2012 NLC Fellows: Washington D.C.


Washington D.C.

Ahmed Bhadelia, Legislative Assistant | Online Communications Director, U.S. House of Representatives

Ahmed 'A.J.' Bhadelia is currently a Legislative Assistant and Online Communications Director to Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15). In this role, he serves as the Congressman's primary legislative staff person for issues relating to health care, civil rights, justice, law enforcement, telecommunications and Rep. Honda's relevant Appropriations Committee assignments. In addition, he is the lead liaison for the Democratic Caucus New Media Working Group, a leadership led effort to improve messaging for all Democratic House Members through the use of New Media. Ahmed has previously done field work abroad in half a dozen countries, focusing on food security and indigenous human rights issues. Throughout his time at organizations such as the Atlantic Council, World Hunger Year and Physicians for Human Rights, Ahmed has focused on the intersection of technology and policy; combining diverse technical skills with deep research interests in policy. Ahmed hails from the Boston Area, graduating from Clark University with a degree in both International Development and International Relations. He is an avid competitive runner, a gigantic foodie, lover of mountain climbing and a passionate traveler.

Clare Bresnahan, Public Policy and Advocacy Associate, Girl Scouts of the USA

Clare Bresnahan specializes in developing advocacy and coalition building strategies that produce measurable results for non-profit and corporate organizations. She is the Public Policy and Advocacy Associate for the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) Washington, DC Office, where she serves as a voice for girls on national and grassroots policy issues that directly but disproportionately affect girls. Clare also leads GSUSA’s legislative and advocacy strategies for promoting healthy media images of girls and women. Clare graduated from American University with an interdisciplinary degree in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government (C.L.E.G.), and is a graduate of the American University Women and Politics Institute’s WeLEAD bipartisan leadership training program. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Young Professionals Advisory Council for the Capitol Breast Care Center. During her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher with adult immigrants and campaigns for young women running for office. Armed with a background in social justice and nonprofit advocacy, a passion for increasing diverse leadership in public service, and an endearing Type A personality, Clare looks forward to someday running for office herself. While she loves DC, she is a proud Midwest native, who hails from the Queen City - Cincinnati, Ohio.

Nate Byer, Afghanistan Program Manager, USAID Office of Transition Initiatives

Nate has managed, advised, and participated in a wide range of domestic and international political campaigns. He is currently a program manager with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). As a member of OTI’s Afghanistan team, he focuses on stabilization and political transition issues in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces, with a focus on community engagement and communications. Nate has also served as a political communications director for the AFL-CIO and as a campaign manager for an international environmental NGO focused on driving domestic grassroots support for comprehensive climate legislation reform and behavior change. As a political unit account executive at GMMB, a Washington, DC-based strategic communications firm, he was involved in both the Primary and General Election media effort for Obama for America. Nate has worked in Rwanda for a grassroots community development NGO, and in Scotland as an assistant to a Member of Scottish Parliament. Nate is originally from Carlisle, MA. He went to Wesleyan University, majored in the College of Social Studies, and is currently pursuing his MBA at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey School of Business.

Damara Catlett, Associate, The Raben Group

With a background in issue campaign consulting and grassroots advocacy, Damara Catlett is an associate with The Raben Group working with clients on campaign communications and strategy. Prior to joining The Raben Group, Damara worked as a client strategies manager at Winning Connections. In that role, she managed voter contact campaigns for dozens of groups, including Casa de Maryland, Planned Parenthood of Montana, and the League of Conservation Voters in Wisconsin. She also led the firm’s ballot initiative research and outreach, drafted and edited scripts, provided client strategy, worked with voter file data and planned firm events. In 2008, Damara worked as a canvassing supervisor for Obama for America in Pennsylvania. Earlier, Damara served as a regional director for Better World Books, where she managed over 250 volunteers across three states on behalf of literacy-focused non-profit initiatives. During her tenure, she facilitated the collection of over 1 million books and increased her volunteer network by 25% each year. Damara got her start as an intern for Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans and as an interviewer for the Floyd Institute of Public Policy. She is a native of Philadelphia, PA and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Africana Studies and History from Franklin & Marshall College. Damara also did coursework in African history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Keo Chea, Adjudicator, USDA Office of Civil Rights

Ms. Keo Chea is an Adjudicator at the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights where she adjudicates civil rights discrimination complaints filed by USDA farmers. Prior to joining USDA, Ms. Chea served as Counsel for the House Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity from 2009-2011, where she advised Chairwoman Maxine Waters on consumer protections, women and minority access, and housing issues. She also served as a National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development Congressional Fellow for Congressman Al Green from 2008-2009, where she focused on housing, financial services and Asian American issues. While on the Hill, she served as the President of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and was a founding member of the Women’s Congressional Staff Association. Before coming to Washington D.C., Ms. Chea worked at the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, California, where she provided free legal services to low-income minority clients. Ms. Chea received a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and a B.A. in Political Science, Public Service at UC Davis. Ms. Chea was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and later settled in Roseville, California with her family.

