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Rachel Weidinger

Founder & Executive Director

Rachel is a tactical optimist. From the start of her communications career at natural foods superstore Wild Oats, she has successfully engaged audiences in environmental, arts and social justice challenges. At Upwell, Rachel leads the development of cutting edge big listening practices. She couples this big data approach with the resiliency-increasing tactic of campaigning across a distributed network.

Because of Rachel's vision, the ocean community knows the baseline of conversation on their issue for the first time. Every week through the Tide Report, 1400+ individuals are campaigning for the ocean with that vital communications context. To date, she has caused nine humans to be trained in the rare science/art of big listening to the ocean conversation online. There are also nine more professionals who know how to run attention campaigns, and to campaign across a distributed network. Rachel is proud to have opened a near zero waste office (damn you pesky plastic film!), furnished with reused and repurposed furniture.

Previously, Rachel was head of international marketing at TechSoup Global where she led outreach in collaboration with 36 NGO partners, collaborating with major donor Microsoft. Rachel has also worked with social enterprises including NTEN, the Black Rock Arts FoundationSF EnvironmentCopia, and the Xtracycle Foundation. She is a frequent trainer and speaker on social media and mobile apps at conferences including SXSW InteractiveNetSquared and the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Rachel founded her own consultancy, and later was Senior Consultant and Marketing Director at Common Knowledge.

Thanks to a full Harrison Scholarship, Rachel graduated from Miami University's School of Interdisciplinary Studies with a Bachelors of Philosophy. She completed the coursework at the Ohio State University master's program in Arts Policy and Administration.

In addition to communications and marketing, Rachel makes preserves, swims in the bay, and gardens at her tiny home in San Francisco.  She experiments in attention philanthropy on Twitter at rachelannyes. Rachel is obsessed with whalesharks.

Rachel Dearborn

Campaign Lab Director

Rachel is an analytic geek and self-propulsion enthusiast with a penchant for collecting tiny shark figurines. 

With over six years of experience agitating for social change, Rachel is intuitive and adroit at scraping the social, cultural and political landscapes for opportunity, carefully crafting outcome-oriented messaging and campaign collaterals, and using technology to strengthen networks.

Rachel joined Upwell in March 2012 after nearly four years at Spitfire Strategies designing communications strategies and providing counsel, tools and training to a variety of nonprofits and foundations. Some of Rachel’s clients at Spitfire included the Irvine Foundation, California Environmental Associates, the Population Council, and the U.S. EPA. Rachel most recently worked with the Packard Foundation and the Surdna Foundation to support network-building, collaboration and coordinated communications among their environmentally-focused grantees, including WWF, Monterey Bay Aquarium, FishWise, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Green For All, NRDC, Ceres, Energy Action Coalition and many more. Rachel also helped to spearhead Spitfire’s own social media practice, and has trained small and large nonprofits on using the web to create change.

A true aquaphile, Rachel grew up blocks from the beach, is a two-time NCAA champion rower, and has gone diving in the Red Sea, Channel Islands, Florida Keys, and Hawaii.

Although Rachel is a native Californian, she has called many places home. Before moving to San Francisco in 2010, she lived the socio-political life in Washington, DC. Rachel earned an English literature degree and learned to bike in the snow at Brown University in Providence, RI. An avid recreational cyclist, Rachel biked from Providence to San Francisco with Bike & Build in 2006, and, in 2011, biked from San Francisco to LA with AIDS/LifeCycle and from Glenwood to Davenport, Iowa with RAGBRAI. She visits Israel often.

Rachel can be stalked online via Twitter.

Matt Fitzgerald

Attention Lab Director

Matt grew up knee deep in trouble on the foggy shores of the San Francisco Bay and never got tired of asking the three questions that children delight in and parents detest: “why?” “why?” and “why?” The upshot of this patience-bending routine is his abiding interest in how activists, organizations and social movements measure and monitor their progress. 

With over eight years in the nonprofit sector as a project manager, evaluator and strategist, Matt now just calls himself a  specialized generalist and leaves it at that (unless you ask). 

In 2009 he led grassroots communications for as they coordinated the first ever International Day of Climate Action -- described by CNN as "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history." He has particular expertise in program design, online communications and impact measurement -- also kung fu, youtube backup dancing and slide tackles. 

He is an Americorps Alum, a Startingbloc Social Innovation Fellow, and trail-builder and crew leader with Volunteers for Outdoor California

You can shadow Matt on twitter at fitz350.


