Join the Texas Lyceum for their Optional Meeting
Preparing for Hypergrowth hosted in Seattle, Washington



Jared Axelrod

Senior Manager, Public Policy


Jared Axelrod is the Senior Manager of Public Policy for Amazon, and leads the company’s local public policy and community engagement efforts for its Puget Sound headquarters in Washington State. He works with policymakers, trade associations, policymaker organizations, and community stakeholders to best serve Amazon’s customers and advance Amazon’s public policy priorities and worldwide operations.

Prior to joining Amazon, Jared was the Government Affairs Manager for philanthropist Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. There, he was responsible for day-to-day government relations activities at the state and federal levels on a wide variety of projects, worked to implement legislative and public affairs initiatives for Vulcan and Vulcan-affiliated organizations, and represented Mr. Allen in various legislative, political, and business settings. Prior to that, Jared worked at Ceis Bayne East Strategic, a local government relations and public affairs firm in Seattle, where he supported various public, private, and non-profit clients. He also previously served as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Patty Murray in her Washington, D.C. office.

Jared received his Masters of Public Administration from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington, and his Bachelors of Science in Political Science and Economics from the University of Oregon. He currently resides in Seattle.

Andrea Barefield

Council Member, District 1

City of Waco 
Texas Lyceum Class of 2019

Andrea was elected to serve on the Waco City Council representing District 1 in 2018 and is currently serving her third term.  Improving her community’s access to economic, educational and housing opportunities is what drives Andrea.   

She serves on numerous boards and commissions including Texas Municipal League, National League of Cities, Texas Travel Alliance Board, Prosper Waco Board, NAACP, Communities in Schools Board, McCIF (CDFI), StartUp Waco Board and the Texas Lyceum.    Andrea is also a proud member of the Waco Central Texas Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and Waco Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Andrea is a Sam Houston State University graduate, where she met husband Elijah, and they have been happily married for 20 years.  They have two beautiful sons, Drew and Jaxon.

Kate Becker

Creative Economy Director

King County

Building sustainable creative communities has been at the core of Kate Becker’s career. Since 2019, Kate  has been leading King County’s first creative economy initiative. Just prior to this, Kate served as the Director of Seattle’s Office of Film + Music for five years, spending her days (and nights!) working to build Seattle’s creative economy, keenly focused on the film, music, nightlife and special events industries. She is now expanding upon this work at the regional level, wholly focused on advancing policy and initiatives that support the regional creative sector.

Angela Birney


City of Redmond

Elected in 2019, Angela Birney is now in her first term as Mayor of Redmond. The community of over 72,000 is home to a variety of several large industries such as aerospace, high tech, video game production, and biotech, as well as thousands of small businesses where over 85,000 people are employed.

During her first term, she led the city through the pandemic to ensure safety and resiliency for the Redmond community. She has also been a leader regionally by serving as Sound Cities President as well as a member of regional committees that guide a variety of programs including housing, homelessness response, water systems, regional funding, and programs.

Mayor Birney was elected to City Council in 2015 and served as Council President from 2018 to 2019. She has also chaired the Redmond Parks and Trails Commission, volunteered at various organizations throughout the Redmond community, and became a Leadership Eastside graduate in 2017. A Washington native who grew up in Eastern Washington and a former middle school science teacher, Mayor Birney earned her Master of Education from Heritage University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Eastern Washington University.  

Erika Borg

Senior Advisor

Civic Allies Consulting

Erika Borg has nearly 20 years experience working within philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate circles to improve the lives of young people. In 2018 she started Civic Allies Consulting which supports chambers of commerce, nonprofits and philanthropy in drawing up strategy, programmatic design and identifying funding.

Erika moved to Washington State in February 2020 and settled on Bainbridge Island in April (mid-pandemic). She serves as a Senior Advisor to the Association of Washington Business Institute. In this role she advances a long-term economic vision for the state through Washington in the Making and WA 2040. Erika has a Masters of Public Administration from University of Southern California and a Bachelors Degree in English from University of California, Davis.

