New Hampshire





America Votes New Hampshire and New Leaders Council are excited to announce a new, dynamic partnership to strengthen the progressive movement in New Hampshire.  We seek to do this by identifying more individuals, leaders and future elected officials to bring into the programs of America Votes and other civic engagement organizations.  NLC is a transformative professional development and networking opportunity that is accessible to anyone with an interest in making a difference in the New Hampshire community.  Fellows will begin with an assessment of their strengths, weaknesses, and goals and continue through an institute program to provide them soft and hard skills needed for community organizing and political management.



Applications are due at 11:59pm PST on January 15, 2016.


 2016 Institute Dates
March 19-20
April 16-17
May 21-22


Eireann Aspell, Health Care Reform Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator,
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England 

Eireann Aspell is a New Hampshire native and currently lives in Concord, NH. After graduating from Concord High School, Eireann attended Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In addition to attending class, Eireann was very involved in Saint Michael’s community service program which cultivated her interest in working for social justice. After graduation, she spent a year as an Americorps*VISTA at Lund Family Center and developed a mentoring program for young women who had mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses that were pregnant or parenting. After a break from social services at a stint in the educational publishing industry in Boston, Eireann returned to New Hampshire to work as a Navigator for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and helped NH residents enroll in affordable health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, better known as Eireann is currently the Health Care Reform Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator for PPNNE and leads a team of in-person health care enrollment assisters and works to advocate for women’s and LGBT health care reform. She believes that affordable quality health care is a human right, and interested in reproductive justice and the expansion of mental health and substance abuse treatment in our communities.


Paul Blackford, Community Activist 

Paul is a  native of New Hampshire born and raised in Concord and now living in Franklin. He is a Tilton School and completed one year at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.  During his freshman year he became severely injured in an automobile accident with a brain that left him in a coma for weeks where he was not expected to survive or recover. Very little was known about brain injuries in the 1970’s.

 Blessed with strong family support and a caring community, Paul went through an arduous course of rehabilitation and was able to, in time, pursue part time employment.  His jobs though always menial in nature, became full time and he spent the 1990’s working with his uncle, a professor at the Landmark College in Vermont, compiling a Daytimer system to help me keep track of the past, plan ahead and capture notes to help to preserve important events.

 In 2000 Paul enrolled in the North Eastern Institute of Whole Health and became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2003. After spending the following years running his own business while working, per diem, at two spas he became employed at J. Jill in Tilton as a Customer Service representative.  At that time he became a NH Brain Injury Public Policy Member and later became involved with Priorities – NH, a non-profit organization that led to my involvement with NH Citizens Alliance in 2010.

 Paul remains active with NH Citizens Alliance  making phone calls, attending rallies, birddogging presidential candidates, writing letters to the editor, and more recently been active with the Granite State Organizing Project based in Manchester.  He  enrolled in a day long Legislative Leadership Workshop in 2014 and attended a weekend workshop in Chicago, Illinois last December sponsored by the Center for Community Change. He also attended the seminar as a Grassroots Ambassador in order to evaluate the 2014 Retirement Security Strategy Program and to set priorities for the 2015 Retirement Security Strategy Program.

 Currently, Paul is semi-retired having left J. Jill to pursue a more fulfilling calling and is hopeful that he will be able to pursue an agenda with the New Leaders Council that will spread a meaningful message across this country.  


Megan Brabec, Community Service Coordinator, University of New Hampshire

Megan Brabec is the Community Service Coordinator at the University of New Hampshire. Megan graduated from UNH in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science & International Affairs, and minors in Women's Studies and Spanish. Prior to working at UNH, Megan worked as the Program Director for the Women's Fund of NH, as a Field Organizer for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, and helped various nonprofits with database projects and event planning. 

Megan comes from a military family, and has lived in New Hampshire for 6 years - which is almost her record for the longest time she's lived in one place! She looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to making this state the best place to live, work, and play through NLC. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping, reading, and binge-watching Netflix. Megan also currently serves on the Board of Directors of NARAL Pro-Choice NH.



Rachel Hawkinson, UniServ Director, New Hampshire National Education Association

Rachel is currently a UniServ Director for New Hampshire National Education Association where she supports twenty-four unions in the Monadnock region.  She graduated from UNH School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center) in 2012 as a Daniel Webster Scholar. She grew up in California and attended UNH for her BA in History and MA in TEaching (Secondary Education) and she taught in New Hampshire and Maine before attending Law School.  She is committed to the cause of organized labor and believes public education and labor unions benefit both employees and students and strengthen our democracy.  Her hobbies include yoga and gardening.  



