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Our Story

From Kitchen to Practice...

At our core, we think that being part of a group means feeling welcome and fed. We think that just as a good meal brings people together, so does a society that welcomes everyone. This is why we are thought kitchen.

Connectedness begs to be discovered in all we do, and this is the essence that Thought Kitchen was built on. We work to empower a world that is connected, inclusive, and healthy in every way is possible. Through our wide range of services, our goal is to give people, businesses, and communities the tools they need to reach this vision.

We like to ask our partners "what change are you hungry for?" Whether it be a nibble or an 8 course meal, whether it be for yourself or your community, we've got you covered. You are welcome here. 

The Team

All things in practice
All things with intention

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Jill Carnell

Cofounder & Chief Contemplative Officer

Jill (she/her) is a curious entrepreneur and compassionate disruptor who enjoys convening people, resources, processes, and ideas to bring more ease to our daily lives. Jill studied Organizational Leadership and Supervision at Purdue University West Lafayette, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in May 1999. After two years working in manufacturing and higher education, she was admitted to law school at Indiana University School of Law—Indianapolis (now known as Indiana University McKinney School of Law). During the four years of the part-time evening program, Jill continued working full-time in higher education, at a mid-size law firm, and the Indiana Senate. Jill earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in May 2005 and was licensed to practice law in October 2005. Over the course of the next fifteen years, Jill spent time in private law practice as well as in state and local government. During the early 2010s, she opened a needle arts shop in her hometown of Greenwood, eventually selling to a partner when she returned to full-time state government service. Jill completed the Master of Arts in Mindfulness Studies program at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, earning a Master of Arts degree in September 2021. About the same time, Jill cofounded Thought Kitchen with Lesley Crane, her professional partner of over a decade. In January 2023, Jill and Lesley unveiled DiversiFind, a software platform that connects diverse businesses (such as women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, disabled-owned) with businesses that are working to intentionally diversify their spend. The intention is to utilize technology to reduce the friction in connecting firms that are ready, willing, and able to do business with firms that intentionally want to walk their talk of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by diversifying their spend. Jill lives among the trees outside of Mooresville, Indiana, with her husband, Mark, and a whole bunch of cats. Mark and Jill are the proud parents of Patrick, their adult son.

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Lesley Crane

Cofounder & Chief Diversity Officer

Lesley (she/her) is an experienced supplier diversity professional. Thought Kitchen’s Cofounder & Chief Diversity Officer was appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb in April 2018 to serve as the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA). In this role, she was responsible for a 200+ employee organization that manages various statewide functions including procurement, public works, facilities management, fleet services, real estate, state surplus, and supplier diversity. During her time at IDOA, Lesley gained a passion for supplier diversity work. She served on the Governor’s Commission on Supplier Diversity, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males and was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Chief Administrators, where she pushed for a stronger focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and supplier diversity matters among her peers from other states. Lesley also served on the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative’s Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, which was charged with assisting the Indianapolis Urban League in determining the best way to distribute a $100M grant of funds from the National Urban League in 2021. To further her DEI education, Lesley completed the eCornell Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certificate, as well as the University of South Florida Muma College of Business Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate. Currently, Lesley is taking the PCM (Process Communication Model) Training with her Thought Kitchen colleagues to augment her DEI and facilitation training. Over her career, Lesley has served on several not-for-profit boards, including the Alpha Chi Omega House Corporation Board, the Exodus Refugee Board of Directors, and others, and is a graduate of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series. She is currently a member of the Mental Health America of Indiana Board of Directors, where she chairs the Public Policy Committee, and the Sycamore School Board of Trustees. In 2017, Governor Holcomb awarded Lesley the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor which a Governor bestows. In 2022, she was awarded the Trailblazer Award by the Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

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Loretta Oleksy

Mindful Life & Work Coach

Loretta (she/her) is a lawyer, social worker, public speaker, and group facilitator who is dedicated to helping people connect with what lights them up. She loves working with individuals, groups, and organizations to discover their strengths and work and live in a way that aligns with them. Loretta earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from DePauw University in 1990 and completed her Master’s in Social Work from Indiana University in 1992. After graduating from the MSW program, Loretta joined the staff of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, where she created a statewide public policy program to advocate for the needs of children and was instrumental in the passage of legislation creating the Indiana Children's Trust Fund and the Kids First license plate. Intrigued by the lawmaking process, Loretta applied and was admitted to the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1995 and graduated in 1999. During law school, she worked as a courtroom advocate for Child Advocates, Inc., where she remained as a staff attorney for three years after graduation. Loretta also ran her own law practice for four years before joining the staff of the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Office of Court Services. Loretta served the court for 15 years, beginning with supporting judicial officers in developing innovative family court and alternative dispute resolution programs, and then educating judicial officers on best practices in domestic violence cases. Loretta’s last nine years of court service were spent as the Deputy Director of the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP). During her tenure with JLAP, Loretta provided education and support to hundreds of law students, lawyers, and judicial officers. She is a passionate advocate for lawyer well-being and for diminishing the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental health, addiction, and other issues that impact members of the legal profession. Over the past decade, Loretta has offered over 150 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) in Indiana and across the country on topics related to well-being, leadership, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. She has developed CLE presentations and materials for organizations such as the Indiana State Bar Association, multiple Indiana local bar associations, multiple Indiana state executive agencies, and the American Bar Association. She is lauded after each presentation for her expertise, sophistication, and approachability in her style of presentation. Loretta serves on several Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) committees, including the Diversity Committee and the Solo and Small Firm Conference Committee. She is currently the chair of the ISBA Well-Being Committee. She has been actively involved with the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Institute for Well-Being in Law, and she is a JLAP volunteer. Loretta and her beloved therapy dog Kirby were a longtime therapy team with the Indianapolis Obedience Training Club, Community Hospital East, and JLAP until his death in 2020. She is currently training another therapy dog and is a volunteer with Illinois Shorthair Rescue. Loretta lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Chris, and their rescue dogs, Karlie, Neville, and Ranger. They are the proud parents of their adult son, Jameson.

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Megan Lawson

Director of Project Management

Megan Lawson (she/her) is a government purchasing and supplier diversity expert. She has over 15 years of experience working in the public sector in roles that span procurement to contract management and supplier diversity. Prior to joining Thought Kitchen, she served as the Procurement Director of Vendor Management and Supplier Performance for the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA), which administers the State of Indiana’s purchasing and procurement function and provides end-to-end procurement support, contract negotiations, performance management and data collection for a variety of goods and service categories. During her tenure in procurement, Megan also managed the K-12/Library/OneIndiana initiative. This involved working with schools, educational service centers, libraries, and local government offices to save money by purchasing from the State’s Quantity Purchase Agreements (QPAs) through a dedicated purchasing portal. She was also the project manager for planning the yearly procurement vendor fair, which allowed the QPA vendors to connect with over 200 state and local purchasing contacts. Prior to her role in procurement, Megan spent three years in the state’s Supplier Diversity Division within IDOA as a Compliance Manager. She conducted compliance audits on State of Indiana contracts to ensure that minority & women’s business commitments were met and worked with suppliers to achieve a corrective action plan if they were not met. Megan has a bachelor’s degree focused in Telecommunications, Marketing and Business from Indiana University Bloomington. A resident of Noblesville, Megan is a wife and mother of two boys and a girl. She loves spending time outdoors with her family, reading all things, baking, and cheering on the basketball team at her alma mater (GO HOOSIERS!).

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