive Coach through the Hudson Institute of Coaching.
Co-Founder & COO
Jeff was one of Jake Brewer’s closest friends, in whose memory Cultivate the Karass is founded. Jeff provides insight and direction to all Cultivate the Karass activities through his role as founding member of the Board of Directors and his commitment to keeping Jake’s legacy and vision alive.
Jeff is Founder and COO and CPO of Metric Theory, a digital services marketing company. Jeff holds responsibility for overseeing general business operations. His main focus is attracting, developing and retaining team members through an award-winning company culture. He creates and implements work/life integration programs and culture initiatives that support individuals and teams in exceeding their personal and professional goals. Jeff is also an ongoing contributor to Forbes where he writes about his programs and other relevant topics.
Jeff holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business with a focus in in Public Management and Global Management, and a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.
Mindy Finn is a media strategist, an early founder of the digital democracy movement, and specializes in brand marketing, issue advocacy and civic reform. She was also a candidate for Vice President in the 2016 election, as the running mate of Evan McMullin. Along with McMullin, she is Co-CEO & Founder of Stand Up Republic, which is building a movement to defend democracy in America through the promotion of liberty, equality and truth.
Mindy is also the founder and current president of Empowered Women, a non-profit working to inspire, educate, and give voice to a bold new generation of American women—the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Previously, Mindy headed up strategic partnerships for Twitter in Washington, D.C., specializing in business development, and was a founding partner of Engage, an online media strategy company, which she left in 2011 to join Twitter.
Mindy has worked on digital programs for President George W. Bush and Governor Mitt Romney, and started her career as a Congressional correspondent for the Waterbury, CT Republican American and as a staffer for Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Mindy graduated from Boston University with a degree in Journalism, and earned an MS in Political Management from the George Washington University. A Texas native, Mindy lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, David Feinberg and two sons.
Loretta Yenson is a seasoned entrepreneur who brings extensive experience in non-profit and business management to the position of CTK Executive Director.
As Co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Hooks Book Events (HBE), Loretta built a women-owned enterprise focused on infusing innovative thinking into organizations through interactive book and author programs. Based in Washington, DC, HBE provides enriching professional development and client events for corporations, U.S. government agencies, and non-profit associations.
Loretta’s background also includes more than 20 years in banking, both commercial and private, and experience with education and health care organizations. She is an accomplished business woman with experience in fundraising and donor management, Board of Director leadership, and event planning and marketing.
Loretta grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and completed high school in Montreal, Canada. She is a graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts and earned a Master’s degree at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs.
Jen Simon's work fosters innovative grassroots solutions in healthcare, gender equity, and civic engagement while promoting sustainability through dialogue across sectors.
Jen has served in leadership positions for some of the Mountain West’s most impactful non-profit organizations and steered them through times of significant transition. She was the founder and campaign director of We Care for Seniors, Wyoming’s most successful public funding initiative which designated tax dollars toward new long term care facilities. Jen received the American Hospital Association’s Grassroots Champion Award for her work on behalf of Wyoming hospitals.
She is the co-founder of Womentum, a women's mentoring initiative, and a sought-after consultant on gender issues. Gov. Matthew Mead appointed her to the Wyoming Council for Women where she chairs the communications committee.
Jen holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity and a BA in art/art history from Colorado College.
Ross Dakin is an entrepreneurial technologist who draws on experience in Silicon Valley startups, corporate enterprise, federal government, national non-profits, and academia to helping further the mission of Cultivate the Karass.
Currently a senior strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ross formerly advised the Microsoft Cities team on how to best utilize the company's resources for public good in NYC.
Ross held an appointment as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow in the Obama Administration, where he focused on a variety of national priorities including the facilitation of public/private partnerships through the efforts of The Opportunity Project, the implementation of code.gov as a component of the first Federal Source Code Policy, and other initiatives including those related to social benefit programs, foster child welfare, organ donation, and the gender pay gap.
In Silicon Valley, Ross helped create same-day delivery services at Deliv, novel financial products at Upstart, cyber threat intelligence tools at BrightPoint Security (acquired by ServiceNow), and distributed call center technology at LiveOps, where he also served as a member of the LiveOps Foundation.
Ross teaches computer science to many first-generation college students at Lehman College and is a founding board member of Creo College Preparatory School, a nonprofit public school with the mission of creating more equity in the Bronx.
Ross volunteers his time by providing prehospital emergency care services as a nationally registered EMT, by stimulating local economies and encouraging healthy eating as a board member of the Farmers Market Coalition, and as an advisory board member to the Santa Clara University School of Engineering, from which he hold a B.S. in Computer Engineering.
Eli Lehrer is president of the R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization (“think tank”) whose mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government. R Street works extensively on both state and national policy, focusing on issues that other groups tend to neglect: tackling issues that are complex, but don’t necessarily grab major headlines. As president, Eli oversees all R Street operations, makes major strategic decisions and is ultimately responsible for all of R Street’s products. He also tells pirate jokes.
He is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today and The New York Times, among other publications. Eli serves as a contributing editor of National Affairs and writes regularly for The Weekly Standard. He also serves on the board of the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for LGBT conservatives and their allies.
