Pierre Omidyar created the Democracy Fund out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values. While no democracy is perfect, the American system has endured through times of severe stress and dramatic social change. This system has proven its value and continues to hold the promise of effective, representative governance. Today, technologies and innovations offer new opportunities for public engagement in a more vibrant democracy — even as serious challenges including hyper-partisanship, money in politics, and struggling media threaten the health of our political system.
We believe the best days of American democracy lie ahead. Bipartisan solutions can modernize our elections. Digital advances can help people engage in civic life. New incentives can encourage political leaders to find principled compromise and address our country’s greatest challenges.
The Democracy Fund is a resource for those who want to strengthen our nation’s democracy. We invest in change makers whose ideas and energy can make a difference. We advocate for solutions that can bring lasting improvement to our political system. We build bridges that help people come together to serve the nation, moving us closer to the ideal of a government of, by, and for the people.
The Democracy Fund aims to play a catalytic role in improving our political system through grantmaking. We typically make a substantial investment in the success of our grantee organizations. The Democracy Fund DOES NOT accept unsolicited proposals. We proactively seek new grants based on strategic priorities and typically identify new grantee partners from within our network of allies and contacts. We work closely with grantee partners to help them achieve their goals. To have the greatest impact, we invest according to the following criteria:
Joe Goldman is the President of the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. He is also the President of Democracy Fund Voice, previously Democracy Fund Action. Before joining the Democracy Fund, Joe was an Investment Director at Omidyar Network, where he incubated the Democracy Fund for three years.
Joe has spent his career working to strengthen democratic institutions through public deliberation and policy reform. Previously, Joe was Vice President of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks, where he directed and facilitated large-scale public deliberations across the country, including the Unified New Orleans Planning Process after Hurricane Katrina and the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site after 9/11. Joe has written extensively about the theory and practice of deliberative democracy and spoken about the value of public deliberation in venues around the world.
Joe has also engaged the public from inside government. He managed Mayor Anthony Williams’ Neighborhood Action initiative in Washington, DC, which engaged thousands of residents in shaping the city’s budget priorities. Neighborhood Action was named Program of the Year by the International Association of Public Participation. Joe also managed the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission’s Common Ground regional planning process in Chicago, which later received the Outstanding Planning Award from the American Planning Association for its innovative use of technology and broad community outreach.
Joe was a Public Service Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he received a master’s degree in public policy. He graduated with honors in political science from Vassar College.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joegoldman
Research Associate, Elections
Natalie Adona is a Research Associate for the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections and the role of money in politics, Natalie supports the Elections Program in their mission to ensure that the views and votes of citizens come first in our democracy.
She has worked in the DC area as a law clerk for the Fair Elections Legal Network, Project Vote, and DB Capitol Strategies. Natalie’s primary interests are in election administration, with a particular legal research emphasis on the use of strict precinct requirements in provisional voting. Natalie’s research interests are informed by practical experience as a poll worker trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008 and 2009. Natalie is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the American University, where she holds a Juris Doctorate from the Washington College of Law and a MPA from the School of Public Affairs.
Follow Natalie on Twitter @nado1377
Program Director, Elections
Adam Ambrogi is the Director of the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections and the role of money in politics, Adam leads the Democracy Fund’s mission to invest in organizations working to ensure that the views and votes of citizens come first in our democracy. Current grantees of the Elections Program include Pew’s Election Initiatives, TurboVote, MIT’s Voting Technology Project, the Piper Fund’s Communications Collaborative, Fund for the Republic, Demos, and Cato’s Deepbills Project.
Adam previously worked as Chief Counsel for the US Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, addressing a wide range of issues related to election law, campaign finance, and legal matters facing the administration of the Senate. Adam was the lead staffer for the Rules Committee on passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, the DISCLOSE Act of 2012, and led the Committee’s legal team in examining and making changes to the Senate Rules related to the filibuster.
