National Programs Committee

The National Programs Committee

Since its inception more than a decade ago, the New Leaders Council has grown from a small, but committed cohort in San Francisco to dozens of chapters representing communities and states across the US.  This incredible growth has led to training nearly 6,000 progressive, political entrepreneurs.  But with our fast expansion came a need for a communication pipeline from the local chapters’ leadership teams through to the national staff. Thus, the National Programs Committee (NPC), comprised of a group of senior NLC volunteers who had each been in the trenches running chapters, institutes, recruitment, etc., was formed with the mission of providing assistance and guidance as it relates to NLC programming.

Made up of National Programmatic Chairs, the NLC Chapter Director Board Members, and the NLC Community Representatives, the NPC is the primary sounding board for developing new programmatic elements, oversight of chapter activities, and ensuring smooth communications and responsiveness between NLC and all its local leadership teams.

I am proud to work with such a committed cohort of individuals whose leadership and passion for the success of NLC drives their work.  We continue to strive to improve the organization’s ability to meet its core mission and to provide quality services to each local NLC chapter.


Mike Bare
Chair, NLC National Programs Committee 


Meet the National Programs Committee

Mike Bare
NPC Chair
NLC Wisconsin


Mike Bare researches and advocates for public policies that help low-income Americans at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. He is an expert on the intersection of policy with politics and the legislative process. Mike teaches graduate courses in public health policy.

Mike has an extensive grassroots politics and government service background, having worked on and consulted for political campaigns at every level of government. He also served as a longtime aide to former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold in his Washington, DC office, and on his 2004 and 2010 campaigns.

Mike holds an MA in political science from American University, where he was President of the Graduate Student Council. He is a former alderman, has been a longtime volunteer for Special Olympics and other disability organizations, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, HealthWatch Wisconsin, and is the Chapter Director of New Leader Council-Wisconsin.

Heather Grantham Deutsch
Chair Emeritus
NLC New York


Heather Grantham Deutsch is the Treasurer of the New Leaders Council Board of Directors and Chair Emerita of the NLC National Programs Committee. She was previously a Co-Director of NLC New York City from 2012 to 2015, NLC-NYC Finance Chair from 2015 to 2016, and a NLC-NYC Advisory Board member since 2010. By day, she works in marketing and investor relations for Nomura Corporate Research and Asset Management, a boutique asset management firm within the Nomura Group of companies. At Nomura, she manages a portfolio of client relationships and works closely with portfolio management, credit research, sales, and business development teams to create and market high-yield fixed-income investment products for institutional investors worldwide. By night and weekend, she brainstorms ways to connect progressive leaders, build coalitions, and take NLC to the next level and beyond.

Before NLC and Nomura, Heather toiled in private equity and spent her free time posting feminist rants on facebook. At ZM Capital, she managed a comprehensive internal and external branding and communications program, including a fully re-designed visual identity and presentation suite, and business development support for several portfolio companies and two funds. Heather also has experience in communications and development consulting, where she learned to synthesize months of research into a 100-page deck that only two people would ever read.

Prior to working in finance and progressive politics, Heather attended Cornell University, where she walked uphill both ways in the snow. She majored in Government, Sociology, and Fine Arts, wrote a column for the Cornell Daily Sun, and was named one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Cornellians" for her leadership of a student-driven effort to improve Cornell's marketing and communications strategy. In addition to the above, she has served on the New York County Democratic Committee and on the Executive Board of the Ansonia Independent Democratic Club. She lives in Manhattan with one husband and three cats, which she maintains is a perfectly reasonable human to feline ratio.

James Woodson
Chapter Board Representative & National Diversity Committee Chair
NLC New Jersey


James Woodson is currently the NLC National Diversity Chair. He previously served as National Mentorship Director, and is an alum and former Executive Board member of the NLC-New Jersey Chapter. By day, James is an Organizing Coordinator with California Calls. Specifically, he co-leads the African American Civic Engagement Project, teaching, training, and supporting 12 Black-led groups around the State of California to do integrated voter engagement. James is also assisting coordination of the Million Voters Project, a partnership of six statewide partners to mobilize and turnout 1 million voters by 2018.

