NLC Leadership Board of Advisors & Ambassadors
NLC Ambassadors support the NLC Community as trainers, mentors, and surrogates in supporting NLC's mission. This distinguished group of Ambassadors are leaders in the political, business, nonprofit and thought community in the progressive movement.
Ron Bilbao is Legislative Specialist at the Florida Education Association (FEA), Florida’s largest association of professional employees with more than 140,000 members. He is a proud Miami native of Venezuelan and Colombian heritage.
Ron’s passion for social justice was firmly rooted at a young age. In high school, he served as President of the Miami-Dade County Student Government Association (SGA) where he created their first student-lobbying program leading fellow students to the state capital to advocate for anti-bullying legislation and juvenile justice reform. He also led the SGA in a federal lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County School Board for banning the children’s book Vamos a Cuba.
In college, Ron continued his tradition of student-led advocacy through founding the North Carolina Coalition for College Access, which lobbied state leaders for in-state tuition for undocumented youth. As a first generation college student, he founded the university’s Latina/o center to advance opportunities for this emerging population.
Ron returned home to Miami in 2010 to become the lobbyist for the ACLU of Florida defending civil liberties in an adversarial legislature. Most recently, Ron served as Political Director for SEIU Local 1991 representing nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals at the nation’s largest public hospital system Jackson Health.
In 2014, Ron was selected by LatinoLeaders Magazine as one of Miami’s “Leaders of the Future” and was named one of the “30-under-30 Rising Stars in Florida Politics” by Saint PetersBlog.
Ron is a founding fellow of the 2012 NLC Miami inaugural class and has since served as Chapter Vice Director and in various roles on the exec team. Ron also serves on the Board of Directors of SAVE, Miami-Dade's largest LGBT advocacy organization. Ron is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently resides in Miami.
Michael Bornstein is the president and founder of Bronstein & Weaver, Inc – a leading Democratic political strategy and direct mail firm.
Michael has received numerous honors for his cutting edge political advertising and was most recently named to the 2011 Democratic ‘Dream Team’ of American Political Consultants. In 2010, Michael was the recipient of Politics Magazine’s Rising Star Award and was listed as ‘Top Ten’ political consultant by PA2010.com.
Michael is a frequent sought commentator and has appeared in numerous media outlets including: Politico, CBS radio, BBC, The Chris Stigall Show, Clear Channel radio, the Post Gazette, and Politics Magazine – to name just a few. Michael has served as a guest lecturer on campaigning at Campaigns & Elections ‘Art of Political Campaigning’ conference, the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
The firm that Michael founded, Bronstein & Weaver, was named a finalist for an unprecedented three years in a row for Poltics Magazine’s Stanley F. Reed Award for excellence in political campaigning.
Before co-founding Bronstein & Weaver, Inc., Michael worked for the British Labour Party during Prime Minister Tony Blair’s reelection campaign where helped oversee the design and creation of national media. Prior to working for the Labour Party, Michael was a parliamentary researcher to Rt. Hon. James Purnell MP, a prominent Labour politician.
Michael has served in many political capacities such as an appointed mayor advisor in upstate New York, an intern in the Clinton White House, a spokesman for Democratic organizations, and is a member of many civic boards. In 2010, Michael was elected to the board of the American Association of Political Consultants mid-Atlantic chapter.
Michael earned his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Cornell University attended the London School of Economics as a Hansard Scholar. He currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
David Burd is an executive search consultant at the firm of Heidrick & Struggles, a leading international search firm. He is a member of the Legal Risk, Compliance & Government Affairs practice where he helps identify and recruit talent for key legal, regulatory, and government affairs roles.
David has spent his career at the intersection of law, government, and regulated industry. He practiced at the law firm of Arnold & Porter. He was General Counsel and Vice President of Business Development at MyEnergy, an energy start-up later acquired by Nest and subsequently Google, and a General Manager at Uber, where he worked across the public, private, and non-profit sectors to build relationships and advance business goals in the context of increasingly robust regulatory frameworks. He served on President Obama’s transition team and later at the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. David also was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on helping clients address their most pressing organizational, operational, and strategic challenges at the intersection of the public and private sectors.
David is active in progressive politics. He co-founded and led Young Lawyers for Obama in 2007-08 and Generation Forty-Four—the Obama campaign’s under-40 fundraising program—in 2011-12, when he served as one of youngest members of the re-election campaign’s National Finance Committee. In addition to serving as an Ambassador for NLC, he serves on the Board of the Millennial Action Project, an organization dedicated to bringing together young leaders across the political aisle to break partisan gridlock.
David holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and earned a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in Political Science from the College of Arts & Sciences, magna cum laude, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kit Cole, founder of Kit Cole Consulting, brings 20 years’ experience in the public and private sector, to corporate and government clients focusing on high profile projects impacting communities and the environment.
Prior to opening her own firm, Kit served as a Director of Public Affairs at Southern California Edison, one of the largest utilities in the nation. At Edison, she was responsible for the Public Involvement and Education group, promoting outreach and community engagement where high-voltage transmission lines and substations intersected with communities.
Before coming to Edison in 2011, she served for seven years as Director of External Affairs at Waste Management, Inc., where she developed and implemented strategies around community engagement on a variety of landfill and recycling facility issues, focusing on landfill expansion in the West.
She also oversaw the company’s Sustainability Initiative in the Western Region, including improving internal recycling rates, promoting green power, conducting energy audits, and improving recycled content procurement.
Prior to her move to the private sector, Ms. Cole gained an important perspective from her government service by working in both the policy and regulatory arenas. In 2001, she was appointed by Governor Gray Davis to the California Environmental Protection Agency, where she advised and directed regulation in the area of electronics waste, brownfield development and environmental justice.
As Policy Consultant to Senator Debra Bowen and the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in the California Legislature, she focused on green buildings (LEED certification for state buildings), tire recycling and reuse and beverage container recycling. In addition to natural resources policy she has a history with local governments from serving as a policy consultant to the Assembly Local Government Committee. Her focus in local government policy included work on city/county annexation and organization, the Brown Act and post-Prop 13 funding.
Ms. Cole has her Bachelor of Arts from University of California at Davis and her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. She lives in Glendale, California, with her boyfriend and their two cats.
Chris Cooper founded Convergence Targeted Communications in 2014 after five years as a Managing Director with SKDKnickerbocker and nine years with MSHC Partners (formerly Malchow Schlackman Hoppey & Cooper).
During nearly two decades in politics, Chris has worked on campaigns in 40 states and the United Kingdom. His experience spans the fields of communications strategy; persuasion mail creation, execution and microtargeting; traditional and digital media consulting; campaign/project management; and public relations. His work has helped win elections from President, Governor and U.S. Senator to state representative and city councilmember.
Convergence is positioned in the vanguard of progressive, reform-oriented political campaigns. Chris agrees with millions of Americans that our electoral system is broken and needs fundamental reform. To that end, Convergence was the lead direct mail strategist for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016, handling all of the campaign’s direct mail targeting, creative and production needs in 10 states, including New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin. Convergence has also worked on behalf of election reform ballot initiatives; state-based independent expenditures to bring new voices to state legislatures; education reform advocates at state and local levels; and Super PACs like Americans Elect and Independence USA PAC.
