Our Team

Our Team

Esteban Arturo

Vice President

As VP of Creative, Esteban works across Handshake to develop strategic creative initiatives, guiding projects through the lens of design principles.  

Over his career, Esteban has worked with organizations such as Global Citizen, Starbucks, and Macy’s to refine their brands and help them create consumer-centric brand experiences.  

Based in New York City, Esteban spends his reading and cycling.  

Makayla Canfield

Manager

Makayla helps prepare research briefs, strategic plans, and analytical content across a variety of client accounts. In addition to client experience, Makayla is involved in Handshake’s marketing and thought leadership.   

Makayla started as a fellow after graduating from Colgate University where she studied economics and French.   

In her free time, Makayla enjoys skiing, traveling, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her sisters.   

Julia Cox

Director

Julia supports a number of client accounts where she is responsible for project management, strategy and content development, and event coordination.   

Julia holds a Master of Public Health degree from New York University and has worked on various health-focused policy and education programs.   

In her spare time, she enjoys rock-climbing, camping, and eating good food.  

Tyler Denton

Senior Vice President

Tyler Denton is Senior Vice President working on Handshake Experiences, a full-service storytelling, logistics and event management service – specializing in global travel and the production of world-class trips and events.   

With more than 20 years of experience working in Africa and around the globe, Tyler has built a broad network of valuable relationships, which strategically connects people and businesses to achieve transformational experiences and outcomes.  

Tyler resides in Little Rock, AR, with his wife, Amanda, and two children, Jack and Wilson.

Petra Dizdar

Managing Director and Partner

Petra leads the consulting practice at Handshake and oversees a team that provides strategic counsel, executive positioning, partnership development, and market intelligence to companies seeking to integrate social impact into their core business. 

Petra uses her passion for greater social good to bridge the gap between private, public and cause sectors, and helps courageous leaders build values-driven organizations that address some of the most important global challenges. 

Petra joined Handshake in 2017 after spending a decade working in corporate crisis and reputation management with some of the world’s largest brands in the U.S. and Asia. 

Born in Split, Croatia, Petra loves the ocean, good food, competitive sports and her growing family. 

Karina Garibay

Director

Karina helps support the implementation of global trade shows and regional events.    

She has experience producing and executing signature events, most recently in cultural diplomacy. Karina has diverse experience in both corporate and nonprofit sectors in the areas of program coordination, business management, development and operations.  

In her spare time, Karina enjoys finding new ways to stay active in the city and going on local and global culinary adventures.

Mike Gogis

Founding Partner

Mike Gogis joined Handshake in the beginning as CFO. Mike brings a unique mix of strategic business development and the ability to partner with creative visionary leaders to help foster profitable mission accomplishment.  

He has a wide range of experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors and the blending of achieving mission impact while delivering bottom line results. A CPA, his 25-year career includes roles in public accounting, as CFO of a global non-profit and as a consultant working with social good companies.   

Mike is married and has two sons and currently resides in a quaint village outside Indianapolis. 

JR Kerr

CEO

JR’s enduring belief in the goodness of humanity, the need for compelling stories, and the reality that nothing gets done alone, led him to create Handshake in 2014.  

Previously an advisor to the White House Office for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under former President Obama, Kerr served as the director of programming and curation for Chicago Ideas Week and worked with influencers and organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, One Campaign, World Economic Forum, and UN Office for Partnerships and helped to launch Goal 17 Partners, a non-profit organization that works with private sector leaders, non-profit organizations, and governments to integrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into business models and practices. 

His career began in education and leadership, teaching classical studies and serving in a number of roles focused on the development of student leaders on college campuses. With master’s degrees in theology and cultural studies, JR worked in faith-based organizations focused on bringing justice and mercy to a world in need of both. He spent his weekends speaking to thousands of people about how the world must be made better and then spent the week working to make it so.  

JR’s background and drive to be a leader in global impact was uniquely shaped by his relationship to his grandmother, a seamstress and shop owner, who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua during WWII. He has launched various not-for-profits and social enterprises, among them, Traffik Free, a nonprofit to fight human trafficking in Chicago. 

Any free time JR has is spent with his four kids and playing tennis. 

Simone Singh

Manager

Simone provides support across various client accounts and assists with strategy and content development, project management, and research. In addition to that, Simone also works on marketing and thought leadership for Handshake.  

Simone joined the Handshake team as a fellow after graduating from UC San Diego where she majored in Political Science, Sociology, and Urban Planning.  

In her free time, Simone enjoys exploring New York City, visiting art galleries, reading, and travelling to new places. 

Neha Sodhi

Vice President

Neha provides clients with strategic counsel and builds social impact partnerships to elevate their reputation and influence.   

Previously, Neha worked in both the public and private sector building strategic partnerships and creating economic opportunity through program development for underserved communities. Neha holds a BA in Political Science from Villanova University, a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, and serves on a number of non-profit boards.

Based in New York City, Neha spends her free time discovering new things the city has to offer, cooking, and traveling with friends. 

Lindsey Wagner-Oveson

Chief of Staff

Lindsey oversees company operations and strategic priorities for the CEO.  

With nearly two decades of public and private sector experience, Lindsey has worked closely with Members of Congress, White House officials, and senior executives managing strategic initiatives, company operations, and external relations.  

Based in Washington, D.C. Lindsey and her husband spend their free time on outdoor adventures and traveling. 

Sarah Weatherby

Director

Sarah Weatherby currently serves as Director of Client Experience where she leads accounts and provides counsel to clients on their social impact efforts, initiatives, partnerships and thought leadership.

Prior to her role at Handshake, she worked as the Government Affairs Coordinator at Caterpillar, Inc., as a Senate staffer on Capitol Hill, and as a freelance communications consultant and digital strategist. Her professional experience also includes working in the entertainment industry as a singer and actress, and in event planning and management.

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University.

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and performing locally.

Richard Wolffe

Managing Director and Partner

Richard leads Handshake’s creative work including content, design, events and activations.   

He was previously vice-president and executive editor of MSNBC’s digital platforms, launching the channel’s website, apps and digital streaming channel. He grew MSNBC’s digital audiences and revenues more than ten-fold in less than two years, winning a series of editorial, design and social impact awards.   

He later served as Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer at Global Citizen. In two years he grew its monthly audience twenty-fold to 40 million, more than doubled its registered users and led the organization’s launch into India, and its expansion in Germany and Canada.   

He currently writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and his latest book is We Fed An Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, which became an instant New York Times bestseller in 2018.
When he isn’t building decks or writing, Richard is a weekend soccer coach and avid Liverpool fan.