Laurel Strategies’ global network includes senior leaders experienced in communications, trade, business, policy, politics, public relations and finance. Our team’s specialities span a wide variety of geographies, industries, and extend deep into the public, private and civil society sectors.
Dafna Tapiero, Co-Founder
Dafna Tapiero is the Co-Founder of Laurel Strategies. In addition to managing the firm, Tapiero specializes in private equity, alternatives, technology, and family office clients, among others. She focuses on strategy, financial communications, raising the profiles of leaders, crisis management, philanthropy, as well as ESG and sustainable investment.
Previously, for 20 years she served as an official at the World Bank Group, and its International Finance Corporation working on privatization in the Former Soviet Union. Following the Asian Financial Crisis, she founded and managed the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening (FIRST) Initiative, a US$ 66 million global fund established to provide direct support to countries in reforming and developing their financial systems. At IFC, she established a corporate responsibility initiative for private sector investors, primarily in large infrastructure, high impact sectors like Oil, Gas and Mining. In 2014, she was on assignment as Senior Advisor on Innovative Financing in the Office of the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, forging partnerships and financing mechanisms to build resilience and increased preparedness for climate-induced natural disasters.
Tapiero proudly serves as an Advisory Director of Carnegie Hall and as a Director of Fund II Foundation. She is a Member of the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation’s Council for Hope and a Trustee of the Lauer Philanthropic Foundation.
Tapiero received an MA from Johns Hopkins’ School of International Studies and a BA from Johns Hopkins.
Erin Celentano, Senior Director
Erin Celentano is a Senior Director at Laurel Strategies. Erin has extensive experience driving strategic growth and directing communications across a range of publishing and media outlets. Most recently, Erin served as the Director, Marketing Communications and Community Development, in the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS Publications), the largest scientific society and one of the world’s top scholarly publishers. Over the course of her nearly decade-long tenure at ACS Publications, Erin conceptualized, built and delivered campaigns to foster relationships with a global community of authors, editors, reviewers, librarians, ACS members and the greater scientific research community, while concurrently leading industry-wide communications initiatives.
Prior to joining ACS, Erin led digital marketing efforts for the Brookings Institution Press, working with world renowned scholars and public policy experts to launch and promote books covering a range of key issues, from climate change and US immigration policy to global humanitarian conflicts and the democratic revolution in the Middle East. Having spent many years living in New Zealand, Erin managed key communications, marketing and sponsorship campaigns for the country’s second largest newspaper, as well as a family of national radio stations.
Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in Publishing from the George Washington University. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her family.
H.E. Iván Duque Márquez, Senior Global Strategic Advisor
H.E. Iván Duque Márquez is a recognized global leader and expert on climate action, international development, and geopolitical analysis. He is a Transformational Leadership Fellow at the Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government, a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and an International Leadership Fellow at the Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom at Florida International University.
Duque Márquez served as President of Colombia from 2018 to 2022, during which time he led Colombia to achieve its highest historical economic growth and the most ambitious climate action policy framework in the Americas. Amid the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic, he led the country in creating the most robust social safety net in its history and becoming the leading country in Latin America in COVID-19 management.
Duque Márquez is a decorated leader and recipient of multiple international awards including the National Geographic Planetary Leadership Award, the Theodore Roosevelt Global Conservation Award, the Concordia Leadership Award, and the Council of the Americas Global Leadership Award. He is also the Chairman of the Concordia Amazon Initiative, whose objective is to raise awareness around the intricate link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet, and the kinds of commitments the private sector can make to preserve the rainforest.
He is recognized as one of the most impactful speakers and leaders in Latin America. He is the author of more than 12 books and serves on a number of boards.
Duque Márquez is married to María Juliana Ruiz, with whom he shares three children. He holds a Master in Policy Management from Georgetown University, a Master in International Legal Studies from American University, a JD in Universidad Sergio Arboleda with a Major in Philosophy. He also holds an honorary Doctorate in Economics from Yonsei University in South Korea.
David Barber, Senior Advisor
David is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, providing unique perspectives and advice in the food and hospitality sectors, among others. David is co-owner of Blue Hill–a working farm, restaurant, and consulting company supporting agriculture that positively contributes to the world’s food system. The 138-acre farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts has been in the Barber family for four generations. Blue Hill restaurant has locations in Greenwich Village and Pocantico Hills, New York.
David is a founding partner of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County. This unique nonprofit advances community and ecologically based food production-demonstrating alternative ways to farm and eat. Stone Barns Center works in association with Blue Hill’s second restaurant located on the campus.
Blue Hill (NYC) received the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Award in 2013. Blue Hill at Stone Barns received the same honor in 2015 and was added to the San Pellegrino World 50 list.
David is an early stage investor in the food and hospitality space through Almanac Investments and advisor to S2G Ventures and Acre Investments. He serves on the Board of BlueCart Corp, and is a Trustee for Stone Barns Center, Caramoor Center for the Arts and the Collegiate School in New York City.
Mark Bezos, Senior Advisor
Mark Bezos, Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, is the founder of DemoMode Marketing a branding and customer experience consultancy. Previously, Bezos served as the head of communications and events at the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City. Mark has held senior positions at global advertising agencies developing branding efforts for numerous Fortune 100 companies. Mark is the Captain of a volunteer fire company and delivered a talk on the subject at the main TED conference in 2011.
