Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Recommend us on Google+ Watch us on YouTube Join us on LinkedIn NLC on Reddit
New Leaders Council

NLC Ambassadors

These Ambassadors serve on the NLC Leadership Board of Advisors

Loranne Ausley | Jeremy Becker | Ron Bilbao | Michael Bronstein |  David Burd | Kit Cole | Chris Cooper  |  Nathan Daschle
Scott Dworkin |  Adam Edelen | Alex Espinoza | Liam Fitzsimmons | Melissa S. Flournoy  | Donald L. Fowler  |  Richard Fowler |Brett Goldman | Paula Hodges | Matt Kaplan |  Scott Kozar | Matt Lieberman | Bruce LymburnAmol Naik | Jennifer Nedeau

Loranne Ausley, Founder & Chair of The Florida Project

Loranne-Ausley-Photo-150x150.jpgLoranne Ausley is the Founder and Chair of The Florida Project, the only organization of its kind in Florida, dedicated to producing, disseminating and applying polling and research data across the progressive infrastructure. She is Vice Chair of the Southern Progress Fund, “of counsel’ to the Hollimon PA Law firm, and owns and manages her own consulting firm. Ausley is an attorney who served as an elected Member of the Florida House of Representatives for 8 years. In 2010, she ran as the Democratic nominee for Chief Financial Officer of Florida, one of Florida’s four statewide elected Cabinet positions.

Ausley is a 6th-generation Floridian who has held senior positions in the Clinton Administration and in state government, working closely with some of Florida’s most respected leaders including Bob Graham, Lawton Chiles and Buddy MacKay. As a Democratic leader in the State House, Loranne established herself as an independent-minded leader unafraid to take on tough problems and find real solutions. Ausley developed a policy expertise in health care as the ranking Democrat on the House Health Care Council, and in 2008 was selected to oversee Florida’s $300 million child health insurance program. She retired from the Florida House in 2008 due to term limits, and served as Chair of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation until 2011.

In addition to her legislative and appointed service, Ausley is active in a number of local, state and national organizations. She was instrumental in creating Whole Child Leon, a community based initiative focused on young children and their families, and she continues to serve as Founding Chair. She is a member of Leadership Florida’s Class XX, serves on the Board of The New Deal, and on the Advisory Council of the local chapter of the National Leaders Council. Past service includes board membership of numerous organizations including The United Way of the Big Bend, the Tallahassee Urban League, Washington and Lee University Law Council, the George Washington Society, and various volunteer positions with Leadership Florida.

Loranne graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a degree in Economics and earned her J.D. from the Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. She lives in Tallahassee with her husband Bill Hollimon and son, Will, age 10. Loranne is an avid marathon runner and triathlete, and an Ironman finisher (Florida 2007).

Jeremy Becker, Southeast Political Director, AIPAC

jeremy-becker.jpgJeremy Becker is the Southeast Political Director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

In this capacity, Jeremy regularly meets with candidates for the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate to introduce issues on which AIPAC focuses. Additionally, Jeremy works with AIPAC’s top leadership to foster participation in the political process in a bi-partisan fashion with the overall goal of advancing AIPAC’s legislative agenda.

He also regularly meets with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss the issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship and acts as a liaison between Pro-Israel political activists and Congressional offices. Jeremy has spearheaded AIPAC efforts in the Georgia State Legislature and has participated in missions to Israel with elected officials. He is a frequent speaker at AIPAC events and regularly moderates panels with other political professionals.

Jeremy is stationed in AIPAC’s Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta.

Jeremy graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science and a concentration in American Electorate Behavior. While in college, Jeremy worked on several political campaigns. He earned a law degree from Emory University School of Law where he was the Director of Emory’s Moot Court Special Teams.

Jeremy joined AIPAC after several years in private law practice in New York City.

Ron Bilbao, NLC Miami Board Member, Legislative Specialist, Florida Education Association

Ron_Bilbao_headshot_2014.jpegRon 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 Bronstein, President and Founder of Bronstein & Weaver, Inc

bronstein.jpgMichael 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

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, Executive Search Consultant, Hedrick & Struggles


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, Kit Cole Consulting

coleKit 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, Managing Director in Washington, DC office of SKDKnickerbocker

cooper-headshot.jpgChris Cooper is Managing Director of SKDKnickerbocker, a strategic communications and political consulting firm. He joined the firm in 2009 after nearly nine years with MSHC Partners (formerly Malchow Schlackman Hoppey & Cooper).

During nearly two decades in politics, Chris has worked on campaigns in 38 states as well as 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.

