BIOGRAPHIES
OUR TEAM
 
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Nathan Lee, Managing Director

Nathan Lee is the Managing Director and Founder of CivicPulse. In addition to running CivicPulse, Nathan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Nathan’s scholarly research has covered a variety of topics and disciplines, and you can find out more information about his research on his website. Prior to CivicPulse and RIT, Nathan worked as a policy analyst at the White House National Economic Council, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the California Public Utility Commission. Nathan received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University, a Master of Science in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. 

 
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Michael Hotard, Research Director

Michael Hotard is a current policy researcher and former government employee who is interested in how the social sector can use data to create effective policies and programs. Prior to joining CivicPulse, he monitored workforce development grants at the US Department of Labor and most recently was a program manager at the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab, overseeing the organization's research portfolio related to unauthorized immigration and public health. Michael received a Master’s in Applied Economics from the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University and also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. 

 
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Tom Ellington, Director of Local Government Relations

Tom Ellington served two terms as an elected member of the Macon, GA, City Council and has remained active in public service in a variety of appointed positions since then. He also holds an appointment as professor of political science at Wesleyan College, a small liberal arts college for women. In 2014, he was a Fulbright Korea senior scholar, teaching at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. He has also held visiting appointments at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul and at Guangzhou University in China. He earned a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland and most recently completed an MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2020, completing projects in Flint, MI, and Trenton, NJ.

 
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Ayenna Cagaanan,  Research Associate

Ayenna Cagaanan is a Research Associate at CivicPulse. Prior to this role, she was an AmeriCorp VISTA member working on the communications team at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Brown University. 

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Christine Dean,  Research Associate

Christine Dean is a Research Associate at CivicPulse. Prior to joining CivicPulse, Christine volunteered as Board Treasurer for a non-profit preschool. In 2022, Christine received her MS degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from Rochester Institute of Technology, where she learned to appreciate the power of quality data visualization in policy matters. Her graduate research included interviewing residents of a Rochester, New York neighborhood to understand their needs and desires for their community.

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Earnest Salgado,  Research Associate

Earnest Salgado is a Research Associate at CivicPulse. Prior to joining, he served as a water conservation utility analyst at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. In 2013, he graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a BA degree in Environmental Earth Science. In 2022, Earnest received his MPP from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, earning a certificate in data analytics.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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Drew Combs, City Councilmember for Menlo Park, California 

Drew Combs serves on the city council in Menlo Park, California. In his time on the city council, Combs has spearheaded the approval of major infrastructure and park projects, played a key role in hiring senior city staff positions and been an advocate for balanced development. For 2021, he held the position of mayor. Prior to being elected to city council, Combs served on the city’s Planning Commission for four years. Combs was also previously a member of the city’s Bicycle Commission. In addition to city government roles, Combs’ community service has included tutoring high school students and fundraising for a local nonprofit. Combs’ professional experiences include a decade-long stint as a legal journalist as well as operations and privacy management roles in the tech industry. He is a graduate of Columbia University, where he majored in Urban Studies, and Harvard Law School. 

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Amy Eappen, Deputy Chief Financial Officer at IIE

Amy Eappen is Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at the Institute of International Education (IIE), where she has worked in various finance roles since 2011.  Prior to IIE, she worked as a budget analyst at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget and Director of Aftercare Services at the New York City Department of Homeless Services. Amy served as an Economic Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Honduras.  She obtained her M.S. in Management and Urban Policy from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment at the New School and a B.A. in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and Spanish from Miami University.

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Andy Krackov, President of Hillcrest Advisory

Andy Krackov’s career has focused on the intersection of data and community-level action. His consultancy, Hillcrest Advisory, works with social sector organizations on the front lines of local change to help them communicate numbers effectively and tell stories with data. He managed statewide data projects for two foundations in California: the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and the California Health Care Foundation. His first professional experience – and his abiding passion – is journalism: Andy was a researcher and a reporter at U.S. News & World Report. Andy received his bachelor’s degree in history from Washington University in St. Louis and his master's degree in communication theory from Stanford. 