Juan Esteban Cano


Housing Base

Juan Esteban Cano, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and seasoned entrepreneur, has founded a range of businesses in commercial real estate, technology, medical diagnostics, and investments. Operating under the principle of "Do Well by Doing Good," each of his ventures carries a strong social purpose. His current endeavor, Housing Base, stands as the nation's first affordable housing inventory system that utilizes AI and big government data. This innovative platform identifies suitable housing options based on the social determinants of health, offering an unprecedented solution for cities and the private sector to manage their affordable housing resources.

Born in Medellin, Colombia, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Juan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he cultivated values of servant leadership, resilience, and adaptability. These principles now form the cornerstone of his management style. His career has taken him to Beijing and numerous other global cities, enabling him to build a diverse network of business contacts. This wealth of international experience equips Juan with a uniquely broad perspective for assessing deals and opportunities.

Carla Carrell

Senior Director | External & Government Affairs


Carla Carrell is the Senior Director of External & Government Affairs for Comcast Washington. Her background includes Product Marketing, Go-to-Market Marketing and product launches, B2B Marketing, Government and Major Accounts and Sales Coach training.

In her current position, Carla is responsible for leading Comcast’s broadband adoption program Internet Essentials and advancing digital equity. She also works on regulatory, franchising and public policy matters throughout the region.

Carla has spent over 20 years in the telecom/tech industry. She is a founding board member of the Women’s Network employee resource group, currently sits on the Black Employee Network employee resource group board of directors and serves on the Seattle CityClub Board of Directors, Mary’s Place Technology Committee and the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County Advocacy Board.

You can usually find Carla enjoying the beautiful PNW outdoors with her husband, Jeremy and two children, Mckenna and Jac. If she is not out exploring, look toward any sporting venue and you will find her there cheering in green and blue.

Jay Deutsch

CEO & Co-Founder

Besussen Deutsch & Associates, LLC (BDA)

Jay Deutsch is the CEO of Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, LLC (BDA), the company he co-founded in 1984 in Woodinville, WA. Under his leadership, BDA has grown into a global leader in branded merchandising trusted by the world’s most admired brands. With 40 offices and fulfillment and distribution centers around the globe, Jay has cemented BDA’s position as the largest privately-owned promotional merchandise agency in the world.

BDA leads merchandise campaigns to brand centric Fortune 1000 companies, including Mercedes, Starbucks, Dell, The Home Depot, FedEx, Unilever, Amazon, and many more. BDA is also recognized as the authority in promotional sports merchandising, working closely with the leagues and teams of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and many international teams and leagues as well. BDA is responsible for some of the most iconic and sought-after sports memorabilia created over the past nearly four decades, including the agency’s first project with the Seattle Seahawks 38 years ago.

Combining his love for Seattle and his passion for sports, Jay is part of the Seattle Kraken ownership group and the team’s executive committee, helping the team create and build its brand and team merchandise program.

Jacob Gelb

Associate Director of Real Estate Development

Bellwether Housing

Jacob Gelb is the Associate Director of Real Estate Development at Bellwether Housing, and oversees building rehabilitations, acquisitions, and new developments. The real estate development team manages all phases of development – from planning to opening – including site selection, financing and real estate transactions, construction management, and community engagement.

Bellwether Housing was founded in 1980 to create housing in downtown Seattle so city workers could live close to their jobs. After over 40 years of success and growth, Bellwether is the Puget Sound region’s largest nonprofit affordable housing provider. Today Bellwether owns 35 buildings and provides homes to over 5,000 residents annually. Bellwether continues to grow, with two more buildings under construction, and four more buildings in design, totaling over 1,000 additional apartment homes in development.

Jacob serves on ULI Northwest’s Affordable & Workforce Housing Product Council steering committee and is an alumni of the ULI Center for Leadership. He also serves on the Advisory Council for the Seattle Parks Specialized Programs, which provides recreational activities for youth and adults with disabilities. Jacob received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Economics and Sociology and a Certificate in Real Estate Development from NYU.