Sam Caywood, Senior Director
Sam Caywood is a Senior Director at Laurel Strategies with a background in communication and public opinion strategy. After graduating from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Sam worked on statewide campaigns in Virginia and North Carolina. He has previously worked as an Assistant Analyst at Hart Research Associates and an intern at SKDKnickerbocker.
Adam Chassin, Senior Advisor
Adam is an investor and advisor to technology companies and has spent over 15 years in senior executive roles at leading technology companies in both the US and Europe. As the Head of Business for Uber in Europe, Adam was responsible for all partnerships and investments that supported Uber’s growth In Europe’s major markets. Adam established groundbreaking partnerships with leading financial institutions, credit card networks, mobile carriers, rail companies and airlines to drive Uber’s growth while also establishing partnerships with the largest European automakers to secure access to vehicles at affordable prices for Uber drivers.
Prior to Uber, Adam was the Head of Strategic Business Development at Amazon where he worked across the entire portfolio of Amazon businesses. Adam led the team responsible for the evaluation and incubation of new businesses for Amazon to enter, oversaw the growth of Amazon Prime via strategic partnerships, scaled the distribution of the Amazon Video service via third parties, created the go to market strategy for the acquisition of streaming rights for live sports, as well as helped build out the offering for the Prime Now two-hour delivery service.
Prior to Amazon, Adam held various senior business positions at Yahoo in silicon valley and was a transactional attorney at AOL prior to that. Adam began his career as a banker and M&A lawyer on wall street. He graduated magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University and has a JD from the University of Virginia.
Franck Daphnis, Senior Advisor
Franck Daphnis is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and a recognized leader in development finance, bringing his housing finance, microfinance, urban development, housing and infrastructure rehabilitation, municipal services cost recovery, and urban environmental management expertise to Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and beyond. He has authored and edited two books on housing finance, including the seminal work Housing Microfinance: a Guide to Practice (Kumarian Press, January 2004). He is the President and CEO of Development Innovations Group.
Emal Dusst, Senior Advisor
Emal Dusst brings expertise to Laurel Strategies in the field of education. Previously, Emal was Head of Strategy & Chief of Staff to the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Laureate Education, a global education company and a B Corp with a presence in 25 countries. Prior to Laureate, he was a Director focused on Strategy & M&A at Saint-Gobain, a $60 billion French industrial conglomerate, where he was also on the board of Corporate Ventures group. Emal has also worked in investment banking and private equity. Emal serves on the Board of Coursera.
Emal is on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Afghanistan where he also serves as the Chair of the Audit, Compliance & Risk Management Committee. He is on the Advisory Board of Working Metrics, a workforce analytics company in partnership with the Aspen Institute. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council in D.C. and on the Board of Advisors of ReCoded, a non-profit coding school for refugees in the Middle East funded by the UN. Additionally, he is a member of the Robert S. Brookings Society at the Brookings Institution.
Emal has published a book and writes for The Brookings Institution on global education trends. Emal holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UCLA and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Lauren Fernandez, Director of Operations
Lauren Fernandez is the Director of Operations at Laurel Strategies with experience spanning across public, private, and civil society at all levels. Believing organizations can thrive only when they engage in meaningful work for all stakeholders, Lauren is passionate about connecting organizations and their constituents through effective communication.
Before joining Laurel, Lauren worked with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Architect of the U.S. Capitol, and as the Director of Social Media and Marketing at a historic DC restaurant, contributing to her love of service orientation. She is a member of JUST Capital’s JUSTGen organization, whose mission is to create a community of changemakers dedicated to furthering stakeholder capitalism and putting purpose-driven, values-based leadership into practice, serving on the organization’s Core Council.
Lauren is a proud graduate of The George Washington University and lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, daughter, and beloved rescue dog, Macy.
David M. Gruppo, Senior Advisor
After a career in investment banking and technology, David founded Indigo Capital Management & Strategy in 2015 to provide capital and advice to early-stage companies, primarily in the technology sector. As a Google Ideas Fellow in 2015 and 2016, David was an entrepreneur-in-residence to Alphabet’s in-house think tank.
Between June 2010 and January 2015, David was a Managing Director and Head of Latin America Corporate and Investment Banking for the Japanese banking group, MUFG, one of the largest financial institutions in the world. David was hired to develop and execute a strategy for the Bank to expand its business in Latin America. Under David’s leadership, revenues increased approximately eight-fold, the portfolio grew to approximately $20 billion, net revenues to over $250 million, and the team to over 90 professionals based in NY and seven regional offices in Latin America.
David joined MUFG from IBM where for 8 years he was involved in corporate strategy and business development for the healthcare and telecom industries, among other responsibilities.
Prior to IBM, he spent over 12 years in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Santander, building those firms’ businesses in Latin America. Earlier in his career, David was named a Henry Luce Scholar and spent a year working in Tokyo as a legislative assistant for a member of the Japanese Diet.
David began his career as a corporate lawyer with Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett in New York. David earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan University, and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University. He has lived in Argentina, Brazil, France, and Japan and speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and has Series 79, 24, and 63 Finra licenses.
David is a life member of The Council on Foreign Relations.
Eva Hicks, Executive Director, External Affairs
Eva Hicks is the Executive Director of External Affairs at Laurel Strategies. She has extensive experience supporting executives in the public and private sectors, managing and advising on key priorities and coordinating logistics and preparation for principals and their staff.
