it's a relationship



Posted on 10 Jul 2013 Comments Off on staff

After years of observing how social entrepreneurs harness the power of communities worldwide, Charlie created a network methodology and practice for all organizations growing their brand or cause. His network strategies, customized for an organization’s unique context, identify and activate communities, uniting the communities and organization in a shared purpose. A network strategy is essential for any organization responding to tectonic shifts in identity, information and power. Charlie’s approach, Community Centered Design, has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes,, and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Previously the executive director of Ashoka’s Changemakers, Charlie led his team in pioneering open innovation for social change—developing a new paradigm for prizes and building a global online community of 100,000 innovators that has garnered more than $50 million in philanthropic funding.


Andrea is a project manager and flexible systems thinker. Before joining Context Partners, she ran projects for an award-winning urban planning firm, where she managed teams in 32 US cities and oversaw the development of plans that have spurred millions of dollars in community investments and upgrades. Andrea thrives on “big picture” thinking and keeping each of us and our projects on track. Andrea also trains for half marathons and rides her motorcycle in the greater Washington, DC area.


When Anna’s passions for technology and social good combine with her knack for making ideas real, our clients and their communities win. Over her 11-year career, Anna has led network strategy development for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Nike Foundation and the UK Department for International Development. Anna also designed programming for and activated a digital network of nonprofit technologists, and she led an NGO in rural Honduras focused on students and conservation.


You might not equate being an accountant with creating social impact but Barbara, our Finance Director, uses her expertise to do just that. Barbara joined Context Partners after almost 16 years in higher education administration. She holds a BS in public administration and an MBA from the University of Oregon, and has earned both the Certified Financial Planner and the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designations. With her husband, she designed and built a highly energy-efficient Vancouver home in 2014, and they are diligently creating an urban food forest. She also enjoys experimenting with flavor combinations in dark chocolate truffles—which we encourage!


One part project manager, one part researcher and one part cool head, Brendan checks many boxes as a community centered designer. His experiences as a sharing economy devotee in London and native species protector in Oregon give him a clear view of the systems at play in any challenge. Brendan guides project delivery for 11th Hour Project, NextGen Climate America and the Packard Foundation. Passionate about social movements, storytelling and language, Brendan is also an unapologetic supporter of Arsenal Football Club, a zealous West Coast explorer and a writer on soccer an¬d culture.


Caroline focuses on growing the Context Partners network with clear and efficient processes that drive network engagement. As a network development associate she has heightened our impact in the resilience, sustainability and girls’ empowerment movements. Caroline believes clear communication, peppered with a sense of humor, is the best way to unite people to make real impact.


After years of observing how social entrepreneurs harness the power of communities worldwide, Charlie created a network methodology and practice for all organizations growing their brand or cause. His network strategies, customized for an organization’s unique context, identify and activate communities, uniting the communities and organization in a shared purpose. A network strategy is essential for any organization responding to tectonic shifts in identity, information and power. Charlie’s approach, Community Centered Design, has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes,, and Stanford Social Innovation Review. Previously the executive director of Ashoka’s Changemakers, Charlie led his team in pioneering open innovation for social change—developing a new paradigm for prizes and building a global online community of 100,000 innovators that has garnered more than $50 million in philanthropic funding.


As a Community Centered Designer, Chris designs in-person and cross-platform engagements, builds actionable strategies for teams and launches big ideas that bring positive change to the world. Some of his most rewarding endeavors include empowering youth through an arts and education program at the Sibol Hesus School Foundation in the Philippines, gathering people in novel ways at Everybody’s Invited!, and developing products and services for those pursuing careers in the nonprofit and public service sectors at The positivity continues on his own time, when Chris organizes the Portland Service Design meetup, surprises his friends with micro-celebrations and hosts Ally McBeal viewing parties.


Courtney O’Brien facilitates communication, empathy and curiosity among our clients and their communities. Courtney’s work includes international development and partnership with Google, the Mott Foundation and the US Department of State. Courtney listens closely in order to surface insights that fuel implementable strategies for impact. She’s also pretty excited to talk to you about your Myers-Briggs type and your preferred sunscreen.


Emily is an explorer at heart, whose drive to learn and engage has taken her to more than 25 countries and inspired her to learn Arabic and French. Adventure is also a narrative in her professional life, where she focuses on facilitating organizational change through stakeholder engagement and collaboration to foster urban resilience, community development and civil society. Before joining Context Partners in 2015, Emily worked with organizations in Jordan and the Arabian Gulf to integrate sustainability concepts.