Before his work on the Rules Committee, Adam served as Special Assistant and Counsel for Commissioner Ray Martinez of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) where he helped to build that agency. He worked in a litigation practice prior to joining the EAC.
He received his law degree from the University of Texas-Austin, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. Adam received his bachelor of arts in Government with high distinction from the University of Virginia. He has served on the board of the Washington Council of Lawyers and has worked with other public service organizations in the Washington, D.C. area.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamAmbrogi
Director, Grants Management and Operations
Tony is the Director of Grants Management and Operations at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. He manages the organization’s developing systems, working closely with partners on the financial, human resources, contracts, and informational technology fronts, and plays a pivotal role in grants management. He supports the Democracy Fund investment process by conducting financial due diligence of potential investees and providing customer service to investees working through the grants process.
Tony joined the Democracy Fund in 2014 and brings philanthropic and operations expertise from a variety of national and local organizations. Most recently, he was a Program Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation focusing on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. While at the Campaign, his portfolio included leading education and policy organizations and consultants, and he built a number of financial and communications systems, managed the implementation of several new programs and developed relationships with philanthropic organizations and local funders of grade-level reading efforts.
Prior to the Campaign, he worked in the Casey Foundation’s grants management department as a Grants Analyst, specializing in data reporting and grant system improvements. He has spent time with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, GuideStar and a number of local community and family foundations. He is the author of the groundbreaking publication “Forty Years of LGBTQ Philanthropy.” He graduated first in his class with a master of arts in philanthropic studies from Indiana University’s School of Philanthropy and graduated summa cum laude from William Jewell College with a bachelor of arts in nonprofit leadership and business Administration. He serves on the DC steering committee of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Isaiah Castilla is Senior Counsel for the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Isaiah oversees the Fund’s legal affairs and provides expertise and guidance for its strategy development, grant making, contracting, and other areas. Previously, Isaiah served as Bolder Advocacy Counsel at Alliance for Justice. As Counsel at Alliance for Justice, Isaiah advised nonprofit and foundations on strategies to maximize their advocacy capacity and provided workshops and legal guidance on federal tax and campaign finance law.
Prior to joining AFJ, Isaiah was founding partner of The Castilla Law Group. In private practice, Isaiah managed a caseload of civil and criminal matters and provided legal guidance to nonprofits and political organizations. Before practicing law, he served as Deputy Finance Director for the Musgrove for United States Senate Campaign, North and Central Regional Finance Director for the Alex Sink for Governor Campaign in Florida, and Finance Director and Counsel for the Bill Luckett for Governor campaign and Progress for Mississippi PAC. During his tenure as a finance staffer, Isaiah built and executed robust fundraising plans and gained a wealth of knowledge in state and federal campaign finance law.
Isaiah holds a J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law and a graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Tougaloo College.
Hugo Castro is the Operations Manager at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. He is responsible for improving and coordinating major operational systems, including financial management, human resources, information systems, contract management, and office administration, as well as managing the ongoing day-to-day operations of the Fund.
Hugo joined the Democracy Fund in 2016 and brings entrepreneurial and finance experience from previous work at nonprofit organizations. Most recently, he was a Business Development Consultant at the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund, a nonprofit economic development organization, where he provided one-on-one consulting to over 400 entrepreneurs and business owners. His scope of work included: initial analysis of new or existing business venture, conducting assessments to determine strengths and weaknesses, formulating solutions to their challenges and assisting clients implement business strategies.
Previously, Hugo was the Director of Finance for a nonprofit organization network where he provided financial, accounting, tax, and human resources services to the organization and groups associated with the network. During this time, he developed and implemented financial guidelines and processes to help the organization create a robust financial and accounting system.
Hugo graduated from the University of South Florida Business School with a Bachelors in International Business, a minor in Marketing and The Honors College.
Program Assistant, Governance
Chris Crawford is a Program Assistant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on principled leadership and effective governance, Chris supports the Governance Program in its mission to invest in approaches that help our elected leaders deliberate, negotiate, and serve the American people. Current grantees of the Governance Program include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute.