Wilfred Codrington, Legislative Assistant, U.S. House of Representatives

Wilfred Codrington III is currently a staff member in the Capitol Hill office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton where he works on a variety of policy matters including, but not limited to, D.C.-federal relations, judiciary, civil rights & liberties, national parks, armed services & veterans affairs, immigration, housing, and the Congresswoman’s committee work for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Prior to this role he spent a brief period at the U.S. Department of Transportation as an attorney advisor, and then worked as a staff attorney and fellow at the Campaign Legal Center, where he worked on litigation and regulatory matters related to campaign finance, voting rights and ballot access. In December 2009 Wilfred graduated from Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels School of Government having earned a J.D. and an M.P.A., respectively. During his graduate school tenure he served as an editor of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and worked on pro bono projects involving guardianship law, domestic violence, and unemployment. Before graduate school, Wilfred earned a B.A. with honors in Philosophy from Brown University. There he was a member of the Undergraduate Finance Board and a columnist for the Brown Daily Herald. Wilfred is a member of the bar in New York, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia. He is primarily interested in law and policy matters related to elections and democratic access as well as urban affairs and revitalization of cities. He was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT and much of his family still resides there today.

Rachel Colyer, Organizing and Communications Manager, Media and Democracy Coalition

Rachel Colyer is the Organizing and Communications Manager at the Media and Democracy Coalition where Ms. Colyer works with organizations around the country on media, communications technology, and telecom policy in the public's interest. Rachel has been a speaker and trainer at numerous conferences and events including the National Conference of Media Reform, National Alliance for Media+Culture, Alliance for Community Media, Young Democrats of America, AFL-CIO field trainings, CloseUp, and ReThink Press. Previously, Ms. Colyer served as Field Director at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, running issue advocacy and electoral campaigns in various states. Rachel also remains active as a sustainer at WIN, the Women’s Information Network, where she previously held the Campaign Network Chair position and was tasked to organize events and professional development trainings for members in DC. Rachel obtained her BA from The Ohio State University in Mass Media Communications and Political Science.

Richard Fowler, Founder and CEO, FAR Constructs LLC.

Democratic political strategist and image consultant Richard Fowler is a PAC director, syndicated columnist, a national advocate for youth and middle class families, and the National Policy and Advocacy Director for the Young Democrats America. Richard was instrumental in registering and organizing over a thousand youth voters in Florida in 2004 for the NAACP. Later, in 2008 he worked as a campaign manager in Washington, DC. Richard is the founder and director of FAR CONSTRUCTS LLC an image and messaging firm where he has advised youth, minority and female candidates. He helped elect the youngest member of the Kansas City, Missouri City Council and he has been a featured speaker at National Council of La Raza’s National Conference, College Democrats of America, the Young Democrat of America and various colleges and universities. Outside of his work in media, Richard is the co-founder and director of PHOENIX FREEDOM PAC, a transportation solutions political action committee. He is also the former executive director of the Virginia Young Democrats Annual Conference, a member of the Young Professionals in Transportation and a Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership and the New Leaders Council. As a democratic strategist, Richard has been featured on Fox News Channel, MSNBC and Aljazeera English and various syndicated radio programs all across the nations. Richard is based in Alexandria, Virginia. Richard earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University.

Taha Gaya, Executive Director, Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL-C)

Taha Gaya is the Executive Director of the Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL‐C), the premier political advocacy organization representing the Pakistani American community to the U.S. Government. PAL‐C engages with the U.S. Government on domestic issues such as civil rights and civic engagement as well as issues affecting the U.S.‐Pakistan relationship including broadening bilateral private sector and civil society engagement, tailoring U.S. economic and military assistance to Pakistan, effective delivery of that assistance, and policy recommendations to enhance U.S. security commitments in the region. Prior to joining PAL‐C in 2006, Gaya served as a Legal Fellow on the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary. Gaya received his law degree from the University of San Diego, School of Law and is a licensed attorney in the State of California. Gaya is a second‐generation Pakistan‐American. He is from San Diego, California.