As a project manager, Emmett helps power the machine that delivers innovative solutions to change agents who are addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. An MPA graduate from NYU Wagner, Emmett has consulted independently for hundreds of social innovation organizations, and in roles at the Taproot Foundation and LinkedIn for Good that build the capacity of the sector as a whole. He has also run professional volunteer consulting programs, working with organizations ranging from social startups in Brooklyn to global powerhouses like The Rockefeller Foundation and Teach for America. Emmett aims to change the world by bringing a design-centered problem-solving approach to his work that empowers innovators and enables social change.


Gavin is a Business Development and Marketing associate at Context Partners, where he helps develop and manage sales strategies. Gavin has driven strategic alignment projects at organizations such as Health Republic Insurance of Oregon, Mississippi State Department of Health and numerous Fortune 500 companies. Coming from a performance management background, Gavin loves to use data to help tell stories.


Jade is driven by her innate sense of curiosity and empathy. For the past eight years she has worked across sectors leading the design and mobilization of social change networks, with a special focus in the global women’s and girls’ movements. Whether engaging youth leaders, international development practitioners or policymakers, Jade builds the relationships and tools that drive collective action. With roots in the Alaskan Arctic and investigative journalism, Jade has lived, worked and mobilized change in communities across the Pacific Northwest, Latin America, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.


Jensie is a creative strategist and designer with a confident and collaborative approach. She believes a strong brief translates research into actionable insights and anchors successful content and experiences. Her deep experience guides creative and brand strategy across our studio and her journalism roots show boldly in our community research and co-design practice, as well as our thought leadership in, and Jensie has designed for Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation and the Smithsonian Institution. When she’s not at the office she can be found hiking the Columbia Gorge with her husband and Bernese mountain dog or racking up pilot hours in a Cessna 172.


Jerad enjoys solving tough problems by collaborating with stakeholders and strategically engaging communities throughout our entire Community Centered Design process. He uncovers crucial insights and understands how to use them to create innovative solutions. Jerad holds an MDes from the IIT Institute of Design and has led international and domestic projects in the energy, technology, health and consumer goods industries. He was previously a product research lead at Opower and a synthesis lead at Conifer Research, and taught at the IIT Institute of Design as an adjunct professor. An avid global traveler and an adventurous eater, Jerad has never turned down a culinary dare.


Jessi guides our clients to collaborate with their communities through strategic network design. She has spent her career crisscrossing the public, private and nonprofit sectors—as well as the globe—strengthening communities including grassroots organizations in Bangladesh, nonprofits across Africa and small businesses throughout Latin America. Before joining Context Partners, Jessi worked on building a practice for corporate responsibility and social impact at Booz Allen Hamilton and is at the top of her game when highlighting unseen patterns and building unconventional partnerships.


Jessica works to elevate the voices of community members and support their participation in creating change. She has promoted indigenous peoples’ rights at the United Nations, designed programs to increase graduation rates for low-income students and created opportunities to implement clean energy solutions. Jessica gets her own energy from launching new initiatives and finding creative, community centered solutions.


José serves as a principal liaison between clients, stakeholders and our internal project teams. A natural connector with a background in strategic communications, digital marketing and branding, José is dedicated to helping clients solve major organizational challenges and engage with audiences. Previous clients include Auburn University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the National Park Foundation, Teach for America, T-Mobile and the World Wildlife Fund. You can often find him writing about or dancing to live music—in or out of the office.


As a Project Manager Katie is the agent of movement, eye on the prize and master of the nitty-gritty for our teams. Katie’s deep appreciation for well-designed and thoughtfully executed projects stems from her work with SeaLegacy, Adobe Systems, Two Parts, Cushman & Wakefield and the University of Utah. She is inspired by mission-driven organizations and loves being surrounded by action-oriented folks who are solving community challenges. With a background in sustainability and green building, she brings a fresh perspective on resource management to our team—and her optimism is infectious.


Need to fuel growth strategically? Kimberly fearlessly builds relationships and connects the dots for our organization and clients. Launching our DC office and then championing our European expansion in Brussels and Madrid has demonstrated Kimberly’s network design expertise. Formerly working with McKinsey and Ashoka and on Capitol Hill, she’s traversed cultures to create impact, including living in India, Mexico and Colombia. Kimberly elegantly weaves strong bonds at the intersections of corporate, foundation, NGO and government entities.


Lisa believes in healthy, happy, and exceptionally effective organizations.  Lisa facilitates personal and professional development of leaders and teams to optimize organizational performance.  Incorporating motivational theory, collaboration processes, and communication systems, she propels individuals and groups to bridge the gap from present behaviors to achieving future goals and aspirations.  She has been an executive coach and business consultant for 7 years in industries including technology, financial services, consumer products & services, education, government, entertainment, and the non-profit sector.  Holding a magna cum laude Psychology degree from Santa Clara University, as well as a certification from the International Coaching Federation, Lisa volunteers as a business mentor to the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and Mercy Corps.


