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During Peer-to-Peer review, each applicant will score and comment on five other applications using the four criteria included in the scoring rubric: transformative, innovative, feasible, and scalable. This is the same scoring rubric that the Evaluation Panel will use in their review.
Scores will be calculated using an algorithm that ensures a level playing field for all applicants. In addition to scoring each application on the four criteria in the scoring rubric, Peer-to-Peer reviewers will also provide a final numerical score, ranging between 0-100, representing an overall impression of the entire application. We ask that each Peer-to-Peer reviewer carefully read the applications given to them and provide meaningful feedback. The Peer-to-Peer review will result in a rank order of all valid submissions. Based on the rank order of scores, a subset of top-scoring applications will move forward to the Evaluation Panel.
Evaluation Panel judges will score and provide feedback on the applications assigned to them using the scoring rubric, and each valid application will receive five sets of reviews with scores that have been statistically normalized to ensure a level playing field. Informed by the resulting rank order of applications after Evaluation Panel review, up to five Finalists will be selected.
Kalia Abiade is the Vice President of Programs at Pillars Fund, a national nonprofit that amplifies the leadership, narratives and talents of Muslims in the U.S. She draws on nearly two decades of experience advocating for equity and racial justice in media, policy, and philanthropy.
Prior to joining Pillars, Kalia was an organizer and policy advocate, working on media accountability, immigrant and refugee rights, religious freedom, voter access, and civic participation. Through the Federal TRIO Programs, she worked with high school students in Southwestern Virginia in their pursuit to become the first members of their families to graduate from college.
Kalia was trained as a newspaper journalist and editor, and her analysis has been cited in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press, among other outlets. She currently serves on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.
Sefa Aina is currently the Associate Dean and Director of the Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona College. Professionally, he has served as an academic and student-organizational advisor, as well as an instructor for Asian American Studies programs at UCLA and California State University, Fullerton. Sefa has taught courses in contemporary Pacific Islander issues, community engagement, and has done countless workshops and talks at colleges and universities throughout the country.
Sefa serves on the Board of APAHE (Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education), EPIC (Empowering Pacific Islander Communities), NaPALI (National Pacific American Leadership Institute), and during the pandemic, helped to found the Inland Empire Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response Team. In September of 2010, Sefa was appointed by President Obama to the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Sefa served as the Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2010 - 2014.
Samar Ali is a Research Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University, the founding President and CEO of Millions of Conversations, and co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy. She received her JD and BA in Political Science from Vanderbilt University and holds 14 years of experience in international relations and legal practice. As a conflict resolution practitioner, she is a recipient of the White House Fellows IMPACT Award and Vanderbilt University’s Young Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Ali is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Working at the intersection of civil rights, national security, and economic development, Ali served as a White House Fellow in President Obama’s administration and as Assistant Commissioner of International Affairs in Tennessee Governor Haslam’s administration. Ali is currently working on a memoir, From the Holy Land to the Heartland: Olives & Sweet Tea, about one family’s century’s long quest for peace through belonging.
Aimee Allison is founder and president of She the People, a national network elevating the voice and power of women of color. She brings together voters, organizers, and elected leaders in a movement grounded in values of love, justice, belonging, and democracy. In 2018, Ms. Allison was one of the primary architects of the “year of women of color in politics.”
In April 2019, she convened the first presidential forum for women of color, reaching a quarter of the American population. A democratic innovator and visionary, Ms. Allison leads national efforts to build inclusive, multiracial coalitions led by women of color. She leverages media, research and analysis to increase voter engagement and advocate for racial, economic and gender justice.
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Hill, Essence, Teen Vogue and Newsweek. In the early 1990’s, Ms. Allison earned a rare honorable discharge from the U.S. Army as a conscientious objector and works today to support courageous, moral leadership.
Aimee Allison holds a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University. Author of Army of None, she has appeared in hundreds of outlets including MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, Associated Press and NPR.
She is building a political home for a million women of color, nationally and in battleground states. She was featured in Politico’s 2019 Powerlist.
Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University.
She is the author of several award-winning books, including Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955, the New York Times bestseller, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy. In addition to numerous teaching awards, her research has garnered fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, National Humanities Center, Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
She earned her Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University.
As President and CEO of Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), Ana Marie has paved the way for a new era to democratize philanthropy. From the Ford Foundation, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Unidos US, to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, she has led with her thoughtful curiosity to bridge diverse agendas. Ana Marie’s trajectory is a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit that seeks to center Latinx voices and leadership.
As Director of Research & Engagement at Columbia World Projects (CWP), Thomas Asher leads work that unites academic communities with practitioners to identify fresh thinking on problem areas related to democratic futures, inclusive urbanism, pandemic recovery, and scaling for implementation. He directs CWP's election infrastructure initiative, which gathers academic researchers, advocacy organizations, and election officials to examine what constitutes a healthy electoral system and how to design an election architecture that increases voter participation and safeguards integrity. This work is part of a larger effort he heads to build communities of practice that aim to enhance civic engagement and foster forms of participatory governance in NYC – and well beyond, including in Europe, India, South Africa, and the United States. Prior to CWP, Tom worked at the Social Science Research Council, where he directed grant and fellowship programs to build research networks addressing pressing issues across the world.
Abed A. Ayoub serves as the National Legal & Policy Director of the American -Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC), the country's largest Arab American civil rights organization, based in Washington, D.C. Throughout his career Ayoub has worked to address issues impacting Arabs and Muslims in the United States, including matters related to discrimination, immigration, hate crimes, surveillance and profiling. Under his leadership the ADC Legal Department has successfully assisted and provide pro bono support to thousands of impacted community members across the country. Ayoub regularly advocates on behalf of the community with lawmakers and government agencies, and also works to enhance the community’s economic empowerment, and access to education. He is a regular commentator on national and international media and has developed a strong reputation for his commitment to social justice and access to justice for all. Ayoub graduated from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2005 and credits his time at the institution for shaping his view on the law and role of attorneys.
Nila Bala is the Senior Staff Attorney, Policing Project at NYU Law. Previously, she was the Assistant Director of Criminal Justice Policy at R Street Institute where she lead R Street’s criminal justice policy to advance reforms in juvenile and economic justice.
Nila previously served as an assistant public defender in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to handling more than 1,000 cases in her tenure, she also helped lead a bail reform project to address problems in the city’s money bail system. Earlier in her career, Nila clerked for Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She also was a recipient of the Yale Public Interest Law Fellow, and she assisted juveniles with sealing their records.
Nila received her bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University, graduating with distinction. She completed her JD at Yale Law School.
Daniella Ballou Aares is the Founder and CEO of the Leadership Now Project, a national membership organization of business leaders committed to fixing American democracy. Daniella began her career at Bain & Company, working across the firm’s offices in the US, South Africa and the UK. From there she became a founding Partner at Dalberg, where she led the Americas business. She spent five years in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor for Development to the Secretary of State, serving under Secretaries Clinton and Kerry. Daniella’s perspectives have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the World Economic Forum, and Forbes, among others. Daniella is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a 2014 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MPA from the Kennedy School and a BS in Operations Research and Engineering from Cornell.
A founding incorporator for the Institute, Edwin has been the executive director for more than a decade. He promotes the use of the Institute's comprehensive, highly credentialed state-level donor information by investigative journalists, scholars examining state elections and public-policy processes, and attorneys involved in campaign-finance litigation.
In 2012, Edwin was an expert witness for the Montana Attorney General's office in its defense of Montana's campaign-contribution limits.
Edwin emphasizes the need to break down barriers to public disclosure of campaign finance and related information in poor-reporting states, while pushing advances in cross-state issue analyses and web-based data aggregation and dissemination.
Edwin has been quoted extensively in major news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post, to name a few; has conducted money-and-politics trainings for news organizations like IRE and NICAR; and has been featured in two PBS investigations of the role money plays in our democracy.
Professor Khaled A. Beydoun is a law professor, author and public intellectual. He serves as a law professor at Wayne State University, a Scholar-in-Residence at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, and Associate Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights in Detroit. Professor Beydoun is author of the critically acclaimed book American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, and co-editor of Islamophobia and the Law – published by University of Cambridge Press.
Professor Beydoun’s academic work has been featured in top academic journals, including the UCLA Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, the California Law Review and the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review. His insights have been featured in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC and ESPN. Professor Beydoun served on the US Commission for Civil Rights for three years, and earned a coveted Open Society Foundations Equality Fellowship. He has been named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims of the World, and is currently working on his third book examining Islamophobia as a global phenomenon.
Professor Beydoun in a native of Detroit, Michigan, and holds degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of Toronto, UCLA, and Harvard.