Mike Heslin, Chief Operating Officer, Bravery Corporation

Mike Heslin directs strategic growth, business development, account service, and operations for Bravery Corporation, a digital marketing and cloud software firm based in Washington, DC. Mike's work at Bravery, focused on connecting brands with people and empowering organizations to engage communities, is driven by his passion for the positive role private sector organizations can play in local communities. Prior to Bravery, Mike worked in Community Affairs at Google, where he built a nationwide strategy to engage the communities surrounding Google's U.S. offices. He has also held internships in the Office of Congressman John Larson (D-CT), the U.S. Committee for UNDP, and the law firm of Fasulo, Shalley, & DiMaggio. Mike holds a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College where he led the College Democrats of New Hampshire, advocating student issues and organizing the state's campuses for the 2008 first-in-the-nation primary. He also served on the Executive Committee of the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Committee. Originally from Severna Park, MD, Mike now resides in Washington, DC, yet remains a committed Baltimore sports fan. He enjoys golf, the news in all its forms, and the intersection of flip flops and collar stays.

Matt Kaplan, Senior Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton

Matthew Kaplan, a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, is aligned to the strategy and organization practice at the firm. Kaplan provides organizational change management and strategic communication advice to clients. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Kaplan served as a legislative staff member for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Harry Mitchell. He advised the Members on floor votes; wrote talking points; drafted correspondence; negotiated cosponsors; and successfully shepherded legislation into law. Kaplan also advised Congressman Mitchell in his role as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee for Oversight and Investigations, and helped lead the outreach to national veteran groups, pushing the VA to extend the suicide prevention hotline, which since has been credited for saving thousands of at-risk veterans. Prior to serving Senator Brown in Washington, Kaplan led Brown’s outreach in Northern Ohio. Kaplan’s prior work experience has also included a fellowship with 60 Minutes and a stint as a published stringer for The Los Angeles Times. Kaplan, a first generation college student from Claremont, California, graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Law and Society, and minors in religion and philosophy. He was elected senior class president and was a co-captain for the men’s basketball team.

Talana Lattimer, Producer/Programming Associate, Public Broadcast Services

Talana Lattimer is an award-winning political media producer currently working for PBS. She has produced for CNN, CBS News, XM Sirius Satellite Radio, Black Entertainment Television, WTTG Fox 5 and major live events such as the Martin Luther King Memorial Dedication and the annual White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. She is the recipient of five National Television Emmy awards for best documentary and best writing and recipient of the International Media Festival award for best documentary. Prior to joining PBS, Talana worked for Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign as a speechwriter and press assistant. She was also a political appointee at the United States Department of Commerce in the media relations division. She has served as a media trainer and public speaker for various social change organizations and worked extensively with the Marguerite Casey’s Foundation’s Equal Voices for America Campaign. She is an alumna of American University's Women and Politics Institute’s WeLEAD program and the Washington Post’s WABJ Young Journalist workshop. In addition to being a freelance writer and filmmaker, Talana currently works on numerous productions including Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a Capital Fourth. Talana is a Washington, DC native and MFA candiate at Howard University.

Mariel Lim, Legislative Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives

Mariel Lim is currently Legislative Counsel to Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-13). Her primary role is staffing the Congressman at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where she focuses on job creation, ensuring safety, and maintaining our nation’s global competitiveness. Since arriving to the Hill over four years ago she has advised on issues including civil rights, education, health care, labor, and women’s issues. Mariel has served as co-chair to the Women’s Forum of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA-DC) since 2009. During 2009, Mariel was President of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association (CAPASA) and also served two years as Community Service co-chair of the Women's Congressional Staff Association (WCSA) from 2008-2010. Mariel graduated from Valparaiso University School of Law, spent her last year of law school as a visiting student to Howard University School of Law, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Binghamton University. She is a member of the bar in Maryland and New Jersey. Mariel was born in New York City and grew up in the suburbs, but now calls Washington, DC home. She enjoys volunteering, practicing yoga, and trying new activities such as learning to fly at trapeze school.