Dr. Brent Hecht

Director of Applied Science


Dr. Brent Hecht is Director of Applied Science in Microsoft’s Experiences and Devices organization, where he is helping lead the company-wide efforts to introduce generative AI into our products and to adapt our products to a hybrid work world. Dr. Hecht has an additional appointment as an Associate Professor at Northwestern University, where he leads the People, Space, and Algorithms (PSA) Research Group.

Dr. Hecht has been doing award-winning human-centered artificial intelligence (AI) research for over 10 years and his work has been particularly influential in responsible AI and spatial computing. His early work was central in identifying what we now call ‘algorithmic bias’. He is the recipient of a CAREER award from the U.S. National Science Foundation and his work has received Best Paper recognition at top-tier publication venues in human-centered AI (e.g. ACM SIGCHI, ACM CSCW, ACM Mobile HCI, AAAI ICWSM). Dr. Hecht’s research has been featured by The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, MIT Tech Review, the Atlantic, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and other outlets. He was on the founding executive committee of ACM FAccT, the premiere publication venue for responsible AI research, and he played a key role in catalyzing the rapidly growing movement for AI researchers (e.g. NeurIPS authors) to more deeply engage with the societal impacts of their work.

Thatcher Imboden

Director of Community Development

Sound Transit

Thatcher Imboden is the Director of Community Development at Sound Transit in Seattle, where his team plans and implements transit-oriented development and joint development projects. He oversees a property portfolio with over 2,900 housing units built, under construction, or in design or in negotiation with development partners – with more than 2,100 of them as affordable housing. He’s been with Sound Transit since 2015, and before that worked in Minneapolis in commercial real estate development and in public finance of TOD.

Mark Johnson

Senior Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs

Washington Retail Association

Mark joined the Washington Retail Association January of 2005 as the Director of Government Affairs. In June 2006 he was promoted to Vice President. Mark is responsible for the strategic development of the Government Affairs activities of the Washington Retail Association and the Government Affairs Division's activities. He leads high priority issues for the association such as taxes, unemployment insurance, health care, privacy issues, and the handling of consumer products. Mark is also the lead staff for the association's Small Business Committee, Political Action Committee and its Government Affairs Committee. Johnson currently is a member of the Council of Washington Business Organizations, Association of Washington Business, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Enterprise Washington Political Oversight Committee, Council of State Retail Associations, the Attorney General’s Citizens Advisory Committee, the Tax Policy Advisory Council for the Department of Revenue, the Advisory Board for the Employment Security Department, and several others.

Mark, a Seattle native and a 1987 graduate of Central Washington University, completing a degree in political science, a minor in economics and an emphasis in communications. Johnson attended Central on partial scholarship. While at Central Mark served as the Associated Student Body President, advisory member for the Board of Trustees, President of the Phi Beta Lambda Business Club, Chairman of the Washington Student Lobby, and Sergeant of Arms for the Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity.

Mark enjoys spending time with his two children Anna and James. In his spare time Mark enjoys volunteering through Kiwanis International, serving as Chairman of the National Eagle Scout Association, boating, golfing, classic cars, traveling, cooking, playing music, gardening, attending the ballet, symphony, and opera.

Ben London

Executive Director

Sonic Guild - Seattle

Ben London is a Seattle based music professional/recording artist who currently serves as Executive Director for Sonic Guild Seattle. Prior, London held senior positions with Experience Music Project (MoPOP), The GRAMMYS (The Recording Academy), Hewlett Packard and Northwest Polite Society. London was the inaugural chair of the Seattle Music Commission and has served on boards including KEXP and the Vera Project. London has recorded for indie and major labels and his music has been featured in a wide variety of movies and television programs. London’s prior bands include Alcohol Funnycar, St. Bushmills Choir and Sanford Arms. He currently performs as a member of the Seattle band STAG. 