Prior to joining the Democracy Fund, Chris worked as a government affairs associate at Susan B. Anthony List. During the 2014 midterm elections, Chris was Assistant National Field Director for the organization’s Super PAC, leading a Get Out The Vote operation that made over 1 million live voter contacts across four states. Chris has worked on multiple campaigns at the local and federal level in his home state of New Hampshire.
Chris graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Follow Chris @CrawfordStuff
Program Director, Public Square
Tom Glaisyer is the Director of the Public Square Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Tom leads the Democracy Fund’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Tom brings to the Democracy Fund a background in media research and policy, as well as social media advocacy consulting. He led the Media Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute where he sought to track and influence media efforts at the local, community, and national levels. During his time at New America, Tom’s efforts centered on policies that support the open Internet and innovation in media, strengthening independent reporting on issues of public interest, and helping citizens access and engage with high-quality information. Prior to this, he was a consultant and analyst focused on leveraging online platforms for knowledge management and building and sustaining advocacy networks. Tom also brings more than 14 years of international experience in information technology implementation and organizational change to the Democracy Fund.
Tom received his bachelor of engineering and economics from the University of Birmingham, England. He also holds a master’s of international affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University as well as a master’s of philosophy from Columbia University where he is pursuing a PhD in communications at the Graduate School of Journalism. He serves as board secretary for the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding.
Follow Tom on Twitter @tglaisyer
Vice President, Strategy, Impact, and Learning
Srik Gopal is the Vice President of Strategy, Impact, and Learning at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. He leads the organization’s evaluation, knowledge management, and learning systems to ensure that the Democracy Fund is highly impactful in its work.
He was previously a Managing Director at social impact consulting firm FSG and co-led the firm’s Strategic Learning and Evaluation practice. At FSG, Srik worked with a variety of clients including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Omidyar Network, the National Academies, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and the city of San Francisco. Srik has specific expertise implementing strategy, learning, and evaluation from a systems and complexity orientation. Srik led FSG’s “next generation evaluation” initiative, which sought to explore the future of learning and evaluation in a complex, inter-connected, and ever changing world, and co-wrote publications on “evaluating complexity” and “evaluating ecosystem investments”.
Prior to FSG, Srik spent a decade in leadership roles in the social sector, primarily in education. As Chief Impact and Learning Officer at New Teacher Center, a national education nonprofit, Srik worked to set up frameworks for impact measurement as well as systems and processes for data-driven learning and improvement. Prior to New Teacher Center, Srik worked on supporting whole systems change in education in his role as Director of Evaluation for the Ball Foundation.
Srik’s articles have been featured in Foundation Review and Organizational Development Practitioner, and he has blogged for sites including Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Guardian, Forbes India, and Markets for Good. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross Business School and a Certification in Advanced Evaluation Study from Claremont Graduate University. He has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology.
Follow Srik on Twitter @srik
Local News Associate, Public Square
Teresa Gorman is the Local News Associate in the Public Square Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Teresa supports the Public Square Program’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Teresa joined the Democracy Fund in 2016. Previously, Teresa spent her career working at the intersection of public media, local news, and digital media. At AIR (the Association of Independents in Radio), Teresa was the Supervising Producer for Localore: Finding America, an independent public media production of 15 independent producer-led teams. The teams incubated new storytelling models with communities to tell the story of all of America at public radio and television stations across the U.S. Prior to AIR, Teresa was a digital news specialist with NPR’s training team. Training included a Knight Foundation funded digital news training program that served dozens of NPR local member stations and hundreds of member station staffers. Previously, Teresa was one of PBS NewsHour’s first ever social media editors. She received her BS in Journalism from Boston University.
Follow Teresa on Twitter: @gteresa
Jessica Harris is the Communications Associate at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. She works closely with the Program and Learning teams to enhance the influence of the Fund’s grantees and program-related efforts among target audiences.