Jamie Long, Legislative Director, U.R. Rep. Keith Ellison

Jamie Long is Legislative Director to United States Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). He was previously Legislative Counsel to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), handling his energy, environment, and transportation portfolio, and held the same position for Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO). Prior to his work in Congress, he was an Associate in the litigation practice group at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP handling environmental, white collar, and civil litigation cases as well as keeping an active pro bono caseload. He graduated from George Washington University Law School in 2007 (cum laude) where he was President of the GW Law Democrats, and from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in 2004 (magna cum laude). Jamie grew up in Los Angeles. He enjoys singing and listening to music, and loves the outdoors.

Brian Lucas, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Brian Lucas is a young man with sky-high goals to reach the achievements who never believes in obstacles. A proud alumnus of Gallaudet University, he graduated with a Business Administration degree in May ‘08. With his strong ambition, intellectual curiosity, and quest for success and progress in life, he embodies the mission and vision of the Keeping the Promise for Deaf Black Males (KTP) Program designed to graduate literally every member annually, and has continued to grow since leaving Gallaudet University. At Gallaudet University, Brian participated in the KTP program, which was founded in January 2007. He credits the program with spurring his professional-career journey. After graduation, Brian envisioned a career in public service and was hired by the United States Mint. He then made many important contributions as an Administrative Assistant, directly supported the Acting Directors of the Workforce Solutions Department, and assisted leaders in maximizing the workplace culture. Despite the communication barrier issues, Brian has continued to exceed his supervisors’ and peers’ expectations. In February 2010, he was invited as a special guest and keynote speaker at the Black History Month program event at Gallaudet University where he received high praise from the students and faculty staff. Shortly after, he was featured in United States Mint’s internal newsletter’s 2010 March issue. In May 2010, Brian was offered a unique opportunity to work as an Equal Opportunity Specialist in the Office of Assistant Secretary Civil Rights at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while still a United States Mint employee (called a “detail assignment”). He performs technical edits and drafts Final Agency Decisions (FAD), reviews and organizes complaint files to ensure completeness for further processing, and prepare Certificate of Service for Director’s approval signature. In September 2010, he so impressed his employers at the USDA that he was offered a career position and promotion there to work for the Department’s Director of Civil Rights. His former co-workers at the United States Mint bid him a bittersweet farewell, happy for his promotion but sad that they would miss experiencing his positive spirit on a daily basis. At his farewell party, many United States Mint employees testified to the burgeoning talent and promise that Brian has, knowing that they will continue to hear great things about his future. They rewarded him a Tuskegee Airmen medal for him to remember them by. Brian’s public service is not only limited to Federal Government workplaces. During the volunteer time, he serves as the President, Alumni Corporation Board, of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. He uses his position to mentor current Gallaudet students on how to lead the chapter into the directions of its accreditation report, encourage young men to raise their grade point averages above Campus GPA average, and be involved in serving the community. His passionate dream is to become a professional motivational speaker and build the bridges from Deaf community into Hearing world. During his hobby, he likes to attend physical work out and can be found on social networking.

Jesse Lynch, Tunisia Country Coordinator, U.S. Department of State - Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions

Jesse Lynch is a Middle East and North Africa specialist with expertise in Tunisia’s transition to democracy, democratic reform, domestic Arab politics, and American foreign policy in the region. He is currently the Tunisia Country Coordinator in the Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions at the Department of State, where he is responsible for coordinating U.S. government assistance to Tunisia. He has prior experience managing foreign assistance projects at the Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) aimed at promoting effective civil society, ensuring good governance, encouraging private sector development, and empowering women and youth; serving in the economic section at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq; surveying United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project sites throughout Syria; and analyzing democratic trends and political parties in Egypt while conducting extensive field research on Islam and its compatibility with democracy. Jesse has traveled widely and frequently throughout the Middle East and North Africa and mastered the Arabic language through a number of prestigious national fellowships including the David L. Boren Fellowship, the Arabic Language Flagship Fellowship, and the Fulbright-Hays scholarship program. In 2004, Jesse graduated cum laude from the Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor’s in International Affairs and a Bachelor’s in French. He later obtained a Master of Arts in U.S. Foreign Policy from the American University and a Master’s degree in Arabic from the University of Maryland. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Jesse grew up in Tampa, FL and enjoys running, traveling off of the beaten path, and learning languages.