Jocelyn Bissonnette (she/her) is the Director of Special Projects at the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP). She works to mobilize philanthropy to engage and invest around the 2020 Census and 2021 redistricting cycle, with a focus on historically undercounted and under-represented communities.
Jocelyn previously served as Director of Policy & Advocacy for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), where she represented public school district leaders before Congress and the administration.
Jocelyn holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of New Hampshire and a Masters in Policy Management from Georgetown University, where her capstone focused on the undercount risk of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the 2020 Census. She completed a policy fellowship with the Institute for Educational Leadership and an executive certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University. Jocelyn is based in Washington, DC, but remains a proud Rhode Islander.
Allen Blue is Vice President of Product Management and Cofounder of LinkedIn, the online professional network. At LinkedIn, he is responsible for LinkedIn's overall product strategy. He also sponsors LinkedIn's work and education products within the economic graph team, including the products and platforms supporting Skillful.com (a joint effort to close the middle skills gap in the United States between LinkedIn and the Markle Foundation). He advises several startups in Silicon Valley, most focused on improving health and education. He sat on the U.S. Commerce Department's Data Advisory Council, helping guide the Department's efforts to make its data broadly available to American businesses. Blue serves on the boards of the Hope Street Group, a non-profit which focuses on bringing economic opportunity to Americans through a combination of policy and practice, and Change.org, an online destination for making grassroots-driven change easier. Before LinkedIn, Blue cofounded SocialNet.com, an online dating service, and graduated from Stanford University.
Jean P. Bordewich has been a program officer for the U.S. Democracy Program of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2014. She joined Hewlett after 20 years on Capitol Hill, including serving as staff director for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where she worked on elections, campaign finance, and Senate administration, procedures and technology. She also led planning for the 2013 Obama inaugural ceremonies. Earlier Jean served as an elected town council member and two-time delegate to presidential nominating conventions, candidate for Congress, U.S. House chief of staff, journalist and business executive. She is a graduate of Brown University (BA) and The George Washington University (MBA); she also attended Guilford College. Her plays about politics and history have premiered at the Capital Fringe Festival and been featured in readings in Washington, DC.
From scholar to technical writer, to social worker, to graphic designer to researcher to activist, Dr. Pamela Jae Boveland exemplifies strength and honor as a true woman of integrity and has led a life of service to her community.
A native Houstonian, she is a proud graduate of Jack Yates Senior High School and furthered her educational pursuits a Ph.D. in Clinical Research from the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work. In addition, she currently teaches Social Equality, Research Methods and Statistics at the University of Houston -Downtown.
Dr. PJae, as she is affectionately called, began her 30-year career with Harris County Juvenile Probation Department as a Juvenile Probation Officer culminating as the Systems Director of research and technology.
After her retirement, Dr, PJae has become an assiduous advocate for the children of Houston tirelessly addressing numerous issues on their behalf monthly before the Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees monthly. She is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focusing on eliminating voter suppression and discriminatory redistricting maps. Her activism extends to the Jack Yates National Alumni Association where she works to preserve the legacy of the school and helping the students as a member of the Executive Committee.
She further steps in to lend a helping hand and her organizational expertise in countless community endeavors. Dr PJae is that “friend indeed.” She believes the key to unlocking the future of decision-making lies in the ethical and effective use of research and technology.
LaTese Briggs, Ph.D. is the Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer of The Executive Leadership Council. Dr. Briggs has served as a trusted advisor to an array of philanthropists and foundations. She has helped partners channel their wealth, talent, network, and influence to create positive social impact. Beginning her career as a leading scientist at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Briggs brings her analytical thinking and rigorous methodology to the world of philanthropy to create strategic, effective, and sustainable giving strategies.
Before joining ELC Dr. Briggs co-founded a highly successful philanthropic advising practice at the Milken Institute, which later became the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP). For more than 8 years, she played a vital role in managing CSP’s overall growth, operations, strategic direction, and human talent. Dr. Briggs also led the expansion of CSP’s consulting services and expertise to markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Dr. Briggs earned a Doctorate in Biochemistry and Structural Biology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and then completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard University where her work focused on early drug discovery. Briggs is also a board member of The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health.
Amanda Brown Lierman is the Executive Director of Supermajority, an organization aimed at training and organizing women across age, race and background to push for women’s equity. At the helm, Amanda has leveraged her experience as an organizer to build a coalition of women who harness their collective power for lasting change.
Alexandra Chandler co-leads Protect Democracy’s elections and voting rights work, including policy development, advocacy, and litigation efforts. She also coordinates staff support for the National Task Force on Election Crises, a cross-ideological group of leaders in elections, civil rights, and other disciplines, who prepared decision makers and the public for election crises in 2020, and are doing so again for the 2022 and 2024 elections. Previously, Alexandra was a career national security professional for 13 years, including roles at the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she led the Intelligence Community analytic effort to disrupt the proliferation of WMD by sea and developed policies to prevent the politicization of intelligence. In 2018, she was the first openly transgender candidate to run for Congress from Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Brown University and Brooklyn Law School.
Donnie Charleston is the Director of Policy & Advocacy for E Pluribus Unum, where he is responsible for developing the organization’s policy agenda and putting it to action, as well as overseeing public policy research and partnerships for the organization. Donnie previously served as Director of State & Local Fiscal Engagement for The Urban Institute. He has extensive experience in state and local government and in the nonprofit arena from having served in different capacities including as a government program administrator, a researcher in several think tanks and universities, as a legislative analyst, and as an advocate for the disabled. He holds undergraduate degrees in the social sciences, a Masters in Sociology, and his doctoral work focused on Economic Sociology. A native of North Carolina, Donnie currently lives in Washington, D.C.
Hong Cheng is a professor and the dean of the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago. He received a Ph.D. degree in mass communications from Pennsylvania State University.
His research interest centers on cross-cultural advertising, global branding, and social marketing. His work has appeared in dozens of journal articles and book chapters. He co-authored Becoming a Media Savvy Student and co-edited Advertising and Chinese Society: Issues and Impacts and Social Marketing for Public Health: Global Trends and Success Stories. He edited The Handbook of International Advertising Research.
He is a current associate editor of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and a former associate editor of the Asian Journal of Communication. He is a co-chair of the Presidential Committee on Career Development of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and a former chair of the AEJMC’s Professional Freedom and Responsibility Committee. He served the American Academy of Advertising as its secretary and co-chaired an Asia-Pacific Conference for the AAA in Hong Kong. He also is a former chair of the National Education Executive Committee of the American Advertising Federation.
Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel. In 1993, EFF she served lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. Among other honors, Ms. Cohn was named to TheNonProfitTimes 2020 Power & Influence TOP 50 list, and in 2018, Forbes included Ms. Cohn as one of America's Top 50 Women in Tech. In 2013, The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America, noting: "If Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn."
Alma Couverthie is the National Organizing Director for the League of Women Voters. In this role, Alma is responsible for building and developing the grassroots power needed to defend, expand, and protect voting rights for all to achieve true democracy reform. Prior to joining the League in 2019, Alma was the Deputy Field Director for Immigration at Community Change, home of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a nation-wide campaign to achieve bold and comprehensive immigration reform, working with a strong network of 45 grassroots organizations in 33 states. In that role, Alma managed the development and implementation of field strategies, base building, and leadership development, with a focus on race and gender equity.
Earlier in her career, Alma served as the Organizing Director of Workforce Development and Education at CASA, an organization at the forefront of the immigrant rights movement representing nearly 100,000 members. In that role, Alma led the organizing and leadership development efforts, and mobilized over 10,000 people to the White House on May Day 2017, to advocate for immigrant rights and workers justice.
Alma’s career started more than 20 years ago, organizing immigrant factory and textile workers with UNITE, and later with Lawrence Community Works, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, fighting for affordable housing and open space development, as well as launching a successful campaign for budget reform at the local level.
In her spare time, Alma enjoys baking, music, and taking her dogs for a walk. It's rumored that Alma makes the best flan in the world.
Jeffrey R. Davis, MD is the Founder and CEO of Exploring 4 Solutions, and an Executive-in-Residence at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). He serves on the advisory board for VentureLab, and as a member of the advisory council for Medical Bridges. Prior to Exploring 4 Solutions, Jeff served as the Director, Human Health and Performance, and the Chief Medical Officer for the NASA Johnson Space Center. Jeff received his B.S. degree in Biology from Stanford University, an M.D. degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a Master of Science degree from Wright State University.
Carrie leads the Foundation’s work to protect and improve voting rights, voter access, and best practices in election administration. She oversees our support for fair representation and redistricting, and Census engagement programs across the Great Lakes region.
Carrie also serves on the board of Forefront, Illinois’ state philanthropy and nonprofit association, and previously served on the steering committee of the “2020 Illinois Count Me In” statewide census coalition.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Carrie served as executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio from 2012-2017, where she led the League’s state advocacy and public engagement programs with a special focus on voters’ rights and redistricting.
