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Brett Ellis

Future of Work Program Manager

As CORI’s Future Of Work Manager, Brett expands digital training efforts and career placement initiatives across the Rural Innovation Network. Brett brings with him, a passion for uplifting traditionally marginalized communities through education and economic empowerment. After spending most of his career in education, teaching at both K-12 and post-secondary institutions, Brett shifted his focus to pursue his passion for career coaching. Most recently, Brett was an IT career coach at Udacity, helping students leverage their skills in areas like software engineering, data science, AI, machine learning, digital marketing, and business analytics.  Building on his educational experiences, Brett also founded a consulting practice for higher education focused on 1-on-1 career coaching, group workshops, and professional development. Brett is a native of Danville, Illinois he has a BA from Illinois State University and a Masters in Education from Florida International University.

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Brēyana Ray

Community Engagement Specialist

Brēyana comes to CORI after spending 4 years at Codefi, the first technology and entrepreneurship incubator in all of southeastern Missouri. Located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Codefi is one of CORI’s Rural Innovation Network community partners.  At Codefi, Brēyana most recently served as the Director of Coworking & Community Engagement.  In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the coworking space, she was also responsible for connecting internal community members and stakeholders to each other and the greater community.  She also developed and organized initiatives and events that provided company and industry-specific value to members.  Prior to that, Brēyana spent 7+ years in the Aerospace Engineering industry where her career spanned from marketing assistant to Director of Business Development.

Brēyana received her B.S. in Business Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of New Mexico. She is a mom of 3 and currently resides in Boulder, CO.

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Mark Rembert

Head of Rural Innovation Network

Mark Rembert is a regional economist and was the co-founder of Energize Clinton County (ECC).

Mark began his work in rural development in 2008 when his hometown of Wilmington, Ohio faced the loss of 10,000 jobs. In his role at ECC and later as the Executive Director of the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, Mark developed and led innovative programs that increased the economic vitality of the community from the ground up by catalyzing entrepreneurship, investment in human capital, and community planning.

Mark earned his Ph.D. in Regional Economics from the Ohio State University’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, & Development Economics. His policy research has influenced state decision making on the opioid crisis, broadband expansion, and school choice. Mark has B.A. in Economics from Haverford College.

Before joining CORI, Mark was a management consultant at CFAR where he advised family enterprises, non-profits, and hospitals on issues of strategy, succession, governance, and team performance.

To execute on CORI's mission, we engage our sister organization Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI), a taxable nonprofit. RISI staff is listed here.


Aidan Calvelli

Research and Communications Analyst

Aidan’s experience has focused on political writing and organizing. He has edited books, articles, and essays about the Constitution and the presidency. He has also been an organizer for political campaigns at the local, state, and national level, and during college founded a local political advocacy organization.

Aidan lives in Shelburne, VT, and graduated from Brown University with an A.B. in Political Theory.

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Chen Chen

Data Analyst

Chen Chen has years of experience working on data and has led multiple projects to fight against the emerging climate and air pollution issues globally. His expertise includes data management, data analysis and data visualization. He also has extensive experience working with the geospatial data and also the web map development.

Prior to joining the CORI, he worked at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an environmental think tank in Washington, DC, focusing on estimating the ship emission and its related impacts to both climate and human health.

Chen Chen hold a B.S. degree with honor in Marine Science and Chemistry from University of Miami, and a M.S. in Environmental Science from Emory University.


Mike Chirico

Americorps VISTA - Corporate Partnerships Manager

Mike is a 2020 graduate of Middlebury College with a BA in Computer Science and Chinese. Mike previously interned at the Business Development and Strategic Initiatives Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he conducted health services research. He has also worked as an instructor for an introductory Python programming course focused on generating excitement about computer science in elementary and middle school students. For several years, Mike has been a lead volunteer for Calling All Crows, a Boston-based non-profit that has musicians and fans come together to work for social change. He organized, implemented, and led service projects and advocacy programming before concerts and music festivals.

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Rebekah Collinsworth

Communications Director

Rebekah Collinsworth is a strategic communicator and storyteller committed to broadening the conversation about what's possible in rural America.

Rebekah grew up in rural New Hampshire before attending the University of New Hampshire, where she studied journalism and linguistics on her way to receiving a bachelors degree in English. Upon graduation, Rebekah entered the publishing world and helped people across the country preserve and share their histories. From mushroom farming to world fairs, Rebekah worked with authors and historians to champion unique experiences and heritage found in every community.

