Who We Are

Our Advisory Board

Erica Fuller
Erica is a student at Oregon State University. She was elected as National Program Director for the College Democrats of America and is deeply involved in issues of inequality, gender inequality,  nationwide sexual assault within minority communities and mental health programs.

Allan Garten
Allan is a retired federal prosecutor. He went to work for the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1995 and prior to retirement in 2016 spent the last 20 years putting a rogue’s gallery of fraudsters in the hot seat.

Garten had begun his career as a civil litigator, serving a dozen years with two notable Portland law firms before distinguishing himself as a financial crimes prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Suzanne Stenson O’Brien
Suzanne is a seasoned collaboration and communications professional.  Major campaign responsibilities include National Voice’s NOV2 campaign, the Eat Well Guide, Oscar-nominated film THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA about whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, THE SONIC MEMORIAL, and many other documentary projects on film, the web, and broadcast media. She is currently a business analyst and project manager for Sursumcorda Resource Group, based in Porto, Portugal and teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin – Stout. She is married to illustrator James O’Brien, and has two amazing grown children.

Alpesh Patel
Alpesh earned a Masters of Engineering and works in the biotechnology industry. He has long been an advocate for peace, justice and human rights and is currently also on the Board of National Peace Action.

Lavar Youmans
Lavar has 10+ years of professional experience providing operations/leadership in both private and governmental organizations. His social work practice experience includes working in the areas of domestic violence, substance abuse prevention, community organizing, engaging men/boys, policy development, youth development, men issues and displaced populations. He holds a Masters of Social Work from Howard University with a focus in Policy, Research, and Community Organizing. Upon graduating, Lavar served as the Project Manager for Howard University School of Social Work Engaging Men and Boys Project working to shift social norms that negatively impact our culture promoting a healthy and respectful definition of manhood where men take responsibility for ending domestic violence and sexual assault.
Lavar’s professional and community-based work reflects his commitment to justice. In 2011 he worked as a research fellow in the Executive Office of the President of the United States, White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy, Office of Demand Reduction. In 2012 he worked as a Field Organizer in the state of Nevada, for Organizing for America, President Obama, and Vice President Biden Re-Election Campaign.

Catharine Mason
Catharine Mason, PhD, is Associate Professor of English and Linguistic Ethnography at the University of Caen — Normandy in France, and founding President of sister organizations, VOVA, Inc. and VOVA, France. Her work focuses on the stylistic features of oral discourse in a variety of languages including Clackamas Chinook, Southside Virginia English, and Anglo Pidgins and English dialects. She has published works on Chinook mythology, blues poetics, and video ethnography in language documentation. Through VOVA, Catharine has brought together scholars of vocal and verbal art to compile research in oral poetries in communities throughout the world.



George A. Polisner, Founder
The resident old guy on the team, with more than 20 years of development and engineering experience in the tech industry, George brings his extensive background in corporate social behavior to the field of participatory democracy.

Golda Velez, Chief Architect
Golda has worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Oracle, and other major enterprises and startups to direct complex projects, programs, and teams. She lends her rocket scientist mind to building our visually compelling, easy-to-use, privacy-protected social network.

Adam Lake, Network/Outreach
Adam continues to  promote civic cooperation, empowerment, and engagement as he has since his early days as a young Virginia Tech. student. His ideas and vision as a disruptor of the conventional actively help shape the civ.works concept.




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