Our Team

 
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JENNIFER BRANDEL
CEO & CO-FOUNDER
(@JENNIFERBRANDEL)

Jennifer Brandel began her career in journalism in the early 2000s, reporting for outlets including WBEZ, NPR, APM, PRI, CBC, Radiotopia, The New York Times and Vice, picking up awards along the way. In 2011 she founded the groundbreaking audience-first series, Curious City at WBEZ in Chicago and now with Hearken, is spreading and broadening the model to other media outlets around the world. Hearken was awarded a spot in Matter.vc's accelerator and took home the prize for "Best Bootstrap Company" at SXSW 2016. Brandel was awarded the 2016 Media Changemaker Prize from the Center for Collaborative Journalism. 

She’s a dog person.

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COREY HAINES
CTO & CO-FOUNDER
(@COREYHAINES)

Corey Haines is a developer, author, speaker, teacher and all around groovy guy. With nearly twenty years of software and product development, he brings a fine-tuned eye to the craft of software development. He co-created and led the evolution of the coderetreat workshop, including the creation of the annual Global Day of Coderetreat. He recently published the book "Understanding the 4 Rules of Simple Design" and is currently working on a new title, Exploring the Lambda Calculus. Outside of working on Hearken, Corey enjoys walking obscene amounts of steps on a daily basis.

He’s very much a cat person.

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SAM WITHROW
LEAD DEVELOPER
(@TYPWRTR)

Sam Withrow has been working all up and down the stack on web applications, services, and ops / infrastructure for two decades. He is an experimental guitarist/composer and loves trains.  

He's very much an animal miniatures person.

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DUNCAN MALASHOCK
FRONTEND DEVELOPER

Duncan Malashock is an engineering and design generalist, who came to Hearken following a history of freelance engagements with clients ranging from artists and makers to startups and design studios. His heart is warmed by jazz theory, type design, and vintage synthesizers.

He is also a cat person.

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ELLEN MAYER
ENGAGEMENT CONSULTANT
(@ELLENREBECCAM)

Ellen started her career in public radio, first at WNYC's Studio 360 and then at WBEZ's Curious City, where she became an early convert to Hearken's public-powered model. She joined Hearken in 2015, as the company's first Engagement Consultant. In past lives she has worked in non-profit development and social impact documentary film. Ellen is also a writer, occasional podcaster, and recovering music journalist. Excited about: local news, civic tech, and pop music. 

Ellen really really loves dogs.

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REMY SCHWARTZ
BUSINESS STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS
(@REMYSCHWAAA)

Remy Schwartz joined Hearken in 2015 from Livestream. He met Jenn while working as an intern at WBEZ and later interviewed her for a senior thesis project he didn’t end up doing. He's worked a lot of odd jobs, including bike mechanic, mail man, construction worker, and chicken feeder. He’s loves cracking jokes, cooking, and riding bicycles.

He's a dog person, more and more every day.

SUMMER FIELDS
ENGAGEMENT CONSULTANT
(@SUMJAZFI)

Summer is a recent graduate from the University of Chicago, where she wrote her sociology thesis on the opinions of radio producers of color on diversifying public media. She's a Chicagoland native (South Suburbs represent), the oldest of four girls, and a podcast producer who idolizes Larry David.

She is decidedly a dog person: Shiba inus over everything.

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JULIA HASLANGER
ENGAGEMENT CONSULTANT
(@JULIAJRH)

Julia Haslanger comes to Hearken with ink-stained hands. She's worked recently as an audience engagement editor at The Wall Street Journal, and as a web producer and page designer at Politico. She earned her master's degree in Social Journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. On weekends, you'll find her watching Packers football and baking something delicious.

She is also a cat person (her cat's hashtag is #PicaTheCat).

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ANNA THOMAS
BUSINESS STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS (@ANNALA1019)

Anna Thomas joins Hearken after being a management consultant for a big 4 firm, focusing on strategy and operations. After realizing that almost all of her free time was spent obsessing over journalism and the media in general, the opportunity at Hearken ended up being the perfect place to transition into a mission driven career and workplace. In her spare time you'll find her debating between listening to new vs. old school hip hop, cooking, reading, traveling, playing the piano, and trying to check out the latest TV "must see" series. 

She is most definitely a dog person.


Hearken got its start with support from The New Enterprise Fund for StoryMakers from AIRWBEZ Chicago and Matter. Hearken is also funded by New Media Ventures.

Hearken's roots began with WBEZ's Curious City, which Hearken Co-founder and CEO Jennifer Brandel founded as part of AIR's innovative Localore initiative in 2012.  Curious City was made possible by AIRWBEZ Chicago and with seed funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for Curious City came from The Knight FoundationThe McCormick Foundation, and the Doris and Howard Conant Fund for Journalism. (Huge thanks go out to Torey Malatia for believing that the public had the right to play a role in journalism beyond consuming it, or having it happen to them. And for giving Brandel the opportunity to test her thesis at WBEZ.)

Hearken is part of Matter.vc. Learn more about the accelerator program and the companies in their portfolio.

Hearken is represented by the "there's no such thing as a dumb question" counsel of Darren Green