Really Awesome Upwell Alumni

Saray Dugas

Saray is a scientist-communicator who blends approaches from design, social media, and advocacy to create interest in ocean issues. Over the past 6 years she has been involved in both research (coral reef ecology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and successful ocean advocacy campaigns (like World Oceans Day and the Marine Life Protection Act). 

Early in her career Saray became interested in communicating science as a way inspire people to take ocean action. Her work at Upwell builds on this interest in ocean communication, and is informed by her background in science and advocacy. Previously Saray worked with COMPASS as their Design Coordinator. She also volunteered in the California Academy of Science's design department where she refined her ability to explain scientific concepts visually, a skill that she uses in her work campaigning on ocean issues at Upwell. 

Saray specializes in conservation communications. She also enjoys teaching others how to use social media, make their messages stick, and communicate through visual language. She feels at home working at the intersection of conservation, art, and communications and is a bit of a nerd.

You can learn more about Saray on her website,, and connect with her on Twitter at @SarayDugas.

Kieran Mulvaney

Kieran thought high school was boring. So he dropped out to write about nature, and a couple of years later founded the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society with  some friends. Which was fine and all, but then Greenpeace came calling, so he spent several years alternately living in Amsterdam and sailing to the Antarctic to confront whaling fleets. He eventually traded that in for a more sedentary life, for many years editing the Ocean Update newsletter for SeaWeb and doing things like moving to Alaska (and back again), co-creating a very stupid and very viral website, writing several books (including The Whaling Season, and The Great White Bear), coordinating expeditions to Greenland and the North Pole, blogging for Discovery Channel News, and, naturally, covering boxing for ESPN, HBO and Reuters. Naturally. 

The token east coast Upwellian with a British accent, he lives in northern Virginia. He tweets under the creative handle of kieranmulvaney. Plus he has a website

Britt Bravo

Britt is a blogger, podcaster, blog coach, consultant and trainer who helps people tells their stories, have fun, do good, and make their big visions real. She loves working with individuals and organizations (like Upwell!) that have big visions for better world.

Britt began blogging in 2005 with the launch of her personal blog, Have Fun, Do Good, where she shares ideas, inspiration and interviews for fun-loving do-gooders. She has written for the Huffington Post, WEtv's WE Volunteer blog, BlogHer, NetSquared, the Stanford Social Innovation Review Opinion Blog, Worldchanging, Sparked, and the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship's blog. In 2012, she started a new blog, VegCookbook Club, where readers cook from one vegetarian, or vegan cookbook each month, and swap cooking stories.

She produces her own podcast, The Big Vision Podcast, where she interviews people with big visions for a better world.  She also produces the Arts and Healing Network's Podcast. The East Bay Express, named her the Best Blogger/Podcaster Most Dedicated to Social Change.

You can learn more about Britt at, follow her on Twitter @bbravo, and see photos of what she's been cooking on Instagram.

Andrew David Thaler

Andrew is a deep-sea ecologist and population geneticist, who has worked in ocean conservation for the last 8 years. He has published broadly on deep-sea conservation, marine policy, and science/environmental communication. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Fried Science, one of the most widely read marine science and conservation blog in the English language.You can find him on Twitter and Google+ or check out his most recent outreach project, #DrownYourTown.

Ted Fickes

Ted Fickes has worked at the intersection of digital communications, on the ground organizing, public policy and nonprofit management since the mid-1990s. Ted served as Development Director for organizations in Denver and Chicago, put together one of the nation's first nonprofit technology circuit rider programs, founded Colorado Conservation Voters, and started his first consulting firm in 2002 to help progressive nonprofits and campaigns better communicate online. From 2006 to 2011, Ted managed online campaigns and digital strategy for The Wilderness Society. Ted started Bright+3 in 2011 to develop and test people-focused campaign and content strategies with innovative nonprofits, startups and campaigns. Bright+3 has helped incubate new publishing models and content strategies with a focus on how data can be used to track and inform the strength of communications across networks. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Ted is also an advisor to Social Movement Technologies and Web of Change.

Kathryn Jaller

Kathryn is a museum technologist and content strategist. She leads digital publishing at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and has spoken widely on the growth of social media in cultural institutions, including at South by Southwest. She founded the "Social Media Superfriends," a consortium of Bay Area social media practitioners, and her work has been featured in The New York Times. She is also an artist who makes things, sometimes inspired by science. Find her latest experiments on Twitter.