In 2012, Chris’s clients included Obama for America; independent expenditures for Americans Elect, Independence USA PAC, StudentsFirst, and the National Association of Realtors; and successful local and congressional campaigns in Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

Over seven election cycles, Chris developed persuasion mail campaigns for the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). His work has helped elect over 35 Members of Congress.

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). As a college student, Chris was a volunteer precinct captain for Clinton-Gore ’92, helping the ticket win his precinct by one vote.

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, President and COO of The Daschle Group

daschle.jpgPresident 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, 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, Founder & CEO, Bulldog Finance Group

Scott-Dworkin-150x150.jpgScott 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, Partner, VOX Global. 


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,, and Black Enterprise Magazine.

Adam Edelen, former Kentucky State Auditor

Adam-Edelen-Headshot.jpgAdam H. Edelen was sworn in as Kentucky’s 46th Auditor of Public Accounts on Jan. 2, 2012. After successful careers as a high-ranking public official and business executive, Adam takes on one of the most important jobs in the Commonwealth – taxpayer watchdog. Born to a farm family in rural Kentucky, he learned the values of integrity, hard work and common sense – and he has never forgotten them. Adam also is part of a new generation of leaders who are more focused on outcomes and honest and effective government than partisan politics.

Adam and his young twin sons make their home in Lexington. In addition to being a proud father, he is also an avid sportsman who loves Kentucky’s one-of-a-kind natural beauty.

After bringing strong strategic and financial management to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, Governor Beshear promoted Adam to serve as his Chief of Staff. In this role he made major contributions to the administration’s acclaimed efforts in the areas of children’s health insurance, education policy and the sound fiscal management of the state in a time of historic economic difficulty.

Adam credits his successes in government to the leadership skills he learned in the private sector as an entrepreneur and executive. As a senior executive with both Commerce Lexington and Thomas & King, Inc., Adam became an expert in making businesses and organizations more efficient, profitable and accountable.

A former Chairman of the Board of Kentucky Educational Television, Adam was the driving force behind KET’s “Be Well Kentucky” initiative—an acclaimed effort to address Kentucky’s public health challenges. He also chaired the board of the Lexington Urban League, as well as the United Way of the Bluegrass’ Annual Giving Campaign. Adam was the executive force behind New Century Lexington’s nationally recognized reports on community livability, which used private sector-inspired metrics to assess Lexington’s quality of life. Additionally, he was a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an advocacy organization working to improve education for all Kentuckians.

A nationally recognized leader and public servant, Adam was named the “Outstanding Young Kentuckian” by the Kentucky Jr. Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce later that year. The latter is arguably the oldest and most prestigious service award in the nation, and previous honorees include presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Clinton. Adam was also the recipient of the 2002 Lexington Young Professionals Association’s “Rising Star” award and has represented America abroad as both a “Young Leader” with the American-Swiss Foundation and as a United States Marshall Fund fellow.

Alex Espinoza, Non Profit Fundraising Marketing Expert

Alex_Headshot.jpg Alex 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, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Liam FitzsimmonsLiam 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.


Melissa S. Flournoy, Director, Coalition for Louisiana Progress

Melissa FlournoyMelissa S. Flournoy, PhD is the chair of the Coalition for Louisiana Progress, a statewide advocacy and research organization. She currently serves as the Louisiana State Director for Planned Parenthood.

For the last 25 years, Dr. Flournoy has been a leader in the nonprofit sector and a strong advocate for social justice and progressive causes. Melissa is a graduate of Hollins College, received an MPA at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and earned her PhD at LSU.

Melissa was elected in 1991 to the Louisiana House of Representatives where she served on the Appropriations Committee, Health and Welfare Committee and was chair of the HIV/Aids commission. After her defeat for the state senate in 1995, she focused her efforts on the nonprofit sector. Melissa is the founder of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations (LANO) and served as President and CEO from 1997 to 2008. She also founded the Louisiana Budget Project. Melissa served as the Director of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute from 2008 to 2010. Since 2010, Melissa has been active with Louisiana Progress trying to build a progressive movement in Louisiana.

Donald L. Fowler, CEO and Founder Dogpatch Strategies

Donnie Fowler has achieved a leading role in both political and high technology circles through his work in the Clinton White House, at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, as vice president at TechNet in Silicon Valley, and with political campaigns in every corner of the United States. He has advised dozens of companies, policymakers, public advocacy groups, and political campaigns on how to successfully manage their media, policy, and business development agendas. Currently, he leads Dogpatch Strategies, a communications and public affairs firm serving green technology enterprises, and continues to support Cherry Tree Mobile media, a mobile technology company he co-founded in 2006.

