Our Team

Meet some of our staff members from around the world.

Headshot of Jesse Bessinger

Jesse Bessinger

Community / Operations

How does working at CIC differ from other jobs you’ve had?
I’ve never had another job where I could be writing emails, teaching someone how to use an Aeropress, clipping back weeds, chatting about laying cables for an offshore wind project, and installing a TV all in the same hour of the afternoon!

When you’re not working at CIC what do you do for fun?
I love a good beach walk and a good cup of coffee! I’ll also never turn down the opportunity to go dancing or jam out to some live music.

What is the best part of your work day that can only happen at a CIC location?
The morning coffee rush in the kitchen is one of my favorite times of the day. It’s a chance to say hello to everyone, both clients and folks on my team, get the vibe of what the day might be like (Is it quiet? Is it hectic? Are people stopping to chat with me about their weekends or asking for help with the printer?), and co-caffeinate for the day with the whole community!

What have you learned about yourself since working at CIC?
I’ve learned that I’m capable of more than I knew, and sometimes more than what is expected of me. I’ve also learned that I’m super into power tools and have a knack for drilling self-tapping screws into wall studs at tricky angles!

What are some of the unique skills you feel you have developed since working at CIC?
I’ve definitely become a much handier person, and have installed both my own TV at home and more than one set of shelving for my grandparents. I have also been grateful to re-learn the skill of comfortably connecting with other people, which is very precious after a few years of pandemic isolation!

Headshot of Brooke Walis

Brooke Walis

Relationship Management and Sales

Tell us about yourself in one sentence.

I consider myself a mission-driven world traveler who’s more comfortable surrounded by people that are different than me.

What excites you most about CIC?

Your career path, no matter how non-traditional or jagged, will not only be welcome at CIC, it will become a highlighted strength of yours.

What’s the most interesting conversation you’ve ever had with a CIC client?

On the same day, I learned about nutraceuticals that are helping patients with Alzheimers, and then with another client discussed their geospatial data capabilities that are monitoring migration patterns between Venezuela and Colombia. Never a dull day.

How does working at CIC differ from other jobs you’ve had?

Everyone’s voices carry more weight at CIC, regardless of title. Your input is truly valued, listened to, and has the ability to make change.

I can actually see the results of my work in my local community on a daily basis. Jobs are being created faster, connections are made easier, barriers are broken down and access is enabled because of the work that we’re doing. It’s powerful, it takes a village, but you get so much back in return.

What do you like to do in your free time?

When I’m not at CIC, I’m trying my best to travel the world. You can often find me working out of one of our global CIC locations, or participating in cross-cultural learning experiences throughout the world, and sometimes in my own backyard of Miami.

Can you tell us about your team and how you work together?

My team has become my family. We have gone through some amazing personal and professional challenges together and became stronger for it. I can no longer imagine working without such a dedicated, connected team.

Headshot of Alex Cheung

Alex Cheung

Venture Café

As part of a Community Team, what do you do? What does your work day look like?

I love that I do a little bit of a lot of things: sales tours, help members plan events, connect companies and great minds. I’ve helped some of our clients make their first sales and saw them from inception to acquisition. It has been incredibly rewarding.

How would you describe your management style?

I would say that I manage by empowering my team. Having started here as a part-time employee and working my way up, I have taken different management styles and techniques from my various managers. I promote an environment that thrives on taking initiative with autonomy, but I am also available for my team to guide them through any problem or question.

Can you tell us about your team and how you work together?

Our team is committed and compassionate. We strive to provide the best service for our members, but we don’t forget to have fun.

What unique skills have you developed over time in your role and at this company?

  • how to patch a wall
  • install printer drivers on a computer in any language
  • break down a cardboard box
  • plan and run events for over a hundred people
  • come up with creative solutions to any problem

What opportunities do you think this role prepares you for in the future?

Management experience and working closely on a small team has helped develop as a leader. I know that my people skills can translate to any career—being able to read people and understand how to help them has been a great skill to use anywhere.

What is your professional/academic background and how did you end up in your current role?

I studied Science, Technology, and Society at Vassar College. I also minored in Economics, so my interests were quite diverse. What I loved most about my small, liberal arts education was that there was tight-knit community with fresh faces all the time. I visited Venture Cafe when I was interning for a startup, and I remember being very impressed with the amenities and community here. I went home with a whole mango, and I thought to apply to “that mango place” when I was looking into careers. I found a great community here, and I have been passionate about helping it grow and develop.

How do you see CIC as having profound impact on the world?