Previously, James served as the Director of Clubhouse and Athletic Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, NJ, where he managed youth development programs for over 300 children. James is also a licensed attorney in the states of New Jersey and New York and proud alum of the Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ. Prior to entering law school, James served in a variety of capacities within the Democratic National Committee, the NJ Democratic State Committee, and Obama For America. James was a lead organizer for the NJ Health Care For America Now campaign and served as co-Counsel for the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission in 2012. In addition, James was the Founding Director of the Friendship Development Corporation, where he led the effort to create an outreach center that provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of low-income families in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

James loves all things entertainment, and in his spare time, writes, produces, and directs all types of creative multimedia projects. He is the co-writer, director, and producer of the Off-Broadway stage play “Love’s Gonna Get You.”

James currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and two children.

Joy Dixon
Chapter Board Representative
NLC Tallahassee


Joy Dixon is a nonprofit professional with a background in the public health, education, and media sectors. She is often found serving in a myriad of roles both professionally and in the community. Currently, Joy works for the American Cancer Society as a Health Systems Manager. She is responsible for guiding select Federally Qualified Health Centers through policy change and evidence-based quality improvement interventions to increase cancer screening rates and access to care in Northwest Florida and Georgia. She has extensive experience managing county-wide and state-wide advocacy programs related to tobacco prevention, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Joy was a member of the inaugural class of NLC Tallahassee. After serving as Director and later Co-Director for three years, she joined the NLC Tallahassee Advisory Board. Joy is also the Director of COACH Foundation, a Tampa-based nonprofit organization that secures affordable housing for low-income families and provides after school programming in addition to other resources. As a part of the Tallahassee office, Joy manages health equity programs to increase access to healthy foods. She is often found in the community leading community cooking classes and healthy eating workshops.

In her spare time, Joy is an avid traveler and experienced performing artist who is passionate about connecting underserved populations to the arts in their community. She is a member of the Midtown Arts and Entertainment company and performs with several theatres in the Big Bend Florida area. On the rare occasion Joy is home, you can find her either curled up with a book or brainstorming how to expand the reach of New Leaders Council and its alumni.

A Tampa native, Joy Dixon is a graduate of Florida A & M University where she received a Master of Public Health degree.

Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi
National Alumni Director
NLC Kentucky


Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi is a paralegal at Appriss Inc. focusing on contracts and data security. Prior to joining Appriss in 2016, Nicole spent 8 years in litigation working on medical malpractice, wage and hour, employment discrimination, and racial discrimination cases.

Nicole co-facilitated a women’s abuse support group from 2011-2015. After listening to the challenges women face leaving abusive relationships, Nicole founded Building Hope, a nonprofit organization that serves women who have been abused or widowed.

In 2014, Nicole was named a New Leaders Council Fellow and has remained active in NLC by serving on the Kentucky Chapter Executive Board, NLC’s Women’s Caucus, and as a Life Entrepreneur trainer.

In 2015, Nicole completed Emerge Kentucky, a program that trains Democratic women to run for elected office, with hopes to serve her community on a larger scale someday.

In 2016, Nicole was named One Church Louisville’s inaugural Social Justice Ministry Director. With a commitment to healing her community and creating a safe space for all, Nicole developed a curriculum focused on dismantling perceptions and revolutionizing our idea of loving others.

Nicole obtained her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville and resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her daughters, Asia and Aria. 

Justin Braz
Community Representative
NLC New Jersey


Justin Braz is currently the Chief of Staff for New Jersey State Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary S. Schaer. His strong interest in local, state, and national politics has augmented a lifelong passion towards fomenting significant social change for working class men and women.

Justin has cultivated an impressive resume of policy and political experience. Before joining Schaer’s office, Justin served in numerous capacities including as the Political Coordinator for 1199 Service Employees International Union, representing thousands of healthcare workers throughout New Jersey and as Chief of Staff to Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Chairwoman Annette Quijano.

Justin previously served as the Chapter Director and a founding member of the state chapter of the New Leader's Council, a national leadership training institute for progressive political entrepreneurs throughout the state, winning National Chapter of the Year in 2013 and 2014. In his free time, Justin is an avid reader, a racquetball enthusiast and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. A sports lover as well, depending on the season he can be found following his New York Yankees, Giants or Penn State.