Kim Houghtaling, Special Educator & Literacy Instructor, Cooperative Middle School 

Kim is a middle school special education literacy instructor and case manager at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham, New Hampshire. She is a lifelong learner receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education K-8 from Pine Manor College, special education endorsement and NH certification from UNH- School for Lifelong Learning, and a Masters in Education with a concentration on reading and writing from Plymouth State University. When she is not the teacher or the student, she volunteers her time and serves as the co-president of her  middle school parent teacher organization as a member of the SAU#16 Strategic Planning Committee, the professional development committee, vice president of the Exeter Education Association for teacher and chair for the NEA-NH Seacoast Regional Council.  Kim lives with her husband Scott and three dogs Diesel, Tessa, and Brewster. When she has free time she may be found near some form of water engrossed in a good read on Kindle, or enjoying quality time with family, friends, and colleagues.  


Lindsay Jakows, Campaign Consultant, People For the American Way- New Hampshire 

Lindsay currently works to get big money out of politics and hold elected officials accountable as People For the American’s Way’s New Hampshire campaign consultant. Before joining People For the American Way, they* worked to win local anti-corruption laws with the Western Massachusetts chapter of Represent.Us and supported student-run voter registration and environmental campaigns in Colorado and Massachusetts. A graduate of Pepperdine University, Lindsay first found activism through working to get a recognized LGBTQ-student organization on campus. They spend their free time writing and performing poetry, biking, and will soon be singing in an all-trans choir.

*Lindsay uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them.


Karen Ladd, Educator, Sanborn Regional High School 

Karen teaches art at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. In 2008, she was nominated for NH’s Teacher of the Year and in 2014 was presented with NEA-NH’s Christa McAuliffe Leadership Award.  At Sanborn, Karen is a Professional Learning Community Facilitator and Labor-Management Committee member.  As a member of the Arts Task Force, Karen helped create Model Graduation Competencies for the NH Department of Education.  She is an active member of the Sanborn Regional Education Association, serving in various roles since 2004, including President and Chief Negotiator.  Currently, Karen is in her first term on the NEA-NH State Executive Board, where she is on the Membership Committee.

She holds a M.Ed. in Creative Arts and Learning from Lesley University and a B.A. in Art Education from St. Lawrence University.  Having grown up in Vermont in a hard-working blue collar family of farmers, public servants, and small business owners, Karen is keenly aware of the challenges so many face in life and is committed to fight for social and economic equality. Karen can often be found hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing in Pawtuckaway State Park, traveling to Europe and around New England, or throwing pots in her art classroom.  


Nika Legatova, Founder, NSH Lady Project 

Nika, originally from Slovakia, graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Business Administration and Management in December of 2013. She is currently working for the Executive Education and Enterprise division at Babson College and plans to pursue an MBA in Entrepreneurship starting in the Fall of 2015.  Nika thrives off empowering others and is fortunate to be able to do so not only through the NSH Lady Project but also when she is coaching the Hardrock Club Volleyball 14 and under team where she has coached for four seasons. She became involved with the Lady Project organization shortly following the 2014 Lady Project Summit in Providence, RI where speakers such as Michelle Kwan and Meredith Walker from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, shared invaluable insight that lit a desire to expand the Lady Project to Nashua.  The NSH Lady Project mission is to inspire, showcase and connect awesome women doing amazing things through events, community engagement and membership.  On her days off, Nika enjoys dancing as if nobody’s watching, skiing/outdoor activities, and anything with a hazelnut flavor, especially chocolate.


Allison Nutting, Manager, Phoenix Manufacturing 

Allison was born and raised in Nashua. Starting in elementary school, she was concerned about environmental issues and education policies, which followed her into high school. After graduating high school, she went to Troy, NY to get her degree in political science from Russell Sage College. After obtaining her degree, Allison became a summer organizing fellow with Organizing for America, campaigning for President Obama in the summer of 2012. She then moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work with the Missouri Coordinated Campaign to elect Claire McCaskill to the US Senate until November of that year. After a successful campaign season, she was asked to run for state representative for Nashua’s ward 7, where she lost by less than 30 votes. She has also worked with New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, Planned Parenthood, and other local campaigns. When not campaigning, Allison works for her family’s business, Phoenix Manufacturing, as the office manager.