Carrie was one of the co-leaders of Fair Districts Ohio, which led a good government campaign for successful passage of the 2015 state redistricting reform ballot issue. In 2017 the coalition launched a citizen initiative campaign to reform congressional districting, which eventually led the state Legislature to negotiate a bipartisan reform plan that was approved by voters in May 2018. Carrie also served on the steering committee of Ohio Voice, the local affiliate of State Voices.
From 2003-2012, Carrie was staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, where she litigated and lobbied on a variety of issues including voting rights, free speech, criminal justice, racial justice, LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, and government accountability.
Carrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with a concentration in Public Policy and Public Service from Albion College, as well as a law degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University, and a professor by courtesy of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford. He is a core faculty member of FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and co-leads the Global Digital Policy Incubator, based at FSI’s Cyber Policy Center. He also leads the Hoover Institution’s programs on China’s Global Sharp Power and on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region, as well as FSI’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy. He is the founding coeditor of the Journal of Democracy. His most recent book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, analyzes the challenges confronting liberal democracy in the United States and around the world and offers an agenda for strengthening and defending democracy at home and abroad.
Aaron Dorfman is president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a research and advocacy organization that works to ensure America’s grantmakers and wealthy donors are responsive to the needs of those with the least wealth, opportunity and power. Dorfman, a thoughtful critic, frequently speaks and writes about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy, the benefits of funding advocacy and community organizing, and the need for greater accountability and transparency in the philanthropic sector. Before joining NCRP in 2007, Dorfman served for 15 years as a community organizer with two national organizing networks, spearheading grassroots campaigns on a variety of issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carleton College, a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and serves on the boards of Capital & Main, The Center for Popular Democracy and re:power.
Laurent Dubois is John L. Nau Bicentennial Professor of the History & Principles of Democracy, and the Co-Director of the Democracy Initiative, at the University of Virginia. He is the author of numerous books including Haiti: The Aftershocks of History and The Banjo: America’s African Instrument.
Henry Farrell is SNF Agora Institute Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 2019 winner of the Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Politics and Technology, and Editor in Chief of the Monkey Cage blog at the Washington Post. He works on a variety of topics, including democracy, the politics of the Internet and international and comparative political economy. He has written articles and book chapters as well as two books, The Political Economy of Trust: Interests, Institutions and Inter-Firm Cooperation, published by Cambridge University Press, and (with Abraham Newman) Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Fight over Freedom and Security, published by Princeton University Press.
Rob Fersh is the founder of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, where he served as CEO 2009-2020 and remains as Senior Advisor and member of the board of directors. Convergence is a leading bridge building organization that employs collaborative dialogue to build consensus solutions to major issues confronting the U.S.
Prior to Convergence, Rob held leadership positions in two non-profits, Search for Common Ground (an international conflict transformation organization) and the Food Research and Action Center, a leading domestic anti-hunger organization where he served as CEO 1986-1998. Earlier in his career, Rob served on the staffs of three Congressional Committees where his policy work focused on poverty and hunger in the United States. He also held a political position in the Carter Administration helping to run the federal agency that oversees all of the public domestic feeding programs.
Rob holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a law degree from Boston University. He resides in Bethesda, MD, is married, and has four children and two (and counting) grandchildren.
Jason J. Fichtner is Vice President & Chief Economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Alliance for Lifetime Income and the Retirement Income Institute. His research focuses on Social Security, federal tax policy, federal budget policy, retirement security, and policy proposals to increase saving and investment. Fichtner is on the Board of Directors for the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), where he serves as Treasurer. Previously, he was a Senior Lecturer of International Economics and an Associate Director of the International Economics and Finance (MIEF) program at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he taught courses in public finance, behavioral economics and cost-benefit analysis. Prior to SAIS, Fichtner was a Senior Research Fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Fichtner also served in several positions at the Social Security Administration, including as Deputy Commissioner of Social Security (acting), Chief Economist, and Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy. He also served as a Senior Economist with the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress, as an Economist with the Internal Revenue Service, and as a Senior Consultant with the Office of Federal Tax Services at Arthur Andersen, LLP.
Aria Finger is a globally recognized expert on youth, social impact and technology, most recently having spent 15 years building DoSomething.org into the largest global organization for young people and social change. During her time as CEO at DoSomething, she spearheaded their election and civic engagement work, registering over 350,000 young voters leading up to the 2020 election. Finger is also the Founder of DoSomething Strategic, a boutique consulting firm focusing on youth and purpose, with clients like Nike, Google & Spotify. During her tenure, DoSomething Strategic brought in over $10 million in revenue to fuel DoSomething.org’s social change work.
Aria graduated magna cum laude in economics and political science from Washington University in St. Louis, and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In 2016, she was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Nadia Firozvi is the Associate Director for the Just and Inclusive Society Project at Democracy Fund, an independent foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Nadia oversees strategy development and grantmaking, and provides expertise and guidance to grantees and more.
Nadia most recently served as a Policy Advisor in the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She was also Domestic Policy Coordinator at the Arab American Institute and Staff Attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center.
Nadia was a founding board member of Many Languages One Voice and currently sits on the board of More in Common.
Nadia holds degrees from Loyola University in Maryland, University of Baltimore School of Law, and American University Washington College of Law.
Ester R. Fuchs is Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science and Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Fuchs is Director of Whosontheballot.org, an online voter education and engagement initiative. She is also a member of Columbia’s Just Societies Task Force, the Earth Institute, the Data Science Institute and its Smart Cities Center. She currently serves on the boards of the Fund for the City of New York and the Citizens Union.
Fuchs academic research is in urban politics and policy, American elections and civic engagement, smart cities and urban environmental sustainability policy. Fuchs served as Special Advisor to the Mayor for Governance and Strategic Planning under New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2001 to 2005. She was the first woman to chair a NYC Charter Revision Commission in 2005. Fuchs advises non-profits, businesses and political campaigns and is a frequent political commentator. Fuchs received a BA from Queens College, CUNY; an MA from Brown University and PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.
Kate has spent a decade as a organizer, founder, and public servant building organizations that apply data and technology to critical social impact challenges.
Kate is a Founding Partner at The Movement Cooperative, and the Executive Director of the Cooperative Impact Lab, which work to ensure that the most advanced data & technology is in the hands of activists in service of civic engagement, long-term power building, and political advocacy. In 2018, Kate was the Chief of Staff for the Parkland Students leading the March for Our Lives and supported them in organizing the mass-mobilization on March 20, 2018. She spent 8 years working in the Obama Administration on the intersection between technology and global challenges with a focus on innovation, global development, and the maker movement at USAID and the White House.
Starting in Iowa in 2007 and through the 2008 election, she was a part of the Obama Campaign on the National Advance Staff.
John Gastil (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University, where he is senior scholar at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Gastil’s research focuses on the theory and practice of deliberative democracy. The National Science Foundation has supported his research on the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review, the Australian Citizens’ Parliament, and American juries. His most recent books are Legislature by Lot (Verso, 2019) with Erik Olin Wright, Hope for Democracy (Oxford, 2020) with Katherine R. Knobloch, and the novel Gray Matters (John Hunt, 2020).
Joe Goldman is the President of the Democracy Fund, an independent foundation that champions the leaders who defend American democracy and challenge our political system to be more open and just.
Joe incubated Democracy Fund for three years inside Pierre and Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic investment firm – Omidyar Network – where he was an Investment Director. He then launched Democracy Fund as a private foundation in 2014, along-side Democracy Fund Voice, a sister 501c4 organization for which he also serves as president. Since its inception, Democracy Fund has invested more than $150 million to support organizations that are working to create a more vibrant and diverse public square, free and fair elections, effective and accountable government, and a just and inclusive society.
Shane Murphy Goldsmith is the President/CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, one of the nation's leading social change foundations.
She is a former Vice President of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, and the Co-Chair of the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color (CFBMoC) SoCal Region. A Durfee Foundation Stanton Fellow focusing on youth justice issues, Shane is also a member of the Southern California Grantmakers Board of Directors, and sits on both the Advisory Committee for the Black Equity Initiative of the JIB Fund, and the board of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH).
A graduate of Kenyon College, Shane has a Master's degree in Public Policy and Administration, and has worked as a community organizer focusing on economic justice in low-income communities of color across LA.