I’ve seen companies and individuals working on issues in all sectors and geographical areas in the world. We are building a community that helps them solve these problems, whether it is by providing the necessary caffeine in the morning, or by connecting someone to their next big opportunity. I heard about a company that was working here on a revolutionary biotech solution, and after being recommended to join MassChallenge by another community member, the company was awarded the largest funding prize from MassChallenge.

What excites you most about CIC?

The people! The staff and clients here are the people that I hang out with on the weekends and in my free time. I think it says a lot that the community is built of genuine and passionate people.

Headshot Dominika Duda

Dominika Duda

Venture Café

Tell us about yourself in one sentence.

I’m hyperactive social monster with zest for life and I truly have no limits when it comes to things that I might find interesting.

Tell us about a fulfilling or exciting special project that you worked on this year.

In Rotterdam we created a sustainability team where staff with “green hearts” find challenges and try to troubleshoot operational problems with eco-friendly solutions in mind. I’m happy to be part of that team, and even though it’s a struggle to combine it with daily operations, it is very fulfilling.

How does working at CIC differ from other jobs you’ve had?

First of all, every person among CIC is a unique champ. Second, I’ve never worked at such a well organized company that dealt with so many operations. Third, what a fun place to work at! The amount of jokes, bursts of laughter and casual silliness is enormous, I love it.

What unique skills have you developed in your role at CIC?

I believe that I’ve mastered the mythical skills of multitasking, patience, and prioritizing. When a lot happens you need to work your way through, have an honest smile, and be able to lean on people that you work with.

What’s the most interesting conversation you’ve ever had with a CIC client?

The most inspiring conversation was with a client that had similar experience as I did in finding a workplace that would empower him to change the world. He wanted to be an inspiring teacher, yet the reality and school setting didn’t allow him to pursue his passion, and he has become an entrepreneur teaching kids robotics.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

A weird example is translating offshore safety courses where we would simulate evacuation from a drowning helicopter in gigantic pool or climbing down a platform. So much fun!

What is your favorite hobby/what do you like to do in your free time?

I love to invite people to my place and cook for them. Additionally, I’m an amateur singer, and there is nothing more fun than to jam with my friends and create some ridiculous lyrics. When I’m not in a social mood I’d get a good book or find an interesting documentary and just hang out under a blanket.

What’s your favorite snack in the CIC kitchen and why?

I’m a great fan of Haribo Apple Rings. They remind me of my childhood, when we could only eat those when my folks received a package from family in Germany. However, dried mango slices and coconut cubes are not far behind—so much flavor and so healthy!

Headshot of Jemar Souza

Jemar Souza


What excites you most about CIC?
There’s something special and incredibly inspiring about being surrounded by creative, entrepreneurial energy each day. In the communities that CIC builds it’s easy for everyone to make genuine connections, whether they’re hoping to collaborate with someone now, in the future, or maybe never. People here are always one conversation away from a new business partner, idea, or friend. I love it!

What unique skills have you developed in your role at CIC? 

Data, data, data. In the beginning, as an operations associate for CIC, I started to become a master of spreadsheets. Now, I’m getting better and better at working with business intelligence tools like Power BI. While working in operations, I was also developing my design thinking abilities, focusing on user experience in physical spaces. Now that I’m a Business Intelligence Associate, I’m still developing and practicing those design thinking abilities, but more so in the digital sense.

How does working at CIC differ from other jobs you’ve had?
Before working for CIC, my background was mostly in social media marketing. Joining CIC as an operations associate was a great way to start and excel in a job that allowed me to not just use my creative mind, but my hands, legs, and muscles too! Now that I’m a business intelligence associate, I’m using more of my creative and analytical skills again. But here and there, I still try to find ways to be physically active and hands-on.

What is your favorite hobby/what do you like to do in your free time? 

I’m an all-around geek into anime, cartoons, comics, video games, and other sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I also like reading non-fiction books that help me understand how we got here and what we can do to create a better society for everyone. I enjoy going for walks and still play Pokémon Go. And yeah, though data is now my full time job, I can’t help but work on some data projects for fun, too!

Headshot of Jen Jekel-Farrell

Jen Jekel-Farrell

Community / Operations

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I currently live in St. Louis in a self-rehabbed brick bungalow with my family, and I spend my time rediscovering the world with my kiddo, reading, cooking, gardening, and listening to music/making up my own interpretive dances in my living room that my cat critiques (his reviews are devastating).

Can you tell us about your team and how you work together?

I recently made the move from a Senior Relationship Manager with the Sales Team to the Community Lead at our 4240 location, and I’m really enjoying learning so much from the 4240 team! They have amazing camaraderie with each other, and balancing flipping offices with in-depth discussions about early 00’s pop stars has been a ton of fun. Keeping this place running is hard work but my team makes it look like a breeze.