Jessica joined the Democracy Fund in 2015, bringing significant experience to the team in communications, networking, and advocacy. Most recently, Jessica worked as the Marketing and Events Manager at Third Way, where she took on multiple roles. As marketing chief, she shaped and managed the distribution network that pumped organizational ideas into the policy world, and amplified the debate using digital media. As events manager, she oversaw the planning and execution of hundreds of high-profile and highly regarded forums, panels, and keynote events on Capitol Hill and across Washington, D.C. Collaborating closely with senior staff, Jessica helped to develop products, events, and campaigns that maximized impact and advanced the case for a pragmatic, solutions-oriented U.S. politics. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mashable, and NPR.com.
Previously, Jessica was a fundraiser for several members of Congress, clerked at Wheeler, Trigg, Kennedy, one of the nation’s top litigation firms, and mastered the art of herding cats while coordinating volunteers during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Jessica also served as the Senior Staff Assistant at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NSCL), interned for Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, where she researched electronic voting and voting reform issues in Colorado, and worked on several candidate campaigns, including those for State Sen. Chris Romer, former State Sen. Mike Feeley, and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar.
Jessica graduated from the University of Colorado in 2007 with a B.A. in political science and women’s studies.
Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessicabharris
Program Director, Governance
Betsy Wright Hawkings is the Director of the Governance Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on principled leadership and effective governance, Betsy leads the Democracy Fund’s mission to invest in approaches that help our elected leaders deliberate, negotiate, and serve the American people. Current grantees of the Governance Program include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute.
Betsy brings more than 25 years of experience on Capitol Hill to the Democracy Fund. She worked for two decades for her hometown congressman, Christopher Shays of Connecticut, taking a leading role in helping Rep. Shays build bipartisan coalitions to balance the federal budget in 1995-96 and to establish the 9-11 Commission and implement its recommendations. She also supported the enactment of the Congressional Accountability Act, a provision of the 104th Congress’ “Contract with America,” which applied labor, civil rights, and workplace safety laws to Congress.
From 1996-98, Betsy was also Deputy Director of the Congressional Management Foundation, a non-partisan organization that works directly with Members and staff to enhance their operations and interactions with constituents. Betsy oversaw day-to-day operations of the Foundation and developed numerous guides and resources that provide Members with critical information, from how to establish and run Washington and district offices to best practices for setting strategic priorities over the course of a term.
Following Shays’ departure from Congress in 2008, Betsy left the Hill briefly to work for Amnesty International, where she was Managing Director of Government Relations and then Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy, Policy, and Research. She returned to Congress to lead the staffs of Congressmen Mike Turner and later Bobby Schilling of Illinois before signing on as Congressman Andy Barr’s chief of staff in 2012. In 2014, she was awarded the Cresswell Congressional Staff Leadership Award from the Stennis Center for Public Service.
Betsy is a graduate of Williams College, where she was named a Mead Scholar of American Studies, has attended courses at Harvard’s Kennedy School and is a founder of the Form of 1981 Memorial Fund at her alma mater, Groton School, to support student financial aid. She and her husband, David, live in Washington with their two sons.
Follow Betsy on Twitter @HillRabbit
Grants Management Associate
Roland Kennedy is the Grants Management Associate at Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. His work within the operations team includes coordinating and administering Democracy Fund’s investment process, grants management system, and projects that support staff and grantee partners.
Prior to joining Democracy Fund in February 2016, Roland worked as a contract and grants associate with Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program where he gained domestic and international grant making experience and worked with diverse grantee organizations and donors. Roland obtained his BA in Global Studies from Villanova University, an MS in Global Studies from Northeastern University, and is a candidate for an MPhil from the University of Pennsylvania.
Karla is the Networks Associate at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. She works with the Communications and Network Team to support the initiative and organization goals of developing and implementing influence strategies.