After relocating to Charleston, South Carolina, Rebekah focused on strategic communications, marketing, and public relations. She served nonprofit organizations and startups committed to improving the lives of Lowcountry residents and business owners. A local advocate and community builder, Rebekah worked passionately to expand her clients’ impact and highlight the valuable work being done in coastal South Carolina.

Before joining CORI, Rebekah was the managing director of a strategic growth marketing firm that serves underrepresented founders and rural innovators.

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Kate Duffy

Development Director

Kate is an experienced resource and relationship development leader who has raised millions of dollars to support big ideas and the organizations that advance them. With a career spanning the arts, politics, and education, Kate brings broad experience working with corporate, foundation, and individual donors, as well as a knack for uniting diverse public and private partners around a common mission.

Originally from a small town in western Massachusetts, Kate spent more than a decade in Minneapolis before returning to New England in 2020 with her Minnesotan husband, son, and more than enough animals. She holds a BA in English from Haverford College and a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Minnesota.

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Matt Dunne

Founder and Executive Director

Matt served 11 years in the Vermont House and Senate, enacting the state’s first broadband grants, brownfields revitalization funding, and downtown redevelopment program. He helped grow a VT-based software company to over 100 people and was Associate Director of the Rockefeller Center on Public Policy at Dartmouth College.

In 1999 Matt was appointed director of AmeriCorps*VISTA under President Clinton, where he led PowerUp, one of the first national efforts to bridge the digital divide, and launched an Entrepreneur Corps to focus on micro-finance in high-need communities.

In 2007, he started Google’s Community Affairs division out of a former bread factory in White River Jct, VT, where he led all local US philanthropy and engagement, including the Google Fiber rollout and orchestrating educational and development initiatives in Google’s data center communities across rural America.

Matt has a BA from Brown University, and also held an appointment at the MIT Media Lab. He is a lifelong Vermonter who lives on the 100 acre farm where he was raised.

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Nora Foote

Community Manager

Nora joins the RII team after having spent two years supporting the operations team at CORI/RISI. In addition to working on various local and statewide campaigns, she spent time working as a junior planner at an environmental planning and consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to her time there, she worked in the communications department at a political action committee in Washington, DC, and served one year as a City Year Boston Corps Member.

Nora grew up in Hartland, VT and holds a BA from Lewis & Clark College.


Jeff Fournier

Director of Finance and Support Operations

Jeff is a social-profit innovator with more than two decades of experience delivering operations support and financial leadership to a range of organizations at the local, national, and international levels . He started his career designing community-based programs to support strong and vibrant rural communities in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Since then he’s worked with US government funders, including the Department of Energy, USAID, and the Department of State, and multiple national foundations across the country and around the globe to support projects that build resilience and create opportunities for local residents.

Jeff earned an MBA in Organizational and Environmental Sustainability from Antioch New England University. He also holds a BA in Outdoor Education and Leadership and an AA in Natural Resource Management from Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT.

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Rachael Grainger

Americorps VISTA -- Recruitment and Cohort Development Coordinator

Rachael Grainger is a California native who most recently served as a Peace Corps volunteer (2018-2020) in Ukraine. She organized trainings for teachers, taught English lessons, organized youth camps, helped support education reform, and was a mentor in the Technovation Girls Challenge 2020. She is now serving as a AmeriCorps Cohort Development and Recruitment VISTA member, supporting rural residents and the future of work in Springfield, Vermont.

Rachael grew up in San Diego and holds a BA from UC Santa Barbara.

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Rebecca Huenink

Director of Capacity Building

Rebecca comes to CORI from a successful career as a a strategy and development consultant for institutions, researchers, and communities across the country. She has a deep background in program design and grantseeking, including many years of experience teaching grantseekers how to approach and manage the funding process—from idea to impact. Before she was a consultant, Rebecca was a nonprofit manager, working on the ground with rural community development organizations.

Rebecca holds a BA from Brown University. She grew up on a small farm in southern West Virginia, and she now lives in a small village in southern Vermont.


Veronique Husser

Finance Manager

Veronique Husser has years of experience in financial management and reporting with organizations from small start-ups to multi-national corporations. Prior to joining the CORI team, she spent almost two decades as a translation consultant and corporate accountant. She is fluent in French and German, and through all of her work, she strives to empower all team members to become positive contributors to the organizational mission.

Veronique is an avid equestrian, and lives on her beloved Springfield, VT farm with her husband, daughter, and many animals. She holds a university degree in Economics from Université Louis Pasteur in her native France.


