Common Sense Institute

Common Sense Institute is a non-partisan research organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of Colorado's economy. We are at the forefront of important discussions concerning the future of free enterprise in CO and we aim to have an impact on the issues that matter most to Coloradans.

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Kristin Strohm, President and CEO
Start Date: 2019

Kristin Strohm serves as the President & CEO and was one of the original founders of CSPR. Prior to joining CSI full-time in early 2019, she has helped establish and guide the organization in a consulting role.

Previously, Strohm was the President and Co-Founder of the Starboard Group. It was widely regarded as one of the most influential fundraising consulting firms. Strohm remains Board Chair of the Starboard Group.

In 2018, Kristin was honored by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado. She is also a recipient of the Denver Business Journal's 40 Under 40 Award and is part of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Leadership Network's founding class. In 2016, she received the Ally Award from the pro-LGTBQ organization One Colorado in recognition of her determined push to gain greater support for gay rights among Republicans.

Strohm is also widely involved in the philanthropic community. She is a past two-term board chair and was a six-year board member of the Women's Bean Project. She is an Executive Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council, where she is served as the Chairwoman of the 2017 and 2018 fundraising marquee Sports Breakfast event. She also serves on the boards of the University of Denver Barton Institute Advisory Board and Strohm-Link Family Foundation. In addition, in 2017, she joined the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Coe College, where she also founded the Tri Delta Leadership Scholarship.

Kristin studied history and Spanish at Coe College, where in addition to being a Rhodes Scholar state of Iowa nominee, she was president of her sorority and student body president. In 2009, Kristin obtained her M.B.A. from the University of Denver.

Kristin is married to Josh Penry. She and Josh currently make their home in the Denver-area with their four children, Chase, Emme, and twins Sophie and Caroline.

Chris Brown, Director of Policy and Research
Start Date: 2017

Chris Brown is the Director of Policy and Research with the Common Sense Institute where he leads the research efforts of CSI to provide insightful, accurate and actionable information on the implications of public policy issues throughout the state of Colorado.

Prior to joining CSI in September of 2017, Chris spent close to a decade working for REMI (Regional Economic Models Inc). In 2011, he established REMI's Washington, DC office and oversaw the growth of the company in the nation's capital and lead numerous engagements on both federal and regional policy issues. Highlights of Brown's work cover modeling the fiscal and economic impacts of Medicaid expansion in eight states and evaluating the economic impact of major air quality regulation in Washington state. He also helped forecast the state-by-state economic effects of budget sequestration with Third Way, a centrist think tank, and examined a small business tax credit proposal for the U.S. Senate.

Since joining CSI, Chris has led several reports on a range of policy and economic issues facing the state of Colorado including, measuring the impacts of potential 1% growth-caps imposed in the state's major metro areas, analyzing the need and options for PERA reform, simulating the economic impacts if Colorado schools were #1 and measuring the economic and fiscal impacts of a 2,500-ft setback for new oil and gas drilling.

Jake Zambrano, Director of Legislative Services
Start Date: 2019

Jake Zambrano has specialized in state government relations, public affairs, grassroots advocacy, and political campaign management for over 20 years. He has represented a number of clients at the Colorado General Assembly including Colorado Mesa University, Medtronic, Boehringer - Ingelheim, Extraction Oil and Gas, Community Financial Services Association and Mile High Racing and Entertainment to name a few.
Jake is currently a Senior Project Member with EIS Solutions. Prior to EIS, Jake was a senior manager with two other firms specializing in lobbying, project management, campaign development, and government affairs. His government experience saw him as the Director of Government Affairs for the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and he served previously as the Director of Operations for former Colorado Governor Bill Owens. Over the years, he has also managed governor, congressional, mayoral, and state legislative campaigns across the Rocky Mountain West.
Jake serves as an Arapahoe County appointee to the board of directors to the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. He is currently serving on the University of Colorado Presidential Selection Committee as a Regent appointee.
He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and makes his home in Aurora, Colorado.

Cinamon Watson, Director of Public Relations
Start Date: 2019

Cinamon began her career researching, writing, and developing policy positions in Washington, D.C. She sharpened her skills on the campaign trail working for a diverse list of candidates and issues. She specializes in developing and executing successful communications and community relations programs.
Working in political campaign environments has sharpened Cinamon's skills and provided her with unique experiences that translate into an edge for her clients. Known for being 'unflappable,' Cinamon shines in crisis situations. In addition to managing intense deadlines and crisis communications, she is experienced in fundraising and event planning and has developed a keen eye for detail.
Prior to founding Blueprint Strategies, Cinamon managed the re-election campaign of Congressman Mike Coffman, one of the top races in the country. She also previously served Community Relations Officer for Douglas County School District, a district of more than 65,000 students and 7,000 employees. During her tenure, she significantly expanded district communications through consistent messaging and the development of new communication vehicles.
Watson has served on a number of community boards including the Colorado Ballet Board of Trustees and the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Watson and her husband make their home in Morrison, Colorado.

Megan Garn, Community Engagement Manager
Start Date: 2020

Megan Garn is elated to join the Common Sense Institute (CSI) team as the Community Engagement Manager. Prior to joining CSI, she served as the Communications Specialist with the City of Greeley where she sharpened her skills as a communications and marketing professional. She continues to demonstrate her passion for working in government relations and with nonprofit organizations.

Prior to her position with the City of Greeley, she began her career researching, writing and developing policies while serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Community Resource Center and as the Colorado City & County Management Association Local Government Fellow with the Town of Timnath.

She studied art and art history at Kalamazoo College and obtained her M.P.A. from the University of Colorado Denver in 2018, where she was named the Daniels Fund Ethics Fellow and completed her capstone with the City of Lakewood.

Garn and her significant other, Adam Gunden, currently make their home in Glendale with their West Highland Terrier, Murphy.

Erik Gamm, Research Associate
Start Date: 2020

Erik Gamm is excited to join the Common Sense Institute (CSI) team as the Research Analyst. Gamm will graduate from the University of Michigan in May, 2020, with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He joins the CSI team after a successful internship in the summer of 2019, during which he researched and developed many of the data and figures behind "Anticipating a State Option For Health Care: Will Businesses Face Higher Costs Or Will Quality and Access be Cut?" and "Dollars and Data: A Look at K-12 Education Funding in Colorado." He is excited to continue to pursue his interests at the intersection of economics and policy. He has experience in Washington, D.C., as an intern at the natural resources lobbying firm American Capitol Group, for which he supported various oil and natural gas, outfitting, and education clients. Gamm is an avid hockey player, traveler, hiker, and political observer.

Abigail Giannou, Research Analyst
Start Date: 2020

Abigail is going into her senior year at University of Colorado Denver. She is studying International Business with a minor in Economics. She is currently the President is Business Student Ambassador Committee (2020-21) and the Vice President for Women in Business (2020-21). After college Abigail plans to get a job in the field of her major and potentially continue schooling afterwards. Working at CSI has taught Abigail the importance of State and Local policy; she hopes to help inform others on what she has learned in the professional world.


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