Chad Cherry
NLC Black Caucus Representative
NLC Broward


Chef Chad has been in the food service industry for more than fifteen years. He has been awarded numerous accolades, including, the 33 Emerging Creative Minds of Miami Award at Art Basel and BMe Genius Fellowship. He has been personal chef to a number of celebrities and also had the honor of feeding President Barack & Michelle Obama. He is a regularly featured Chef at the coveted Food Network/ Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival every year.

Chef's company, Refresh Live, is dedicated to providing Garden-to-Table and healthy lifestyle community education, programs and initiatives. His work is hyper-focused on “Nourishing the Soul of the Community" and he spends his time travelling around South Florida implementing innovative programs that teach soft skills and providing consultation for those in or entering the world of entrepreneurship. Chef Chad is the Alumni & Events Chair for NLC-Broward and Co-Chair for the NLC National Black Caucus.

Jackie Cornell
Community Representative
NLC New York City & NLC New Jersey


Jackie Cornell is currently the Director of Development and External Affairs at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), the Garden State’s only progressive, independent “think-and-do” tank. There she leads the organization’s fundraising and outreach efforts, supporting a team of analysts who amplify state budget, taxes, healthcare, immigration and other policies to foster economic equity and justice.

Before joining NJPP in August 2017, Jackie served in many leading policy and political roles in New Jersey. She was appointed by President Barack Obama as the regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; has served as Congressman Rush Holt’s political director and outreach director; founded and led New Leaders Council – New Jersey; and has held crucial positions with Obama for America, Organizing for America, New Jersey Citizen Action and Planned Parenthood. She comes to NJPP from the New Jersey Hospital Association, where she worked as the senior director of Federal Relations and Regulatory Affairs.

Passionate about leadership development, Jackie currently serves on the National Programs Committee for the New Leaders Council as well as the on the Advisory Board of the New Jersey chapter. She is also adjunct faculty at The College of New Jersey, teaching courses in gender and public policy and feminist advocacy. 

She is a proud alumna of Rutgers University and The College of New Jersey. Jackie lives in Central Jersey with her young son, collecting books, tattoos and passport stamps.  

Lorena Rivas Hardwick
NLC Women's Caucus Representative
NLC Tampa Bay


Lorena has lived in Tampa for the last twenty five years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (FSU) and Master of Arts in Organizational Management (UOP). She is married and has one daughter, who is five. In the last 18 years Lorena has worked in both the nonprofit and government sectors. She has spent the last six years as the Legislative Aide (LA) for Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez; with a brief hiatus to work as the West Central Florida Political Director in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

Under the previous administration, Lorena was hired to be the Hispanic Liaison for the City of Tampa. She had the opportunity to serve the Hispanic community and the many organizations within the City by providing them with access and opportunities to connect with City government.

Lorena has extensive volunteer experience both as a volunteer manager working with over sixty agencies in the Tampa Bay area, as well as hands on volunteer experience with some of her favorite agencies: Humane Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. She recently completed a two year appointment to Hillsborough County’s Diversity Council and is completing a two year term as the Director for the New Leaders Council Tampa Bay (NLC) Chapter.

Lorena will continue to find ways to give back to the community as well as seek out opportunities for personal and professional enrichment. 

Kimberly Hayes
Community Representative
NLC Augusta


Kimberly Hayes is a native of Augusta, GA. She holds a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Business from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Educational Leadership with an emphasis on Organizational Leadership and Behavior at Valdosta State University. Presently, she is employed with Augusta University where she serves as a Human Resources Training Specialist and a certified Crucial Conversations Trainer. Previously, she was the Supplier Diversity Coordinator at GRU for over 7 years within Materials/ Supply Chain Management.  Previously, Kimberly was an adjunct faculty member for Strayer University where she taught business courses to undergraduate students. In this role she has been a recipient of the Provost Circle Award for showing excellence in education and service to students.  Training and education is her passion!

Kimberly is currently serving as the Curriculum and Institute Director for New Leaders Council-Augusta Chapter.  She is also a member of the United Way Citizens Review Panel and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts Parents Association. She volunteering throughout her local community wherever she is needed. her interests includes all things communications and writing as well as spending time with family and friends. 

