Lauren Gibbs, Founder & President
Lauren is the founder and president of Rise Above Social Strategies, a consulting practice that empowers nonprofits and businesses to use social media strategies that build communities around brands and causes. She has executed award-winning, strategies across multiple sectors, and has spoken to audiences across the U.S. about social media strategy. Recreating a real human connection online is at the core of Lauren’s approach. Lauren coaches clients and trains communities to develop and communicate stories that authentically engage customers and supporters.
Lauren serves as the in-house social strategy consultant for the nonprofit fiscal sponsor Community Initiatives, where she has coached over 50 nonprofits on social strategy. Lauren also consults for cannabis startups that are operating in states with legalized marijuana. Lauren was the original social strategy director for Women Grow, the rapidly growing professional network for women entrepreneurs in cannabis. She currently directs social strategy and advocacy initiatives for Willie Nelson’s cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve.
Lauren’s approach to social media is informed by 15 years of experience at the intersection of communications, small business marketing, consumer engagement, nonprofit advocacy, and politics. Before founding Rise Above Social Strategies, she spent a decade in Washington, DC, working to advance federal education reform. Lauren has held multiple positions in the United States House of Representatives, in large and small nonprofit organizations, and a grant-giving family foundation. Lauren has a Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from Albright College.
Amy Drayer, Client Services Manager
Formerly the VP for Strategic Initiatives at The GLBT Community Center in Denver, Amy managed marketing strategy, corporate sponsorship, community engagement and strategic partnerships. She also directed all Center fundraising events including Denver PrideFest, which now draws over 325,000 attendees annually.
Amy relocated with her family to Denver in 2006 from Washington, DC where she worked in the progressive movement for more than six years. Initially she directed field operations for URGE, a national youth-oriented educational foundation, and subsequently directed field operations for VFC. In 2000, Amy had the outrageous, once in a lifetime opportunity to coordinate a multi-city tour for VFC and Gloria Steinem, during which she worked directly with Gloria and with dozens of colleges and managed volunteer coordinators at each location with rallies ranging from 300 to 1,000 people.
After leaving Voters, she consulted with Donna Brazile & Associates as Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC). Also with Brazile, in 2004 she directed transportation for the national March for Women’s Lives, parking over 1,000 busses in RFK Stadium within four hours. While in DC Amy also volunteered as Finance Chair for the Women’s Information Network (WIN), a networking group for young, Democratic pro-choice women, helping to coordinate their Women Opening Doors for Women annual fundraiser that, at the time, drew over 400 attendees to 25 dinners throughout the District. Amy also managed on a volunteer basis the 2004 and 2005 Affairs of the Heart Gala for the Washington Free Clinic, then the oldest free medical clinic on the east coast.
Recently Amy concluded service as the Chair of the Board for the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver, and finished up a three year-term as President of the Alumnae Association at her alma mater Scripps College, which also included service on the Board of Trustees.
Erika Yost Kumar, Operations & Project Manager
Erika joined Rise Above Social Strategies with a diverse professional background and a passion for the power of social media to help change the status quo. Her career history includes corporate communications at a French company, nonprofit management at the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program, and socially responsible investment analysis at JMR Portfolio Intelligence. In a particularly inspiring career highlight, Erika spent a year working in Benin, West Africa, to help promote girls’ education in rural communities via small grant funding.
In recent years, Erika has worked remotely managing operations, strategy, and projects for progressive, women-led small businesses. She is excited to work on projects fueled by the fantastic momentum with cannabis legalization and in particular, to witness the abundant leadership opportunities for women. With the Mile High city as her home base, Erika also considers herself to be a “working nomad” who frequently travels with her husband to spots around the globe that are embracing the new coworking culture.
Prior to moving to Denver in 2003, Erika worked in New York City, and she grew up in Western Massachusetts and Washington State. She studied French at Vassar College and Intercultural Service and Management at the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont. In her free time, Erika is increasingly passionate about the power of social media to help preserve wild places and species. She is currently volunteering her social media skills with Ivory Free Colorado, which is introducing a bill to ban the destructive trade in 10 endangered species.