Eva previously served as Executive Assistant at Brunswick Group where she supported multiple Partners, including the Global Lead for the firm’s Digital practice. She was previously Scheduler and Legislative Correspondent for Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV).
In addition to providing executive support, Eva has experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research and program evaluation for federal grant programs.
Eva graduated with distinction from Colorado College where she double majored in Sociology and Political Science. She participated in the WeLEAD Women & Politics Institute at American University, and volunteers with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Democratic National Convention. She is an avid soccer player, skier, and traveler.
Ankur Jain, Senior Advisor
Ankur Jain is an entrepreneur and investor, who is the founder and CEO of Bilt Rewards, the first loyalty program that allows you to earn points on rent. Jain has grown the company to a valuation of $1.5 billion since its launch in June 2021.
Prior to launching Bilt, Jain was the founder and CEO of Kairos, a venture studio for young entrepreneurs that helped launch and grow its partner companies to over $6.5bn, solving problems from housing to healthcare.
Before joining Kairos in May 2017, Jain was the Chief Product Officer at Tinder. He joined Tinder after it acquired his company, Humin, where he served as Founder & CEO.
Jain has been recognized for a variety of achievements. In 2017, he was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. In 2011, Inc. magazine named Jain the “Best Connected 21-Year-Old in the World” and awarded him “30 Under 30”. In 2012, he was named “30 under 30: Solution Broker” by the Christian Science Monitor. In 2015, Forbes also named Jain to their “30 under 30” list.
Matt Kennedy, Senior Advisor
Matt Kennedy is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and a founder of Kennedy Merchant Partners (KMP) and has worked in over 20 countries on six continents. Previously, Matt served in senior roles in the Obama Administration at the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury and the White House. He is a board member of the John F. Kennedy Library and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
Delila Khaled, Senior Advisor
Delila Khaled, Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, brings 25 years of experience as an executive manager, business owner, and technical expert in the international development and foreign policy arena. She has worked with governments, NGOs, and the private sector in more than 20 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Ms. Khaled is an urban development specialist with diverse, cross-sectoral expertise in the design and implementation of multi-million dollar programs focusing in development finance and economic growth, inclusive governance and municipal service delivery, as well as gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
Deborah Lehr, Senior Advisor
Deborah Lehr, Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Basilinna, a strategic business consulting firm focused on China and the Middle East. In addition, Deborah is a Senior Fellow of the Paulson Institute, a think tank founded by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson located at the University of Chicago. Deborah previously managed a successful consulting business, representing Western and Chinese companies such as Tory Burch, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and Boeing. She was also President of Stonebridge China, a global consulting firm, overseeing offices in Beijing and Shanghai, and a partner at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, a top global law firm. Deborah also served in the US Government as a lead negotiator at the Office of the US Trade Representative for China’s WTO accession, and a Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. She is a founder and Chairman of the Antiquities Coalition, which combats the looting of cultural heritage by organized crime and terrorists, with a focus on the Middle East.
Jake Maccoby, Senior Advisor
Jake Maccoby is a speechwriter and communications strategist, and the founder of JDMaccoby Strategies.
Following four years working in Massachusetts state government and in public affairs at SKDKnickerbocker, Jake served on President Barack Obama’s debate preparation team during the 2012 presidential campaign. After the election, Jake worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as Chief Speechwriter and Strategic Communications Advisor for Attorney General Eric Holder, and later for Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He was a policy advisor on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, participating in debate preparation and speechwriting, and developed and led a media company focused around former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara – with properties in podcasts, text, video, and live events – before founding JDMaccoby Strategies in 2018.
Today, Jake works with national nonprofit, corporate, and political clients, advises communicators, and assists public figures across the country. He has appeared regularly on cable news channels including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, HLN, and CNBC.
Robert C. McNally, Senior Advisor
Robert C. McNally is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and the founder and President of The Rapidan Group, an independent energy consulting and market advisory firm, and has served in senior financial market and official posts spanning economic, security, and environmental aspects of energy market analysis, strategy, and policymaking. Under President George W. Bush, Robert served as the top international and domestic energy adviser on the White House staff, holding the posts of Special Assistant to the President on the National Economic Council and, in 2003, Senior Director for International Energy on the National Security Council.
Michael Melamed, Executive Vice President
Michael has extensive domestic and international experience consulting leaders, businesses and organizations on the development and implementation of new initiatives, products, and ideas. Most recently, Michael worked in the World Bank’s education practice, helping to expand the reach of the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative across global development and education communities. Before joining the Bank, Michael worked with the global corporate affairs team at Anheuser-Busch InBev, where he developed and launched a new, internal research assessment tool. Michael has experience working with a national non-profit organization, and served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural El Salvador. He received his BA in international relations from Macalester College and his MA in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Michael is fluent in Spanish.
Jake Melville, Director
Jake Melville is a Director at Laurel Strategies. He has extensive experience in speechwriting and executive communication strategy, as well as a deep understanding of the principles of cross-cultural communication.
Previously, he served as the Speechwriter and Special Assistant to the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States, where he helped shape and develop the Ambassador’s messaging with the US public, media, and government counterparts, as well as advised on the Embassy’s overall communications strategy.
Prior to that, Jake taught English to elementary and middle school students in South Korea and contributed to a local English-language magazine. He also worked as a Speechwriting Associate at West Wing Writers.