An attorney and racial-justice advocate, Jessica advances Free Press’ mission of building media and technology that serve truth and justice. A former Lifeline recipient, Jessica has helped fend off grave Trump-administration cuts to the program, which subsidizes phone-and-internet access for low-income people. She was part of the legal team that overturned a Trump-FCC decision blessing runaway media consolidation. Jessica is a leader in the fight to push tech companies to crack down on hate and disinformation. She co-founded Change the Terms, a coalition of more than 60 civil- and digital-rights groups that works to disrupt online hate, helped lead the Stop Hate for Profit campaign’s Facebook advertising boycott and sits on the Real Facebook Oversight Board. Previously, Jessica was the executive vice president and general counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, where she led the policy shop and coordinated campaigns against racist and xenophobic media programming. Prior to that she was a staff attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation. Jessica has testified before Congress on multiple occasions on issues including Net Neutrality, media-ownership diversity and affordable internet access.
Gracia Goya is Vice President for Latin America at Hispanics in Philanthropy, a transnational network of donors. At HIP, Gracia builds bridges among US-based regional and international funders to advance transnational philanthropy and promote social justice across the Americas.
A seasoned expert in transnational philanthropy, Gracia has extensive experience working with the private and corporate sectors in environmental affairs and public policy as well with multinational agencies. Gracia has a deep understanding of the philanthropic and impact investing fields in both Latin America and the US. During her 14 year career at HIP, Gracia has moved from program manager to Vice President for Latin America.
Under her leadership, HIP Latin America significantly expanded it’s work on gender equity, migration and forced displacement, and the use of technology to democratize philanthropy with HIPGive.org.
Committed to a vision of a Latin America where individuals and communities thrive, Gracia has dedicated her professional career to social justice efforts.
Lisa Kathleen Graddy is a curator of American political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Her work and research centers on the ways that Americans, particularly women, have found a public voice and wielded political power through organizing, participating in, and building institutions such as reform movements, voting rights movements, suffrage organizations, and political parties. Her recent work includes the museum’s new exhibition, Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, the voting rights section, “A Vote, A Voice,” of the exhibition, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith and the companion book, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith (Smithsonian Books, 2017).
Amanda Hollis-Brusky is Associate Professor and Chair of the Politics Department at Pomona College, where she teaches courses on American politics and constitutionalism. She is the author of Ideas With Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution (OUP 2015) – winner of the 2016 C. Herman Pritchett Award – and Separate But Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture (OUP 2020). Hollis-Brusky is a go-to expert in the media on the Supreme Court and the conservative legal movement and an editor at The Monkey Cage, a widely-read political science blog hosted by The Washington Post. She recently provided expert testimony on the threat of “court capture” before the House Judiciary Committee of Congress. A passionate advocate for democracy and girls’ leadership, Hollis-Brusky serves on the board of her local chapter of the League of Women Voters and co-leads both her daughters’ Girl Scout troops.
Lee-Sean Huang is a Taiwanese American designer, educator, and podcaster based in New York. He is the co-founder and creative director of Foossa, a community-centered design practice. Foossa's work focuses around social innovation, service design, design thinking, and futurecasting. Lee-Sean has taught courses in design, innovation, and storytelling at New York University, the Parsons School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts. He previously taught at Cornell Tech and the College of Staten Island. He hosts the Design Future Now podcast, which is produced by AIGA, the professional association for design. He also hosts and produces a food and culture podcast called Easy Cook Bear. Lee-Sean earned a bachelors in Government from Harvard and a masters in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. He currently serves as a board member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY).
Emma Humphries is Chief Education Officer and Deputy Director of Field Building for iCivics, the non-profit founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to reinvigorate civics through free, interactive learning resources. Emma serves as iCivics’ pedagogical expert, ensures its resources evolve to a place of greater equity and deeper learning for all students, and advocates for more and better civic education across the country. Emma has degrees in political science and education, was awarded a James Madison Fellowship in 2004, and in 2012 earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida with an emphasis in civic education.
Jaylani Hussein is currently the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) . Hussein leads efforts on civic and community engaging. Hussein also works to empower Minnesota Muslim Community and works to challenge Islamophobia, address racial and social inequalities in the state of Minnesota. Since the killing of George Floyd and before, Jaylani has worked on addressing both federal and local law enforcement accountability. Hussein is a sought out public speaker and consultant in the areas of diversity and inclusion.
Hussein appears regularly on Minnesota's local television and radio stations. He has also appeared on national and international outlets including ABC News, CNN, FOX BUSINESS, NPR, BBC among other outlets.
Hussein's family emigrated from Somalia to Minnesota in 1993 and he is trilingual (English, Somali, Arabic). Hussein holds degrees in Community Development and City Planning from St. Cloud State University and Political Science from North Dakota State University.
Professor Jamila Jefferson-Jones writes about the property rights of communities and groups on the margins of society. In line with her interest in property rights on the margins of society, she uses critical race methodologies to interrogate the ways in which members of favored racialized groups seek to exclude racial and ethnic minorities from public and private spaces, including through the use of or threat of police action to enforce both the racial segregation of space and racist notions of supremacy. Her recent article on this subject, #LivingWhileBlack: Blackness As Nuisance, was published in the American University Law Review and featured in the New York Times. In addition to this work, Professor Jefferson-Jones has written a number of law review articles and book chapters on the sharing economy and is a recognized expert on the housing segment of the sharing economy, particularly on discrimination in that sector. She has also studied the property rights of those with ex-offender status to reveal the intersection of property and criminal justice theory.
Professor Jefferson-Jones’ academic career has been marked by a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. She recently served a two-year term as a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Standing Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Law Teachers and Students. She has also chaired and served on law faculty and university-wide diversity, equity and inclusion committees in addition to serving as the faculty advisor to the Black Law Students Association.
Professor Jefferson- Jones is on the faculty of the Wayne State University School of Law this fall where she also serves as the Associate Director for Property, Equity and Justice at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. She teaches courses in Property, Real Estate Transactions, Fair Housing, and Entrepreneurial Urban Development. She formerly served on the law faculty of the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and as the Interim Director of the Black Studies Department in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences.
Professor Jefferson-Jones is the 2021 recipient of the Jefferson B. Fordham Advocacy Award. The Jefferson B. Fordham award is the highest award presented by the State and Local Government Section of the American Bar Association. The advocacy award is presented in recognition of outstanding legal advocacy within the area of state, local, regional and tribal government law and celebrates excellence in advocacy, both written and otherwise.
Jamila Jefferson-Jones is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. Prior to entering academia, she practiced law for over a decade at firms in the District of Columbia and in her hometown of New Orleans.
A seasoned leader and public policy professional, Alicia John-Baptiste has over 20 years’ experience reimagining systems to create better outcomes for people. Alicia currently serves as President & CEO of SPUR, where her optimistic vision and practical approach informs the urban policy organization’s efforts to build a Bay Area where all people can thrive. Prior to her time at SPUR, Alicia developed deep appreciation for local government and its commitment to the collective good while serving in leadership roles for the City & County of San Francisco, most recently as Chief of Staff at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Locally and nationally recognized for her public policy expertise, inspirational perspective, and creative approach to systems change, Alicia enjoys building shared dreams. Alicia holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University.
Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson is a spiritual entrepreneur and executive with Bridge Alliance. Johnson is nationally respected for his leadership and strategies around social and racial justice issues. Recognized as a scholar-practitioner, author of Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community, whose writing and lecturing credits range from TIME Magazine, USA Today, National Public Radio, commentaries and anthologies to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History Culture. Trained in education and nonprofit management, Johnson’s 20 years of professional experience informs his counsel to activists, practitioners, faith-base leaders and institutions as well as social and civic nonprofits. He is a Walker Leadership Institute Fellow and former Vosburgh Visiting Professor of Ministry and Social Engagement at Drew University’s Theological School. Johnson is senior minister of Living Tree Church and adjunct faculty at Methodist Theological School of Ohio.
The Honorable Alice Johnson Cain is Executive Director of The Moriah Fund, as well as a former Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly. There, she worked to address education inequities – most notably increasing marginalized students’ access to advanced coursework, mental health supports, teaching excellence, and restorative justice.
Alice has 30+ years of experience in nonprofit management and government. This includes serving as the chief education advisor to Chairman George Miller (Education and Labor Committee) and as education policy advisor to Senator Paul Simon. She also served in leadership roles at the Children’s Defense Fund and Teach Plus.
Alice has published numerous op-eds, articles, and reports, including a report published by Fulbright New Zealand that proposed education policy recommendations that were later adopted by the New Zealand government. She serves on the board of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund and Strong Future Maryland.