Meghan Marshall

Executive Officer

The California Interagency Council on Homelessness

Meghan Marshall was appointed Executive Officer of the California Interagency Council on Homelessness by Governor Gavin Newsom in March 2023. Meghan has over 17 years of experience working in the public sectors of public health, behavioral health, human services and housing and homelessness. Prior to her most recent role as the Director of Public Health for Placer County, Meghan served in many positions of leadership for Sacramento County, including as Division Manager for the COVID-19 Homelessness Response Team and as the Planning Manager for the county’s Initiatives to Reduce Homelessness. Meghan has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from California State University Sacramento and a Master’s degree in Public Health from George Washington University.

Heather Wagner Reed

Founder & CEO

Juice Consulting 
Texas Lyceum Class of 2010

Heather Wagner Reed is the Founder + CEO of Juice Consulting, a boutique PR and marketing firm that specializes in sectors including music and entertainment, tech and innovation, international government, the nonprofit world, the visual arts and much more. 

Founded in 2007, Juice’s clients over the years range from the likes of famed disco legend Gloria Gaynor, American music magazine SPIN and neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu, to some of the most innovative tech accelerators in the region including Techstars and MassChallenge. Reflective of the booming industries emerging from the agency’s homebase in Austin, Texas Juice’s motto is “adding vitality to your campaign.” The agency is proud to offer a leave-no-stone-unturned approach in building their client’s prominence in the market and use a variety of strategic approaches and unrivaled passion to do so. In other words, they bring the juice!

Read more.

Lynne Robinson


City of Bellevue

Mayor Lynne Robinson joined the City Council in 2014, and she has a long history of civic involvement. Her colleagues voted her deputy mayor in January 2018, then mayor in January 2020 and again mayor in January 2022. She is a leader in affordable housing, sustainable and equitable development and transit-oriented communities.

Lynne also advocates for small business, parks and open spaces, and human services. Among her many appointments, she represents the council on the King County Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Advisory Committee, the King County Affordable Housing Committee, the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board, the WTIA Cascadia Blockchain Council, and the Washington IoT council. 

A retired physical therapist who ran her own business for 20 years, Lynne holds a doctorate in physical therapy from Regis University, a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Northwestern University Medical School, and a bachelor's degree in community services from California State University Chico.

Lynne and husband Dan Watson raised their two children in Bellevue and currently live downtown. 

Rev. Gavin Rogers

Executive Director

Corazon Ministries

Rev. Gavin Rogers is the Executive Director of Corazon San Antonio, a local non profit for the unhoused and marginalized. He also serves as the Associate Pastor at Travis Park Church in downtown San Antonio. He is the founder of the interfaith community group Pub Theology San Antonio. He is a native Texan and is a graduate The Divinity School at Duke University. In 2013 he was selected as the Young San Antonian of the Year for his work of solidarity with the homeless when he lived on the streets of San Antonio for Lent. This award has been given to one San Antonian each year since 1931. In 2018, Gavin traveled with the migrant caravan to better understand the immigration issue and learn the personal stories of migrants.  His work can be found on CNN, NPR, San Antonio Report, and the San Antonio Express News.  Gavin’s mission is to engage the community to seek unconditional love and justice in action to all of our neighbors.

Jenifer Sarver


Sarver Strategies 
Texas Lyceum Class of 2014

Jenifer loves stories and helping people develop and tell theirs. At Sarver Strategies, she works with corporate and nonprofit clients to develop their story – and then train them to effectively tell it. She is a sought-after corporate coach, working with executives and their teams to build and refine their communication skills. She leads classes, workshops and one-on-one sessions on media training, advocacy and engagement, public speaking, executive presence, and virtual engagement. She brings more than two decades of professional experience in the corporate, nonprofit, and political worlds to bear on behalf of her clients. She is passionate about civic engagement, promoting civil discourse and helping more women get elected to public office. She is on the board of the Women’s Public Leadership Network, the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, the Moody College of Communication, and the Salvation Army of Austin. She is a Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Civil Society Fellow and is a member of the Texas Lyceum class of 2014. In 2018, Jenifer came in fifth in an 18-way Primary for the 21st Congressional District in Texas. She continues to use lessons learned and firsthand experiences from that campaign to help encourage and promote others.  In her spare time she loves to travel. She's been to six continents, 54 countries and all 50 states. 