In addition to his work for Bernie 2016, Chris directed multi-state persuasion mail efforts for Gore-Lieberman ’00 and Kerry-Edwards ’04, and oversaw a 30-piece program in New Hampshire for Obama for America in 2012. From 1998 to 2010, Chris developed persuasion mail campaigns for the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Chris has helped elect over 35 Members of Congress, including current Reps. Ruben Gallego and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), David Price (D-NC) and John Delaney (D-MD).
During the 1990s, Chris served as national development director and political director at the New Democrat Network; campaign director at Campaign Performance Group, a persuasion mail firm; account executive at Joe Slade White and Company media consulting firm; manager of two congressional campaigns, including the 1996 reelection campaign of former U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC); director of voter identification and turnout on a gubernatorial campaign; and as a Capitol Hill aide on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee under then-Chairman Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC).
A native of Charleston, SC, Chris graduated cum laude from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, political training seminars and conferences in the U.S. and Europe. Chris and his wife, Elizabeth Spratt Cooper, live in Washington, DC, with their two daughters.
Nathan Daschle is the President and COO of The Daschle Group, A Public Policy Advisory of Baker Donelson, Nathan Daschle previously served as the Executive Vice President for Political Strategy at Clear Channel Media & Entertainment, where he ran a business unit dedicated to political advertising. He is also the founder and CEO of Ruck.us, a DIY website builder for political campaigns and non-profit organizations.
From 2007 to 2010, Nathan was the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), where he managed a $50 million annual budget and staff of more than 20. Over the four-year period in which he led DGA, the organization set numerous fundraising records and won a majority of its targeted races. Nathan previously served as DGA's Counsel and Director of Policy, and before this he was a litigation associate at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. Nathan has served in the legislative affairs office of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the Natural Resources Defense Council. He also worked on the 1996 U.S. Senate campaign of Tom Strickland (CO).
In October 2010, Nathan was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “40 under 40” rising stars in politics. He was also profiled in the September 2010 issue of Details magazine as one of the “16 game-changers in the worlds of entertainment, politics, fashion, and technology” in a piece titled “Mavericks.” In July 2006, Nathan was named as one of Washington’s “40 Top Lawyers Under 40” by Washingtonian magazine.
Nathan also currently serves on the advisory boards of EverFi and Rubicon Public Sector, as well as the faculty of Public Squared. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2002 and his B.A., with distinction, from Northwestern University in 1995.
Scott Dworkin became inspired to create Bulldog Finance Group after witnessing first-hand the demand for a more modern approach to political fundraising for Democrats. To date, Scott has fundraised in all 50 states.
Prior to starting Bulldog Finance Group, Scott served as the Deputy Director of the Real People Project for President Obama’s Inaugural Committee. In 2006, Scott served as the chief fundraiser on the Christine Jennings for Congress campaign in Sarasota, FL, in which he helped raise over $1.9 million dollars in fewer than 60 days. Throughout his career, Scott has managed over 300 campaign and finance staffers in the positions of finance director, deputy finance director, events manager and finance assistant.
Scott is an innovator and recognized thought leader in political fundraising, having been featured in numerous publications including, Time Magazine, US News & World Report, BusinessWeek and Campaigns & Elections among others. Scott received a BA in Political Science and Sociology at North Carolina State University.
In addition to his role at Bulldog Finance Group, Scott recently joined the Advisory Board for Democratic GAIN. He was named to the Campaign’s & Elections Magazine Rising Star class of 2011.
Corey Ealons is a Partner with VOX Global. For more than 15 years, Corey has been involved with progressive political action including work in congressional campaigns across the country and three presidential campaigns since 2000. In 2008, Corey served as a media director and spokesperson with the Obama/Biden campaign at its Chicago headquarters. He held the same position in the White House advising President Obama, White House senior staff and senior administration officials.
Prior to his time with Team Obama, Corey served as the communications director and senior political advisor to Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.
Corey is a graduate of the University of Alabama with degree in public relations and political communications. He is also a frequent political commentator with National Public Radio, FOX News, NBCNews.com, and Black Enterprise Magazine.
Adam Edelen is a dynamic leader with a demonstrated record of accomplishment in both the private and public sectors.
A hard-charger, Adam is an expert in making businesses and organizations more effective, efficient and profitable. From his work as a senior executive with both Thomas & King Inc. and Commerce Lexington, to his service as the elected Kentucky State Auditor and governor’s chief of staff, Adam has been a transformative leader at every turn.
It’s a blend of passion and experience that serves as the foundation of Edelen Strategic Ventures, a firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs win.
In the private sector, Adam managed a strategic planning initiative for a $300 million company in a period of transition and growth. He’s written and executed strategic plans for companies and organizations of all sizes. At Commerce Lexington, Adam developed and administered the Business Accelerator Network, assisting dozens of start-ups. He produced New Century Lexington’s nationally recognized report on community livability, an assessment involving dozens of stakeholders and hundreds of metrics.
He’s chaired numerous boards and initiatives including Kentucky Educational Television and the Lexington Urban League.
In government, Adam has driven an impressive agenda of modernization and reform. He’s evaluated the financial health of Kentucky’s rural hospital system and sent corrupt politicians and school administrators to prison. Adam uncovered fraud and abuse and brought reform to Kentucky’s $2.7 billion Ghost Government system of taxing districts, strengthened state cyber security protections and earned a bipartisan reputation as a reformer with results.
The press has described him as “a man on a mission” and “a refreshing example.” His leadership has been called “dazzlingly bipartisan” and “excellent and courageous.”
It’s a record that has won state and national recognition. In 2008 he was named the Outstanding Young Kentuckian and one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. The latter is the most prestigious youth service award in the nation and previous honorees include presidents Kennedy, Ford, Nixon and Clinton. More recently he’s been honored by the Aspen Institute, the German Marshall Fund and the Kentucky Rural Health Association. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
Adam is married to Melissa and has twin sons. They make their home on a small farm outside Lexington and attend First Presbyterian Church. He is an avid sportsman, reader of history and University of Kentucky basketball fan.
Alex Espinoza has been involved in the fundraising of Non Profits for over 15 years. Starting with the George Washington University, where he first called alums asking for funds for student programs and financial assistance as a student, to managing and running the Telephone Outreach Program and Direct Mail Campaign as a young professional.
From there he went on to work for Blackbaud Inc. as a Project Manager building websites and managing databases, by utilizing SaaS tools for the flagship higher education accounts. He learned that relationships and managing resources benefit both the client and the internal business teams. While at Blackbaud Inc. he would do business development and help consultants work with the Blackbaud tools as a Partner Manager.
He would go on to work as a Project Manager Supervisor at Russ Reid where he utilized his skill set to install and integrate operational procedures that helped improve efficiency.
At NGPVAN/EveryAction as an Account Executive he helped clients connect with their current SaaS needs and gives non profit clients the opportunity to improve their engagement with their contacts and improve opportunities to raise funds for their cause.
On a personal level Alex is a local who grew up in Northern VA and currently enjoys living in DC with his wife. You can find him riding a Capital BikeShare bike across the city, going to many networking events, and doing stand up comedy in the bars and venues across DC.
As an ambassador, he's excited to help out NLC in anyway he can and loves sharing his network to help not only his friends but also the community.
Liam Fitzsimmons, a graduate of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, is Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s Chief of Staff. Slaughter serves as the Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, is a member of Democratic Leadership, and represents Rochester, NY.
Now in his ninth year working in the U.S. Congress, Liam previously handled defense appropriations for Congressman Maurice Hinchey and has managed four successful Congressional campaigns. Liam hails from the Town of Hector in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and is a graduate student at the U.S. Naval War College.
