Carol Dahl, Executive Director
Dr. Carol Dahl is the Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation. With a background in discovery sciences, innovation programs, and global health and development, Dr. Dahl leads the Foundation’s work to use the power of invention to improve lives. The Foundation inspires and enables the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US, and help solve social and economic problems for the poorest populations in developing countries.
Prior to joining the foundation in July 2011, Dahl worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in various roles, including founding Director of the Global Health Discovery Program and as Director of Staff for the overall Global Health Program. During her tenure at the Gates Foundation, Dahl built the platform discovery innovation programs Grand Challenges in Global Health and Grand Challenges Explorations. Read More
Rachel Jagoda Brunette, Program Officer
Rachel Jagoda Brunette coordinates The Lemelson Foundation’s regional focus within our home state of Oregon, working to enhance the local ecosystem that inspires individuals to invent, supports invention education, and nurtures young inventors in taking their idea to impact through new invention-based businesses.
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2014, Rachel worked on science, technology, and education policy in the government and nonprofit sectors. As professional staff with the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, she handled oversight of federal STEM programs at the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies. She also helped advocate for investments in education, sustainability, and basic research while working at the American Society for Engineering Education. After relocating to Oregon in 2008, Rachel worked for local members of the US Congress on issues related to STEM education, technology industry development and economic competitiveness. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University.
Jennifer Burran, Grants Manager
Jennifer Burran joined the Lemelson Foundation in June 2009 as Grants Manager where she is responsible for managing the Knowledge Management System, creating and implementing grantmaking policies and procedures, and monitoring and tracking grant and PRI agreements.
Prior to this, Jennifer held grants management roles at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and The Gill Foundation. She began her career in marketing where she wrote website content, marketing collateral materials, and direct mail campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, start-up high tech companies and non-profit organizations. Jennifer currently serves on the Advisory Council for NGOsource, a project of the Council on Foundations and TechSoup Global, which is an equivalency determination service that helps U.S. grantmakers streamline their international giving. From 2007-2011, she served on the Grants Manager’s Network Board of Directors, serving as co-chair of the nominating committee. Jennifer earned a B.A. from Indiana University with a double major in communications and marketing.
Tak Kendrick, Communications Officer
Tak Kendrick manages the Foundation’s communications efforts, coordinating with staff, grantees and external communications partners to promote our work and the work of our grantees in the US and developing countries. Tak also manages the Foundation’s grants related to using media to inspire the next generation of inventors and invention-based businesses.
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2009, Tak worked as a content manager and writer for web 2.0 and high-tech startups, including the wiki AboutUs.org. He has also worked as a journalist and graphic designer for several daily and weekly publications, and as the news director for a community radio station. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University and a BA in Communications from The Evergreen State College.
Alexander Nicholas, Program Officer
Dr. Alexander Nicholas is a Program Officer at the Lemelson Foundation and manages a portion of the Foundation’s education and technology dissemination grants. Alexander’s work supports the development of a pipeline of inventors and invention-based enterprises in the US and seeds technology development that could improve the lives of the poor in developing countries.
Prior to joining the Foundation in early 2012, Alexander served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the US Department of Commerce. His portfolio included managing the work of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship subcommittee on Collaboration, which advises the White House and Secretary of Commerce on innovation policy and co-managing the i6 Green technology commercialization program. Alexander also completed an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Commerce. As a AAAS fellow, Alexander worked on graduate education, industrial partnerships and national innovation policies. Prior to his fellowship, Alexander received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Florida State University and then performed postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Medical Center. Alexander served on the Harvard Postdoctoral Association Governing Board and was a member of Harvard Biotechnology Club.
Abigail Sarmac, Program Officer
Abby Sarmac manages The Lemelson Foundation’s support to organizations that incubate and help launch investment-ready, self-sustaining, invention-based enterprises that address significant human needs in developing countries.
She joined the Foundation after living and working in Senegal, Ecuador, Italy and the U.S. with several international environmental organizations, including the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Abby earned a M.Sc. in Environmental Science from Yale University, and a B.Sc. in Science, Technology and International Affairs, with minors in African Studies and Cultural Anthropology, from Georgetown University. Abby is fluent in English, Spanish and French and conversant in Italian, Wolof and Tagalog.
Jea Seconi, Senior Program Assistant
Jea Seconi provides program and project management and administrative support for the Foundation’s team.
Prior to joining the Foundation in August 2007, Jea worked as the Admissions and Development Coordinator and Director of Alumni Relations for the Rapid City Catholic School System. She earned a BBA with a double major in Finance and Business Administration from Houston Baptist University, Houston Texas. Jea moved to Portland in June 2007.
Erin Tochen, Program Officer
Erin Tochen is a Program Officer at the Foundation, developing the Foundation’s Oregon-centric portfolio while also managing a portion of the Foundation’s national work that supports inspiring and building a pipeline of inventors who have the skills to invent and develop invention-based enterprises. She also manages several internationally-based grantee relationships focused on technology development.
Erin joined the Lemelson Foundation in 2004 and worked in grants management for the Foundation prior to her current position. Before joining the Foundation, Erin spent several years managing the marketing and organizational communication for a software and consulting firm focused on human factors engineering for public and private industry. She also previously worked in editorial for a leading publisher of higher education textbooks. Erin earned a MS in Management Communication from University of Portland in 2004 and a BA in English from Santa Clara University in 1997.
Philip Varnum, Chief Financial & Administrative Officer
Philip Varnum serves as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, responsible for the Foundation’s finances, investments, IT infrastructure, and administration. Additionally, he manages the Foundation’s portfolio of Program Related Investments (PRIs).
Prior to joining The Lemelson Foundation in 2007, Philip was with Portland State University Foundation for nearly ten years where he was responsible for accounting, investment, human resources, real estate and entrepreneurial functions. Philip earned an MBA degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.