Eli graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a bachelor’s in medieval studies. He received
his master’s in government with honors from The Johns Hopkins University.
He lives in Herndon, Virginia, with his wife, Kari and son Andrew.
Sarah Longwell is a Senior Vice President and Partner at the communications firm Berman and Company in Washington D.C. She has delivered expert testimony before numerous state legislatures, appears frequently in the national media, and is quoted in hundreds of news stories each year. Her opinion pieces have been published in top tier newspapers including in the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
Sarah Longwell joined the Log Cabin Republicans National Board in 2011. She is the organization’s youngest board member and the first woman to ever serve as Log Cabin Republican’s National Chairman. She has also served on the Leadership Committee of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.
She has delivered expert testimony before numerous state legislatures and appears frequently in the national media. Her opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. In 2010, she was named a "Rising Star" by Campaigns & Elections Magazine and was recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants as a member of the class of 2016's "Top 40 under 40."
Sarah is a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio and lives in Washington D.C. with her wife and son.
Chet McGensy is an alumni of CtK.Campfire, Cultivate the Karass' signature trans-partisan retreat. Chet believes in the continuation of Jake’s legacy of bringing people together to resolve issues and biases.
Chet is the Co-founder of the Cornerstone Group a conservative public affairs and legal consulting company with expertise in clean energy and crypto-currency. Chet is a longtime clean energy expert having worked as General Counsel and Chief Policy Officer of Dividend Finance and Director of Policy and Legal Counsel at SolarCity (now Tesla Energy).
Chet is a published author and National Review fellow. He is a national expert on consumer and housing related matters with the solar industry and co-authored the solar industry's Truth in Solar consumer protection disclosure form- which has been codified into law in dozens of states in the US. Chet has also advised the Property Assessed Clean Energy industry group, PACE Nation, on its industry consumer protection policies and standards. Chet also advises clients on innovative financing and product development and is listed as a Co-inventor of SolarCity's MyPower solar loan.
Chet has an B.A. in Economics for Business for Business Management from Occidental College. and a Juris Doctor and Master in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Ben Rattray is the founder and CEO of Change.org, the world's largest platform for social change, where people everywhere are starting campaigns, mobilizing supporters, and working with decision makers to drive solutions. Ben started Change.org in 2005 to create a way for ordinary citizens to translate a passion for a cause into effective action, while deepening engagement in social issues and empowering people to make a difference in their communities and the world around them.
A graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics, Ben leads Change.org's strategic vision and is a frequent public speaker about the intersection of technology and social change.
Ben has been named to Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People, and Forbes’ 40 Rising Business Leaders Under 40, and received the Commonwealth Club of California's 21st Century Visionary Award in 2014.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA, Ben currently lives in San Francisco.
Megan Smith is an award-winning tech entrepreneur, engineer, and evangelist. As the third U.S. chief technology officer, she helped President Obama harness the power of technology, data, and innovation to advance the future of our nation and the world. Megan recruited top tech talent to serve across government and to collaborate on the most pressing issues of the day, from data science and open source, to inclusive economic growth and criminal justice reform. She focused on broad capacity building by co-creating all-hands-on-deck initiatives, including the public-private program TechHire, the Computer Science for All initiative, and the Image of STEM campaign.
Prior to her role as U.S. CTO, Megan served as vice president of new business development at Google, managing early-stage partnerships across the company’s global engineering and product teams. She led acquisitions of Google Earth, Maps, and Picasa, steered the shift of Google.org to include more direct engineering impact, such as Google Crisis Response, and later served on the leadership team of GoogleX, where she co-created SolveForX and Women Techmakers.
As CEO of PlanetOut, Megan was a leader of the online LGBT community in the early days of the Internet. She also worked as an engineer at General Magic on teams designing early smartphone technologies and at Apple Japan in Tokyo. Today, she serves on the boards of MIT, the MIT Media Lab, and Vital Voices.
Megan lives in Washington, DC.
Clarence Wardell III
Clarence Wardell III is the Director of Repurpose for Results at Results for America, supporting Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities Initiative. In that role, he works with mid-size cities across the country to help them use data and evidence to guide programming and investment decisions. He was most recently a member of the U.S. Digital Service at the Obama White House, where he led strategy and product management across several of the team’s projects, including those focused on criminal justice and human services. He also co-led the White House Police Data Initiative, aimed at using open data to increase trust and engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Prior to joining the U.S. Digital Service, Clarence served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow from 2014-2015.
As a social entrepreneur who is passionate about using technology to increase and enhance civic engagement, Clarence served as a Research Scientist with CNA Corporation’s Safety & Security group, where he provided analytical support to emergency management and law enforcement organizations to improve response outcomes. Alongside his work at CNA, Clarence has developed several civic-focused software products and conducted research in the online charitable giving space. In 2012, he co-founded tinyGive, a social media-based microphilanthropy platform that was acquired in 2016.
Clarence, who was previously an affiliate with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is currently a Council on Foreign Relations term member and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017. He holds a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Clarence lives in Washington, DC with his wife Anita Ravishankar.