What’s something about you that may surprise people?

My first job was at age 12, as an Arrow Technician and Vending Machine Restocker in my family’s archery range. I made $2.50 an hour plus snacks.

What’s your favorite snack in the CIC kitchen?

Bridge mix. It’s a one-sided love/hate relationship.

Headshot of Sidi Gomes

Sidi Gomes


How did you hear about/come to work for CIC?

I had a tech startup called ParallelCities back in 2011. I came to the Venture Café [in Cambridge] to do a demo of the prototype and really enjoyed what Venture Café was doing, so I started volunteering for the organization. Eventually, I met CIC’s CEO, Tim Rowe, in a meeting we had with the other volunteers to brainstorm ideas for how to make the space better. Having done my architectural thesis work at Harvard on how to design spaces that help people interact, socialize and collaborate better, I had so much to share! A little while after that I got an email from [Tim] saying that he loved my ideas, and invited me for a breakfast meeting. He said that the goals of my thesis lined up perfectly with the goals of the CIC, so he invited me to join CIC, and design the upcoming Venture Cafe space and future CIC centers. The rest is history – I have been here ever since.

How did you go from joining as an operations manager to Principal Designer?

The main goal when I joined CIC was for me to start CIC’s design department, since before I arrived the design of CIC spaces was done by outside architecture firms. To design better CIC spaces I had to understand how it worked from the inside. So, as I was designing my first CIC project – the first stand-alone Venture Cafe space, and the C3 space (the coworking offering at CIC [Cambridge]) – I also became C3’s Curator, and grew the community to 4 times its original size (to over 400 people), and ran its operations. Once we finished the design and construction of the new C3 space and installed the community in its new home, I moved to Design exclusively.

What does your day-to-day look like?

Like many roles at CIC, there is no common “day” for me – I work in a variety of projects, all of them of different sizes, and at different stages of the design and construction process, so my days can be pretty hectic. I could start in the morning making concept sketches for a new CIC location; transition to a construction meeting about a project that is under construction; then move on to answering RFIs (Request for Information) from a contractor for another project that is being bid; then having a meeting about what components we should have in a project we are about to start designing; and finish up the day answering to the 1001 emails that have been piling up in the meanwhile.

How do you think design at CIC sets itself apart from other collaborative workspaces?

My expertise and research on social space design brings a different dimension to the design of our spaces, which goes beyond the surface level “interior design” some of the other workspaces can excel at. We have also learned greatly from having been designing and operating our spaces for nearly two decades. There is a lot that goes into the design of our spaces that might go by unnoticed.

What’s your favorite food?

“Catxupa guisado ku longuisa i ovo streladu” – a traditional Cabo Verdean dish made of corn, beans, meats, veggies, and different types of sausages – YUM!

Headshot of Sarah Ivey

Sarah Ivey

Captains of Innovation

Where are you from and where have you lived?

I was fortunate enough to grow up on the North Shore (NOT the Noath Shoah), in Beverly, MA. I’ve lived in 6 (!) Boston area neighborhoods (Allston, Brighton, JP, Somerville, Charlestown, and currently Cambridgeport) and loved and hated them all in turn. I also spent one summer in Philly way back when.

What do you do when you’re not at CIC?

During the non-frozen months of the year I can usually be found somewhere on the Charles river yelling at groups of men twice the size of me (also known as coxing for Riverside Boat Club), and during the winter I’m an avid skier and spend most weekends driving to and from mountains all over New England/the rest of this grand continent.

What’s your favorite snack in the CIC kitchen and why?

Tea! English breakfast for caffeine, but we stock such a great variety, and I’m an herbal aficionado personally. (Much love to the 18th Floor Tea wall @50 Milk). Besides it being a comfort go-to, making a cup of tea provides you with just the right amount of time to linger in the kitchen and chat; make a new friend, catch up on the weekend with a colleague, or learn about the hot new cafe in Kendall no one told you about until now…. Kudos to our clients for always being a delight to converse with!

Headshot of Claire Keatley

Claire Keatley

Community / Operations

Where are you from and where have you lived?

I was born in South Korea, lived in Florida and spent my formative years throughout North Carolina. I suppose that makes me a Southerner all around!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love all things metals and working with my hands. Metalsmithing has made me a bit of a tool hoarder and my workspace a mad scientist test-kitchen. I work mainly in nonferrous metals and small-scale tool making with steel. My other passion is pool – the billiards variety. I enjoy shooting competitively and on teams.

What’s one item on your bucket list?

Learn to speak Korean and visit South Korea.