Richard Fowler host of radio’s nationally syndicated The Richard Fowler Show, Democratic Messaging Expert, and Millennial Engagement Specialist, Richard Fowler is an advocate for youth and social policy reform.
Formerly serving as the Advocacy Director of The Young Democrats of America, Richard is now the Executive Director of Generational Alliance, a progressive youth engagement organization, and is currently working on his first book, analyzing the power of the millienial in business, politics, and American culture. Fowler frequently appears on Fox News, MSNBC, and C-SPAN, in addition to international outlets such as RT, CTV, CCTV, NDTV, NHK, Al Jazeera English and ITV, as well as local outlets across the country. He was a 2012 Democratic National Convention Delegate. The Richard Fowler Show can be heard in over 9.1 million homes internationally and is a partner in the TYT Network, a multi-channel network on YouTube specializing in political talk shows.
Richard has been a regular fill-in achor on Current TV and RTTV and currently serves as the official guest host for The Full Court Press with Bill Press. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Richard got his first taste of politics at a young age when he went with his mother into the voting booth to pull the lever for Bill Clinton for President. After that auspicious start, Richard began his involvement in politics. As a young man he volunteered on numerous local races in Florida, including former Attorney General Janet Reno’s gubernatorial campaign.
From registering and organizing more than a thousand young voters in Florida for the NAACP -- to being a campaign manager in the District of Columbia, Richard has used his experience to advise youth, minority and female candidates. Richard has been a featured speaker at the Center For American Progress, National Council of La Raza’s National Conference, College Democrats of America, United States Student Association, the American Councils on International Education, the Young Democrats of America, over twenty different foreign delegations, and numerous colleges and universities. He has trained nearly 2,000 young people about the importance of image and messaging in the political arena.
Richard is also the co-founder of Richard Media Company, a boutique messaging, public relations, and production outfit located in Washington, DC. Outside of his work in media, Richard was the co-founder and director of PHOENIX FREEDOM PAC, a transportation solutions political action committee. He sits on the Board of Directors for Amara Legal Center, a legal service organization dedicated to provding free legal services to domestic survivors of sex trafficking. He is also the former Executive Director of the Virginia Young Democrats Annual Conference, a Fellow at the New Leaders Council, and a former Fellow at the Center for Progressive Leadership. Richard earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University.
Brett Goldman, Entrepreneur and Consultant
Brett Goldman is an entrepreneur and consultant based in Philadelphia, PA focusing on economic development, international trade, government relations, public policy, communications, and strategy.
Through the last 10 years, Brett has established himself as a sort of a “jack of all trades” at the nexus of government, politics, and business. Following college, Brett got involved with local politics as the field director on a state house race (something that he describes as one of the “loves of his life”). Following the 2008 election, Brett moved to Israel where he spent time in the up and coming Israeli start-up ecosystem consulting for an e-commerce company while in grad school. Upon his return to the US in 2010, he immediately got back involved in electoral politics.
In 2011, Brett co-founded the American Israel Business Lab (AIBL) a Philadelphia-based economic development initiative seeking to commercialize Israeli innovations in clean tech in the US Market. The initiative drew connections between technology commercialization and job creation, leading two successful pilot deployments of Israeli technologies in energy efficiency and smart grid at their office at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Brett remains active in developing US-Israel business ties and is often sought out for advice by companies and other groups looking to do business with Israel.
Following his time in Philly, Brett moved to Washington, DC to serve as the inaugural Executive Director of the TAMID Israel Investment Group, an organization that pioneers the next generation of American commitment to Israel by connecting business minded students with opportunities in the Israeli Economy. Following his tenure with TAMID, Brett served as the Interim Director for Jewish Programming and Strategic Partnerships at the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity. During his time at ZBT, Brett worked to strengthen ZBT’s existing partnerships in the Jewish community and developed a new suite of programs designed to combat anti-Semitic activities on college campuses and to leverage the fraternity to end sexual assault on campuses.
Currently, Brett splits his time working as the Manager of Special Projects at Duane Morris Government Strategies in Philadelphia and a consultant to a stealth start-up in the agricultural space working on public policy.
Brett received his BA in History ('07) and MA in Education ('08) from Fairleigh Dickinson University and his MA in Government ('10) from IDC Herzliya and is an alumni of the Wharton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Paula Hodges, State Director, America Votes New Hampshire
Paula Hodges relocated to New Hampshire in July 2014 for her second tour of duty with America Votes as the New Hampshire State Director. In that role she coordinates women’s health organizations, labor unions, environmental and community partners around independent expenditure, building sustainable organizing programs and protecting Granite Staters’ voting rights. She previously worked for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England as the Public Policy & Governmental Relations Director where she led the organizing, political and lobby efforts for the state. Hodges also worked as Political Director for Missouri National Education Association (MNEA), the state’s largest public employee union and prior to that coordinated the America Votes – Missouri table. Paula got her start in public policy and advocacy as the deputy director of policy for Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.
She graduated from Truman State University with an interdisciplinary degree in Cultural & Political Advocacy and became interested in politics while serving as a Congressional Page for former Congressman Ike Skelton (MO-4). Having relocated from the Midwest, Paula is astutely aware of the polarizing political environment we must cut through in order to seek social justice and electoral outcomes. She enjoys time spent with her rescued Labrador mix, Hazel, dabbling in the culinary arts, hiking, cycling and traveling throughout the country, especially around New England.
Jim Hurd, Director, GreenScience Exchange
Jim Hurd builds powerful strategic alliances - for the last fourteen years - for major public-private partnerships and for leading start-up companies. He builds these alliances for start-ups with Fortune 100 corporations, with investors and sovereign funds and with government innovation initiatives. Jim is active between Silicon Valley and Beijing on leading US - China cleaner energy initiatives since 2005. He was on the 2010 Energy Faculty of Singularity University, based in Mountain View, CA. Jim works with Senators, Congressmen and their staffers on Capitol Hill to develop technology and innovation initiatives. Jim has been a first and second round judge for the 2007 - 2009 World Bank Development Gateway Awards in Washington, DC and has actively participated in the scale-up of technologies for developing countries since 2002.
Matt Kaplan, Public Affairs and Development Consultant
Matt Kaplan is a public affairs and development consultant. Kaplan served on the national finance team as the Surrogate Finance Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign at her Brooklyn headquarters. Prior to joining Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Kaplan served as the National Finance Director and Senior Campaign Advisor for United States Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio. Kaplan previously served as a campaign fundraiser for a 2013 city-wide race in New York City in which helped break several fundraising records.
Prior to his experience as a senior operative in a New York city-wide campaign, Kaplan was a Political Director in Ohio for the campaign to re-elect President Obama, where he planned and executed more than 235 earned media events and secured more than 135 endorsements from elected officials and party leaders for the President.
Following the election, Kaplan was appointed the Associate Director of Surrogates and Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, where he secured Hollywood entertainment for the Presidential Inaugural Ball, Staff Ball, and First Lady Hosted Children’s Concert.
Kaplan previously 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; negotiated cosponsors for legislation; 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. This effort pushed the VA to extend the suicide prevention hotline, which since has been credited for saving thousands of at-risk veterans.
In 2012, Kaplan was recognized by the New Leaders Council (NLC) as one of Washington D.C’s rising entrepreneurs and leaders under the age of 35. In 2013, he served as the Co-Director for NLC Washington D.C.
