Chris Kelly • Claire Silberman • Hon. Alex Sink • Mark Riddle • Heather Grantham • Robert J. Abernethy • Justin Braz • Hon. Hardie Davis, Jr. Mitchell Draizin • Caroline Fayard • Donnie Fowler • Cynthia Guerrero • Gina LaPlaca • Derrick H. Lewis • Nate Loewentheil • Sherry Merfish • Tricia Mueller •Patrick Murphy • David Pepper Bret Perkins • James Woodson
Chris Kelly, NLC Board Chair, Partner, Kelly Investments
Chris Kelly is a Silicon Valley attorney with a long track record of representing innovative companies and making the Internet a safer place for kids and adults alike. As the first Chief Privacy Officer, General Counsel, and Head of Global Public Policy for Facebook, Chris helped the company grow from its college roots to the ubiquitous communications medium that it is today.
Chris’ development of the site’s safety and security policies around real world identity and deployment of a highly-trained staff for rule and law enforcement are credited as critical elements in the company’s success. At Facebook, Chris worked with Attorneys General in all 50 states to develop safeguards protecting children from sexual predators and represented the company in complex situations involving privacy and intellectual property in the digital age.
Chris left Facebook in 2009 to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California, garnering 16 percent of the vote in a seven-way race, his first run for statewide office. Since the June 2010 primary, he has become an active angel investor in companies seeking transformational improvements in technology, media, and finance. As a policy advisor for President Clinton in the early 1990s, Chris advanced critical domestic programs, including the successful initiative to put 100,000 new community police officers on America’s streets and the formation of AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans to improve education, public safety, health, and the environment.
As an attorney in private practice before his time at Facebook, Chris represented Netscape in the Microsoft antitrust case and Diamond Multimedia in the groundbreaking suit over the MP3 player that furthered personal use rights over digital content. Chris received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, a master’s degree from Yale University, and his law degree from Harvard University. Raised in Santa Ana and San Jose, he lives in Atherton with his wife Jennifer, an entrepreneur and former prosecutor, and their son Aidan and daughter August. Chris also serves on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco 49ers Academy, an alternative public middle school in East Palo Alto.
Claire Silberman, NLC Board Vice Chair, Philanthropist
Claire Silberman is a philanthropist and former lawyer who supports many progressive organizations. Claire practiced corporate litigation and banking law until 1997. She occasionally consulted in the financial compliance area of Promontory Financial Group, a consulting firm for global financial services companies, from 2002-2006.
Claire has a short attention span, so she serves on several non-profit Boards in addition to the New Leaders Council. These are: the Voter Participation Canter/Womens Voices Women Vote; The Eagle Academy for Young Men Foundation (which supports a network of boys’ schools in New York City); the Citizens Union Foundation; StreetWise Partners (which builds mentoring relationships between low-income individuals and business professionals); the Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies (NYC); and The Tank (a performing arts venue for emerging artists).
Claire is also on the Stanford Law School Board of Visitors and the Sierra Club National Advancement Council and is a member of the Women Donors Network. Claire previously served on the Board of The HOPE Program, a welfare-to-work organization in Brooklyn, New York. Her philanthropy is focused on at-risk populations, progressive organizations and environmental groups. Claire also volunteers with the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.
Involved in local politics, Claire serves on the State Affairs Committee of the Citizens Union of the City of New York.
Claire holds a BA and JD from Stanford University, and has lived in Brooklyn Heights with her husband and kids since 1988. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.
Hon. Alex Sink, NLC Board Vice Chair, Former Florida Chief Financial Officer
Alex Sink most recently served as a Senior Advisor with Tampa, Florida-based Hyde Park Capital. The firm offers services for investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, and capital raising.
Sink served as Florida’s elected Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 2007 to 2011. As CFO, she managed over $15 billion in state treasury funds, was responsible for accounting of the state’s $70 billion budget, risk management and implemented reforms in contracting and transparency for citizens. Sink served on the board of the Division of Bond Finance and was one of three trustees of the Florida Retirement System, a $120 billion pension fund.