Jake is a double graduate of the George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs (B.A. 2008 & M.A. 2016).
Nelson Ortiz, Senior Advisor
Nelson Ortiz, Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, has more than three decades of leadership experience in the financial services and private equity arenas, and is recognized as one of Latin America’s most successful investors and respected thinkers on regional and global economic policy. Nelson is founding partner of Incus Capital, a private equity fund specializing in distressed assets in Spain and Portugal, with more than 500 million euros in assets under management. He is also a founding partner of Fondo de Valores Inmobiliarios, a real estate fund that manages over $400 million in assets in Latin America, and serves as an advisor to Oaktree, a California-based fund with over $80 billion in assets under management. Between 2000 and 2007, Nelson was president of the Caracas Stock Exchange, where he oversaw the performance and operations of one of Latin America’s largest exchanges in terms of daily trading volume and market capitalization. Nelson has on two occasions served as Technical Secretary for Venezuela’s Economic Cabinet. He has also been a member of the President of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Advisory Board for Private Sector Issues, and worked extensively with the Latin American chapter of the World Economic Forum.
Dan Prieto, Senior Advisor
Daniel B. Prieto is Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the National Security Council since September 2014.
He served as the Director of Cybersecurity and Technology, and as the Director of the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity and Information Assurance (DIB CS/IA) Program in the Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO).
Dan previously served as a vice president for IBM Global Business Services, Public Sector, in Washington, D.C. from 2007 to 2013. In that role, he led a strategy consulting practice and directed thought leadership on a range of issues including information sharing, critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, and IT transformation. Dan also served as IBM’s senior executive for work in Afghanistan with the DoD to identify, train, and develop Afghan technology and business entrepreneurs in Herat and Kabul.
Dan has been published widely on national and homeland security issues. He holds an M.A. degree in international economics and international law from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., and a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
Dan Restrepo, Senior Advisor
Dan Restrepo is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies. Dan has built a career crafting strategies and solving problems at the intersection of policy, politics, communications, and law in both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, he has worked on behalf of a wide range of clients including multinational media and technology companies, independent energy producers, private equity funds, major consumer products companies, and global law firms, among others. In government, he has served at the highest levels of all three branches of the US Federal government.
Prior to joining Laurel Strategies, he founded Restrepo Strategies LLC, which provided counsel to those engaged in or exploring opportunities in the Americas and Spain. He is an on-air analyst for CNN/CNN Español, a columnist for Latin Trade and CNNE Opinión, a regular conference speaker, and has served on the board of directors of a publicly traded Fortune 1000 company.
Dan served as the principal advisor to President Obama on issues related to Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, serving as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. Previously, he served on the professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as a Law Clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and has worked in a variety of roles in each of the past 5 U.S. presidential elections.
Dan is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, practicing at the law firm of Williams & Connolly, LLP. Dan, his wife, and their two children live in Washington, DC.
Jeff Rosenthal, Senior Advisor
Jeff Rosenthal is Co-Founder of Summit, a cutting-edge organization best known for hosting global ideas festivals and events, and is the owner/designer/developer of Summit Powder Mountain and Powder Mountain ski resort in Eden, Utah.
He is also Co-Director of Summit Action Fund, which makes investments in startups that drive innovation and positive market disruption, such as Uber, Warby Parker, Katerra, Clover Health, Classpass, Ready Responders, Rubicon Recycling, Change.org, among others.
Jeff and is a Founding Partner at the Drawdown Fund with Paul Hawken, and a Senior Advisor to TPG Rise, one of the world’s largest Impact Funds.
Jeff is a founding board member of the Summit Institute, as well as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and currently serves on the boards of Beyond Conflict and Street Soccer USA, and the Leadership Council at Conservation International.
Stephanie Rudnick, Senior Advisor
Stephanie Rudnick is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and a seasoned brand management and communications strategist with over 20 years’ experience working across numerous industries – sports, entertainment, lifestyle, technology, travel, luxury, advertising, experiential and marketing. Rudnick previously ran global communications for Wasserman Media Group. A native of Chicago, Rudnick is a graduate of the University of Southern California and lives in New York City with her two children.
Ralph Simon, Senior Advisor
Ralph Simon is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and one of the founders of the global mobile & social media industry, a visionary & innovator popularly known as “the father of the ring tone”. An expert on smartphone lifestyles, multi-screen creativity & a specialist in providing mobile health delivery systems, he founded the world’s first international global commercial ring tone service in the Europe, Africa, North America, the UK & Australasia. One of the world’s top 50 mobile executives since 2005, Ralph relentlessly searches the world for the smartest new mobile & wireless apps, mobile health platforms, Virtual Reality, mobile business creativity & ‘positive disruption’ strategies. His expertise & companies are experts in mobile social media, mobile health & wellness, mobile games & VR, global mobile business strategies, ‘positive disruption’ strategies for large companies & effective mobile execution. He knows that the future belongs to “Screenagers” everywhere, & expertly advises large companies on best commercial application of mobile multi-screen & smartphone implementation & strategic use. Mobilium recently launched Africa’s first-ever mobile health delivery network, working closely with the African Leadership Network in Africa to grow mobile health & connected health tech across Africa. Mobilium is also involved in: Mobile Games – making the first-ever John Lennon mobile Virtual Reality experience, Sports: developing the 1st-ever British Professional Basketball League in the UK; Positive Disruption for Companies: Building specialised “Positive Disruption” strategies for large companies, through their Helsinki, Finland company. He’s responsible for curating & programming some of the world’s most important start-up & future tech gatherings worldwide, including : the Pioneers (Future Tech Festival), Vienna; The African Leadership Network in Africa ; The Mobile World Congress keynote stage, CTIA’s Mobile Convention, Las Vegas in the USA, The “All That Matters” annual digital & mobile convention in Singapore. He is a Global Judge & board member of the United Nations’ World Summit Awards, the world’s leading mobile apps competition. Known internationally as a prominent & provocative public speaker & moderator, & developer of start-ups & innovation initiatives, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK, a member of the National Academy of Recorded Arts & Sciences in the USA & CEO/Founder of Mobilium Global, the international mobile cool hunters. Ralph is based in London, or on a plane to where ground-breaking mobile innovation calls for discovery, development & investment.