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, CA, graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Law and Society, and minors in religion and philosophy in 2007. He was elected senior class president and was a starter for the men’s basketball team.
Scott Kozar, Senior Vice President, The New Media Firm
Scott Kozar is Senior Vice President at the New Media Firm. A native of Ohio, Scott has written, directed, and produced television, radio, and online advertising for Democratic candidates, progressive organizations, and ballot initiatives across the country including: Ohio House Democratic Caucus Fund, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, MTR Gaming, Communications Workers of America, National Education Association, United Mine Workers of America, and The American Worker PAC.
Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton and a Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University College of Law. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife Maura Healy.
Matt Lieberman, President and CEO, RAL Strategic Investment Group LLC
Matt Lieberman has been the person to call for Democratic political fundraising since 2000, and has worked on more than 65 campaigns since the formation of his company, Majority Strategies, LLC, in 2007. While still a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, he served as Deputy Finance Director for Maxwell for Missouri, and after graduation continued his work for Maxwell until returning to St. Louis. Matt signed on as Finance Director for the Sam Page for State Representative campaign, which broke all Missouri fundraising records when the campaign raised in excess of $250,000 in the primary election and Page won by 28 votes. He went on to win the general election. Over the next three years, Lieberman served as the Policy and Research Advisor to Democratic Leaders in the Missouri House of Representatives, Finance Director of the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee, and Deputy Finance Director of the Holden for Governor Campaign 2003. He also served as a Finance Consultant to the McCaskill for Governor, Harry Kennedy for State Senate, Frank Barnitz for State Senate and Sam Page for State Representative campaigns, among others.
In 2005 Matt was named Finance Director for the Missouri Democratic Party, where he raised annual Federal and Non-Federal funds, and worked with House, Senate and all state-wide candidates to structure their fundraising for election campaigns. He was called to serve as the Finance Director for the McCaskill for Missouri Campaign in 2005-06, and was a member of her transition team to U.S Senate when she won office.
In 2007, Matt formalized his business structure and founded Majority Strategies LLC, a political consulting, fundraising and event planning agency. Among his steady clients were Democratic Leader Mike Talboy. Democratic Whip Mike Colona, State Auditor Susan Montee, and St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay
Matt has been the go-to fundraiser for all St. Louis City and County ballot issues since 2009, resulting in over $300M in new revenue in St. Louis County, and raising $1M to assure that the City’s 1% earnings tax – so vital to the City’s fiscal health – was not repealed.
The ability to raise money quickly was demonstrated when New York’s congressional delegation scrambled to fill Hilary Clinton’s Senate seat after she was nominated as Obama’s Secretary of State. When Kirsten Gillibrand was named to fill Clinton’s seat, a special election was held to fill Kirsten’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Scott Murphy for Congress campaign, launched by Matt and completed in one week with $750,000 in contributions, emerged victorious.
Matt has also been retained by private clients to raise funds in St. Louis for various individuals, progressive organizations, and unions. Two notable events include fundraisers for Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and Cong. Kendrick Meek (D-FL).
Matt branched into new territory when he founded the RAL Strategic Investment Group LLC in September, 2012, with a focus on raising capital for non-profit organizations. He is the president and CEO. RAL’s first client, the Engineering Foundation of St. Louis, is on track to reach its first year fundraising goal in the overall $3M dollar capital campaign.
Matt has memberships in the Missouri Growth Association (MGA), where he is a member of the legislative and resource committees; Citizen’s for Modern Transit: St. Louis Labor Council Monthly Union Rep Luncheon, The Engineers’ Club of St. Louis, and the Association of Professional Fundraisers. He also has strong working relationships with all 18 St. Louis-based building trades, as well as all unions affiliated with the St. Louis Labor Council and the Missouri AFL-CIO, and local corporate and philanthropic leaders.
Matt has served on the boards of the 7th District Police Officers Association, was president of the Pershing Avenue Condo Association, and a member of the Engineering Foundation of St. Louis, where he is the fundraising committee chair. He is also involved in many community activities, including the Mercedes-Benz Club of America – St. Louis Chapter; the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis Golf League, and the Webster Groves Men’s Hockey League.
In the coming months, Matt will officially launch another business to consult on venture capital, private equity, business development and private sector and corporate strategizing. He is currently working with Elm Tree Fund and Coventry Health Care of Missouri on business development, and has several other opportunities pending.
Matt lives in St. Louis with his wife, Erin, who is a paralegal at Wolfgram and Associates and also the Executive Director of Majority Strategies LLC. Erin enjoys playing volleyball and is currently playing on two teams. Due to both of their busy schedules, every Wednesday and Saturday is reserved for date night.
Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo, Founder & Mom-in-Chief at Massachusetts Parents United
Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo is Matthew, Miles and David’s mom—an awesome family that lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. She is also Founder and Mom-in-Chief at Massachusetts Parents United, a parent advocacy group bringing together thousands of parents across the Commonwealth to fight for safer neighborhoods, stable and secure homes and high quality education for every child. Keri writes about education
Keri began her career as an award-winning journalist and radio broadcaster, recognized for her political reporting both nationally and internationally and host of a popular daily political talk show and newspaper column in Southeastern Massachusetts. She then continued her career in advocacy as a long-time labor activist, communicator and organizer with the world’s largest local labor union, 1199SEIU, taking on major campaigns across the country. After facing struggles navigating the education system with her own children, she then turned her focus to education reform to help families across the Commonwealth to find their voice at the table and to put kids back at the center of the conversation about education.
Keri currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and the advisory board of Democrats for Education Reform. She has also worked as a senior advisor on dozens of Massachusetts nonprofit, ballot-issue and political organizing campaigns, and serves as a Justice of the Peace for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A Secular Franciscan, she also devotes much of her free time to volunteer work at Saint Anthony’s Shrine in Boston where you can catch her serving at the 7:30 a.m. mass on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Lymburn, General Counsel & Secretary of Clif Bar & Company
Bruce Lymburn is the General Counsel and Secretary of Clif Bar & Company. Bruce has been a lawyer since 1982 and has represented Clif Bar for nearly 20 years. His law practice focuses on general business and real estate matters, with an emphasis on the organic food, sustainable development, renewable energy, and other “green” businesses.
Bruce is a former partner in the Oakland, California law firm of Wendel Rosen, where he was the founder and head of that firm’s Green Business Practice Group (http://www.wendel.com/sustainable). Bruce has been active in environmental organizations and issues since the 1960’s.
He was the Co-Chair of the California State Bar’s Task Force on Sustainable Law Practice, and has written and spoken about sustainable business issues. Bruce received his undergraduate degree in earth sciences and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley
Amol Naik, Corporate Counsel on Google’s Global Ethics & Compliance Team
Amol Naik is Corporate Counsel on Google’s Global Ethics & Compliance team, where he is responsible for legal and regulatory compliance matters, principally for global political law, campaign finance, lobbying regulations, election law and government ethics. Prior to joining Google, Amol was senior associate at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in Atlanta. Amol has significant experience in politics at the federal, state and local level, previously serving as the lead outside counsel for numerous elected officials, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. In law school, Amol was Chief of Staff to the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus.
Amol is a Marshall Memorial Fellow, American Council of Young Political Leaders honoree, Truman National Security Project Fellow and a graduate of L.E.A.D. Atlanta. In 2010, The Daily Report named Amol to its annual “On the Rise” list of 10 Georgia lawyers under 40 and Atlanta Magazine has named Amol to its list of “Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars.”