Karla joined the Democracy Fund in June 2015 as an Intern and then Special Projects Coordinator after earning her Masters of Public Policy from The University of Chicago with an emphasis on political campaigns and communication in 2015. Previously she has completed an internship with the Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives division of The MacArthur Foundation. In 2013, she gained experience with the Illinois State Senate Policy and Budget Staff, where she drafted legislative bills, communicated with stakeholders and senators, and analyzed the state budget. Additionally, she has written on the topics of public policy and current affairs for the Chicago Policy Review. Karla served as Senior Class President at Oakwood University while obtaining her B.A. in political science and journalism.
Follow Karla on Twitter: @karliemclean
Research and Systems Associate, Governance
Chris Nehls is the Research and Systems Associate for the Governance Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on principled leadership and effective governance, Chris supports the Governance Program in its mission to invest in approaches that help our elected leaders deliberate, negotiate, and serve the American people. Current grantees of the Governance Program include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute.
Chris spearheads the Governance Program’s investigations of the Congressional system to understand where work by grantees and partners may be most effective in producing meaningful improvements. He also works with the Democracy Fund’s Learning and Impact team to coordinate the organization’s approach to strategy and impact assessment. Chris began working for the Democracy Fund as a consultant to the Governance Initiative in May 2015, contributing to a strategic planning project. He joined the foundation’s full-time staff in December 2015.
Before joining the Governance team, Chris worked for CQ Roll Call in Washington, DC. He was the founding editor of the digital advocacy blog Connectivity, authored pieces for CQ Weekly and Politics in America, and provided research support to a variety of products. Prior to moving to Washington in 2009, Chris taught history courses at colleges in Virginia, Arkansas, and Rhode Island. He holds a PhD in 20th Century U.S. History from the University of Virginia, specializing in American political culture. He received undergraduate degrees in English and History from the University of Virginia in 1999.
Follow Chris on Twitter @Nehlsie
Program Assistant, Elections
Freddie Salas is a Program Assistant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections and the role of money in politics, Freddie supports the Elections Program in its mission to ensure that the views and votes of citizens come first in our democracy. Current grantees of the Elections Program include Pew’s Election Initiatives, TurboVote, MIT’s Voting Technology Project, the Piper Fund’s Communications Collaborative, Fund for the Republic, Demos, and Cato’s Deepbills Project.
Freddie most recently served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care where he worked to coordinate local nonprofits to reduce housing waitlists, creating tools to improve data accuracy for biannual Point in Time counts, and assisted with compiling HUD grant applications. He also ran the Homeless Veterans Working Group and successfully met the national goal of functionally ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 in the region. Before joining AmeriCorps, Freddie volunteered with the Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity.
Freddie graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Urban Affairs and Planning.
Program Associate, Elections
Stacey Scholl is a Program Associate at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections and the role of money in politics, Stacey supports the Elections Program in its mission to ensure that the views and votes of citizens come first in our democracy.
Drawing on a range of election law knowledge and policy experience at both the state and federal level, Stacey helps the Elections Program evaluate funding opportunities, support the success of grantees, and advance the portfolio’s goals through research, convening, and advocacy. Current grantees of the Elections Program include Pew’s Election Initiatives, TurboVote, MIT’s Voting Technology Project, the Piper Fund’s Communications Collaborative, Fund for the Republic, Demos, and Cato’s Deepbills Project.
Stacey joined Democracy Fund in 2014 after several years with the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) supporting military and overseas voters as a Program Analyst for the Election Official Assistance team and the State and Local Relations team. She worked closely with state and local election officials to interpret, explain, and implement state and federal law potentially effecting millions of voters. She also assisted with improving resources and information provided to these voters through new online tools and publications.
While attending law school she interned with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Elections Division and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Elections Division, assisting in a variety of areas including administrative rulemaking and direct assistance to election officials and voters.
Prior to law school Stacey worked for the Nebraska Republican Party in a variety of positions, eventually serving as the party’s Communications Director.
She received her law degree and legislative certificate in 2012 from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and her bachelors of arts in Political Science and Philosophy in 2007 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Follow Stacey on Twitter: @StaceyHScholl.