Prior to elected office, Sink had a 26 year career with Bank of America. She retired as President of Florida operations in 2000, managing the state’s largest bank with $40 billion in deposits, leading 9,000 employees in over 800 branches. She led teams responsible for large corporate, commercial and small business banking. Sink was a statewide business leader, serving as chair of Leadership Florida, chair of Take Stock in Children, chair of The Nature Conservancy-Florida chapter, vice chair of Florida Taxwatch, executive board member of the Florida Council of 100, chair of the Hillsborough Education Foundation, chair of the United Way of Hillsborough County and vice chair of the board at Wake Forest University.
Her honors include induction in the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame, Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award, Associated Industries of Florida Champion of Business Award, Florida Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year and Wake Forest Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2010, she was the Democratic nominee for Florida governor.
Sink earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, magna cum laude, from Wake Forest University. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida. She and her husband, Bill McBride (now deceased), have two children – Bert and Lexi, who are both pursuing post graduate degree programs at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.
Mark Riddle, NLC President
Mark Riddle is the President of the New Leaders Council, the nation’s premier progressive leadership training organization for next generation political and business entrepreneurs.
Mark Riddle currently serves on the Board of Directors for NDN and also serves on the Advisory Boards for Loyal3 and Organizer.
As CEO of Wildcat Digital, a full-service branding and strategy firm, Mark is the strategist for numerous political leaders, non-profits, and represents several Fortune 500 companies.
Previously, Mark Riddle was a partner at a major Democratic media firm where he wrote, directed and produced winning television and radio ads in some of America’s most competitive campaigns. Clients included Members of Congress, the Democratic Governors Association, State Party organizations, and dozens of state and local elected officials. Mark was named a “Rising Star” by Campaigns and Elections Magazine.
A native of Maine, Mark Riddle is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
Heather Grantham Deutsch is the Treasurer of the New Leaders Council Board of Directors and Chair Emerita of the NLC National Programs Committee. She was previously a Co-Director of NLC New York City from 2012 to 2015, NLC-NYC Finance Chair from 2015 to 2016, and a NLC-NYC Advisory Board member since 2010. By day, she works in product development and marketing for Nomura Corporate Research and Asset Management, a boutique asset management group at Nomura Securities. At Nomura, she works closely with portfolio management, credit research, sales, and business development teams to create and market high-yield fixed-income investment products for institutional investors worldwide. By night and weekend, she brainstorms ways to connect progressive leaders, build coalitions, and take NLC to the next level and beyond.
Before NLC and Nomura, Heather toiled in private equity and spent her free time posting feminist rants on facebook. At ZM Capital, she managed a comprehensive internal and external branding and communications program, including a fully re-designed visual identity and presentation suite, and business development support for several portfolio companies and two funds. Heather also has experience in communications and development consulting, where she learned to synthesize months of research into a 100-page deck that only two people would ever read.
Prior to working in finance and progressive politics, Heather attended Cornell University, where she walked uphill both ways in the snow. She majored in Government, Sociology, and Fine Arts, wrote a column for the Cornell Daily Sun, and was named one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Cornellians" for her leadership of a student-driven effort to improve Cornell's marketing and communications strategy. In addition to the above, she has served on the New York County Democratic Committee and on the Executive Board of the Ansonia Independent Democratic Club. She lives in Manhattan with one husband and three cats, which she maintains is a perfectly reasonable human to feline ratio.
Robert J. Abernethy, NLC Board Member, President of American Standard Development Company and Self Storage Management Company and Managing Director of Metropolitan Investments, LLC
Robert J. Abernethy is Chairman of American Standard Development Company and Managing Director of Metropolitan Investments, LLC. Robert received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, certificates in Real Estate and Construction Management from UCLA and was formerly employed by Hughes Aircraft Company.
Robert is a member of the Advisory Council of the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and Bologna as well as a Trustee of John Hopkins University. He serves as a Vice-Chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States and is on the executive committee of the Pacific Council on International Policy. He is also a member of the Chairman’s Forum of the Council on Foreign Relations and the US Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. Robert is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Brookings Institution and serves on the Boards of Directors of the RAND Center for Global Risk & Security and the New Leaders Council. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for The Truman National Security Project.