John T. Jost is Professor of Psychology, Politics, & Data Science and Co-Director of the Center for Social and Political Behavior at New York University. His research, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, addresses stereotyping, prejudice, social justice, political ideology, social media, and system justification theory. He has published over 200 articles and chapters; his work has been cited over 45,000 times (h-index = 88). Awards include the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, Erik Erikson Early Career Award in Political Psychology, Society for Personality and Social Psychology Theoretical Innovation Prize, Society of Experimental Social Psychology Career Trajectory Award, Carol & Ed Diener Award in Social Psychology, and the Morton Deutsch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Social Justice. Jost is a fellow of several professional societies and serves on numerous editorial boards. He is a Past President of the International Society of Political Psychology and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2018. His most recent book is A Theory of System Justification (Harvard University Press, 2020).
Claudia Juech is a forward-looking strategist, pragmatic optimist, and builder of programs and organizations. As VP of Data and Society at Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, she leads technologists and program staff to strengthen technical capacity and data-use cultures at nonprofits and social impact organizations worldwide. Her work in data for decision-making began in the financial sector in Germany then at the Rockefeller Foundation, where her team used foresight approaches and innovation methodologies to identify ideas that could be shaped into the next $100M initiative. Before joining PJMF, Claudia established the Cloudera Foundation in Silicon Valley as its founding CEO.
Tom Kalil is Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures. In this role, Tom leads initiatives to harness technology for societal challenges, improve science policy, and identify and pursue 21st century moonshots. Prior to Schmidt Futures, Tom served in the White House for two Presidents (Obama and Clinton), helping to design and launch national science and technology initiatives in areas such as nanotechnology, the BRAIN initiative, data science, materials by design, robotics, commercial space, high-speed networks, access to capital for startups, high-skill immigration, STEM education, learning technology, startup ecosystems, and the federal use of incentive prizes.
Joshua Kalla is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University with a secondary appointment as Assistant Professor of Statistics and Data Science. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research studies political persuasion, the effects of political campaigns, prejudice reduction, and decision-making among voters and political elites, primarily through the use of randomized field experiments. He is the winner of the Robert B. Cialdini Prize for the publication that best explicates social psychological phenomena principally through the use of field research methods from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology for his paper, "Durably reducing transphobia" and the Leamer-Rosenthal Emerging Researcher Prize for Open Social Science from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences for his work on "Irregularities in LaCour (2014).”
Lisa Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Alethea Group and a pioneer in the field of disinformation mitigation. She founded Alethea Group in 2019 to protect brands and individuals from disinformation through industry-leading investigation and remediation services. At Alethea Group, Kaplan and her team proactively detect and expose foreign, domestic extremist, and for-profit disinformation networks that target elections, institutions, and brands. Prior to that, she served as the Digital Director for Senator Angus King’s successful re-election campaign in 2018 where she designed a digital strategy to identify and respond to disinformation campaigns and protect against outside influence. Kaplan has briefed members of Congress and their staffs, advised senior U.S. Government and NATO-allied officials, and facilitated conversations between EU/G-7 partner nations on threats stemming from disinformation.
Michael Karanicolas is the Executive Director of the UCLA Institute for Technology Law & Policy, and an affiliated fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.
He was previously the Wikimedia Fellow at Yale Law, where he led the Initiative on Intermediaries and Information. Michael also has ten years of experience in civil society, working on projects connected to freedom of expression, transparency, and digital rights. In this capacity, he led law reform campaigns across the developing world, and he was more recently involved in a constitutional challenge which struck down Canada’s criminal prohibition targeting “fake news.”
His scholarly research encompasses a number of thematic areas, but generally revolves around the application of human rights standards in an online context. Michael has a B.A. (Hons.) from Queen's University (Dean's List), an LL.B. from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University (Dean's List), and an LL.M. from the University of Toronto.
NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick is known for creating humanistic innovations that merge research, policy, and practice to address persistent societal inequities. A transformative leader, Ms. Kirkpatrick has dedicated her career to public service and civic engagement, seeking to increase national literacy and social mobility, educational justice and equity, and advancing the inclusion and empowerment of women. A hallmark of her leadership is working shoulder to shoulder with educators, parents, and students to develop novel approaches to literacy. Efforts she has led have received international and national recognition, cross-sector financial investment, and attracted the partnership of the world’s most admired thought leaders, corporations, and institutions. Kirkpatrick holds an MBA from Bellarmine University, a bachelor’s degree from Centre College, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum, American’s Languages Initiative, the Conference of Executive Officers at the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Public Policy Committee for the American Society of Association Executives among other leadership roles.
Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld advises governments, philanthropists, and activists on how democracies make major social change. As a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, she focuses on countries facing serious violence, polarization, democratic decline, and other problems of poor governance.
In 2010, Time magazine named Rachel one of the top 40 political leaders under 40 in America for her decade as the founding CEO of the Truman National Security Project, which assisted campaigns, advocated for legislation, and fostered a new generation of military veterans and national security leaders to enhance global security, democracy, and human dignity. In 2011, Hillary Clinton appointed Rachel to the Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which advised the Secretary of State quarterly, a role she served through 2014. She currently serves on the board of Freedom House and advises a variety of organizations that support democracy and dignity.
Rachel is the author of three books. Her TED talk on violence in democracies has been translated into 17 languages and viewed more than a million times. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her M.Phil. and D.Phil. from Oxford University, which she attended as a Rhodes scholar.
Rachel was raised in a log house in Fairbanks, Alaska, works in Washington, D.C., and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with two fierce young daughters and her husband, a sculptor.
Peter Laugharn (pronounced LAW-harn) serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Peter is a passionate leader with 25 years of foundation and nonprofit experience internationally, with a focus on improving the well-being of vulnerable children. Previously, he was executive director of the Firelight Foundation, which identifies, funds, and supports promising African nonprofits serving vulnerable children and families in the areas of education, resilience, and health. Prior to Firelight, Peter served as executive director of the Netherlands-based Bernard van Leer Foundation, whose mission is to improve opportunities for children up to age 8 who are growing up in socially and economically difficult circumstances. Peter began his career at Save the Children, where he worked in a variety of roles. A graduate of Stanford and Georgetown Universities, Peter holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of London. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 1982 to 1984. Peter was a co-founder of the International Education Funders Group and the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS, and he serves on the boards of the Council on Foundations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Daniel Jae-Won Lee served as Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation, which supports pioneering social change globally in the areas of HIV/AIDS, worker rights and well-being and social justice. His board service includes La Cocina, Global Health Advisory Council of Open Society Foundations, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Astraea Foundation, Council on Foundations, Funders Concerned about AIDS and Massachusetts Asian AIDS Prevention Project; and advisory council of Global Fund for Women. Previously, he was Senior Program Officer for Asia Pacific at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. He received his AB in religion from Princeton and Master of Divinity from Harvard.
Eli Lehrer is the President of the R Street Institute, a right-of-center free-market think tank based in Washington, D.C. with offices in Georgia, Texas, Ohio and California. He oversees all R Street operations, makes major strategic decisions, works closely with R Street’s supporters and is ultimately responsible for all of R Street’s products. Having previously served as vice president for Washington, D.C. operations at the Heartland Institute, overseeing its D.C. office, Eli co-founded R Street in June 2012. Earlier in his career, he worked as a speechwriter to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); as a project manager for the Unisys Corp.; as senior editor of The American Enterprise magazine; and as a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Eli started his career as a reporter for The Washington Times. He is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Times, among other publications. Eli also serves as a contributing editor of National Affairs. He loves science fiction television, visiting museums, hiking and pirates. Eli graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a bachelor’s in medieval studies. He received his master’s in government with honors from The Johns Hopkins University.
Peter Levine is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life. Trained as a moral/political philosopher, Levine has spent most of his career conducting applied empirical research and organizing professional efforts related to civic life in the United States, including sustained work on civic education, voting rights, public deliberation, and social movements. Levine is the author of eight books, including most recently We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Kristin Lord is the President and CEO of IREX, a global education and development non-profit organization that promotes more just, prosperous, and inclusive societies by investing in people and the conditions that help them to thrive. She brings more than twenty years of experience in the fields of education, foreign policy, global development, and security and peacebuilding to this role. Prior to joining IREX in 2014, Kristin served in leadership roles at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Brookings Institution, and George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. She has also served in a senior advisory role at the U.S. Department of State and currently serves as a board member of the United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and InterAction. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University and her B.A. from American University.
Brooke López seeks to bring parity to women in politics. Brooke is the Features Director and co-founder of Lone Star Parity Project, a nonpartisan initiative advancing women+ in Texas politics by amplifying voices and magnifying research. She began her journey into politics and government at a young age by working with her state representative to draft a bill at age 15, founding a social welfare-based nonprofit at age 16, running for municipal public office at age 18, and serving on the Public Arts Advisory Board for her hometown at age 19. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law with her Juris Doctor and cum laude from the University of Texas at Dallas with a BSc in Public Affairs.