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Alex Kelley

Senior Broadband Consultant

Alex leads broadband work for the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) and RISI. He currently is working with eight counties and communities around the country, from the Northeast to Arkansas, to develop feasible and fundable fiber networks that incorporate strategies to address affordability, digital literacy, and digital equity along the way. Previously, Alex project-managed workforce development and GIS/geospatial mapping work for CORI, and researched automation and remote employment trends.

Before joining CORI, Alex’s career was been split between professional services in Silicon Valley and rural organizing and political strategy.

He holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

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Dolley MacDermot

Operations Associate

Dolley has years of experience working with web based technologies and social impact organizations.

Dolley worked on various projects with Singularity University, an organization dedicated to anticipating how AI and machine learning will shape our lives.

Previously, she provided software consulting support and customer service management for social impact oriented organizations.

Dolley earned her BA from the University of New Hampshire. She also has been a licensed EMT for 9+ years operating in both Connecticut and New Hampshire.

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Catie Michael

Operations Assistant

Catie has an extensive background in political organizing and policy work. She holds a BA from the University of Vermont with focuses in Latin and political science. She grew up in the great state of Vermont, and currently resides in Montpelier

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Zack Nolan

Finance and Operations Specialist

Zack is an analytical thinker focused on economic development, and his experience spans both the nonprofit and private sectors. Most recently Zack worked at EY-Parthenon as a strategy consultant. While based in New York, Zack primarily led growth strategy and commercial due-diligence projects in EY-Parthenon’s technology practice. Previously, Zack was a teaching fellow at African Leadership Academy (ALA), a two-year, pre-university program for aspiring leaders from across Africa. After teaching at ALA’s campus in Johannesburg, South Africa, Zack transitioned to African Leadership Foundation, ALA’s sister organization based in San Francisco, to manage support programs for graduates of ALA studying at U.S. universities.

Zack has a BA in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University and an MBA from Yale School of Management. Zack lives in Rumney, NH and loves hiking in the White Mountains.

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Hannah Nunez

Broadband Consulting Analyst

As a member of CORI’s broadband team, Hannah collaborates with municipalities, state governments, and nongovernmental entities to expand access to broadband for rural communities, helping them secure funding, build partnerships, and implement sustainable solutions for internet connectivity.

Prior to this role, Hannah worked in the digital health startup space focused on making healthcare more accessible to underserved populations via telehealth. She launched service operations across new markets, and later, led market strategy and built out key client relations as the Associate Director in the New England region where she and her team offered telehealth services to over 70,000 patients.

Hannah grew up in rural Mississippi and holds a BA from Harvard University.


Molly Pyle

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development Lead

Molly is an experienced program designer, manager, and facilitator working at the convergence of tech startups, the future of work, and social impact. Prior to joining CORI she worked with social impact startups at MIT Solve and led the Incubator and Accelerator programming at Singularity University. She also co-created and led Singularity's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and contributed to the design and execution of International Summits for executive and startup audiences of 2,000-plus attendees per event across 15 countries.

Molly developed a deep passion for supporting entrepreneurial ecosystems through her work with the Institute of International Education on the TechWomen program, a State Department initiative bringing women leaders in STEM from 20 countries to Silicon Valley for professional development and entrepreneurship training.

Molly graduated from Columbia University with a MS in Social Work, focusing on Social Enterprise Administration, International Social Welfare, and Services to Immigrants and Refugees. She also holds BS degrees in Social Work and International Affairs from Florida State University, where she directed a nonprofit and led grassroots development projects in Rwanda, Uganda, and Nepal. She is extremely passionate about the role of entrepreneurship, tech, and remote work in building a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous future for all.

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Matt Rogers

Data Engineer

Matt is a data scientist with broad experience developing tools and infrastructure to promote data accessibility and integrity. His career has centered on helping organizations of all sizes leverage open-source tools and custom technical solutions to solve business problems.

A lifelong resident of rural New England, Matt is passionate about rural living and small town issues. He holds a BA degree in Sociology from Saint Michael's College and an MA degree in Sociology from the University of Connecticut.

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Chris Rowe

Geospatial Products Manager

Chris has worked as a product owner, project manager, and digital strategist for over ten years with a focus on building web-based tools. In that time he has worked with a wide range of organizations from small non-profits to fortune 50 companies on distributed teams spanning six continents. Collecting, analyzing and using data has been a part of his process from the beginning, including GIS mapping, IoT data logging, server monitoring, and web analytics. Chris is a certified Scrum Product Owner with experience managing agile teams, process improvement, and continuous integration.