Previously, Robert served as Commissioner of the California Transportation Commission, the Los Angeles Telecommunications Commission, and the Los Angeles Planning & Zoning Commission and was Director of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Water District. He was a Member of the California State Board of Education and of the California Arts Council. He resides in Manhattan Beach.
Justin Braz, NLC Board Member, Chief of Staff, Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer
Justin Braz is currently the Chief of Staff for New Jersey State Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary S. Schaer. His strong interest in local, state, and national politics has augmented a lifelong passion towards fomenting significant social change for working class men and women.
Justin has cultivated an impressive resume of policy and political experience. Before joining Schaer’s office, Justin served in numerous capacities including as the Political Coordinator for 1199 Service Employees International Union, representing thousands of healthcare workers throughout New Jersey and as Chief of Staff to Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Chairwoman Annette Quijano.
Additionally, he is also Chapter Director and a founding member of the state chapter of the New Leader's Council, a national leadership training institute for progressive political entrepreneurs throughout the state, winning National Chapter of the Year in 2013 and 2014. In his free time, Justin is an avid reader, a racquetball enthusiast and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. A sports lover as well, depending on the season he can be found following his New York Yankees, Giants or Penn State.
Hon. Hardie Davis, Jr., NLC Board Member, Mayor of Augusta, GA
Hardie Davis’ rise to the mayorship of Augusta is a unique story rooted in an abiding faith.
Born to Hardie and Delois Davis, Hardie grew up in Forsyth, Georgia and relocated to Augusta in 1985. His parents instilled within him the values of hard work, respect for his fellow man and service to others.
Hardie holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Christian Life School of Theology in Columbus. In college, he began teaching bible study which prepared him to be founder and senior pastor of Abundant Life in Augusta, Georgia.
While a senior in high school, he met Evett Plather of Valdosta. Married 20 years, Hardie and Evett are the proud parents of Benjamin Joshua Davis.
Hardie’s career includes 18 years of systems, automation and controls engineering. His public service spans 3 years as state Representative and 5 years as state Senator. A respected leader and public servant, he served as Chairman of the Interstate Cooperation Committee and active member of the Economic Development, Ethics, Finance, and Higher Education Senate Committees.
A distinguished lawmaker while in the state legislature, Hardie has been recognized by numerous organizations and constituent groups, including Georgia Bio, which named him 2010 Legislator of the Year for his work to promote the life sciences industry throughout the state of Georgia. The Georgia Chamber also named him its Business Champion, as listed in the January/February 2013 edition of Profile. After the 2014 legislative session he was named the Policy Maker of the Year by the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education. He was selected to receive this award because of his strong support of and commitment to improving high school graduation rates by focusing on CTAE programs to keep students in school so they can develop the necessary skills to better succeed in life.
On March 6, 2014, he qualified to run for mayor. He was elected on May 20, 2014 as the 84th Mayor of Augusta, Georgia. As the peoples mayor, he is a statesman, spiritual leader, and community builder.
Mitchell Draizin, President of Longview Capital Advisors
Mitchell Draizin is the Founder and President of Longview Capital Advisors. LVCA serves as an investment and mortgage advisor and banker to New York Metro area based middle market real estate builders and developers. The focus is on “market rate” projects in underserved markets and property types.
Mr. Draizin is actively involved in national, state and local Democratic politics, primarily through fund raising and offering strategic advice for certain elected officials, candidates, the DNC and DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).
Additionally, Mitch is active with the National Leadership Council at Lambda Legal, the Board of Directors of The Point Foundation, as a Trustee and Advisory Board member of the Truman National Security Project /CNP, as a NY/NJ member of the Board of Directors of Playworks, on the Board of Directors of Thalia Theater of NYC, with the Congressional Award Board, and as a National Advisory Board member with New Leaders Council.
Partnered for almost 4 decades with Philippe Brugere-Trelat, they were married in NYC in 2011.