Amol is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Emory University School of Law.
Jennifer Nedeau, Media Expert, Bully Pulpit Interactive
Jennifer Nedeau is a leader in the media industry with nearly a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and communications for magazines, radio networks, websites, non-profits, political and corporate brands.
Currently, she serves as a director at Bully Pulpit Interactive where she leads client strategy and works to develop innovative strategies around social media, online content and digital advertising. In addition to her work at Bully Pulpit, she writes a regular column for PRWeek’s technology site, The Hub.
Previously, she worked in New York where she helped to direct traditional, mobile and online communications strategy for several of the largest media brands in the world: TIME, FORTUNE, MONEY and CNNMoney. While at Time Inc., she worked closely with the editorial and business sides of each publication. Prior to Time Inc., she supported brands such as Air America and New Media Strategies.
In her spare time, she advises non-profits and start up companies. She helped to launch the DC Chapter of New Leaders Council in 2008 and served as a volunteer Chief Technology Officer of NLC for two years. She has also been affiliated with groups such as The Roosevelt Institute and The Truman National Security Project. She is a long-time women’s rights advocate who strives to help more women succeed in business, in the media and in elected office.
In March of 2010, she was chosen as one of “30 extraordinary women making history” by the Women’s Media Center for her work around health care reform. She has given presentations and speeches about the future of news media as well as women’s leadership in front of audiences at The New York Times, The National Press Club, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, Start Up Weekend NYC, Campus Progress’ National Conference, STAND Against Genocide Conference, Netroots Nation, Politics Online Conference and more.
Nedeau received her bachelor’s degree from The George Washington School of Media and Public Affairs. She was born and raised in San Francisco and is currently based in Washington, DC.
Steven Newmark, Special Counsel to the President of NYC Health + Hospitals
Steven Newmark is Special Counsel to the President of NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest hospital in New York State, and largest municipal hospital in the country. As Special Counsel, Steven heads up federal policy for the hospital, leads several cross-departmental teams on the implementation of new rules/regulations, and works directly with the President of the Hospital to stake out positions on pending legislation.
Steven came to NYC Health + Hospitals from City Hall, where he served as the Senior Health Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, spearheading a Mayoral Task Force on immigrant health care access and another on opioid drug misuse.
Steven previously served as General Counsel to then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and as a litigator at the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Steven is also an Adjunct Professor in Health Policy at Baruch University’s School of Public Affairs, and was previously a Guest Lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Steven is active politically – both locally and nationally. He served as National Co-Chair of Lawyers for Obama (2012) and on President Obama’s National Finance Committee (2008 and 2012). Steven assisted with the Obama/Biden Transition Team in 2008-09 and Cy Vance’s Transition Team for Manhattan DA in 2009. During the ’08 cycle, Steven was the National Coordinator of Young Lawyers for Obama, an organization of over 11,000 attorneys nationwide. In 2007, Steven was seconded by the U.S. State Department to serve as an American monitor for elections in Albania.
Eric Niloff, Co-Founder and CEO, EverPresent, Inc.
Eric Niloff is the co-founder and CEO of EverPresent, Inc. (www.everpresentonline.com) This exciting, rapidly growing company works with families and organizations to share cherished memories across generations, including: photo scanning, slides to digital, digitizing scrapbooks and photo albums, photo restoration, video to DVD conversion, 8mm film transfer and digital photo organizing services.
Prior to co-founding EverPresent, Eric was a Senior Principal at The Parthenon Group, leading project teams across the firm’s Corporate, Education and Private Equity practices. Eric’s clients across Parthenon’s Boston and London offices included universities, professional sports franchises, global non-profit foundations, private equity investors, industrial firms and media companies. Eric’s teams successfully advised clients on growth strategy, product development, mergers and acquisitions, post-merger integration, sales force optimization, customer segmentation, macroeconomic forecasting, and marketing strategy.
Prior to joining Parthenon, Eric worked for five years as a political and public policy professional. His positions included campaign management and communications director roles on numerous statewide races, along with working as a speechwriter in the United States Senate. In these roles, Eric managed teams of as many as 30 professionals and was responsible for multi-million dollar communications budgets while directly overseeing message development, media buying, press relations, debate preparation, speechwriting, online strategy, and polling and focus group research.
Eric holds a BA with Distinction from Yale University and a MBA from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University.
Jack O’Donnell, President & Director of Communications for Bolton St. Johns
Jack O'Donnell is an expert in New York State politics and government, Jack O’Donnell serves as Senior Vice President as well as Director of Communications for Bolton St. Johns, one of New York State’s premier lobbying and government relations firms.
Bolton St. Johns provides strategic advice, counsel, and value-added services by delivering smart messages to key decision makers, political intelligence and concrete results to their clients. Located in Buffalo, Albany, New York City and Washington, DC, Bolton St. Johns is where decisions are made.
In New York, Jack served as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for United States Senator Chuck Schumer and as Regional Director (for Central and Western New York) for the State Comptroller. In these positions O’Donnell worked closely with—and on behalf of—local governments. This blend of state, federal and local experience gives him a unique perspective on solving problems at every level of government.
O’Donnell served as Schumer’s State Representative to the Energy Committee and coordinated New York State Appropriation requests. He was a “Senior Policy Advisor” to the State Comptroller, specializing in Economic Development issues.
O’Donnell’s extensive experience in politics includes campaigns for former President Bill Clinton, Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, numerous statewide and congressional campaigns as well as many local campaigns.
Jack is a regular contributor to political programming on both radio and television, including Your News Now (YNN), Time Warner’s Buffalo-based 24-hour cable news network and Capitol Tonight, a news and current affairs program broadcasted statewide.
O’Donnell serves as an adjunct faculty member at Canisius College where he lectures on the United States Constitution. He is also a Commissioner of the Erie County Water Authority, currently serving as Treasurer of that body. Recently Jack was honored as a rising leader by both Buffalo’s Business First and Albany’s The Capitol, receiving their prestigious “Forty Under 40” awards.
Jack is a graduate of Canisius College and the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School. He is the founder of Transplant Miracles Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides support to transplant recipients and their families, and is actively involved with Upstate New York Transplant Services (UNYTS). He also serves on the board of the Buffalo Police Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse.
Mr. O’Donnell and his wife Marina split their time between the City of Buffalo and New York City.
Christine Pelosi, Partner at Democracy Partners
Christine Pelosi is an attorney, author, and activist and has a lifetime of grassroots organizing and public policy experience. Christine has been volunteering in politics since the stroller, and currently conducts leadership boot camps based on her books Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders and Campaign Boot Camp 2.0. Christine’s books emerged from her years of volunteering literally from the stroller and service with the AFSCME PEOPLE Congressional Candidates Boot Camp, which worked with approximately 120 challengers from 2006 to 2012, 32 of whom were elected to Congress.
Arianna Huffington praised Campaign Boot Camp as “apassionate call to public service—and a practical guide for making that service more productive. Christine Pelosi is a sharp and knowledgeable drill sergeant looking to whip our democratic process back into shape.”Christine’s trainings with candidates, volunteers, and NGO leaders span over thirty states and three countries.