Maya MacGuineas is the president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Her areas of expertise include budget, tax, and economic policy. As a leading budget expert and a political independent, she has worked closely with members of both parties and serves as a trusted resource on Capitol Hill. MacGuineas testifies regularly before Congress and has published broadly, including regularly in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Atlantic, and numerous other outlets.
Previously, MacGuineas worked at the Brookings Institution and on Wall Street, and in the spring of 2009 she did a stint on The Washington Post editorial board, covering economic and fiscal policy. MacGuineas serves on a number of boards and is a native Washingtonian.
As director of Carnegie Corporation's Strengthening U.S. Democracy Program, Geri Mannion brings a wealth of experience about the role of philanthropy in challenging, improving and deepening civic dialogue. She has directed the division since 1998, after staffing the Corporation's Special Projects program for almost ten years. While the Corporation continues to support projects that focus on improving voter engagement among those least likely to vote, the Strengthening U.S. Democracy Program focuses primarily on immigrant civic integration. Active in professional organizations that work to strengthen the philanthropic and nonprofit world, Mannion currently chairs the Council on Foundations’ Selection Committee of the Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.
Lilliana Mason is an Associate Research Professor at the SNF Agora Institute and Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity and (forthcoming with Nathan Kalmoe) Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy, both published by University of Chicago Press. Her research is focused on American partisanship, polarization, and identity. Her work has been published in journals such as American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Political Behavior, and featured in media outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and National Public Radio.
Jennifer McCoy is professor of political science at Georgia State University and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Dr. McCoy's areas of expertise include democratic resilience, democratic erosion and partisan polarization; crisis prevention and conflict resolution; democracy promotion and collective defense of democracy; election processes and international election observation; and Latin American Politics. McCoy’s current research program on Polarized Politics aims to identify the causes, consequences for democracy, and solutions to polarized societies around the world, including the United States.
McCoy served as Director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program (1998-2015), leading projects on democratic strengthening, mediation and dialogue, and hemispheric cooperation. She has authored or edited six books and dozens of articles. Recent volumes include Polarizing Polities: A Global Threat to Democracy (2019) co-edited with Murat Somer, and International Mediation in Venezuela, with Francisco Diez (2012). McCoy is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Women’s Forum and the Scholars Strategy Network.
Stephen Menendian is the Assistant Director and Director of Research at the Othering & Belonging Institute, where he supervises many of the Institute’s research initiatives and ongoing projects. In particular, Stephen spearheaded the “Roots of Structural Racism” study revealing the persistence of racial residential segregation and its consequences, and a similar project focused on the San Francisco Bay Area. He also leads the Inclusiveness Index initiative, an annual assessment of global inclusivity rankings.
Stephen’s primary areas of expertise are structural racism, civil rights, fair housing, affirmative action and educational equity, but his research focuses on the causes and mechanisms of inter-group inequality, and the design of effective equity policy interventions permitted under prevailing interpretations of law, including California’s anti-affirmative action ballot initiative, Proposition 209.
Stephen is the author of many scholarly publications, book chapters, journal and law review articles and a regular contributor to Berkeley Blog. His most recent large publication, The Roots of Structural Racism, was covered by CNN, Time Magazine, the Atlantic, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Root, Axios, Bloomberg news, the New York Post, the East Bay Times, among other online, television, radio and print media across the country.
Other recent publications include: “The Road Not Taken: Housing and Criminal Justice 50 Years after the Kerner Commission Report” with Richard Rothstein, “Targeted Universalism: Policy and Practice” with john powell and Wendy Ake, “Putting Integration on the Agenda,” also with Richard Rothstein for the American Bar Association’s Journal of Affordable Housing, and "Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area," a series for the Othering & Belonging Institute.
Stephen co-chaired “Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 conference,” held in the Spring of 2018, a conference that brought together the nation’s leading experts on race and housing, the criminal justice system, employment, transportation and health care in order to envision a contemporary racial justice agenda.
Other notable publications include the landmark article "The Problem of Othering: Toward Inclusiveness and Belonging" with john powell for Othering & Belonging, "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: A Reckoning with Government-Sponsored Segregation in the 21st Century" for the National Civic Review, "Opportunity Communities: Overcoming the Debate over Mobility Versus place-based Strategies" in The Fight for Fair Housing, and "What Constitutes a 'Racial Classification'?: Equal Protection Doctrine Scrutinized" for the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, and "Remaking Law: Moving Beyond Enlightenment Jurisprudence" (with john powell) for the St. Louis University Law Journal.
Stephen developed and co-authored the Institute's Amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Communities Project, cited by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision recognizing disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. He also co-authored the Institute’s Amicus brief in Fisher v. Texas asking the Court to uphold the University of Texas’ race-conscious admissions policy, the Amicus brief for Mount Holly arguing that disparate impact standard remains essential to address the ongoing legacy of historical housing segregation, as well as an Amicus brief in the 2007 Seattle/Louisville K-12 integration cases to persuade the Court to sustain voluntary integration plans in the Seattle and Louisville school districts.
Stephen is also an editor for Othering & Belonging, a journal published by the Othering & Belonging Institute, and edited a number of policy briefs published by the Institute’s faculty clusters, including co-authoring the brief Responding to Rising Inequality: Policy Interventions to Ensure Opportunity for All.
Older publications of note include "Structural Racism in the United States" to the UN's CERD Committee, “Systems Thinking and Race: A Primer” for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, "Beyond Public/Private: Understanding Excessive Corporate Prerogative" for the Kentucky Law Journal, "Parents Involved: The Mantle of Brown, the Shadow of Plessy" for the University of Louisville Law Review, and "Little Rock and the Legacy of Dred Scott" for the St. Louis Law Journal.
Stephen also authored the State of Ohio’s Diversity Strategies For Successful Schools Guidance, which was adopted by the State Board of Education of Ohio in May, 2012. In addition, Stephen co-authored an interim report, Diversity Strategies for Successful Schools: Recommendations to the State Board of Education of Ohio, on September, 2011 with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity.
Stephen regularly trains policymakers, educators, non-profits, and other institutions on structural racism, targeted universalism, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and affirmative action practices, policies, and compliance, including creative ways to improve diversity within the bounds of law, and regularly presents on issues of fair housing, affordable housing, racial segregation and land use policies, voting rights, Proposition 209, and diversity in the practice and teaching of law. Stephen is a licensed attorney.
Thessalia (Lia) Merivaki is an Assistant Professor in American Politics at Mississippi State University, Department of Political Science and Public Administration and a member of The Carter Center's U.S. Elections Expert Study Team since September 2020. Her research agenda is situated within the growing field of Election Sciences, which includes the study of election reforms, election administration, voter education, as well as election data transparency and accessibility.
Her research focuses on the empirical assessment of election reforms and their impact on the administration of elections across the American states. In her book, titled The Administration of Voter Registration; Expanding the Electorate Across and Within the States, (Palgrave McMillan) she lays out the complex structure of voter registration in the United States, and demonstrates how the interaction of multiple voter registration partners affects the flow of new voter registrants every election cycle.
Travis Moore is the Founder and Executive Director of TechCongress, which places computer scientists, engineers, and other technologists to serve with Members of Congress on tech policy matters through its Congressional Innovation Fellowships and the Congressional Digital Service Fellowship. Travis worked on Capitol Hill for six years and was the Legislative Director for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the former Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Travis is the Co-Founder of the Congressional Staff Alumni Council and #CongressToo, a group of 1500 former Congressional staffers that brought the #MeToo movement to Capitol Hill and spearheaded a reform overhaul signed into law in late 2018. He also serves as a professional development trainer for New Leaders Council.
Before going to the University, Adam worked for two years managing the stockroom of a grocery store and working as a part-time news correspondent for his local newspaper while attending community college. He then worked his way through college and law school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
In 2008, while still an undergraduate, he founded Civic Nebraska, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to building youth civic leadership skills, strengthening civic health in our communities, and ensuring elections are accessible for all Nebraskans. He is now the executive director of Civic Nebraska which employs over 100 full and part-time staff. Adam also teaches American Government as an adjunct faculty member at Doane University’s city campus.
In 2014 Adam was elected to the Nebraska Legislature to represent Northeast Lincoln with 68 percent of the vote, and was unopposed for re-election to another four year term in 2018. His focus in the Legislature has been affordable healthcare, maintaining a strong K-12 education system, living wage jobs, affordable higher education and trade programs, and protecting civil rights. In 2018 he helped start and lead the successful effort to expand Medicaid on the ballot which will provide health insurance for 90,000 working Nebraskans.
In his free time, Adam enjoys volunteering, Husker football, spending time with his fiancée and family, long distance running, back country camping, and traveling.