Strategy, Impact, and Learning Associate
Donata is the Strategy, Impact, and Learning Associate at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. She supports the organization’s evaluation, knowledge management, and learning systems to ensure that the Democracy Fund is highly impactful in its work.
Prior to joining the Democracy Fund in 2015, Donata worked as Program Associate with the Participatory Budgeting Project, a Democracy Fund grantee, where she managed the PBNYC process and helped engage thousands of NYC residents in directly allocating a portion of the city’s budget. Her research and experience working on PB has lead to several publications. She brings on-the-ground M&E expertise to the Democracy Fund from her experience at Awamaki, a fairtrade NGO in Peru, and through research conducted in Chile.
Donata has a Masters of Science in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a BA in International Development.
Executive Assistant to the President and Vice President of Strategy, Impact, and Learning
Robin Stevenson is the Executive Assistant to the President and Vice President of Strategy, Impact, and Learning at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. In this capacity, Robin provides executive support and leadership to maintain a smooth operational flow of the executive suite.
Robin has more than 25 years of related professional experience and comes to the Democracy Fund most recently from the MGM Resorts International, where she served as the Assistant to its Regional Chief Operating Officer. She has also worked as an Executive Assistant to Vice Presidents and Executive Directors at The American Institute of Architects, Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, Washington Hospital Center Foundation, and the George Washington University Hospital.
Program Assistant, Public Square
Estizer E. Smith is a Program Assistant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Estizer supports the Public Square Program in it’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Estizer joined the Democracy Fund in May 2016 immediately following the completion of her undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Communications & Rhetoric and Psychology. During the course of her undergraduate career Estizer gained practical experience by serving in a number of organizations including as a Legal Intake Intern with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, a Media Relations Intern at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and as a Public Relations intern with Sahl Communications Inc.
Associate Director, Public Square
Josh Stearns is the Associate Director of the Public Square Program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Josh leads the Public Square Program in it’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
A journalist, community builder, and civic strategist, Josh joined the Democracy Fund from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where he served as the Director of Journalism and Sustainability and worked to support and expand community-driven local news. Josh also helped found the Local News Lab at the Dodge Foundation, which invests in creative experiments in revenue and community engagement in journalism.
Previously, Josh served as press freedom director at Free Press, where he spent seven years running national advocacy campaigns in support of digital rights, freedom of expression, and media diversity. Before that Josh managed communications and policy for Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 college campuses committed to renewing the democratic purposes of higher education. He is a nationally recognized leader in public participation and civic innovation and has won numerous awards for digital storytelling and online campaigns.
Josh is a founding member of the First Draft Coalition and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. His articles have appeared in the Guardian, Columbia Journalism Review, PBS MediaShift, Orion Magazine, BuzzFeed, and Boing Boing. Josh is a visiting scholar in the Journalism and Communication Departments at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has taught at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He has a BA in writing from St. Lawrence University and an MA in American studies from the University of Massachusetts.
Follow Josh on Twitter @jcstearns
Lauren Strayer is the Director of Communications at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. She develops and manages the Fund’s efforts to expand the organization’s reach and influence, while fostering collaboration among its grantees and with other major leaders in the field.
Lauren joined the Democracy Fund in 2014, bringing ten years of experience to the team in communications, media, and advocacy. Most recently, Lauren was an independent consultant specializing in communications and strategy for non-profit and philanthropic enterprises. At various points in her career, her clients have included Inside Philanthropy, Hand in Hand, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and Free Press among others. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications at Demos, where she focused on media outreach, coalitions, and campaigns for a range of economic and democracy reform issues. She was also Associate Director for Institutional Giving for both Demos and The American Prospect magazine.
From 2004-2009, Lauren was the executive director of the New Democracy Project, where she was a co-editor of Change For America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, which was published in collaboration with SourceBooks and the Center for American Progress. She is also co-author of Defend Yourself! How to Protect Your Money, Your Health, and Your Rights in 10 Key Areas of Your Life (Newmarket Press, 2006). She was associate producer of 7 Days in America with Mark Green and Arianna Huffington at Air America Radio.