Caroline Fayard, Attorney, Fayard Law Firm
Caroline Fayard's practice is primarily focused on litigation. She is honored to represent individuals, families, and businesses injured by the wrongdoing and/or negligence of others. Caroline is licensed to practice in Louisiana and New York.
Her legal background includes clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana, working at the prestigious Washington, DC law firm of Williams & Connolly and being appointed a faculty member of College of Law at Loyola University New Orleans.
In 2010, Caroline ran for the special election for Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, a race in which she finished second out of eight candidates. The Livingston Parish News editorialized in their endorsement of Caroline, “Imagine a world where the best and brightest step forward into public service to become leaders and problem solvers.”
Caroline currently serves as President of Louisiana Appleseed, a non-profit organization that promotes access to justice. She is in-house counsel to the Junior League of New Orleans and former chapter president of Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Gamma chapter. Caroline is a current board member of both Evacuteer.org and the Louisiana Children’s Museum.
Caroline's additional public service includes working at the White House, Office of the Social Secretary under President Clinton and in Congress as a congressional page. She also worked in financial services sector for Goldman Sachs investment firm.
Raised in Denham Springs, Louisiana Caroline she was Class Valedictorian and a member of the Navy Junior ROTC at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge. Caroline graduated with honors from both Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School. At Michigan Law, Caroline administered a public interest legal fellowship program on behalf of the law school and won awards for excellence in Torts and Clinical litigation.
Caroline currently resides in New Orleans and attends Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.
Donnie Fowler, CEO, Tech4America
Donnie Fowler is currently CEO of Tech4America and an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. He considers it good fortune that he has been able to occupy space between the tech and public sectors for more than twenty years. He served in the Clinton White House, at Silicon Valley's TechNet, and as a presidential appointee and lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission where he worked on early internet issues. Donnie is also a nationally recognized political campaign strategist with staff roles on eight presidential campaigns, including National Field & Delegates Director for Al Gore. From 2012-2015, Donnie was VP of business development at crime prediction software venture PredPol, Inc., the result of a successful collaboration between the L.A. Police Department and UCLA. He recruited PredPol’s largest investor and won a majority of the company's worldwide revenue. A South Carolina native, Donnie lives in San Francisco with his wife Heather and two daughters.
Cynthia Guerrero, NLC Board Member, Principal, California Strategies LLC
Cynthia Guerrero is an indefatigable advocate who has navigated complex public-policy issues as they pertain to the ever evolving world of California’s technology sector. As a registered State and Federal Lobbyist, she will bring a broad and diverse range of expertise to CS&A clients, including the telecommunications, technology, education, energy and transportation.
“California Strategies and California Strategies & Advocacy rise to the challenges set forth by our clients and often deliver remarkable results,” said California Strategies Founder and Chairman Bob White. “Cynthia Guerrero is an excellent addition to our team and our clients are sure to realize the full impact of her advocacy services and networking abilities here in Sacramento and in Washington DC.”
Cynthia Guerrero brings the highest caliber of expertise to California Strategies’ clients with unmatched advocacy experience specifically relating to the technology sector. She provides clients with policy and political strategy guidance and works collaboratively with them to achieve goals and overcome any crisis.
“Cynthia Guerrero has proven time and again that it’s not just dedication or hard work that leads to her client’s success,” noted Robert Hoffman, Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs at Motorola Solutions. “Cynthia delivers a high standard of advocacy excellence for her clients because of her vision, integrity and ability to frame the debate in a nuanced way.
Congratulations to Bob White and the growing team of experts at California Strategies who will surely benefit from the addition of Cynthia.”
Guerrero, over the years, has strengthened her working relationships with California’s Congressional Delegation and often advocates on behalf of client interests in Washington, D.C. This same level of service is demonstrated for clients looking for legislative solutions on the state and local level.
She works tirelessly in Silicon Valley advising world-renowned companies on how to navigate the state and federal government’s legislative and regulatory process which often trails innovation. Additionally, Guerrero provides valuable strategic counsel for Tech Startup companies looking to compete in California’s competitive technology sector.