Gracie Sun, Senior Advisor
For the past 15 years, Gracie Sun, Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies, has represented and advised multinational corporations on market access, intellectual property, and investment issues in China. Prior to her work with Laurel Strategies, she was Managing Director for China with Stonebridge International, a consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. During her time at Stonebridge, she served as China Representative to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and represented major U.S., European and Chinese firms in the market. She also worked for MBP Consulting, a consulting practice of Mayer, Brown, a Chicago-based law firm. Gracie lives and works in Shanghai.
Susan Toffler, Senior Advisor
Susan Toffler is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and a leader in the field of communications consulting with more than 25 years of booking guests for CNN, ABC News Nightline and Good Morning America and nearly a decade of working with the nation’s top CEOs on messaging, training, crisis strategy, coaching and broadcast placement.
Ryan Velasco, Senior Vice President
Ryan Velasco brings more than 16 years of experience in strategic communications, advising a range of public and private sector clients; from crisis messaging and brand reputation to stakeholder engagement, government relations, and public-private partnerships.
Ryan has worked at the forefront of risk communications. As Vice President at Ogilvy, he led elements of a $130M communications contract supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). His private sector portfolio included the development of an executive visibility program for a major agriscience company. Ryan helps organizations think about how they improve alignment of communication objectives to customer experience and opportunities to leverage technology to drive social change and innovation. He served in the Obama Administration at the White House Council on Environmental Quality as a Deputy Associate Director on the Land and Water Team, leading a key initiative of the President’s Climate Action Plan.
A graduate of the College of Charleston, Ryan holds a BA in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. Ryan is passionate about urban design and historic preservation.
Leigh Wedell, Senior Advisor
Leigh Wedell is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies and a veteran facilitator of U.S.-Chinese business relations. She most recently served as Chief Sustainability Officer at The Paulson Institute, a think tank encouraging US-China collaboration on economic and environmental challenges, founded by former US Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson. Leigh has advised U.S. and Chinese companies on market access, profile raising, and government relations for the past decade, working with more than forty companies from twenty business sectors. She has served as Vice President for Albright Stonebridge Group, a leading global consulting firm, and Managing Director for MBP Consulting, a consulting practice of Mayer Brown, a top global law firm. Prior to her consulting work, Leigh was the Deputy Director of the Hong Kong‐U.S. Business Council, a private‐sector initiative administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She began her career at the International Republican Institute (IRI), working to implement programs related to China’s political and economic reform.
Isaiah West, Director
Isaiah West is a Director at Laurel Strategies. He has extensive experience researching, developing, and writing about solutions for complex business challenges. Before joining Laurel, he was promoted from Research Associate to Senior Analyst at Advisory Board, a health care best practices firm, and later served as a consultant to a financial wellness start-up.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University, with a major in Psychology and minor in Predictive Health. He is an avid traveler and fitness enthusiast who also enjoys learning about the inner workings of the universe.
Elisha Wiesel, Senior Advisor
Elisha Wiesel is a Senior Advisor at Laurel Strategies. A former Wall Street executive, Elisha retired from a twenty-five year financial markets career at Goldman Sachs at the end of 2019 and has since dedicated his time to his entrepreneurial, consulting, and philanthropic pursuits, primarily at the intersection of technology and finance.
While on Wall Street, Elisha raised millions of dollars for New York’s neediest through “Midnight Madness”, a puzzle contest he rebooted and grew at scale beginning in 2012. Midnight Madness convened hundreds of finance professionals for an all-night event on the New York City streets, solving elaborately designed puzzles and raising over $3.1 million for Good Shepherd Services. Sponsored by Goldman Sachs Gives, proceeds from the event supported the construction of a state-of-the-art community center in East New York that serves over 1,000 families with programs and services to strengthen the Brooklyn community.
Following his retirement from Goldman Sachs, Elisha volunteered to lead a technology team at Hawkfish, the digital arm of Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.
Elisha is a board member of Zioness and the Elie Wiesel Foundation. After his father, Elie Wiesel, passed away, Elisha realized the continued impact his father’s legacy could have, and how many others missed his voice. As opportunities present themselves for impact, Elisha spends his time speaking on his father’s legacy and message and how these carry into the present day.
Nefertari Carver, Senior Vice President
Nefertari Carver is a Senior Vice President at Laurel Strategies where she designs and executes communications strategies, advises clients on high-stakes situations and other sensitive matters, and leads ongoing positioning and media relations.