Fowler’s political background includes on the ground work in fifteen states and five of the last six presidential campaign cycles. He was Al Gore’s National Field & Delegates Director, contributing to the only Democratic campaign to win every state in a competitive nomination fight and supporting the eventual popular vote victory against George Bush. Following the 2004 election, Fowler finished second in the contest for Democratic National Chairman behind eventual winner Howard Dean. Most recently, he was senior state advisor to the Obama campaign in Indiana, the first Democratic presidential win there since 1964.

Fowler’s recent professional work has included clients as varied as Facebook, Stanford University, the Pew Charitable Trust, Al Gore (“Inconvenient Truth” and The Alliance for Climate Protection), the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, MyPoints Online, CNET News, EnTrust Capital Management, SolarTech, Greenvolts Inc., Amgen, and the Biotech Industry Organization. He has made frequent appearances in local and national media on political and technology issues, including Fox News, “Dan Rather Reports” (HDNet), The Washington Post, LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, and as a blogger for the Huffington Post.

Fowler is senior fellow at the Truman National Security Project and an alumnus of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, finishing his second trip to China in August 2009. He was also an appointee of Governor Gray Davis to California’s Long-Term Economic Strategy Panel, charged with setting a long-term strategy for California’s economy. Fowler received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of South Carolina where he attended on a full scholarship. He is a South Carolina native and has lived in San Francisco since 2001.

Richard Fowler, National Radio Host, Democratic Messaging Expert, Millienial Engagement Specialist

Richard FowlerHost 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, 30, 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.

Brett loves all things having to do with his hometown of Philadelphia (and it's sister city of Tel-Aviv) and can definitely tell you where to get the best cheesesteak in the world.​

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.

Matt Kaplan, Sr. Advisor & Campaign Director, United States Congressman Tim Ryan (OH)

Matt_Kaplan_Photo-300x225.jpgMatt Kaplan serves as the Campaign Director 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 the president, Obama for America, 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. and founded NLC Cleveland. Kaplan was also appointed to the Under 40 Society for the prestigious Citizens Budget Commission in New York City.

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. He currently serves on the Heisman Board and was appointed to the Regional Committee for the Illuminate Campaign.

Scott Kozar, The New Media Firm, Senior Vice President

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.

Bruce Lymburn, General Counsel & Secretary of Clif Bar & Company

Bruce-Lymburn-Photo-150x150.jpgBruce 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 ( 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-photo.jpgAmol 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

Jen-Nedeau-Photo-150x150.jpgJennifer 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, Counsel to the Public Advocate of the City of New York

Steven-Newmark-Headshot.jpgSteven Newmark is a native New Yorker who has spent years fighting for causes he believes in, including as an advocate for voting rights, fighting for tenants’ rights, and protecting voters in local, state, and national elections from intimidation.

Steven spent nearly five years as a litigator at the international law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Prior to his work at Orrick, Steven worked in the Election Office of the Teamsters International Union, helping to craft rules for, and monitor, the Teamsters’ 2006 International Union election. While at Orrick, Steven was honored in 2010 for pro bono work he did on behalf of rent regulated tenants in Housing Court, representing detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and his work as General Counsel for The Common Good. In 2011, Steven was named Counsel to the Public Advocate of the City of New York. Steven has been a guest lecturer in public policy at Columbia University since 2011.

Steven is also an active member of his community, serving as President of the Tilden Democratic Club, on the Board of Directors of his tenants association (the largest in New York State), serving as co-founder and member of the Steering Committee of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, and serving on the New York Executive Committee for the American Constitution Society. Steven was honored by the NYC Chapter of the New Leaders Council in 2011 with a special award for his progressive activism.

Steven is active politically – both locally and nationally. He currently serves as National Co-Chair of Lawyers for Obama, is a member of the National Executive Committee of Gen 44, the Young Professionals Arm of the Obama campaign, and is a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee. 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, EverPresent, Inc.

headshot-niloff.jpgEric Niloff is the co-founder and CEO of EverPresent, Inc. ( 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

odonnell-headshot.jpgAn 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-photo-150x150.pngAttorney, author, and activist Christine Pelosi 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-Photo-150x150.jpgMatt 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 grasstops 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.

Joel Rogers, Professor of law, political science, public affairs and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Joel-Rogers-Photo-150x150.jpgJoel Rogers is professor of law, political science, public affairs and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of COWS, the national high-road strategy center. He has written widely on American politics and democratic theory (books include The Hidden Election, On Democracy, Right Turn, Metro Futures, Associations and Democracy, Works Councils, Working Capital, What Workers Want, and, most recently American Society: How It Really Works).

He’s also advised many politicians and governments, and helped found and operate several progressive NGOs (e.g., Center for a New Democracy, New Party, Economic Analysis Research Network, Apollo Alliance, Emerald Cities Collaborative). A MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, Newsweek identifies him as one of the 100 living Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.