Chris has a BA from Hampshire College and a M.Ed. Educational Technology from University of Texas at Brownsville with a year at University of Bergen (UiB) in System Dynamic.

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Anita Sharma

Director of Knowledge

Anita Sharma is the Director of Knowledge at the Center on Rural Innovation. Prior to joining CORI, Anita led teams committed to using research and data to advance both program and communications goals.

Anita holds degrees from Georgetown University and New York University. She is based in Washington, DC.

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Leah Taylor

Manager, Rural Innovation Initiative

Leah’s career has been dedicated to community development through a variety of economic and social change projects with communities across the United States and Canada. Leah fosters community engagement for positive change through partnership building, facilitating consensus amongst disparate groups, leading strategic planning efforts, and managing academic research initiatives designed to inform impactful projects.

As Senior Associate for the social enterprise, I DO BUSINESS. Inc., Leah managed the development and implementation of Indigenous youth entrepreneurship programs with First Nations across Canada, as well as supporting Indigenous and far north businesses in bidding on government and corporate procurement opportunities. Her most recent role, based in Augusta, Georgia with the U.S. non-profit, America’s Warrior Partnership, was managing a nationwide, community-based veteran suicide study in collaboration with 14 communities across the United States.

Leah grew up on a small farm in rural Canada, and immigrated to the United States in 2010. She has a B.A. in International Development Studies from York University and a Masters Degree in Globalization Studies from McMaster University, focused on exploring economic shifts in North American rural areas.

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Mike Tavilla

Regional Economic Data Specialist

Mike works to provide advisory and strategy consulting services to rural communities with data-driven, fact-based research and analysis, and overall program support. Mike joins the team with more than 10 years of professional experience in regional economic development and strategy with prior roles in academia, management consulting, Fortune 500, and in the public sector. Most recently, Mike was the lead research associate for Professor Michael Porter at the Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, where he supported the Institute’s work in national and global economic development projects in the US, EU, Israel, Peru, and Guyana. Mike has also worked as a Senior Consulting Analyst in McKinsey & Company’s Public & Social Sector Practice serving local, state, and federal clients to provide guidance on regional assets and opportunities to drive long-term growth strategy and implementation processes. In addition, Mike has experience in corporate site location and global planning in the EU and Asia-Pacific in high-tech with Oracle Corporation.

Mike holds a BA from The George Washington University in Economics and Political Science and did graduate-level study and research in US policy and government at American University.

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Alex Tenenbaum

Director, Technology and Data Analytics

Alex is a data scientist whose career has focused on renewable energy and entrepreneurship.

Alex was born and raised in rural Vermont. After college he served as a quantitative analyst for The Brattle Group in Washington, DC, contributing to the creation of software and economic analyses to inform integral energy decisions across the country. In 2011, Alex attended Yale’s School of Management and School of Forestry & Environmental Studies joint degree program before co-founding a technology start-up creating low energy environmental sensors. Most recently, he consulted as a Senior Analyst for a variety of energy and environmental clients.

Alex has a BA from Connecticut College and spent two years at the Yale School of Management and School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

The CORI Innovation Fund is a program run by the Center on Rural Innovation and is not run or operated by Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI).

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Jay Bockhaus

Managing Partner, CORI's Innovation Fund

From Wall Street to Main Street, Jay brings a wealth of experience to his role as Managing Partner of CORI's Innovation Fund, which provides investment capital to growth businesses located in opportunity zones in small communities. Jay began his career advising on mergers and acquisitions at Gleacher & Co. and Allen & Company. Subsequently, Jay spent a decade at NBCUniveral, which culminated in his running strategy and development for the Entertainment and Digital Networks division. After NBCU, Jay joined Emigrant Bank where he served as Executive Advisor to the Chairman and led investments in several small growth businesses. During that time, Jay was chairman of the board of GolfLogix, one of the largest apps in the golf segment.

Jay was one of the founding board members and still serves as Treasurer of Venture for America, a non-profit organization helping revitalize American cities through entrepreneurship. Jay actively mentors several VFA entrepreneurs building startup businesses in American communities.

Jay has a BA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs as well as certificate degrees in East Asian Studies and Japanese Language. Jay attended high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Living about 10 miles from the small town where he was born, Jay resides in Connecticut with his wife and two daughters.