Who We Are

The Sunwater Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, interdisciplinary think tank based in North Bethesda, Maryland.


Our Mission

The Sunwater Institute’s mission is to strengthen the foundations of democracy through interdisciplinary science, technology, and open dialogue. Sunwater’s vision is a society, founded on the principles of individual liberty, striving toward its maximum potential.


What Makes Us Unique

Foundational: Sunwater seeks to understand and improve the foundational ideas that underpin individual flourishing and governance of human societies.

Long-Term: Sunwater focuses on long-term developments and solutions, and pays less attention to short-term election cycles, temporary trends and current headlines.

Interdisciplinary: Sunwater’s nonpartisan, empirically based, scholarly approach to exploring fundamental ideas incorporates disciplines as diverse as law, economics, political science, business, data science, sociobiology, human evolution, and neuroscience.

Data and Technology: SWI leverages data and technology in ways that sustainably improve policy design, implementation, measurement, processes, and outcomes.


Our Scholars

Sunwater brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines – natural science, law, business, and economics – who engage in collaborative research and generate innovative policy recommendations on a range of critical long-term issues.


Our Focus

The Sunwater Institute is focused on long-term fundamental issues. How should the scope and definition of property evolve to better foster innovation, improve the operation of the market, and enable fair trade? How can Congress as an institution engage in a cycle of continuous improvement in order to reach its full potential? What shared values, information and tools do voters need for democracy to thrive? What rights and liberties should we all enjoy; where do they come from; what are their limits; and how can they be protected? These and other important foundational questions, which are critical to the long-term development of human society, form the focus of Sunwater’s research agenda.


Our Leadership

Matthew Chervenak is the President of The Sunwater Institute and responsible for its strategic direction, operations, and output.


Our Name

The name “Sunwater” refers to two resources critical for life to grow and flourish. The Institute’s core purpose is to create a platform for good ideas to grow and flourish. “Sun” and “water” also allude to the ancient concept of yin and yang – that complementary but differing people, ideas, and styles lead to better decisions and richer experiences.


Our Board

The Sunwater Institute’s Board is a governing body composed of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The Board is responsible for the Institute’s leadership, financial health, and independence.


Our History

The Sunwater Institute was founded by Matthew Chervenak and Stephany Yu, two American entrepreneurs with interest in understanding how social systems are built, best operate, and can contribute to human and societal flourishing. Sunwater was born from their desire to create a unique research institute that could work to improve our foundational institutions over the long term.


What We Do

Sunwater creates and fosters ideas, collects data, conducts research, holds events, develops analytics, produces podcasts, and authors peer-reviewed papers, law review articles, policy papers, and blogs.

Our Team
Matthew Chervenak's photograph

Matthew Chervenak

Founder and President

King Laughlin's photograph

King Laughlin

Director, Development

J.D. Rackey's photograph

J.D. Rackey

Director, Legislative Studies

Jessica Friedman's photograph

Jessica Friedman

Director, Marketing and Communications

Ani Harutyunyan's photograph

Ani Harutyunyan


Matt Barnes's photograph

Matt Barnes

Sales and Operations Manager

Nick Harlan's photograph

Nick Harlan

Policy Analyst

Matt Jones's photograph

Matt Jones

Postdoctoral Associate

Casey Burgat's photograph

Casey Burgat

External Scholar

Annelise Russell's photograph

Annelise Russell

External Scholar

Robert Gmeiner's photograph

Robert Gmeiner

External Scholar

Joseph Kochanek's photograph

Joseph Kochanek

External Scholar

Kenneth Lowande's photograph

Kenneth Lowande

External Scholar

Mark Cohen's photograph

Mark Cohen

Senior Advisor

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