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MEET THE MINDS

Team
Advisors
Research Advisor
Startup Advisor
McKenna Academy
Tempest Estates

Dr. Bruce Damer

Co-Founder & President

Bruce Damer, PhD, is Canadian-American multidisciplinary scientist, designer, and author. Working as an Astrobiologist, Dr. Damer collaborates with colleagues developing and testing a new scenario for the origin of life on Earth and where it might arise in the universe. As a designer he has provided innovative spacecraft architectures to NASA and others which could provide a viable path for the expansion of life and civilization beyond the Earth. Dr. Damer has recently gone on public record that he has used a combination of mindfulness practices and psychedelics to achieve some of his key scientific and technical breakthroughs. His passion in co-founding MINDS is that many others with special capacities in these realms should have access to mentorship, scientifically validated protocols, and pathways to transform their own novel discoveries into solutions to bring about a brilliant future for Humanity.

Together with his role at MINDS, he serves as Chief Scientist at the BIOTA Institute and Research Associate at the UC Santa Cruz Department of Biomolecular Engineering. He is an author of a number of seminal academic articles and a frequent speaker on topics in science, space, and the philosophical and spiritual implications of the discovery of our deepest origins.

Sylvia Rzepniewski

Co-Founder

Sylvia is an experienced non-profit chair, event producer, and relationship manager leading incubations at Ultranative. She managed $2.2B in business at S&P Global, where she earned recognition for her community impact initiatives. Sylvia advocates for legislative reforms addressing housing affordability and access to mental health therapies. For the past 15 years she has organized fundraising and public awareness events for non-profits that elevate their communities.


Sylvia serves on the Advocacy Board for Habitat for Humanity Greater Austin and holds a BA in Organizational Sciences from The George Washington University.

Ford Smith

Co-Founder

Ford Smith is an investor and serial entrepreneur born in Midland and based in Austin. He spent his early investor years in LA focused on the emerging psychedelic and cannabis markets. One of Ford’s earliest entrepreneurial efforts was as an early investor and partner to Eaze, now the U.S.’s largest cannabis delivery platform and Harborside, California’s largest vertical cannabis company.

Ford was inspired by his personal mental health journey to invest in and accelerate businesses that facilitate healing for the individual. He’s found that when the individual addresses the underlying causes of mental health disorders, something that can be achieved through psychedelic therapy, fitness, meditation and removing toxins from your diet and environment, they become better stewards of themselves, their neighbors, and their planet.

Matt Gillespie

Launch Director

Matt Gillespie is an industrial designer turned impact entrepreneur and startup marketing expert. He started his career directing marketing for 6 years as a founding member of GoSun Inc., a green-tech company. He has since found a niche working with early stage projects at the frontier of consciousness, performance psychology, and technology. Matt also sits on the stewardship council of the Global Psychedelic Society.

Erica Avey

Writer

Erica Avey is a writer and editor published in Doubleblind, Psychedelic Press UK, among others. She formerly served as the Managing Editor at Clue, UX Writer at Found, and Content Editor at Ticketfly (now Eventbrite). Currently, she lives in Northern California and edits Spectra Poets.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

Psychedelic Advisor

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). A pioneering figure in the study of psychedelics and their potential therapeutic uses, Doblin has dedicated his career to researching and advocating for the medical and societal benefits of psychedelic substances. Under his leadership, MAPS has become a leading organization in advancing clinical research and therapeutic applications of psychedelics, significantly contributing to the renaissance of interest in this field. Holding a doctorate from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he focused on the regulation of medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana, Doblin’s work has been instrumental in navigating and shaping policy and public opinion surrounding psychedelic research.

Katelin Jabbari

Startup Advisor

Katelin has over 13 years of experience in the technology industry spanning corporate development, communications, strategy, and operations. She has a deep understanding of M&A, having led diligence and integration for more than 25 deals at Google.

Her professional journey reflects a passion for working with entrepreneurs in the technology and psychedelic spaces to create scalable business practices, develop effective communication strategies, identify opportunities for growth, and navigate operational complexities,

Katelin holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Dennis McKenna

McKenna Academy

Dennis McKenna has pursued interdisciplinary research in the study of Amazonian ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens for over 30 years. He has conducted extensive ethnobotanical fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon, recently completing a four-year project investigating Amazonian ethnomedicines as potential treatments for cognitive deficits. His doctoral research (University of British Columbia, 1984) focused on the ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dr. McKenna completed post-doctoral research fellowships in neurosciences in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health (1986-88), and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1988-90). He joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology in 1990, and subsequently joined Aveda Corporation as Senior Reseach Pharmacognosist. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches courses in Ethnopharmacology, Botanical Medicines, and Plants in Human Affairs. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit research organization focused on the development of therapeutic applications for psychedelic medicines. He was a key organizer and participant in the Hoasca Project, the first biomedical investigation of ayahuasca used sacramentally by the UDV, a Brazilian religious sect. Dr. McKenna is author or co-author of 4 books and over 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Rodger Tempest

Tempest Estates

Broughton Sanctuary has been Roger Tempest’s family home for 32 generations and over 900 years of history resting on his shoulders he has only one mission in life: to secure its future. Anyone who thinks living in a stately home is glamorous is sorely mistaken – Roger grew up with no heating, damp rooms and run-down buildings. But even at a young age, he knew he wanted to save it.

In the late 1980s, aged 25, Roger unexpectedly took on the role of custodian, ending his blossoming career on Fleet Street. (He’d heard Eddy Shah talking about the launch of the Today newspaper and inspired by his desire to challenge the status quo had asked for a job, ending up as Assistant to the Managing Editor.) So instead of working to make a success of the paper, Roger found himself working to make a success of the Estate. Never one to follow the norm, he decided against opening to the general public and instead created a plan that blended conservation, enterprise and innovation to regenerate not just Broughton Hall but the community around it.

His appointments range from executive chairman of a national infrastructure development project in Libya, on a board of an international homeless charity to being a joint founder of Wyrd Experience a company which develops consciousness technology to running a group of companies within Rural Concepts Group specialising in rural regeneration.