Elizabeth Henderson
National Curriculum Co-Director
NLC Nashville


Elizabeth is the Public Lands Defense Organizer in Tennessee with The Wilderness Society. She began her career building sustainable networks of volunteers in the south and developing training programs to equip and empower the next generation of progressive leaders with the skills to win. As an accomplished organizer, she uses her experience in the field to develop coalitions and grassroots leaders to coordinate national, state, and local campaigns. Elizabeth resides in Nashville with her partner, Brian and their two dogs Pebbles and Louis. In her free time she is an avid reader, astronomy geek, and novice chef.





Elise Miller Hoffman
National Mentorship Director
NLC St. Louis


Elise Miller Hoffman is the NLC National Mentorship Director. Elise participated as an NLC Fellow in 2013, and served as the NLC-St. Louis Mentorship Chair from 2013-2016.

Elise works in the heart of the St. Louis startup community as a Principal at Cultivation Capital, the most active tech venture capital firm in Missouri. Managing the firm's Life Sciences Funds I and II, she works to help promising biotechnology startup companies gain the funding they need to develop life-saving technologies, drugs, and medical devices. She is on the Steering Committee for the Emerging Venture Leaders Summit, a nationwide VC conference, and is a Board Observer at portfolio company NarrativeDx.

Prior to Cultivation Capital, Elise served as Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis, where she created a recruitment program to increase the racial and socioeconomic diversity on campus.

Elise has been active in Democratic politics throughout her professional career, and currently serves as the President of the St. Louis Young Democrats. She holds a BA in Spanish Literature and Latin American Studies, and an MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ian Magruder
Community Representative
NLC San Francisco


Ian Magruder is NLC's California Chapter Liaison, following two years as Co-Director of the San Francisco Chapter. Professionally, Ian is Director of Partnerships at Landed, a San Francisco-based startup helping teachers buy homes through community-based equity financing. Prior to Landed, Ian helped build Organizer, a political technology and grassroots engagement company working with many of the top Democratic state parties, labor unions, and advocacy organizations nationally - including DCCC, SEIU, and NextGen Climate. Ian also served as President of the California College Democrats and as Co-Founder of the California Progress Fund, an organization that supports young diverse candidates running for local office in California. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Princeton University.



Timothy Mason
Community Representative
NLC Broward & NLC Washington DC


Tim Mason is a legislative and political attorney based in New Haven, Connecticut. He has worked in all three branches of government and in municipal, state, and federal roles. He also has worked extensively building and executing voting rights programs for major political candidates including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In 2013, Tim Co-Founded NLC Broward, and later served as a Finance Director and Co-Director of the NLC Washington DC Chapter.

Tim is from Winter Park, Florida. He is a former Florida Gubernatorial Fellow, former State President of the Florida College Democrats and a member of the Florida Bar. He studied International Relations at the University of Central Florida and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

Tim is a Fellow at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Charisse Price
National Curriculum Co-Director
NLC Atlanta


Charisse Price is a marketing, management and event planning professional whose career has spanned the private and public sectors across the east coast of the United States. Ms. Price's ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of others. She believes in living a life of compassion, by treating others well because it's the right thing to do.

Ms. Price has served as an active volunteer tutor in the Fulton County jail for the past four years, and in leadership positions with several organizations that focus on leadership development, urban youth, and community impact. Ms. Price most recently served as the 2017 Curriculum Co-Chair of New Leaders Council Atlanta and is a proud member of the 2015 cohort. She also proudly serves: 20/20 Leaders of America, M.A.F.D.E.T., Inc, The Junior League of Atlanta, and Everybody Wins! Atlanta.

Ms. Price earned a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of New Orleans, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College – City University of New York. In her free time, Ms. Price enjoys practicing yoga, playing kickball, spending time with family and friends, and watching football.

Andrew Solano
Community Representative
NLC San Antonio


A native of San Antonio, Andrew graduated with his B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Security Studies. He began his political career in 2007 by working for then District 6 Councilwoman Delicia Herrera as constituent director.

In 2009, Councilman Ray Lopez was elected and tapped Andrew to be his Senior Policy Advisor. In this role, Andrew advised the Councilman on issues ranging from environmental policy, economic development, and public safety.