Guerrero’s political acumen also includes a deep understanding of the banking, finance and investment securities industries making her uniquely qualified to provide clients with keen insight on legislative or regulatory challenges that directly affect the corporate bottom line.
Previously, Guerrero founded CG Consulting Group, Inc., in 2003. There, she dedicated her time ensuring client success by strategically navigating the legislative process and overcoming regulatory hurdles at the federal or state level. Primarily focusing on the technology sector, her 20-year experience in tech policy and finance has distinguished her as one of well-known advisors in the industry.
Prior to returning to her private practice, Guerrero served as the California Director for TechNet, the leading bipartisan political network of CEOs that promotes growth of the innovation economy. Guerrero nurtured long-term relationships between technology leaders and policymakers both on the state and federal levels and on both sides of the aisle promoting advancements in technology.
Before joining TechNet, Cynthia worked with various state legislators, public officials, Members of Congress and the U.S. Senate providing political strategy and campaign services. Her understanding of politics at the different levels of government is one respected by elected officials and colleagues in both Sacramento and on Capitol Hill.
Cynthia worked at the Rand Corporation and in the investment securities industry for top firms such as Credit Suisse First Boston Technology Group, Barclays Global Investors, and Merrill Lynch.
She serves on the Board of Visitors for Pepperdine University, School of Public Policy, and on the Board of Directors for New Leaders Council and Zero Divide.
“It’s a privilege to work among my peers at California Strategies & Advocacy. The level of talent and expertise is rare to find in any singular organization. This is a further testament of how California Strategies Chair, Bob White is such a skilled architect of crafting the best teams out of the best people.”
Cynthia has her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in Pre-Law and a minor in English Literature from Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Policy specializing in Economics and International Relations from Pepperdine University.
Gina LaPlaca, Director, State Government Affairs, Verizon New Jersey
Gina LaPlaca is Director - State Government Affairs for Verizon New Jersey, where she represents the company's interests before various entities of New Jersey State Government and provides legal and political advice on public policy initiatives affecting the company. She also is responsible for overseeing public outreach and education in conjunction with Verizon's Communications Lifeline assistance program.
Prior to joining Verizon in 2008, LaPlaca spent three years with the New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office, where she served as Deputy Budget Director/Associate General Counsel. During that time, she provided staff support to several standing reference committees, including Telecommunications & Utilities, Budget, and Appropriations. LaPlaca also worked on many significant legislative initiatives, including the Statewide Cable Franchise law that brought competition and choice to New Jersey's video market; property tax reforms; foreclosure relief legislation; and a variety of ethics/good government measures, most notably the "Clean Elections" pilot program for publicly-financed legislative campaigns.
Previously, LaPlaca served as Deputy Counsel for the Authorities, Utilities, Transportation & Communications Section at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services.
In addition to her responsibilities at Verizon, LaPlaca sits on the boards of several organizations, including the New Jersey World Trade Center Scholarship Fund, Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, and New Leaders Council - New Jersey. In 2015, she was named as an "Emerging Leader" by the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce and the Burlington County Times. LaPlaca is also a 2011 graduate of the Lead NJ (formerly "Leadership NJ") program.
LaPlaca received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Juris Doctorate from the Fordham University School of Law. She is admitted to the bar in New Jersey and New York.
Derrick H. Lewis, NLC Board Finance Chair, Senior Manager, Ernst & Young
Derrick H. Lewis is an energetic and passionate advisor and entrepreneur. Derrick currently is a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young and brings 10 years of experience in entrepreneurial, c-level, operational, human capital, technology, management consulting roles working with diverse organizations in the Public and Private sector.
Derrick has a passion for giving back. Having grown up and experiencing firsthand the lack of resources being provided to the poorest part of the United States, Derrick decided to take the initiative to create The Bronx Foundation, the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to The Bronx, New York. The mission of The Bronx Foundation is to empower residents to achieve their full potential, advance the well-being of The Bronx community, and make The Bronx a global destination. The Foundation leads strategic initiatives focused on four pillars: Economic Security and Education, Health, Food, and Community and Culture Engagement. Racial Justice will be at the core of the Foundations work.