Nefertari draws on her experience working with CEOs and executives across the private, public and social sectors. She has worked with leadership teams on strategy and execution at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and with AARP’s Public Policy Institute where she developed a national coalition of philanthropic, business, and non-profit organizations.
Early in her career, Nefertari worked with Donna Brazile where she oversaw press relations, research, and thought leadership convenings; and served in the offices of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Nefertari holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University.
Alix Boulud, Senior Director
Dan Kaplan, Senior Advisor
Dan Kaplan brings to Laurel Strategies over 25 years of digital strategy, content development, and marketing experience.
Most recently, Dan was the Managing Director of Corporate Communications for IMPAQ International, a 400-person public policy research and data analytics firm, where he oversaw all aspects of branding, marketing, internal communications, events, publishing, public relations, and corporate social responsibility. Through his wide-ranging career, Dan has been a college writing instructor, travel writer, fundraiser, Federal program manager, entrepreneur, and owner of a digital marketing agency.
Dan is a graduate of the University of Maine (MA, English) and the University of Maryland (BA, English & Business). Dan lives in Baltimore with his wife and three children, has visited 40 countries, and in his spare time raises money for breast cancer research by climbing mountains.
Connor James, Senior Director
Connor graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University in 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science while competing as an NCAA Division 1 athlete on the Cross Country and Track teams. He also graduated from the University of Virginia with an M.A. in Foreign Affairs. Connor’s graduate research focused on improving the effectiveness of U.S. coercive threats. In his spare time, Connor enjoys running, surfing, and paddleboarding.
Steven Lloyd Parker, Managing Director
Steve Parker is a Managing Director at Laurel Strategies. An experienced advisor, Steve brings to Laurel a proven record of excellence under varied, unstructured, and adverse conditions around the world, leveraging over two decades of executive leadership and program management experience in the US military, the federal interagency, and national nonprofit organizations.
Previously, Steve was an Army Operations and Foreign Area Officer, he has deep experience in change management and in motivating a diverse workforce.
Steve helped launch WorkMerk, a privately-held, software-as-a-service company focused on helping digitize workflow for the deskless, remote, and disconnected frontline workforce.
Steve has worked in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; in US embassies in Zimbabwe, Djibouti, and numerous other countries across Africa, including service as a United Nations Military Observer, monitoring the cease-fire conditions between Morocco and Western Sahara. A direct advisor to the US Ambassador in Djibouti, Steve helped establish the only permanent US Military installation in Africa, and served as the Aide and Deputy Exec to Africa Command’s first, four-star Commander. He was selected as a White House Fellow and worked in the office of First Lady Laura Bush; then served as a speechwriter for the 35th Chief of Staff of the Army.
Previously, Steve commanded Soldiers from the Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry; during year-long combat operations in Iraq. After nearly three years as Chief of Operations, Plans and Simulations for Fires Center of Excellence, Steve returned to Washington DC to work for First Lady Michelle Obama and (then Second Lady) Dr. Jill Biden as Executive Director of the White House Veterans & Military Family initiative, Joining Forces. Steve was Senior Advisor to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and Director of the State Department’s Africa Military Education Program with responsibilities across 25 countries.
He is a graduate of West Point and Yale. An avid mountain biker, Steve lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and their 3 sons. His daughter Zoe is an Environmentalist in Austin.
Jacob Link, Director
Jacob Link is a Director at Laurel Strategies. He has experience in political organizing, journalism, public messaging, and legislative affairs. Prior to joining Laurel, Jacob was a Field Organizer at Biden for President, working in five U.S. states during the 2020 presidential primary. He later worked as a Regional Organizing Director at the Texas Democratic Party.
Jacob graduated from Harvard University, concentrating in History with a secondary concentration in Russian Studies. During college, he also served as an Associate Managing Editor at the Harvard Political Review. He enjoys reading, shooting sports, cooking, and board gaming.
Grace Cabuena, Director
Grace Cabuena is a Director at Laurel Strategies. Before joining the Laurel Strategies team, she interned with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, working on issues related to national security and foreign policy in East Asia. She has also worked previously with the National Defense University and the Beijing Yilian Law Firm.
Grace graduated from American University with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Mandarin Chinese. During her time at American University, she also served as the Honor Chairwoman and first Diversity and Inclusion Chairwoman of Phi Mu. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, exercise, and cooking.
Suta Kavari, Head of Research
Suta Kavari brings broad and diverse experience situated at the nexus between politics, economics, and sustainability to Laurel Strategies. Prior to joining Laurel, Suta conducted research for Oxford University’s Net Zero Initiative, tracking global progress in the implementation of net zero commitments. He has previously helped clients in the financial services sector develop processes identifying the sustainability issues relevant and material to their operations and stakeholders.
Suta previously served as special assistant to the Minister in the Namibian Presidency, where he provided evidence-based advice and briefings on a broad range of public policy issues. He also served as an adviser to the delegations to the UN General Assembly, G20, and other high-level international forums, preparing policy papers and background briefings. He has in previous roles, including with WPP Government & Public Sector Practice, analyzed global macro trends and risk concentrations, and built collaborative relationships across sectors to influence policy development. He was an associate lecturer in sustainable development at Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership in South Africa. He has in previous roles
Suta holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Oxford. He received his bachelor’s in Economics and Risk Management from the North-West University, South Africa and earned a graduate degree in Sustainable Development with top honors from Stellenbosch University. Suta grew up in Namibia and is currently living in the UK with his partner.