John Rowley, Partner at Fletcher Rowley

Before age 20, John Rowley 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

saleem.pngHaroon 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, Senior Consulting Manager, Autodesk

LSpeden.jpgLiam 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

steppe.jpgSeth 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, President of the American Values Network, a Vice President of American Bridge, and Senior Advisor to Correct the Record, American Bridge

Burns-Strider-Photo-150x150.jpegBurns Strider, a native of Grenada County, Mississippi, is the founder and principal of Eleison LLC, President of the American Values Network, a Vice President of American Bridge, and Senior Advisor to Correct the Record, American Bridge.

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.

American Bridge, its Correct the Record Division, employs a dedicated research, video, tracking, communications, and digital operation providing rapid response to false attacks from Republican politicians, party committees, and conservative interests groups against potential Democratic Presidential candidates in 2016.

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.

Connect with Burns on Twitter at, Facebook at or Huffington Post at

Blog, Translating Big Daddy:

Recent Column in the Washington Post by Strider:

New York Times Article on Strider:

A favorite of Burns’ he wrote on a coal mining tragedy:

Emily Tisch Sussman, Campaign Director, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Emily-Sussman-Head-Shot.jpgEmily 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, Associate Director for Legislative, Education & Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency

JT_Headshot.jpgJustin G. Tanner was appointed by the White House in 2015 to serve as the Associate Director for Legislative, Education & Intergovernmental Affairs at the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), U.S. Department of Commerce.  In his new position, Mr. Tanner will work to expand the Agency’s focus on policy development and advocacy. He joins MBDA after having served as Senior Advisor to the Associate Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Government Contracting & Business Development.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Tanner worked in external affairs 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 as a communications aide 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. He has also worked in the private sector for corporate law firms, Fortune 100 companies, and small/medium-sized businesses.

Mr. Tanner is the recipient of the Howard University School of Business’ “45th Anniversary Alumni Exemplar Award,” the National Bar Association's “Maynard Jackson Legacy” and “Trailblazer Under 40” awards and the Morehouse Alumni Association's “Dr. Joseph Draper Service Award.”  He has been profiled in the Atlanta Business Chronicle (40 Under 40), Atlanta Tastemaker Magazine, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, emPower magazine and Who's Who in Black Atlanta (14th & 15th Editions). He’s a graduate of The Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program, Leadership Buckhead, LEAD Atlanta, Outstanding Atlanta, New Leaders Council-Atlanta and the Truman National Security Project.

He received his JD from Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, TN and his BBA from Howard University in Washington, DC. While matriculating at Howard, he became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.– Alpha Chapter.

He received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tennessee and his B.B.A. from Howard University in Washington, DC. While matriculating at Howard, he became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. – Alpha Chapter.

Christopher Tyson, Assistant Professor at LSU Law Center

Christopher-Tyson-Photo-150x150.jpgProfessor 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 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, Political Consultant

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 guaranteed 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 not only Barack Obama carried the state but Bev Perdue was elected Governor, Kay Hagan became Senator and Larry Kissell was elected to Congress.

She’s worked both domestically and abroad has advised campaigns and independent expenditures across the country and has worked with various clients including General Wesley Clark, Free the Slaves, Pickens Plan and

Jessica is from Pella, Iowa and graduated with a degree in Political Science from Central College.

Kip Wainscott, Attorney, Perkins Coie LLP

Kip-Wainscott-photo-150x150.jpgKip Wainscott is a political lawyer in Washington, DC, whose clients include national political figures, party committees, consultants, and other politically engaged organizations. He counsels candidates and elected officials in the areas of election law, congressional and executive branch ethics, and investigations and litigation. He has represented political, nonprofit, and corporate clients in both state and federal court, and before administrative agencies.

For the 2012 election cycle, Kip served as counsel and national delegate director for the Obama-Biden reelection campaign, a role in which he oversaw the procedural aspects of President Obama’s ballot access, party nomination, and other legal issues. He currently is counsel to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, a role in which he continues to engage frequently on issues related to the presidential nomination process.

Previously, Kip served as a founding board member and as director of NLC’s DC chapter. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the Washington Foreign Law Society, and contributes time to various legal and political causes.

Atlanta - Augusta - Austin - Boston - Broward - Capital District NY - Chicago - Cincinnati - Cleveland - Connecticut - Dallas - Denver - Des Moines
Detroit - Houston - Kentucky - Los Angeles - Louisiana - Madison - Maine - Maryland - Miami - Montana - Nashville - New Hampshre - New Jersey - New York City
North Carolina - Oakland - Omaha - Orlando - Palm Beach - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh - Rhode Island - Sacramento - San Antonio - San Francisco - Silicon Valley

New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.