Mai defines team structure and measurement across all projects—no small task. She knows that to deliver on an ambitious vision, teams need practical, simple and impactful methodologies, with a bit of fun, too. After all, she does have a decade of history on the street…Sesame Street, that is. Mai gained much of her global experience in portfolio management, marketing communication and digital media at AETN International Affiliat, and at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


Mela champions Community Centered Design—our unique, 3-phase design approach—ensuring quality on deliveries and spearheading new product development. She has led design and strategy projects for Microsoft, Eli Lilly and The Rockefeller Foundation. Previously, Mela worked in product development and strategy for Oracle’s health care division, developing software products and supporting global product launches. Mela’s interest in human behavior, her unquenchable curiosity and her impulse to create structure make her adept at gleaning insights from our clients’ complex and ever-changing contexts.


For nearly a decade, Robert—a founding member of Context Partners—has designed, implemented and evaluated networks and prizes for clients that include Top-10 global philanthropies, Fortune 500 companies, governments and world leaders. Robert has managed global, cross-functional teams building networks to identify and achieve their shared purpose. He’s been a pioneer for social impact through open innovation platforms, including leading Context Partners’ work on the State Refor(u)m network and the Black Male Engagement ( network. His passion is providing network members an incredible experience. Robert has a BA in design and an MS in organizational management.


Sam, our office manager, unleashes his disciplined habits, unrelenting curiosity and general nerdery on all of Context Partners. Before joining us, he spent a decade as a working musician, playing drums with the likes of Tony Starlight, Portland Center Stage and dozens of jazz, rock and symphonic ensembles. When he’s not at work, at home with his family and dogs, or curled up with a great book, you can find him rollerblading in the Pacific Northwest’s unbelievable concrete skate parks.


Stephanie masterminds our data collection and analysis to quantify and better understand networks, both ours and our clients’. Her background includes quantitative analysis and system efficiency for firms in public affairs, UX design, actuarial science and financial planning. As a Builder in our network, Stephanie is an analytical problem-solver who adores implementing solutions. And we adore her.


Suzanne designs effective strategies that engage networks to positively impact the world by aligning business goals with shared values. She most recently contributed to the design of a sustainable seafood sector collaboration and the launch of an online community for spiritual empowerment and growth. Her previous work in change management focused on values-based business within complex global brands including Starwood Hotels, Nike, Universal Music Group and Organic India. A teacher at heart, Suzanne endeavors to elicit the brilliance already present in a group.


A rare systems thinker who is also a creative storyteller, Tiffany utilizes her deep background in brand strategy and storytelling to give voice to our mission of accelerating positive change. Over the past 15 years, she has developed growth-focused marketing and brand-centered content strategies for the Change the Course campaign, EcoDistricts, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and a wealth of micro-sized organizations nationwide. As a National Outdoor Leadership School alumna and aspiring endurance athlete, Tiffany spends her “down time” pushing her limits on long-distance hikes and cross-country mountain biking.


Tito focuses on prize challenges and design-thinking facilitation to accelerate solutions to complex problems. He has worked closely with companies including Nike, Citigroup and GE to connect their business priorities to social impact strategies, from large organizations fostering an innovation culture, to emerging market companies accessing new customers, to social businesses creating new business models. Tito has driven positive impact across business, social and international development sectors, including Ashoka’s Changemakers, the World Bank Innovation Labs and


Valerie brings clarity to our client experience by visually translating the ideas of our strategists. Fluent across print and digital design platforms, she’s captured the intricate power dynamics of global fisheries and attracted solutions for Indonesia’s imperiled peatlands. Valerie has designed for global philanthropic and corporate leaders including The Rockefeller Foundation, The Nike Foundation, The Hershey Company and United Technologies. Her design work reflects the varied and interwoven cultures of communities, blending influences from her time in Brooklyn, Switzerland, the Midwest and Mauritius. When she’s not at her desk making something useful and beautiful, you can find her scaling rock walls or making something delicious.


Whitney contributes to the relationship revolution through research synthesis, project management, technology development and event production. Whitney has worked with clients including The 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, The Mott Foundation and the World Environment Center’s Pathways to Prosperity Innovation Challenge. Rarely at rest, Whitney also serves as a Startingbloc fellow and mentor, and a production associate with Grip the Mat. She is the former National Vice President of Operations for the United Women in Business Foundation.


Wil blends storytelling and technology to spark collaboration on solving the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges. He has developed relationship-deepening tools for global networks including The World Wildlife Fund, the Packard Foundation and the Surfrider foundation, and previously with social entrepreneurs at Ashoka. Whether rallying web developers in Bangalore, connecting rural farmers in Kenya or empowering young filmmakers in Yosemite, Wil thrives on facilitating collective action.