Arpitha Peteru, Consultant, Dewey Square Group

As a consultant with Dewey Square Group (DSG), Arpitha Peteru works with the Grassroots Strategy team on a leading national public affairs campaign. Her work aims to build third party support for the campaign’s mission, influence policymakers and leaders, and amplify its message at the local, state and federal levels. Before joining DSG, Arpitha worked for Congresswoman Susan Davis, as well as with the House Elections Subcommittee during the 2010 Midterm elections. She first ventured out to Washington, D.C. to pursue a Running Start Star Fellowship targeted at increasing the involvement of young women in politics. Prior to her D.C. adventures, Arpitha studied at Colgate University, NY and the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, completing two senior theses analyzing the relationship between human rights and cultural relativism. At Colgate, she was an active part of several leadership programs and LGBT initiatives. Arpitha’s passion for cross-cultural humanitarian aid grew as she became extensively involved in the refugee resettlement process and developed a micro-enterprise initiative with Burmese refugees in Upstate NY. Born in Hyderabad, India and raised in New York City, she currently enjoys living in D.C., where she volunteers with the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Robin Powers, Deputy Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Robin Powers serves as the Deputy Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government by targeting public officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests. Robin previously served as CREW's Director of Research and Special Projects and as a Research Associate. Prior to joining CREW, Robin was a Program Associate for Alliance for Justice, a nonprofit, national association of public interest groups that work to advance the cause of justice for all citizens. As Program Associate, she coordinated workshops and tracked legislation affecting the ability of the nonprofit community to engage in the public policy process. Robin also has interned with Vital Voices Global Partnership, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and various political campaigns. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Iowa and also attended the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France. Robin is a native of Chicago.

Benjamin Swig, Public Health Subject Matter Expert, Cabezon Group

Benjamin Swig is a Public Health Preparedness and Response consultant currently working as a Public Health Subject Matter Expert for Cabezon Group in the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). He is responsible for strategic planning, and coordinating execution of the Community Health and Service Missions (CHASM) program recently initiated by the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment. Projects include organizational development, leadership development and training, strengthening local health infrastructure, increasing cultural fluency, and providing direct medical care to underserved and vulnerable populations within the United States. Prior to working in the OSG Benjamin worked for the City of New Orleans with New Orleans Emergency Medical Services and the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness serving as an emergency medical provider and emergency planner in the post Katrina environment. He has nearly ten years of experience working with nonprofit and volunteer organizations having worked with various levels of government and tribal nations. Benjamin has an MPH from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Bachelor's degree from Trinity College. Benjamin continues his volunteer work today with Vail Mountain Rescue Group and serves on the board for a non-profit organization.

Deanne Titus, Program Management Analyst, U.S. Department of Transportation - Office of Inspector General

Deanne Titus is currently a Program Management Analyst with the United States Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General. In this capacity, she reviews policies and programs related to high-speed rail and port infrastructure development. Previously, Ms. Titus served as a Public Information Manager with Clean Water Atlanta, the city's comprehensive, multi-billion dollar infrastructure overhaul initiative. Keeping in mind Clean Water Atlanta's goal of creating the cleanest urban streams and rivers in the country within a decade, she managed public outreach to communities in the northern portion of the city and coordinated efforts to pass the citywide Water and Sewer Municipal Option Sales Tax, which helped fund renovations to the water and sewer system. Ms. Titus began her career in public service as the Chief of Staff to Atlanta City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong. In Councilmember Archibong’s office, she supervised the requests for over 30,000 residents—including the successful coordination of the District 5 Senior Services Seminar, the drafting of the Moreland Avenue Drug-Free Commercial Zone Ordinance and the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. Ms. Titus received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of West Georgia and her Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. At Harvard, she was a recipient of the Harvard Presidential Scholarship and a 2010 cohort member of the Harvard Square to the Oval Office Practicum. Although she still calls Atlanta home, Ms. Titus currently resides in Washington, D.C., and is an active member of the Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Waiching Wong, Transportation Management Specialist, District Department of Transportation

Waiching Wong is a Transportation Management Specialist at the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, focusing on transportation planning and infrastructure finance projects that provide residents of DC with safe, reliable and affordable multi-modal transportation options. Waiching entered DC government via the Capital City Fellows program, where she completed rotations at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for both the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership and the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association. Waiching credits her experience at the Greenlining Institute as a Banking and Community Reinvestment Fellow and later manager of the Affordable Housing Program as a catalyst in her career. She holds a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. in Political Economy from the University of California, Berkeley. Waiching was born in Hong Kong, and raised in Sacramento, California.