Jessica Carmona, Director, Office of the CEO
Jessica Carmona is a Director at Laurel Strategies. She has experience in stakeholder management, project management, and nonprofit advocacy.
Before joining Laurel, she served as a Member Board Relations Manager at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), advocating, and promoting the organization’s architectural standards, programs, and services to its various stakeholders. Before NCARB, she worked at the National League of Cities, an organization representing over 2,000 cities across the nation, forging and nurturing impactful corporate partnerships to develop fundraising opportunities and enable public-private partnerships. Jessica also worked for the City of Huntsville, Texas, City of Eden, Texas, and interned at the United States Department of State in the Office of Civil Rights.
Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Tech. Jessica was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Noah Ramsey, Senior Research Analyst
Noah Ramsey is a Senior Research Analyst at Laurel Strategies. A graduate of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Noah completed a dual-degree program to receive both a B.S. in International Politics and a M.A. in Security Studies where he focused extensively on the transatlantic defense relationship.
Justine Adelizzi, Senior Advisor
Justine Adelizzi is an award-winning speechwriter, executive communications strategist, and the founder of FEARLESScomms.
Justine has served as a trusted advisor to executives at the highest levels of the public and private sector, including the International Finance Corporation, VMware, The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. She has written for national and international audiences, prepared speakers for events at SXSW, Aspen Ideas, and the National Press Club, and had her work recognized by USA Today and Vital Speeches of the Day.
In 2021, Justine founded FEARLESScomms, a coaching, consulting, and communications firm dedicated to creating better leaders and better leadership storytelling. She prides herself on helping executives and entrepreneurs find their voice and become the most confident, authentic, and effective versions of themselves.
Adam Basciano, Strategic Advisor
Adam Basciano is a Strategic Advisor at Laurel Strategies with experience spanning social innovation, philanthropy, and foreign affairs.
Most recently, he served as Co-founder and Director of IPF Atid, an international network of millennial leaders advocating for Middle East peace and security through the Israel Policy Forum. His writings have appeared in numerous outlets, and he was recognized as a “36 under 36” by the Jewish Week for his advancing support for the two-state solution. He has consulted for social start-ups and previously interned for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, and as a researcher on the book, “Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World.” He is involved as a volunteer leader with the Millennial Action Project and Heart of a Nation.
Adam received his B.A. in International Relations from Colgate University and his Master’s in Global Business Administration from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He enjoys traveling, backpacking, and playing amateur baseball in his free time. Adam was born and raised in New Jersey and currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Jaren McKinnie, Director
Jaren McKinnie is a Director at Laurel Strategies. Prior to joining Laurel, he served as a healthcare paralegal and a legislative intern in the New York State Senate and the U.S. Senate. Jaren graduated with a B.A. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and with a certificate in French Language and Culture. In his spare time, he enjoys stargazing, cooking, and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Alexandra Hubbard-Gourlay, Director
Alexandra is a Director at Laurel Strategies. Before joining Laurel, Alexandra helped build Slide, a SaaS technology startup, as the company’s Chief Financial Officer and a leader within the company’s Sales and People teams. Alexandra previously served as Chief Financial Officer of the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union and has a deep-seated passion for public service.
Alexandra graduated Cum Laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2021 with a B.S. in International Politics. She additionally minored in French and Francophone Studies and earned an Honors Certificate in International Business Diplomacy. In her spare time, Alexandra enjoys long-distance running, cooking, and hiking.
Josh Horen, Senior Associate
Josh Horen is a Senior Associate at Laurel Strategies. Prior to his joining Laurel, he attended the University of Maryland where he graduated with a B.A. in Government and Politics and Family Science. Josh has served on a communications team for a political campaign, interned at Children’s National Hospital, and worked in various child-development research settings. In his spare time he enjoys fly fishing and reading.
Morgan Adderley, Director
Morgan Adderley is a Director at Laurel Strategies. Morgan is an experienced journalist and policy analyst whose work and studies have taken her across the United States, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom.
Most recently, Morgan served as a consultant in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit in The Bahamas. In this role, she assisted the Office of the Prime Minister with the identification of the government’s key priority areas and the establishment of precise goals, targets, strategies, and performance indicators. Morgan held primary responsibility for health, particularly national COVID-19 response plans, and inner-city development, supporting efforts to rebuild major islands devastated by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
Prior to joining the Delivery Unit, Morgan worked as an economics researcher and policy consultant for the BE-Lab, a research group headed by Harvard University professor Dr. Peter Q. Blair. She previously also worked as a journalist covering issues relating to the development outcomes of the Bahamas, wider Caribbean, and Latin America, including climate change, healthcare, criminal justice, education, migration, and women’s rights.
Morgan holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Oxford. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with minors in Political Science and English.
Max Robins, Senior Associate
Max Robins is a Senior Associate at Laurel Strategies with expertise in issue advocacy and political organizing.
Before joining Laurel, Max emerged as a nationwide leader in social impact and student activism. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Students Against Child Marriage, the first youth-led organization to combat the American child marriage crisis. Through his work with survivors and partners, his organization has ended the abusive practice in three states and mobilized a national movement of young people. He has offered testimony in more than a dozen states and is frequently consulted by researchers and the media.
He previously served as a Co-Founder and the inaugural Political and Legislative director of March For Our Lives Long Island. Earlier, he coordinated the internship program of a successful county executive race in New York.