Christine holds a JD from UC Hastings and a BSFS from Georgetown. She has served as a prosecutor in San Francisco, a special counsel in the Clinton-Gore administration, and a chief of staff on Capitol Hill. Currently serving as California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Chair, she is a former executive director of the state party, led its Platform Committee for thirteen years, and has been elected 5 times to the Democratic National Committee, where she cofounded the DNC Veterans and Military Families Council. She served as an Obama Delegate to the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions. She appears frequently on national television and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post on current events, social media in politics, legal affairs, and unique challenges for women leaders.
Christine lives within walking distance of her beloved World Champion San Francisco Giants and serves on the Giants Community Fund board of directors. She is married to Emmy-nominated filmmaker Peter Kaufman; their daughter Isabella was born in 2009, and has traveled with mom to 21 states and 3 foreign countries as Christine organizes for Democrats and democracy.
Matt Rodriguez, President of Rodriguez Strategies
Matt Rodriguez is the founder and President of Rodriguez Strategies. A veteran Democratic strategist with more than 15 years of experience working for candidates and causes across the nation, Matt focuses on designing and leading grassroots and grass-tops campaigns for diverse entities ranging from emerging nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations.
Matt employs his knowledge of the public and private sectors to implement winning strategies for clients at local and statewide levels. He runs the American Beverage Association’s coalition-building efforts in California and leads the advocacy campaign to educate local elected officials about the beverage industry. Matt has also worked with clients including The Pew Charitable Trusts, AT&T, Bloom Energy, and former California First Lady Maria Shriver. Matt’s campaign management experience ranges from local and state legislative races to U.S. presidential campaigns.
In 2008, Matt served as the Western States Regional Director for Obama for America, where he managed campaign operatives and executed strategy throughout the Western United States. Prior to the general election, he served as the New Hampshire State Director for the Obama campaign during the 2008 presidential primary.
Matt’s experience in politics dates back to 1997 when he was a press aide to House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt. He later served as Congressman Gephardt’s Political Action Committee Director in 2002 and the Deputy Political Director on his 2004 presidential campaign. Matt also worked for Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 2000, managed Senator Chris Dodd’s reelection effort in 2004, and successfully guided California State Senator Kevin de Leon’s first campaign for the State Assembly in 2006.
In addition to his work at Rodriguez Strategies, Matt is a fellow at the University of Southern California’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics and serves on the board of directors of the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Matt is also afrequent political contributor on AirTalk on 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio.
Prior to his work in the political arena, Matt was a teacher at a small Jesuit school in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He lives with his wife Renee in Santa Monica, California.
John Rowley, Partner at Fletcher Rowley
John Rowley before age 20 had worked full-time positions in television and radio in Burlington, Iowa. He did radio and television reporting, served as a radio public affairs director, was an on-air disc jockey and did master control switching. He became one of the youngest principals and owners of a national political media consulting firm in 1996 at 26, forming Fletcher Rowley with Bill Fletcher. Rowley has worked on over 400 political campaigns for Democrats in 46 states. He has worked with candidates from President and governor to city council. His firm has won 30 Pollie Awards. Their commercials have been featured on NPR, PBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His firm’s work has been covered by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.
Haroon “Boon” Saleem, Executive Vice President of Production and Development, Das Films
Boon Saleem has been working in the entertainment industry for 12 years. He currently runs Das Films as the Executive Vice President of Production and Development. A production company that specializes in financing and adapting literary properties for the feature film & television market, Das Films just wrapped the Roger Donaldson-helmed thriller, NOVEMBER MAN, starring Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko and Luke Bracey.
As well as HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE AN ENGLISHMAN with Pierce, Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba. Amongst many other projects, Haroon is prepping to shoot the adaptation of the novel INTO THE FOREST, with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood starring.
In 2010, Haroon produced the pre-show for the groundbreaking Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) telecast, which was viewed by north of 18 million people and raised millions of dollars for innovative cancer research. In addition he created and helped develop the innovative “Up 2” campaign for SU2C. Prior to this, Haroon served as an executive at Walden Media (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, RAY, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3D), where he had a hand in the development and production of several features including VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (the third installment of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series), THE TOOTH FAIRY starring Dwayne Johnson and CHASING MAVERICKS starring Gerard Butler.
Before Walden, Haroon worked with Will Smith and James Lassiter as a Creative Executive at Overbrook Entertainment, developing such hits as THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, HITCH, I AM LEGEND and HANCOCK.
Haroon’s philanthropic work tends to skew political in nature, beginning in the fall of 2006 when he helped form “The 008,” a group that mobilized young Hollywood around then Senator Obama’s presidential run. Later, when the campaign folded the group into “Generation Obama,” Haroon was the co-head of the LA-based organization, which made headlines by spearheading the dissemination of the iconic Shepherd Fairy “Hope” Poster. The group eventually raised over 1.6 million dollars for the Obama campaign and organized the official Election Night party in Los Angeles attend by over 17,000 people.
In the spring of 2010, Haroon and his colleagues rebranded the group as “Generation for Change.” They hosted a low dollar fundraiser for former Attorney Jerry Brown at the Drai’s nightclub at the W Hotel Hollywood and raised in excess of 40K for his gubernatorial bid. Generation for Change also hosted a young Hollywood fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer in July of 2010 and organized events for Eric Garcetti, as well as the The Public Interest Network and Environment America, helping to expose them to the entertainment and arts community of Los Angeles.
In 2012, Haroon created a small non-profit called “I VOTE,” which used multi-platform campaigns to spread cultural creation via social media and funnel the youth toward America’s tried and true tool for change: the vote. I VOTE was created to continue the work Haroon did on behalf of progressive candidates, but in a non-partisan way–and by focusing solely on issues. The youth-issue viral campaigns for the 2012 election cycle engaged nearly 900k online users and reached over 21 million individuals. As a result, Haroon was featured on both MSNBC and Southern Conservative talk radio.
Haroon was born on the Mediterranean coast of Benghazi, Libya and raised in small town in the high desert of Southern California. A graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, he enjoys music, reading, extreme sports, boxing, and martial arts in what little spare time he has.
Liam Speden, CEO, Organizer
Liam Speden has a fascination in why and how organizations and communities make decisions and ways technology can help transform the decision-making process and produce better-informed choices. This has been a theme throughout his 20 years’ experience as a business leader, ad-visor, and technologist in shaping innovative solutions across a range of industries including civil infrastructure, utilities, finance, and government.
He currently leads the Americas business consulting team for Autodesk, a leading design and visualization software company, helping may of the worlds largest engineering, building, and manufacturing firms improve the way they design and deliver their projects.
Liam grew up in Tasmania, Australia, where he graduated university with a double degree with honours in Engineering Surveying and Computer Science. His early career was heavily oriented around using geospatial technology to create spatial decision systems, working initially at Tel-stra’s R&D labs in Melbourne, Australia, and then at successful start-ups in Australia and the UK. His work led to him being recruited by ESRI, the world leader in geospatial software, to be the lead consultant for their business solutions team in Europe.
Having become more interested in why companies made decisions than the tools they used to support them, in 1998 Liam joined PA Consulting Group, one of the world’s leading manage-ment and technology consultancies. He gravitated to assessing and recommending how tech-nology could benefit customers in government, finance, business, and utilities, working with a range of emerging technologies including the Internet, mobile communications, convergent de-vices, and massive geographically distributed scalable clustered computing (a precursor to what later became “the cloud”).