Along with his efforts leading The Bronx Foundation, Derrick is also involved in other philanthropic efforts. He sits on the board of Juma Ventures, the first nonprofit to open and operate a franchise. Juma strives to break the cycle of poverty by paving the way to work, education, and financial capability for youth across America. Derrick also sits on the board of D.R.E.A.M. (Developing Responsible Economically Advanced Model-Citizens) whose mission is to empower underrepresented, urban youth by equipping them with the knowledge to become prudent, financially literate and adept individuals.
Derrick also has a passion for Public Private Partnerships (P3s). He is on the Advisor Board for Concordia, a non-partisan non-profit think-tank whose aim is to identify new avenues of collaboration for governments, businesses, and nonprofits through campaigns, programming, and research. Concordia hosts the Concordia Summit, which convenes the world’s most prominent business, government, and nonprofit leaders to promote effective partnerships for impact.
Along with his job at EY and his philanthropic work, Derrick also applies his skills and abilities to advising elected officials. He is Senior Advisor to New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake and also advises other city and state elected officials in economic development, entrepreneurship, job growth, and education. This work allows for him to execute upon his passion for P3s. Derrick also advises state and local elected officials across the country.
Derrick is a graduate of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.
Nate Loewentheil, Social Entrepreneur and Activist
Nate Loewentheil hails proudly from Baltimore, MD. He is a social entrepreneur, activist, writer, and nationally recognized public policy expert. Most recently, he served as a Special Assistant to the President at the National Economic Council at the White House, where he led a special Taskforce for Baltimore City and advised President Obama on urban policy, transportation and infrastructure.
Previously, Nate helped launch and later led the Roosevelt Campus Network, a national student organization with more than 125 chapters and 10,000 members around the country. Founded in 2004, Roosevelt recently won the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. He has founded or been a part of many other organizations that help empower young people in politics, including the Millennial Action Project and the New Leaders Council.
Nate has worked across policy areas and engaged in policy debates at the state and national level. He has written commentary in the The New York Times, Salon, Politico and The Democracy Journal, submitted testimony to Congress on Social Security, and published policy papers on housing and climate change. He is the editor of a book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era. He holds both a B.A. and J.D. from Yale University.
Sherry Merfish, Philanthropist
Sherry Matusoff Merfish brings to NLC experience gained over a long career in advocacy and fundraising. From 1993-2009, she served as a Majority Council Director for EMILY’s List, conceiving, planning, and implementing the Major Donor program in range of states, including her native Texas.
Prior to her time at EMILY’s List, Sherry worked as an advocate within the Jewish community by engaging in speaking tours concerning the pernicious Jewish American Princess stereotype, an effort that resulted in widespread press attention and brought about a significant cultural shift. The work of culture change is at the heart of Sherry’s efforts, as exemplified by her co-founding with her daughters of NotAlone.us, an organization that asks women to join the conversation around reproductive justice by disclosing their abortion histories. NotAlone.us was inspired by Sherry’s own brave disclosure of her abortion in a 2013 New York Times op-ed.
Sherry holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin, a MA in American Studies from the University of Southern California, and a JD from the University of Houston Law Center. She has volunteered her time as a board member and leader of a number of organizations advancing progressive values, including the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University, the American Jewish Committee, the Houston Area Women’s Center, Planned Parenthood, and Annie’s List (of which she was a founding board member).
Sherry lives in Houston, Texas, despite an extreme dislike of both mosquitoes and heat. She and her husband, Gerald Merfish, are the proud parents of two daughters, Brett and Beth.
Tricia Mueller, Founding Partner, Groundwork Strategies, LLC
Tricia Mueller has spent her adult life engaged in the political process.
Tricia’s experience, contacts, street savviness and instinct for anticipating a course of action have made her one of the most potent professionals in regional politics.
Before becoming a founding partner of Groundwork Strategies, LLC in June of 2016, Tricia was a partner at Cammarano, Layton and Bombardieri (CLB Partners), one of the largest grossing and most effective lobby firms based in Trenton, New Jersey.