Eric Schinfeld

Senior Manager, Federal & International Government Relations

Port of Seattle

Eric Schinfeld is the Sr. Manager of Federal and International Government Relations for the Port of Seattle. In this role, he staffs the Port’s elected officials and executives on key federal and trade policy issues that impact the Port, its customers and the residents of King County. Prior to this role, Schinfeld served as both Chief of Staff of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and as the President of the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT), where he led WCIT’s advocacy and outreach efforts on trade policy issues that benefit Washington employers and increase our state’s international competitiveness. Eric also spent five years as staff to the Prosperity Partnership – a coalition of business, government and community organizations focused on ensuring long-term prosperity for the Puget Sound region – and he began his career in the Washington, DC office of U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher. Eric has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs.

Jon Scholes

President & CEO

Downtown Seattle Association

Jon Scholes is president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association where he is responsible for the operations and programs of the DSA, a 2100 member association formed in 1958 to create a healthy, vibrant downtown. In his capacity, Jon is also responsible for the management of the 285 block business improvement district that was established in 1999 in Downtown Seattle to provide cleaning, safety, transportation, marketing and public realm management services in Downtown. He was appointed president and CEO of the DSA in November of 2014 following six years as DSA’s vice president of advocacy and economic development. Jon has spent more than twenty years working in nonprofit advocacy, local government and in senior positions on political campaigns at the regional and state levels. Jon served for five years as Chief of Staff to King County Councilmember Julia Patterson and as Research Director and Senior Communications Advisor on Governor Gregoire’s successful 2008 reelection campaign. Jon is currently a member of the Seattle Center Advisory Commission, and serves on the boards of Visit Seattle, Transportation Choices Coalition, the International Downtown Association and Downtown Emergency Services Center. He has served on a number of city and county task forces on transportation, homelessness and housing and was recognized in 2016 as a “40 Under 40” honoree by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Jon is a graduate of Leadership tomorrow and attended the University of Texas in Austin, before graduating from the University of Washington. He lives in Downtown Seattle with his wife and their thirteen-year-old twins.

Sam Wolff

Senior Project Manager


Sam is passionate about making people’s lives better via public policy and accessible public goods. Prior to working for LEAD, Sam pursued this passion in a number of ways, including helping people to access services as an outreach case manager in New York City, working on advocacy to end hunger in Washington State, helping to research and design Seattle’s cannabis equity policy, and by earning his Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Social Policy from the Evans School at the University of Washington.

Lindsay Pasternak Wolpa

Senior Manager, Strategic Projects

The Northwest Seaport Alliance

Lindsay has been with The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) since 2021 and prior to that with the Port of Seattle since 2014. Her roles with both organizations have included supporting policy development at the elected-commissioner level to representing both Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance interests with the City of Seattle, tribal governments and other regional agencies. She currently works closely with NWSA’s operations and commercial teams, supporting project specific work and leading related public affairs programs, including impacts on surrounding communities and other external stakeholders.

Prior to working for NWSA and the Port, Lindsay was a public affairs consultant for a local firm and spent two years in Washington D.C. with the Glover Park Group. She began her career in U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell’s state office. Originally from the Boston area, Lindsay first moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend University of Washington as an undergraduate. She also received her M.P.A at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

Lindsay lives in West Seattle with her husband, their 3.5-year-old son Max and 9-month-old twins, Eli and Ellie.

Greg Wong

Deputy Mayor

City of Seattle

Greg Wong is Seattle’s Deputy Mayor of External Relations, to which he was name by Mayor Bruce Harrell in August 2022. Prior to that, Wong served as Interim Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. He is experienced in addressing a diverse array of complex issues that impact our lives. Prior to joining the City, he was a community leader and partner at Pacifica Law Group LLP, where he focused on constitutional law, litigation and appeals, and public policy. His work included preventing gun violence, ensuring investments in our people and public services, creating more just and equitable economic and educational systems, and numerous other issues.