Realizing that much of consulting is “advising but not doing”, in 2003 he left PA Consulting and joined the newly formed Government Consulting group within Serco, a worldwide managed ser-vices company and front-runner in Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and modernizing govern-ment, to learn business operations and finance. In 2005, having been part of the acquisition team for RCI, Inc, Liam was appointed as Director of Strategic Development for North America, reporting to the CEO and overseeing key aspects of business integration and operations.
In 2007, Liam moved to California to join Autodesk as the product manager for web and open source products. He became product line manager for infrastructure solutions in 2011, including bringing to market a new software product for utility design and another for urban planning and infrastructure design - also the first true new platform in Autodesk’s 25-year history which he had shaped since its inception. He joined Autodesk’s Consulting group in 2012, initially leading business development for EMEA and Americas and then taking over the Americas business consulting group at the start of 2014.
Seth Steppe, Co-Founder and a Managing Partner of New Blue Strategies LLC
Seth Steppe is a co-founder and a managing partner of New Blue Strategies LLC in Memphis, TN. New Blue is a political consulting firm that specializes in fundraising, lobbying, and land use politics. New Blue’s mission is to help elect the next wave of progressive leaders in the Deep South.
For the past two years New Blue has helped various clients such as the Tennessee Democratic House Caucus to recruit young progressives to run for office. New Blue also lobbies for the Memphis Building Trades Union on a variety of local labor issues.
Seth’s political resume includes serving as deputy finance director for David Boswell for Congress in Owensboro, KY and as assistant for legislative affairs for MS Alcorn Ventures in Nashville, TN. Seth is a native of Nashville and resides in Memphis.
Burns Strider, Founder and Principal of Eleison LLC and President of the American Values Network
Burns Strider a native of Grenada County, Mississippi, is the founder and principal of Eleison LLC, President of the American Values Network.
Eleison Group is the nation’s leading consulting firm committed to creating common ground between the political, business, and non-profit worlds with America’s diverse values-based communities. Strider advises a broad clientele including Reverend Jim Wallis and Sojourners, The Democratic National Committee, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, NRG Energy Corporation, Catfish Growers of America, The Faith & Politics Institute, Oxfam America, Bread for the World, and Harbor Wing Technologies.
The American Values Network (AVN) is a nonprofit committed to educating, enrolling, and activating Americans in progressive causes. In its first year, AVN had a budget of over two million dollars largely focused on climate change and clean energy initiatives.
In 2008, Strider served as Senior Advisor and Director of Faith and Values Outreach to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Over the past three electoral cycles, Strider has played a key role in more than 100 campaigns.
Strider began his career as an intern in the early 90’s for then-Congressman Mike Espy (D-MS) and then-Senator Al Gore (D-TN). Since then, he has held an array of leadership roles including: Director of Policy for the U. S. House Democratic Caucus, Senior Advisor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Director of the U. S. House Democratic Faith Working Group and Rural Working Group, Regional Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Speechwriter to Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus, and Chief of Staff to U. S. Congressman Ronnie Shows (D-MS).
Strider is one of the 12 most influential Democrats in the nation on faith and values politics and issues according to Religion News Service. In the mid-90’s he spent two years in Hong Kong as a Missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention serving as youth minister at International Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist mega church on Hong Kong Island.
He has been a commentator for National Public Radio and has taught and lectured at various universities and workshops around the nation including: Trinity College, University of Virginia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State University, Georgetown University, Delta State University, Princeton University, Harvard University, Democratic National Conventions, Young Democrats of America, and Camp Wellstone. He is a contributing blogger on Huffington Post, Faithful Democrats, and The Mississippi Business Journal.
He is the son of the late and legendary Grenada County Sheriff Jesse A. “Big Daddy” Strider, who served Grenada County, Mississippi from 1966 – 1984 bringing about racial reconciliation, tearing down barriers and building bridges. He endorsed a young Mike Espy for Congress in 1986. This endorsement and the subsequent television advertisements help make Espy the first African American Congressman in Mississippi since reconstruction. David Halberstam, among others, has written about Sheriff Strider and his efforts for racial justice.
Burns’ oldest brother, today, serves as Grenada County sheriff and his family, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and others, live in Grenada, many on the Strider family farm.
Strider and his wife, Karen, a native of Kentucky, live in Washington, DC. They raise two nearly perfect boys, Will (12) and Pete (10). They are members of First Baptist Church of Washington.
Emily Tisch Sussman, Campaign Director, Center for American Progress Action Fund
Emily Tisch Sussman is the Campaign Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where she is responsible for working with policy teams and coalition partners to create and execute campaigns that turn policy ideas into laws. Before joining American Progress, she was the executive director of Young Democrats of America, where she led a team that helped to produce record-breaking youth participation in the 2012 election cycle.
Prior to that, Emily served as co-director of government affairs for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, or SLDN, where she was a key figure in the movement to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She worked on national strategy for repeal and lobbied and served as liaison to the Pentagon. Before joining SLDN, she founded Think Blue, a political organization for young professional Democrats.
Emily holds membership with the New York Bar and earned her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she graduated with cum laude honors and specialized in constitutional and matrimonial law. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Skidmore College, where she concentrated in developmental disabilities. She was honored with the Cardozo Law Gates Award, with the award for Extraordinary Contribution toward Advancing the Truman Democratic World View from the Truman National Security Project, and on the inaugural list of “40 under 40 Emerging Leaders in Politics” by the New Leaders Council.
Emily is a regular contributor to Fox News, MSNBC, and a variety of additional local news outlets. She has spoken on issues, including from jobs and the economy, health care, the environment, and civil rights. She is regularly quoted in Politico, Bloomberg News, and other local, state, and national online and print media.
Thomas M. "Doc" Sweitzer,Co-founder, The Campaign Group
Thomas M. "Doc" Sweitzer is a cofounder of The Campaign Group, a Democratic consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia and Washington. His work includes domestic and international political campaigns, as well as corporate and nonprofit clients. He is a regular guest lecturer across the country on political strategy and media planning. Doc is a veteran of over 600 campaigns and has successfully elected more than 50 Governors, Senators, or Members of Congress. His clients include Governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Jack Markell of Delaware, and Jay Nixon of Missouri.
In addition to his professional work, Doc has served as a member of the Pennsylvania State Higher Education System on the Board of Governors, representing 14 universities. He's a board member of Respectability, a national organization that advocates for people with disabilities. Doc was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Public Service by Lock Haven University for service to his hometown.
Justin G. Tanner, Business Development, Government Relations and Public Policy Professional
Justin Tanner is a seasoned business development, government relations and public policy professional. A career public servant, he has spent nearly a decade designing and implementing key programs and policies at every level of government.
In 2015, Mr. Tanner was appointed by President Barack Obama as Associate Director for Legislative, Education & Intergovernmental Affairs at the United States Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency. In this capacity, he managed several areas including: communications/public affairs, external relations, research, education and stakeholder outreach, and was responsible for maintaining positive relationships with members of Congress, the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. He also coordinated the agency's intergovernmental activity and managed its strategic alliances portfolio, which included relationships with public/private sector entities, trade associations, academic institutions, community development organizations, as well as Federal, state and local government officials.
Tanner previously served as a Senior Advisor with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). Within SBA's Office of Government Contracting and Business Development, where he worked to assist thousands of small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses as they competed, annually, for over $350 billion in federal prime/subcontract awards. He also worked to implement a number of key rules and regulations, as mandated by Congress, in the Small Business Act and other relevant statutory provisions.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Mr. Tanner served as an external affairs/policy aide for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, where he helped manage the City of Atlanta's relationships at the state, local and federal levels of government. In the first two years of the mayor's initial term, he worked in the Mayor's Office of Communications. Before joining City Hall, he served as Director of New Media on Mayor Reed’s 2009 citywide campaign and 2010 Inaugural Planning Committee.