Tricia has served for more than 16 years as the Political Director of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, a labor union representing over 40,000 union carpenters and partnering with thousands of union contractors, eventually rising to the position of National Political Director for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America (UBCJA). She was the youngest person to do so and first female to achieve this distinction. Currently she provides the UBCJA with advisement for building political capital and increasing union activism on a regional and national level.
She has provided strategic and tactical counsel to major political races including serving as State Director for Obama for President in 2008, McGreevy for Governor 2001, and Lautenberg (2002) and Menendez for U.S. Senate (2006), Tricia also served as Coordinated Campaign Director for Governor Jon Corzine (2005) and as Senior Advisor to his re-election efforts in 2009.
The media has repeatedly identified her as one of the best-connected and powerful influencers in New Jersey politics. Ms. Mueller has been highlighted by NJ Monthly as one of the 101 Most Influential People in New Jersey and as one of the Top 40 under 40 in South Jersey Magazine. She has been listed in the top of Politicker NJ’s Power List every year since 2013. She has also been highlighted many times as statewide labor leader.
Tricia has been a strong advocate for women’s issues and has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work on behalf of women from groups such as Emerge and the NJ Women’s Political Caucus.
In 2016, Tricia was appointed to the National Board of Directors for the New Leader’s Council, a 501-(c)(3) that works to recruit, train and promote future progressive political entrepreneurs.
Of all her successes, however, Tricia counts becoming mom to her daughter Zoe Luna the greatest and most fulfilling.
Tricia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from The College of New Jersey. Tricia is also a graduate of Augsburg College’s Women and Development Latin American Perspectives Program located in Cuernavaca, Mexico; she holds a certificate in Union Organizing from the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and has completed courses towards her Masters in Government Administration from Rutgers University located in New Jersey.
Patrick Murphy, Owner, 3 Clicks Solutions, LLC
Patrick Murphy is a former Western State legislator and Presidential appointee. He maintains an active role in the actions of the US Congress based in Washington, DC.
Mr. Murphy’s ever-expanding base of contacts with established and emerging political leaders reinforces his ability to develop successful policy initiatives and execute winning strategies at the state and federal levels.
Mr. Murphy served on the Clinton Presidential Transition as a team leader within the U.S. Treasury Department and was senior staff for the Clinton Economic Summit.
Mr. Murphy was appointed by President Clinton as a Member-at-Large of the Democratic National Committee and served as DNC Vice-Chair.
Mr. Murphy remains a central figure in candidate recruitment and mentoring of rising political leaders at the state and federal levels. His Capitol Hill townhouse is a favored location for state party, gubernatorial, House and Senate member gatherings of Democratic insiders.
A native of Great Falls, Montana, he maintains close ties with the State’s political and Congressional delegations. Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Mr. Murphy had an accomplished public service career winning two terms in the Nevada State Legislature and having served on the Nevada Board of Education and the Nevada State Crime Commission.
David Pepper, Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party
David Pepper was unanimously elected Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on December 17, 2014 and began his term on January 1, 2015.
Knowing that the strength of the Ohio Democratic Party has a direct impact on the outcome of national, state, and local elections, David is committed to creating the most robust party infrastructure possible, supporting and implementing policies that improve Ohioans’ lives, and recruiting and assisting the next generation of public servants as they run for office at all levels and helping them make a difference once they get there.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, David is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian. David was first elected to public office in 2001 when he served on the Cincinnati City Council, finishing first out of a field of 26 candidates, and was reelected for a second term in 2003, again leading the pack in votes. David came to the Cincinnati City Council as riots, a severe crime wave and a public safety crisis rocked the city.
Amid this turmoil, David’s leadership was key in the successful push to improve police-community relations, and he ultimately served as the Chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee. David played an instrumental role in negotiating a historic collaborative agreement between the police, the community, and City Hall, which healed long simmering tensions while setting the stage for improved safety. David also played leadership roles in economic reforms, new investments, and progressive policy changes that helped spark a decade-long renaissance that continues in Cincinnati to this day.