A New York native and DC transplant, Max graduated summa cum laude from American University with a B.S. in Data Science and Political Science, a minor in Literature, and awards for his leadership in student government. In his free time, Max can be found racing his bicycle around the nation’s capital.
Nina Weiss, Associate
Nina Weiss is an Associate at Laurel Strategies. Before joining Laurel, she worked for NBC Sports as a researcher during the Beijing 2022 Olympics. She also interned for a Massachusetts based think tank and for Congressman Stephen F. Lynch.
Nina graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in International Studies and Sociology. Outside of work she enjoys barre fitness classes, long walks, and cheering for the Boston Red Sox.
Oliver Hull, Special Assistant
Oliver is the Special Assistant to the CEO of Laurel Strategies. He brings to Laurel experience working in national security, non-profit, and legislative fields.
Oliver previously served as the Special Assistant to Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA). In this role, he provided logistical support and advised the Congressman on matters of policy, messaging and strategy.
Prior to serving in the House of Representatives, Oliver was recognized as a Global Youth Ambassador for his efforts to organize the International Youth Leadership Assembly Summit at the United Nations and World Bank.
Oliver graduated with degrees in International Relations and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Maryland. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, skiing, and reading.
Will Hanna, Research Associate
Will is a Research Associate at Laurel Strategies. Originally from Toronto, Will recently completed his Master’s of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge after graduating from a BA in Political Science and Economics at McGill University. Will is fascinated by European politics and history and has written about European current affairs for various student publications in the past. Outside of work, Will enjoys spending time outdoors and cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Renata Sakaeva, Associate
Renata Sakaeva is an Associate at Laurel Strategies. Prior to joining Laurel, she interned at Morgan Stanley, the US House of Representatives, and MSD Partners.
A native New Yorker, Renata graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and minors in Economics and Russian. Her undergraduate research focused on geopolitical risk and sustainable energy investment in the post-Soviet space.
Adam Volman, Associate
Adam Volman is an Associate at Laurel Strategies. Originally from Connecticut, Adam attended The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the University of St Gallen for graduate school and The University of St Andrews for undergraduate. Additionally, Adam supported strategy and development initiatives at the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation, engaging a broad range of constituents worldwide. Adam has worked as a Legislative Intern in the U.S. Senate for Senator Chris Murphy (CT), and as a Policy Intern at B’nai Brith International whom he also represents as an IJCIC Fellow. In his free time, Adam enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking new recipes, and all things Boston sports.
Valerie Green, Managing Director
Valerie Green is Managing Director at Laurel Strategies. She has more than 25 years of experience practicing law and executing results-driven advocacy strategies in the private and public sectors.
Prior to joining Laurel, Valerie was the Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Ligado Networks, a satellite communications company, where she Led the company’s legal, regulatory and public affairs efforts.
Previously, Valerie served as Assistant to President Obama and Director of Presidential Personnel at the White House, where she advised the President, cabinet members and other senior government officials on human capital issues arising across the Executive Branch. She also served in the White House as Deputy Special Counsel to the President and Special Assistant to the President. Her work in government also includes serving as the General Counsel at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency now known as AmeriCorps. There, she helped develop launch innovative partnerships to expand national service and advance policy priorities for other federal agencies and communities, including FEMA Corps (focused on disaster relief and recovery) and Justice AmeriCorps (providing legal aid for unaccompanied minors).
Valerie started her career as a litigator at Cravath, Swaine and Moore and later practiced law at Venable as well as Wiley Rein. She has also worked at People for the American Way.
Valerie received a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. She lives in the Washington, DC area.
William Boosalis, Senior Associate
William Boosalis is a Senior Associate at Laurel Strategies. Will has worked at the intersection of policy, politics, and people in Washington DC.
Before joining Laurel, he served as an account manager at DCI Group. In his role, he developed strategic and digital communication strategies on tech, energy, and foreign policy issues. Previously, he interned for Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-4) in the House of Representatives as well as the State Department’s Libya office and Brookings Doha Center.
Will graduated from Boston College with a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies as well as earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Islamic Civilizations after spending a year abroad at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
In his spare time, he showcases exciting dishes and cocktails via his digital platform, Backyard Bachelor, which he started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jimmy Miotto, Senior Associate
Jimmy is a Senior Associate at Laurel Strategies. Before joining Laurel, Jimmy built up a variety of experiences in strategic messaging development, policy advocacy, and research, including time spent as a political consultant, an international development contractor, and a Senate campaign staffer. Jimmy also previously served as the Executive Editor of the Chicago Policy Review, where he shaped the editorial direction of the journal and established the Commentary section as an outlet for persuasive writing for graduate students at the University of Chicago.
Jimmy received his Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in 2021, earning certificates in Political Campaigns and International Development. He received his B.A. in Political Economy from Williams College in 2018. In his free time, Jimmy loves to cook, bike, and write about Italian soccer.
Katya Kopach, Associate
Katya Kopach is an Associate at Laurel Strategies. Before joining Laurel, she worked as a management consulting analyst for a variety of federal and nonprofit clients in the D.C. area.
Previously, Katya interned at several organizations focused on social impact, including the Burnes Institute for Poverty Research, the Princeton University Center for Health and Wellbeing, and Special Olympics International.
Katya graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Philosophy, with certificates in Spanish Language and Culture and Values and Public Life.
2101 L Street NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20037