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Talia Lomax-O’dneal, Deputy Finance Director for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee 

Talia Lomax-O'dneal is a well-respected government finance professional with more than thirty years of experience in state and local government finance. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work. She currently serves as Deputy Finance Director for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro). From 2015 through 2019, she served as Director of Finance. She was the first African American and first woman to hold this position. She is a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) and a Certified Municipal Finance Officer (CMFO).  She is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association, the AGA and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. She is also a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and is certified as a SHRM-SCP. 

Nathan Lee, Managing Director of CivicPulse, is the fifth sitting member on our Board of Directors (see bio above). 

ADVISORY BOARD
 
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Daniel Butler, Professor at UC San Diego

Daniel Butler is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.  His surveys state and local politicians to learn about representation. He is author of Representing the Advantaged (2014, Cambridge University Press). His work has also been published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and other journals.  He received his PhD from Stanford in 2007.

 
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Jonathan Chu, Lecturer at Stanford University

Jonathan Chu is a political scientist, and co-founder of CivicPulse, who researches issues of democracy, governance, human rights, and foreign policy (Ph.D. Stanford University). He is also an expert on survey and experimental methodology. He is currently a lecturer Stanford University and affiliated research at Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. In addition to his academic work, Jonathan contributed to public service in relation to agencies like AmeriCorps and USAID. Read more about his research on his website.

 
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Kevin Kearney, City Manager of Bradbury, CA

Kevin Kearney is City Manager of Bradbury, California, where he is responsible for managing day-to-day operations and overseeing all city administration and functions.  In 2017, the California City Management Foundation recognized Kevin as a "Rising Star" in the city management community for his accomplishments as one of the youngest city managers in California. Kevin is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California and has earned degrees and certifications from Harvard University, University of California, Irvine, and Cal Poly Pomona. He is a Certified Public Manager through the University of California, San Diego.

 
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Megan Mullin, Associate Professor at Duke University

Megan Mullin is Associate Professor of Environmental Politics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, with secondary faculty appointments in the Department of Political Science and the Sanford School of Public Policy. She is a scholar of American political institutions and behavior, focusing on the ways that political systems respond to local environmental conditions. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

 
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Ron Mester, Founder/CEO of Power Almanac

Ron Mester is the founder and CEO of Power Almanac, a contact platform designed to help organizations reach the right senior decision-makers at more than 21,000 local governments across the US. Early in his career, while a senior partner at the global consulting firm, Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson), Ron advised Fortune 1000 and public sector clients on strategy and organization issues, and also served 3 mayors as a member of the San Francisco Mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee. Ron’s longstanding interest in government started in a high school government class taught by the mayor of Torrance, CA, and then accelerated with a BA in political science from UC Berkeley and an MBA in public policy/management from the Wharton School. Ron also serves on the Advisory Board for CivStart.

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Vince Vu, Government Industry Advisor at Qualtrics

Vince Vu is the Government Industry Advisor at Qualtrics, focusing on state and local government. Vince advises government partners on innovation, research, and community engagement, including design, evaluation, governance, and change management. Prior to joining Qualtrics, Vince managed innovation and research teams in multiple government settings at the city, county, and state levels for the past decade. Vince has a masters degree in Public Policy, specializing in advanced policy analysis.

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Kirsten Wyatt, Fellow at Georgetown University Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation 

Kirsten Wyatt is a Fellow at Georgetown University Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. Prior to her current role, she was the executive director and co-founder of Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Previously, she served as Assistant City Manager of West Linn, Oregon. Also at the city of West Linn, she was employed as the Assistant to the City Manager and the Finance Analyst. Prior to her tenure in West Linn, she served as a budget analyst for the Virginia Department of Education; as a graduate assistant with the Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and as a communications consultant with Pacific Public Affairs.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Politics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon; and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.