In 2013, Congressman Lloyd Doggett recruited Andrew as his San Antonio District Director where he served the residents of the 35th Congressional District and advised the Congressman on local issues and federal policies.

In 2015, Andrew accepted a position as policy advisor and council liaison for Mayor Ivy Taylor, the first African-American woman to serve as Mayor of a city with over one-million in population. As policy advisor, Andrew's portfolio included criminal justice, public safety, economic development, and federal policies.

In addition to his role as NLC San Antonio's Board Chair, Andrew also sits on the board for the Young Professionals of the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, and on the My Brother's Keeper San Antonio Board.

Stathis Theodoropoulos 
Alumni Entrepreneurship Initiatives
NLC New Jersey


Stathis is currently the  Principal and Founder of Firefly Lighting LLC, a lighting procurement company. Founded in 2014, the company's focus is to help create beautiful lighting designs and the procurement of the lighting equipment for residential, commercial and hospitality projects. Prior to pursuing his own venture, Stathis worked in the lighting industry for 3 years, working with client such as Ralph Lauren, Intermix, the Plaza Hotel and many other global brands.

Stathis currently serves on the NPC working on alumni initiatives and serves as the Innovation Chair for the NLC-NJ Chapter.

Additionally, Stathis over the past 10 years has served in various leadership roles in organizations focused on grassroots and local community issues. Stathis is very active on advocating Greek American issues, dealing with issues of Human Rights, Religious Freedom and Foreign Affairs. He currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations and a Council Member with the Hellenic American Leadership Council.

Stathis Theodoropoulos is a first generation Greek & Cypriot American, born in NYC and raised in the Kearny, New Jersey. Stathis attended Rutgers University where he earned a BS in Environmental Business Economics.

Kathryn Vargas
Community Representative
NLC Pittsburgh


Kathryn Vargas, M.S.W is currently the Director of Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time (APOST) at the United Way of Southwestern PA. In this role she is responsible for working with afterschool partners, funders, and community stakeholders to advocate for quality programing, build capacity of the sector, and improve systems that support building a unified network of OST programs across the region. She has worked at United Way for four years, first as the Senior Manager of United for Children managing projects related to United Way's youth investments.

Prior to working at the United Way, Kathryn served as an Advocacy Coordinator at Neighborhood Learning Alliance, an agency that provides out of school time programming and educational opportunities for Pittsburgh youth and as Assistant to the Deputy Director at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, a community based organization focused on comprehensive community revitalization.

In addition to her professional experience, Kathryn volunteers in many capacities including serving as Co-Director of the New Leaders Council Pittsburgh Chapter, participating on the executive team of the Children's Museum of Pittsburghss young professional committee, Mentoring with United Way's Be a Middle School mentor program; serving as a reading buddy for Reading is Fundamental; and ushering for the Pittsburgh Public Theater.

She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and her Bachelors in Sociology and International Studies from Mount St. Mary’s University in 2008.

Leah Weiner
Community Representative
NLC Los Angelese & NLC Denver


Leah Weiner is an NLC Los Angeles alum and the founder of NLC Denver. She is also the founder of the The Nonprofit Learning Lab, a national organization that provides training, professional development and mentoring for community-based nonprofits. Leah has a passion for ensuring that individuals working in the nonprofit sector are armed with best practices, tools and strategies, and a community of peers. Leah has long believed that having a strong network of support makes the day-to-day work of a nonprofit professional much easier!

Leah received a doctorate in organizational leadership and development from Pepperdine University and a masters degree in public administration and nonprofit management from California State University - Northridge. Her research focused on best practices in nonprofit management for nonprofit led by volunteers. In her more than 14 years in the nonprofit sector, Leah has worked as an executive director, professional fundraiser and program director at organizations such as the Division for Early Childhood, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, KEEN Los Angeles, Life Steps Foundation, Los Angeles Review of Books, YMCA and Hillel. Over her career, Leah has launched nonprofits, developed fundraising departments and raised over $4 million annually for various organizations. She has led teams of staff, recruited and trained a 1000+ volunteer corps,, worked with and built boards of directors, managed successful year end campaigns raising $500,000+, and planned international conferences and large-scale gala events for nonprofit organizations.