Anne Moses has 20+ years' experience in social justice and political organizations. In 2010, Anne founded IGNITE, a nationally recognized 501c3 that is building a movement of women who are ready and eager to become the next generation of political leaders. Under Anne’s leadership IGNITE has grown rapidly to become the largest and most diverse young women’s political leadership program in the country. Anne's previous senior leadership positions as Chief Operating Officer for Emerge America and Majority Council Director for EMILY’s List informed her passion and expertise in the arena of gender parity in political leadership. Throughout her career, Anne has also worked as a consultant in the non- profit and philanthropic arenas and has served as Principal Investigator on a number of federal, state and local evaluations. Anne holds a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley.
Part-time Professor of Government and Political Science at Houston Community College, Houston TX. Previously taught Government and Political Science at the University of Houston-Downtown and Lone Star College-CyFair in the greater Houston area. Retired as a case manager and Medicaid policy liaison with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Former member of the Board of Directors for the United Nations Association, Houston Chapter. International volunteer for rebuilding structural community in Ocotillo, Honduras, March 2000. Undergraduate and graduate credentials received from the University of Houston – Main Campus, Houston TX.
Nancy Neiman has taught at Scripps College since 1993, where she has held positions in the Politics and Economics Departments and the Mary Wig Johnson Chair in Teaching. Professor Neiman’s previous work includes States, Banks, and Markets: Mexico’s Path to Financial Liberalization in Comparative Perspective (Westview, 2001). Her research covers a wide variety of topics, including neoliberalism, dollarization, financial crises in Latin America, fair trade coffee in Africa, alternative education in the U.S., and politics of the global food movement. Her recently published book Markets, Community and Just Infrastructures (Routledge, 2021) represents a culmination of years interdisciplinary teaching, research, and community engagement focused on markets and their relationship to social justice. Her current research focuses on pastoralist women political organizing and food sovereignty in Gujarat, India.
Daniel G. Newman is a national expert on government accountability and money in politics. He is president and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan nonprofit fighting online political deception. Newman has led MapLight to numerous awards including a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, a James Madison Freedom of Information Award, and a Library Journal Best Reference award. Newman has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including CNN, CBS, MSNBC, FOX Business, and NPR. He led a ballot measure campaign establishing public funding of elections in Berkeley, California, and was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Most recently, Newman is the author of the graphic novel Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy, with artist George O’Connor. Newman received an MA in political psychology from U.C. Berkeley and a BA from Brown, and was a Fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tram Nguyen is an award-winning activist and community leader who helped found New Virginia Majority in 2007, where she currently serves as Co-Executive Director. She leads multi-racial, multi-issue campaigns using large-scale civic engagement, community organizing, advocacy, leadership development, and strategic communications. Her leadership has helped expand the electorate to be more reflective of Virginia’s diversity, reshaping Virginia’s political landscape and building power for underrepresented communities. Her work on democracy, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, climate change, and economic opportunity explore the intersections of social, racial, and economic justice. Tram currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Meyer Foundation and the National Advisory Council for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She is a certificate faculty member at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Tram is an alumna of Barnard College and a former Lead the Way Fellow of the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Adav Noti is Senior Director, Trial Litigation & Chief of Staff of Campaign Legal Center. He directs and manages CLC’s strategic litigation, and has conducted dozens of constitutional cases in district courts, courts of appeals and the United States Supreme Court. As Chief of Staff, Adav also coordinates all of CLC's programmatic activities, overseeing CLC's efforts to reform the campaign finance system, protect voting rights, ensure fair redistricting, and promote government ethics. In addition to his litigation and policy practice, Adav regularly provides expert analysis for television, radio, and print journalism. Prior to joining CLC, Adav served for more than ten years in several capacities within the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Election Commission, including as Associate General Counsel for Policy from 2013 to 2017.
Nick Nyhart (former President and CEO, Public Campaign/Every Voice Center) is a longtime democracy advocate. For nearly 20 years, he led Public Campaign (later Every Voice Center), which supported groundbreaking local, state, and national efforts to design, win, and implement innovative systems of publicly financed elections. A consultant since 2019, he remains an expert on small dollar donor public financing programs and related policies to improve American democracy by making politics more inclusive and equitable. Nyhart began his career as a community organizer in Boston before co-directing Connecticut’s grassroots electoral table, LEAP, in the 1980’s. Turning to campaign finance reform across New England in 1993, he became a co-founder of the Washington DC-based Public Campaign in 1997. Nyhart is a graduate of Stanford University.
Jhody Polk is the Founder and Director of the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub aka LEAH, Florida’s first Participatory Defense Hub and home of the National Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative. She is recognized as a 2018 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow, 2019 Peacebuilder of the Year, & 020 Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Legacy award recipient. Ms. Polk works in areas of peacebuilding, legal empowerment, and human rights to abolish and transform systems of injustice into people centered justice. She served as a central Florida Organizer on the campaign to restore voting rights to over 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions. She previously served as the Director of Community Justice at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, the Alachua County Reentry Coalition and she Founded the Florida Council for Incarcerated & Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. Ms. Polk currently serves on the Board of Community Spring and GraceMarket Place located in Gainesville, Florida.
Zeenat Rahman is the Executive Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago whose goal is to build the next generation of political and public service leaders. Prior to this role, she led the Inclusive America Project at the Aspen Institute where her work focused on how faith communities play a key role in fostering pluralism, building bridges across differences, and supporting a strong civil society and a vibrant democracy.
Zeenat previously served as a Presidential Political Appointee, as a Special Adviser to Secretaries Clinton and Kerry on Global Youth Issues at the U.S. Department of State on Global Youth Issues. In this position, she encouraged foreign governments to respond to youth issues through policy change, and created opportunities for young people to pursue their economic and civic aspirations. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the United States Agency for International Development. In this role, she led external engagement efforts with various faith based and community organizations to build support for USAID priorities.
Zeenat is a board member of IREX, a global development and education organization that works in more than 100 countries on issues such as education, leadership, information, and youth. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Truman National Security Fellow, and a working group co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Systemic Inequalities and Social Cohesion. She received a master’s degree in Middle East studies from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois.
Rakesh Rajani, a Tanzanian, is VP of Programs at Co-Impact. He brings three decades of experience in human rights, education, governance, and philanthropy.
Rakesh formerly served as Director of Civic Engagement and Government at the Ford Foundation. He has founded and led several civil society organizations in East Africa, including Twaweza, Uwezo, HakiElimu, and the Policy Forum. Rakesh is a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, a global partnership of 75 governments and hundreds of civil society groups, and has consulted for Google.org, Hivos and UNICEF, among others. He serves on the Boards of the Hewlett Foundation, International Budget Partnership, and Innovations in Poverty Action, and is an advisor to Luminate. Rakesh studied at Brandeis and Harvard.
Edgar joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director before being named CEO in 2013. As a community organizer in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, Edgar led significant campaigns at Enlace Chicago and Erie Neighborhood House. He worked on issues such as leadership development, green space improvement, anti-violence campaigns, childcare income eligibility, immigration reform, and youth job development. Edgar has served on Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s Latino Advisory Committee and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ad-hoc committee. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Elevate, Academy for Global Citizenship, Latino Policy Forum and Mayor Lightfoot's Every Child Ready Chicago Working Group. Edgar is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2016) and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He earned a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in Policy Analysis and Community Organizing, and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University.
At the Fanning Institute, Raye’s focus is in mediation and other alternative dispute resolution processes as well as dialogue. She is an attorney, a member of the State Bar of Georgia and has mediated and arbitrated thousands of cases in government institutions, court systems, corporations and with private parties. In addition, her courses have been approved by several state bar associations, the National Association of Social Workers and other professional organizations. In 2018, she received the Chief Justice Harold G. Clarke Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of alternative dispute resolution in Georgia.
Prior to joining the Fanning Institute in 2004, Raye worked in the private sector teaching and providing services in mediation, arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution and conflict management. She was also an Administrative Law Judge in the State of Georgia and a former assistant dean of the Georgia State University College Law. Currently, she is also a Senior Associate with Essential Partners.
Nell A. Richardson is a retired teacher, public administrator, and attorney. She holds a B.A. in English (University of Houston), M.A. in English (Middlebury College), Certificate in Public Administration (Briarcliff College), and J.D. (University of Houston Law Center). After teaching English and history at the secondary level, she held public service positions in the areas of housing and child abuse prevention, after which she attended law school and practiced as a civil litigator. She has been an active volunteer with the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, and Child Advocates (CASA). Through her church in downtown Houston, she helped establish non-profit organizations addressing issues of homelessness, low-income housing, women's incarceration, and children's health. She has also served her church as a member of the Vestry, Mission Outreach Council, and choir. Nell and her husband live in a retirement community; they have a combined family of six children and five grandchildren.