A Georgia native, Mr. Tanner received a bachelor of business administration degree from Howard University and a doctor of jurisprudence degree from Vanderbilt University Law School.
Christopher Tyson, Assistant Professor at LSU Law Center
Professor Chris Tyson joined the Law Center faculty in 2010 as an Assistant Professor. He teaches and writes in the areas of property, real estate development, local government law and urban land use and development.
Professor Tyson earned his B.A. in Architecture, with honors, from Howard University; a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, Professor Tyson served as articles editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law and received the Dean’s Certificate of Recognition of Special and Outstanding Service to the Law Center Community.
Prior to earning his law degree, Professor Tyson worked in management consulting and in the Washington, DC office of United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu. After earning his law degree, Professor Tyson worked as an associate in the Real Estate Practice at the law firm Jones Walker, LLP in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has been honored as one of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2010 Top Forty Under 40, the National Bar Association’s Top 40 Lawyers Under 40 for 2011 and the New Leaders Council’s 2011 Top 40 Under 40. He is also a recipient of the National Bar Association and Impact’s 2011 Excellence in Activism award.
Professor Tyson is currently an editor for the Local Government Law blog at localgovlaw.law.lsu.edu. His most recent scholarly articles include Annexation and the Mid-Size Metropolis: New Insights in the Age of Mobile Capital in Volume 73 of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review and Localism and Involuntary Annexation: Reconsidering Approaches to New Regionalism in Volume 87 of the Tulane Law Review.
Jessica Vanden Berg, Public Affairs Expert
Jessica Vanden Berg is an effective, strategic thinker and leader. Not only does she have a proven record, including successfully managing top political races and advocacy campaigns, she has founded and is a partner of a public affairs and direct mail firm which provides strategic advice and consultation to a wide range of clients.
Jessica began her career as a grassroots field organizer for Congressman Leonard Boswell’s highly targeted winning re-election campaign. She went on to work for Rep. Leonard Boswell for four more years. She served in various capacities including serving as a District Representative where she ran his mobile district office, served as Finance Director, and managed his 2000 successful re-election bid. She also worked on Capitol Hill as his Communications Director. During those years, she also helped various campaigns on local, state, and national levels, including roles in Vice-President Al Gore’s caucus and general election bids.
After her stint on Capitol Hill Jessica returned to Iowa and became the Deputy Director of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign. She ran the day-to-day operation and a multi-million dollar budget for the most technologically advanced Coordinated Campaign of its time. During that election she worked on the prototype of web based voter-file interface – the VAN – which is now widely used across the county in addition to the first program in the nation to use palm pilots for door-to-door voter contact. The cutting edge program helped re-elect Senator Tom Harkin, Governor Tom Vilsack and Rep. Leonard Boswell in very difficult year for Democrats.
In 2003, Jessica became the Caucus Director for the Iowa Democratic Party and consequently became a caucus expert – writing the delegate plan in addition to advising the presidential campaigns on the caucus process. Inspired by their background and position on the war in Iraq, she became Senator Bob Graham’s Iowa State director and then became General Wesley Clark’s Oklahoma State Director. Leading the efforts in Oklahoma, General Clark won his first and only primary of his 2004 Presidential bid.
During the General election of 2004, she was the Director of the North Carolina Coordinated Campaign, heading up the field programs for Governor Mike Easley and Senate Candidate Erskine Bowles. It was the first centralized, modern field campaign run in North Carolina including African-American GOTV as well as a heavily targeted first of its kind persuasion program. The program was specifically targeted to turn out marginal voters with a heavy focus on early voting in the African American community. Nearly 1 million voters voted early 50% of them were Democrat and 36% were Republican. The number of people who voted early doubled. According to the Charlotte Observer, “Campaign strategists from both parties agree Democrats did a better job of mobilizing early voters this year.” (Charlotte Observer, 12/15/04)
In 2005, Jessica moved to Minnesota to serve as Senator Amy Klobuchar’s campaign manager, putting together her team and operations. She worked in Minnesota until she was able to help clear a heavily contested primary campaign. She moved on to run Senator Jim Webb’s long shot bid for Senate in 2006. First, she helped defeat an entrenched primary opponent being outspent 3 to 1, then went on to take down George Allen. Being part of the team which elected Jim Webb to the Senate and flipping the Chamber to a Democratic Majority was certainly a highlight of her career.
She was named 2006 Campaign and Election’s magazine’s “Rising Star” and received WIN’s “Young Women of Achievement” Award in 2007.
After that amazing election, she along with her partners founded Maverick Strategy and Mail.
In addition to Maverick, during the Presidential primary season, she worked for the ONE Campaign and was the Democratic campaign manager for their ONE Vote ’08 Presidential Initiative. The cutting edge issue campaign used technology, press and grassroots support to push the presidential candidate to support real measure in dealing with global poverty and health. She managed staff throughout the country and was able to persuade the candidates to guarantee real commitments to saving people lives – it was an unprecedented effort. The ONE Vote ’08 campaign received The Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine “2008 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award.”
In 2008, she returned to North Carolina for the General Election where she ran the Coordinated Campaign, working with all campaigns up & down the ballot. It was an historic year where Barack Obama carried the state and Bev Perdue was elected Governor, Kay Hagan became Senator and Larry Kissell was elected to Congress. In 2012, she returned to her home state and ran Christie Vilsack’s highly targeted race against Rep. Steve King.
In government, she served as Senior Advisor to US Senator Jim Webb and as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Chief of Staff.
She’s worked both domestically and abroad has advised campaigns and independent expenditures across the country including the Edward M Kennedy Institute, Count the Kicks, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s campaign, US Senator Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign and Progressive Turnout Project. She manages the first-of-its-kind US Senate fellowship for Vet Voice Foundation that places veterans in US Senate offices.
She is a member of American Council on Germany and Truman National Security Project. She serves on the board of End Citizens United and is an advisor to the New Leaders Council.
Jessica is from Pella, Iowa and graduated with a degree in Political Science from Central College.
Kip Wainscott, Attorney and Policy Professional
Kip Wainscott is an experienced lawyer and policy professional working at the intersection of innovation, regulation, and public interest technology. He served in the White House under President Obama as Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Domestic Policy Council, where his portfolio primarily includes issues related to justice, opportunity, and technology. Previously, Kip was Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy, where he worked on the development and coordination of matters concerning technology policy, privacy, and other policy and legislative initiatives of high priority to the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration.
Before entering government, Kip was an attorney focused primarily in the areas of regulatory and political law. He has counseled elected officials, candidates, and politically active organizations on a host of legal and regulatory matters, and has also advised clients on public policy and advocacy strategies. He also served as counsel to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, where he advised on issues related to the presidential nomination process and the 2016 delegate selection rules. For the 2012 election cycle, Kip was counsel and national delegate director for the Obama-Biden reelection campaign, where he oversaw election administration and ballot access issues, the selection of convention delegates, processes related to the development of the party platform, and other legal and political issues.
Kip has served many years on the Board of Governors for the Washington Foreign Law Society, and was a founding board member and director of NLC's DC chapter.