About Us

Cognitive Policy Works is a research center founded by a former fellow of George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute and continues to serve its core mission, which is to bring powerful insights from the cognitive and behavioral sciences to practitioners working to deliver progressive social change all over the world.

We are a community of collaborators with expertise in psychology, linguistics, media studies, education, neuroscience, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, frame analysis, political consulting, and innovation design.

Our services include strategic advising, campaign design, professional trainings, public speaking, research support, and coaching services.


Joe Brewer

Joe is the Founder and Director of Cognitive Policy Works.  He is an innovation strategist who weaves together brilliant people and ideas to create integrated solutions at the intersections of the advocacy, policy, and technology worlds.  Throughout the last decade Joe has sought to understand human values and behavior through the study of cognitive semantics and complex systems with the goal of helping build livable communities for the 21st Century.  Much of his work has focused on values, identity, and modes of thought that shape cultural understandings of political and social issues.

Joe is interested in developing new practices that empower people to manage large-scale social change while solving problems through collaboration.  His specialties include design for systemic change, the architecture of human interactions, and incubating social innovations that promote the growth of livable and resilient communities. He has formal training in Earth Systems, political cognition, and open collaboration processes. He works internationally with social entrepreneurs, civic institutions, and non-profits to solve the most challenging problems confronting humanity.

Joe is available for hire. Please email him to:

  1. Schedule a consultation for life coaching, strategy guidance, or focused research
  2. Inquire about speaking engagements and training workshops
  3. Discuss what he can bring to your team

A collection of Joe’s writings on political cognition and social change can be found here. He now writes at his personal blog Chaotic Ripple. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Partial List of Collaborators

David DenHartog

As a passionate student of the world, David DenHartog seeks opportunities to learn and share his knowledge with others. His travel experience through forty-three different countries, and six continents, formal undergrad and graduate education, teaching, administering, and education consulting continue to fuel his enthusiasm for education reform and innovation. Awarded state and national teaching awards, David has found numerous opportunities to share his educational insights.

Serving as a School Designer for Expeditionary Learning Schools Outward Bound (www.elschools.org) has offered him a chance to formally work within the school reform arena. David has helped start numerous new schools around the United States. He also supports schools that are transforming to provide inventive, fulfilling educational opportunities for teachers and students. A significant part of his experience has been working with school leaders, assisting in creating structures that foster engagement, rigor, and healthy relationships.

Well aware of the political ramifications and hurdles within reform movements, David has put his research into practice. His advocacy, along with grassroots organizing and community-building, has helped shift the lens from which individuals approach both social and educational changes. No doubt, David’s zeal will continue to be fueled by the significant needs that our country and world face in the days ahead.


Suresh Fernando

Suresh Fernando brings a diverse range of skills to Cognitive Policy works. During the last several years, he has been focused on developing innovative solutions and strategies in the collaboration and social finance space. He is the co-founder of OpenKollab, a virtual think tank exploring ways of leveraging recent developments in open collaboration processes, peer-to-peer culture, technology infrastructure, interoperability protocols etc. in service of massive social and systemic change.

Suresh is a social innovator who marries innovative strategies and models by fusing a deep understanding of collaboration processes and tools, community building platforms and processes and social finance models. This unique convergence of skills and interests positions Suresh appropriately to work with clients that are interested in developing new and innovative solutions for well established problems.

He is also currently providing enterprise cross-boundary collaboration services; assisting organizations to identify the appropriate technology infrastructure and processes to effectively work together across organizational boundaries.

Prior to embarking on this path, Suresh spent a number of years in the financial services industry in Canada. He worked as a financial advisor at a major Canadian investment firm for seven years after which he founded and ran his own investment banking group focused on providing financing and strategic advisory services to early stage technology companies. His tenure in the financial services space provides the necessary foundation for the development of innovative funding models.

Suresh also has a deep interest in philosophy and big ideas… details can be provided upon request!


Eric Haas

Eric Haas is an educator and researcher whose work focuses on the policymaking process, with specific emphasis on the framing of education, health care and immigration. He conducts education research for a company in Oakland, CA and is a principal in Cognitive Strategies, a strategic communication consulting firm. Formerly, Eric was a Senior Fellow at the Rockridge Institute, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, and a K-12 teacher and administrator.

Eric’s work has been published in academic journals and books as well as in the popular press, and he has conducted numerous presentations and workshops. In 2004, Dr. Haas was awarded a visiting fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Lancaster (England) for his work on framing and discourse analysis. While serving as assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, Eric was active in the New England Educational Research Organization and was awarded its Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007.

In addition to his research, Eric is an experienced trainer, including work with organizations such as the California School Employees Association, Public News Service, and the New Leaders Council. His training ability is built on his years as a K-12 and university educator. In addition to his work at the university level, Eric has served as a middle school principal in Phoenix, AZ, and as a middle school math and science teacher in London, England and Caracas, Venezuela. He began his work in education in the Peace Corps, directing the World Bank’s Bassa Science and Technology Center and teaching high school physics in Buchanan, Liberia.

Eric received a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a JD from the Catholic University of America Law School, and a PhD in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University.


Zachary Lym

Headshot of Zachary LymZachary Lym is an adjunct researcher and developer for Cognitive Policy Works. His cross-disciplinary experience in usability engineering, graphic design, and cognitive psychology makes for a unique fit with CPW’s mission. He is currently pursuing a double major in psychology and human centered design and engineering at the University of Washington.

You can reach him at [email protected] or visit his blog at indolering.com.


Sara Robinson

Sara Robinson is one of the few trained social futurists in North America. Her particular area of interest is the role religion, culture, and other cognitive frameworks play in the way individuals and societies imagine the future and choose their strategies for approaching and managing change; and especially how personal and social fears are used—or overcome—to alter the change equation.

As a Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, her weekly columns at www.ourfuture.org focus on long-term trends in social and political change. Ms. Robinson’s skill set includes trend analysis, scenario development, futures research, social change theories, systems thinking, and strategic planning. She also holds a BA in Journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Communication, and has worked as a columnist or editor for several national magazines.

Ms. Robinson’s blogging career began in 2006, when she joined David Neiwert at Orcinus to write on the psychology and sociology of authoritarian political and religious movements. She is also a founding member and managing editor of The Group News Blog, the successor to Steve Gilliard’s original News Blog, where she still posts occasional lighter and more personal pieces. Her recent work has also appeared online at Firedoglake, DailyKos, OpenLeft, and Alternet; and in print at The Progressive Christian; and she makes frequent media and in-person appearances speaking on issues related to long-range planning and policy. She will complete her MS in Futures Studies at the University of Houston in 2009.

A collection of Sara’s writings on health care can be found here.