Rebecca L. Sandefur investigates access to civil justice from every angle — from how legal services are delivered and consumed, to how civil legal aid is organized around the nation, to the role of pro bono, to the relative efficacy of lawyers, nonlawyers and digital tools as advisers and representatives, to how ordinary people think about their justice problems and try to resolve them. She is Professor in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University and Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation, where she founded and leads the Access to Justice Research Initiative.
Her public service includes her appointment by the Supreme Court of Utah to the state's Office of Legal Services Innovation, her role as Co-Vice Chair of California's Closing the Justice Gap Working Group, and her appointment by the Supreme Court of Arizona to the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice.
In 2013, Sandefur was The Hague Visiting Chair in the Rule of Law. In 2015, she was named Champion of Justice by the National Center for Access to Justice. In 2018, she was named a MacArthur Fellow for her work on inequality and access to justice. She is currently Editor of Law & Society Review.
Micah L. Sifry is co-founder of Civic Hall and currently serves on the boards of Consumer Reports and the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. He is the author or editor of nine books, most recently Civic Tech in the Global South; A Lever and a Place to Stand: How Civic Tech Can Move the World and The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet). He is a regular contributor to The Nation, The New Republic, and The American Prospect and writes a newsletter on democracy, movements, organizing and tech, called The Connector.
Danielle Silber is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she leads a team to develop corporate partnerships to support the organization’s fundraising, marketing, communication and advocacy objectives. In the wake of the Muslim Ban and increasing threats to voting rights, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and the very foundation of our democracy, companies are beginning to internalize the cost of democracy in order to protect the rights of their employee, customer and broader community customer stakeholders.
Previously she headed up Corporate Alliances for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where she had the privilege of designing cause marketing campaigns with brands like HBO’s Game of Thrones and TripAdvisor to destigmatize and support refugees in the United States and abroad.
Before joining the IRC, Danielle taught International Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and in her spare time, served on the board of COLAGE, a national youth advocacy and education organization by and for people with one or more Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender parents.
Josh Silver is co-founder and CEO of RepresentUs, a post-partisan, nonprofit organization advancing election and campaign finance reforms that foster political integrity, competition and moderation. RepresentUs has built the largest digital and grassroots communities in the democracy reform field, with a focus on advancing policies at the intersection of policy impact and political viability.
Josh is co-founder and former CEO of Free Press, an advocacy group that promotes critical journalism and Internet openness. He has run statewide democracy reform ballot initiatives, and publishes widely on democracy, media, election, campaign finance and a range of other public policy issues.
Pamela Smith is Past President of Verified Voting (2007-2017), playing a national leadership role in safeguarding elections and building working alliances between advocates, election officials and other stakeholders. She developed and shepherded an extensive trusted information resource on election equipment and the regulations governing its use at the federal level and across the 50 states. She provides information and public testimony on verified voting issues at federal and state levels throughout the US, including to the US House of Representatives Committee on House Administration. Ms. Smith is the author of and contributor to numerous key reports and issue briefs on protection of secret ballots, principles of post-election audits, state voting readiness, voting system testing and certification, accessible ballot marking principles and other matters relating to election administration and verification. Prior to her work in elections she was a nonprofit executive for a Hispanic educational organization working on first language literacy and adult learning, and a small business and marketing consultant.
Jon Steinman is a communicator at Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to prevent American democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. Jon focuses on disinformation, technology, media, and culture issues as they impact our democracy. During the 2020 election cycle, he also staffed the National Task Force on Election Crises and led its work with the social media platforms. A former government and politics reporter, Jon helped launch the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics, where he led communications and outreach efforts for the office and secured its reauthorization for continued operations. He founded his own communications consultancy focusing on nonprofits and served as the COO of another DC-based communications firm. Following the 2016 election, he co-founded a cybersecurity startup dedicated to government and nonprofit clients.
Jasmine Sudarkasa is the Executive Director of the Curve Foundation, a new foundation dedicated to investing in lesbian and queer women’s culture.
Prior to joining Curve, Jasmine served as the program Fellow for the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation where she supported the foundation’s approach to effective philanthropy. In 2020, she designed and led a $15 million anti-racist grantmaking effort, a personal and career highlight.
Jasmine has been a capacity builder, development officer, trainer and cheesemonger – sometimes all at once. Before philanthropy, she served as a senior trainer on behalf of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services where she led a national training and technical assistance program on best practices for identifying and serving commercially sexually exploited and domestically sex-trafficked youth.
Dr. Tomicah Tillemann is the Executive Director of the Digital Impact and Governance Initiative (DIGI) at New America, where he develops open source technology platforms to power the public sector. Prior to New America, he served as Senior Advisor to two secretaries of state, leading a team of experts that built 20 major initiatives in 55 countries. He joined the State Department in 2009 as Hillary Clinton's speechwriter and collaborated with her on over 200 speeches. Previously, he spent four years on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee working with Joe Biden, John Kerry and Barack Obama.
Tillemann is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the United Nations World Food Program Innovation Advisory Council, the Lantos Foundation Board of Trustees, the International Advisory Council of MOSIP, and the board of the Global Blockchain Business Council. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University and holds a Ph.D. with distinction from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Vanessa Tucker is a Program Officer for U.S. Democracy at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She leads the foundation’s grantmaking to support trustworthy elections and counter digital disinformation.
Prior to joining the foundation, Vanessa served as vice president for research and analysis at Freedom House. In that role, her work included in-depth democracy research, exploring distinct threats to democracy posed by disinformation, and collaborating with a network of ideologically diverse organizations and experts. She previously held positions at the Belfer Center and the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.
Vanessa’s family roots are in Oklahoma, where she is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She grew up in Texas and the United Arab Emirates. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international development at McGill University and holds a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University.
Carole has worked in politics, policy, philanthropy, nonprofit, government, media, and advocacy. She joined Women Creating Change as President and CEO in 2017 where she led a strategic planning process resulting in a new vision, mission, and name.
Previously she was VP of Education at WNET, focusing on technology, interactive media, and youth development; Executive Director of MOUSE, a national nonprofit empowering underserved youth to learn, lead, and create with technology; and Director of Interactive Media for Children at the Markle Foundation.
As Deputy Director of the Office of Education Technology and Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, she provided leadership on telecommunications (E-Rate), the digital divide, and internet safety.
Carole is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. She received her B.A. in Economics from the American University, her J.D. from Vermont Law School, studied international law at Oxford, and leadership at Yale.
Marni Watkins, Esq., Partner at 1909 Group, LLC - Marni Watkins, Esq. attended law school in San Diego, CA. While in law school, Ms. Watkins was the co-president of her school’s chapter of Amnesty International. Ms. Watkins clerked for Professor William Aceves, Esq. and assisted in editing and researching his book, The Anatomy of Torture: A Documentary History of Filartiga v. Pena-Irala. Ms. Watkins also interned for the Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resource Division and the United States Attorney’s Office. Ms. Watkins has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Pinecrest Academy of Nevada charter schools for six years and is currently on the Board of Directors for Battleborn Progress. Ms. Watkins is an accomplished litigation attorney barred in both Nevada and California. In 2020, Ms. Watkins and her business partner, created 1909 Group, LLC, a government affairs and consulting company. 1909 Group helps manage nonpartisan and partisan campaigns for elected office.
Cheryl Williams is Vice President of the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute (WCPI). In this role, she provides strategic leadership on WCPI’s operational and programmatic efforts and works with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to address issues important to women and girls.
Prior to joining WCPI, Cheryl served as Associate Director of Government Affairs for the United Negro College Fund, where she advocated on behalf of historically black colleges and universities and for increasing access to higher education for low-income students. She also served as Senior Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, where she was a trusted advisor on voting rights, women’s health, labor and employment, education, and appropriations, among other issues.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and her law degree from American University. Cheryl serves on the boards of Everyone Home DC and the CKA SAVE Project, and is a longtime volunteer at Food and Friends.
Jason has built social change campaigns with a traditional and new media focus for over a decade with special attention to impact as measured against a Theory of Change.
Jason’s work looks at the ways media coverage, entertainment and visual content drive public attitudes and social shifts. He recently worked with news outlets to combat misinformation during the 2020 U.S. Election as votes were counted and a project to share communication best-practices with public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is now leading a team testing and sharing messaging to promote COVID-19 vaccination and access.
In partnership with Lever for Change, the Selection Committee will review the top-scoring submissions and select up to five Finalists based on considerations that may include, but are not limited to, Evaluation Panel resulting rank order, organizational capacity, geographic diversity, and feasibility. The Selection Committee will select up to five Finalists and the recipients of the two $10 million Stronger Democracy Awards while Cipora & Vlado Herman will select the Finalist recipient of the $2 million grant.