Mike O'Brien, Political & Field Director, America Votes- New Hampshire 

Mike O'Brien has worked with America Votes- New Hampshire as the Political and Field Director for 2 years and has been part of the America Votes family for 5 years. Before working at America Votes he worked on the Paul Hodes for Senate Campaign in 2010, coming to that campaign mostly so he could be closer to his (now) wife Alison.

He graduated from Emmanuel College in 2010 with a degree in Political Science. After leaving college he spent 6 months teaching English in China before starting his work around electoral and advocacy campaigns. Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 month old baby Cecilia and is determined to find the best local brew in New Hampshire, no matter how long it takes.


William Pearson, State Representative- District 4, New Hampshire General Court 

William Pearson is the the Cheshire County district 4 State Representative and resides in Keene. He graduated from Keene State University in 2014 with a degree in political science and immediately put his education to use that summer campaigning for himself and many other fantastic Cheshire County electeds.  He sits on the Election Law committee and substitute teaches when not in Concord.  Prior spending his 5 years in Keene, he spent 17 years in Bedford where he attended West High School and, subsequently, Bedford High School.  He enjoys being active; from cycling in the summer to skiing in the winter and manages to find an excuse to get outside year-round.  William’s ambitions and passions in government are as broad as his extracurricular pursuits and he is excited to share them with other NLC fellows.


Ellen Read, Grassroots & Field Manager, Open Democracy 

Ellen was born in Memphis, TN, the oldest of five children. She graduated third in her class with honors from high school, and then graduated Vanderbilt University in 2003 with a BS in Molecular Biology and minors in Religious Studies and Japanese, before spending three years in Japan as an English teacher. She moved to New Hampshire in 2009 where she received her Master’s degree in Environmental and Socioeconomic Ethics in Policy from UNH. After graduating, she worked with several non-profit organizations, including Public Citizen on their Democracy is for People campaign. She has spent the last ten years writing, teaching, and community organizing, and has a passion for helping the world be a more equitable place. With her husband she has two big dogs, three cats, two ferrets, and a parrot, and together they hope to someday own a small, sustainable farm.


Katie Mae Stewart, Lead Marketplace Assister, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England 

Katie Mae is the lead marketplace assister at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.  As an assister, Katie Mae Stewart connects New Hampshire residents to affordable coverage, including the Medicaid expansion program. Through this process she helps individuals understand how to be their own best advocate. With increased knowledge skills, and an understanding of their rights and community resources, she hopes to empower each individual to access affordable coverage and achieve their best level of health. While her current position works one-on-one with clients, her aim is to get more involved in the field of health policy and work towards developing a system that unites all citizens to equitable and affordable health.

Ms. Stewart’s introduction to social and reproductive justice began in undergrad when she studied at Guilford College, one of the country’s leading colleges in social justice. From there, she worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters where she aided families with identifying and obtaining needed resources. In her spare time she volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem and served as an advocate for abused and neglected teens in the North Carolina court system. These experiences challenged her to search for more effective avenues to generate change and led her to the Public Health Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she obtained her master’s degree in 2014. Since her move north, she can still be found participating in advocacy events, but she spends a great deal of her free time enjoying the outdoors with her dog, Tony.


Gale Taylor, Small Business Owner, Gale Force Facilitators 

Gale has been a product manager in high tech for over 30 years and is currently a small business owner (Gale Force Facilitators) and an independent consultant specializing in bringing divergent groups together to solve problems.  A graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, PA, Gale holds a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate, a Master's in Business Administration and is a recent graduate of the Columbia Medical School Health IT program. Among her many community and professional activities, Gale is a currently a member of the Brookline Economic Development Committee, Brookline Finance Committee, a Brookline Cemetery Trustee and VP of the Brookline Women’s Club as well as a Delegate-at-large Hillsborough County Democratic Committee.

She is a mother of 3 and lives in Brookline.


Olivia Zink, Grassroots Engagement Coordinator, Governing Under the Influence 

Olivia Zink is the Grassroots Engagement Coordinator for the Governing Under the Influence project at AFSC’s Concord, NH office.  Olivia has been a community organizer in New Hampshire for the last fifteen years.  In that time she was worked on a broad range of campaigns for economic and social justice including the Coalition for Open Democracy, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare and the Priorities NH Campaign. Olivia spent a year in Bolivia working with the Democracy Center.  In 2008, she was named one of New Hampshire’s “40 under 40,” by the NH Union Leader. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Sustainable Living, and a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a master’s degree in Community Economic Development.