In 2006, David was elected to the three-member Hamilton County Commission. He served as the Commission President from 2009-2010. During David’s tenure at the County, Hamilton County won 19 National Association of County Awards for outstanding management practices, more than all other Ohio counties combined. David focused particularly on cleaning up the very poorly managed government that he inherited: adding much-needed transparency, championing greater disclosure and higher ethics, eliminating wasteful spending, and rebuilding the County’s reserve fund. Independent ratings agencies praised the County’s fiscally responsible policies.
David was nominated by Ohio Democrats to run in statewide elections twice. In 2010, David ran for the office of Ohio Auditor campaigning on a platform of increasing efficiency and transparency in government while ending the gerrymandering that has poisoned politics in Columbus and Washington. His platform gained him the endorsements of virtually every major Ohio newspaper. And, in 2014, David ran an intense campaign to unseat the incumbent Attorney General, calling for greatly improved transparency and integrity in that office. Although both years proved to be wave years against Ohio Democrats, David set records (for a non-incumbent) in fundraising for both offices and received praise for running aggressive, substantive campaigns.
David earned his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and later earned his J.D. from Yale Law School. In 1999, David clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Since 2000, David has also worked in the Cincinnati offices of major law firms Squire Sanders and Blank Rome, focusing his practice on commercial and business litigation, and appellate litigation. David also teaches election and voting rights law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
David is married to Alana (Swartz) Pepper. Alana grew up in Adams County, graduated from the University of Cincinnati, and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Northern Kentucky University. Alana has spent her career helping those faced with mental illness.
Last May, David and Alana welcomed their first child, Jacob “Jack” Hamilton Pepper, into their family.
Bret Perkins, Vice President of External and Governmental Affairs, Comcast
Bret Perkins is Vice President of External and Government Affairs for Comcast Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s strategic partnerships with national policy advocacy organizations as well as implementing the company’s regulatory and legislative initiatives with local governments, managing relationships with state and local intergovernmental associations, and grassroots communications.
Bret joined Comcast in 2001 and has managed local government affairs while the Company grew from operating in 2,500 communities to over 6,000 communities.
Prior to joining Comcast, he served as Vice President of System Services and Assistant to the President at Mercy Health System in Pennsylvania and worked in legislative affairs at Keystone Mercy/AmeriHealth Mercy Health Plan and with the North Philadelphia Health System.
In 2008, Bret received the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Vanguard Award for Young Leadership, one of the cable industry’s highest honors for its next generation of leaders.
Bret is a member of the Temple University Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Boards of The Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia non-partisan political watchdog organization, the Family Online Safety Institute, Older Adult Technology Services (OATS), and the Philadelphia International Airport Advisory Board.
He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University and resides in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.
James Woodson, NLC National Diversity Chair
James Woodson is currently the NLC National Diversity Chair. He previously served as National Mentorship Director, and is an alum and former Executive Board member of the NLC-New Jersey Chapter. By day, James is an Organizing Coordinator with California Calls. Specifically, he co-leads the African American Civic Engagement Project, teaching, training, and supporting 12 Black-led groups around the State of California to do integrated voter engagement. James is also assisting coordination of the Million Voters Project, a partnership of six statewide partners to mobilize and turnout 1 million voters by 2018.
Previously, James served as the Director of Clubhouse and Athletic Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, NJ, where he managed youth development programs for over 300 children. James is also a licensed attorney in the states of New Jersey and New York and proud alum of the Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ. Prior to entering law school, James served in a variety of capacities within the Democratic National Committee, the NJ Democratic State Committee, and Obama For America. James was a lead organizer for the NJ Health Care For America Now campaign and served as co-Counsel for the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission in 2012. In addition, James was the Founding Director of the Friendship Development Corporation, where he led the effort to create an outreach center that provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of low-income families in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
James loves all things entertainment, and in his spare time, writes, produces, and directs all types of creative multimedia projects. He is the co-writer, director, and producer of the Off-Broadway stage play “Love’s Gonna Get You.”
James currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and two children.