Lauren was an inaugural Next Generation American Express Leadership Fellow with the National Council for Research on Women. She holds a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Michigan and is pursuing an MBA at Georgetown University.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurenstrayer
Photo Credit: Lori Cannava
Digital Communications Assistant
Emma Thomson is the Digital Communications Assistant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. In this role, Emma can foster her love for both American democracy and emerging media while serving as a member of the Democracy Fund’s communications team.
Before joining the Democracy Fund, Emma served as a Press Assistant for Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. While attending college in Washington, DC, she gained communications experience with internships at Burson-Marsteller, the U.S. Senate, and GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Emma graduated magna cum laude from The George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Communication.
Follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaThsn
Program Associate, Public Square
Paul Waters is a Program Associate at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Paul supports the Public Square Program’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. He evaluates funding opportunities, supports the success of grantees, and advances the foundation’s goals through research, convening, and advocacy. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Paul joined the Democracy Fund in 2014. Previously, he served as a Legal Fellow at the Federal Communications Commission in the Office of the Chairman and Wireline Competition Bureau. At the FCC, Paul used his legal training to help draft policies supporting the deployment and adoption of high speed Internet in the United States.
Paul was a GW Presidential Merit Scholar and Public Interest Scholar at the George Washington University Law School, where he earned his J.D. He also served as the president of the Gulf Recovery Network, a student group that provides pro bono legal work in New Orleans. Paul graduated magna cum laude from the George Washington University, receiving a B.A. in political communication and international affairs.
Follow Paul on Twitter @pwaters3
Chief People Officer
Margaret is Chief People Officer at the Democracy Fund,a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.
Margaret brings a passionate commitment to her role in recruiting and developing top talent, building a values-driven, inclusive organizational culture, and advising on management matters. She previously coordinated the Democracy Fund’s transition to become an independent 501(c)3 and establish its operations.
Margaret brings management and organizational-change consulting experience to her role. While serving until 2013 as Deputy Vice President for Administration and Finance at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a Federal international development agency, Margaret led the agency’s successful effort to regain a “clean” audit opinion and oversaw financial management, human resources, information technology, contracts management, and other operations.
Her consulting practice of 16 years focused on designing and leading new initiatives, process improvements, and turnarounds to accelerate her not-for-profit and government clients’ impact. Margaret’s work resulted in national recognition for performance-based accountability and in state and local awards for her clients. A key component of her practice involved large-scale, citizen-engagement work as a Senior Associate of AmericaSpeaks.
Margaret was a contributor to Diversity at Work: the Practice of Inclusion (2013) and to Memos to the President: Management Advice from the Nation’s Top Public Administrators (2001). Prior to consulting, while at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in the White House, she received “Reinventing Government” and other leadership awards for advising the Deputy Director for Management. In the earliest days of her career, Margaret co-founded an automotive innovation company and was a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
Margaret received her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a University Fellow and a Sord Scholar. She earned her BA in Economics from the University of Michigan.<
Intern, Strategy, Impact, and Learning
Anna is an intern at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on strategy, impact, and learning, Anna supports the organization’s evaluation, knowledge management, and learning systems to ensure that the Democracy Fund is highly impactful in its work.
Previously, Anna worked as Research and Community Outreach Coordinator at the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, where she monitored religious freedom legislation, produced analysis and publications, and researched and reported on political developments in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. She has also interned for a variety of non-profit organizations focused on democracy, civil society building, and public health. She is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian and has worked in Eastern Europe and Southern Africa.
Anna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia in foreign affairs, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree with concentration in program evaluation at the George Washington University.
Intern, Public Square
Heather Franklin is an Intern at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Heather supports the Public Square Program in its mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Prior to joining the Democracy Fund, Heather served as an Organizer at Free Press where she worked on both their News Voices and Internet 2016 campaigns. In addition to her time at Free Press, she gained experience in nonprofits and public policy as an intern at the Turkish Cypriot Community Association in London, UK. She also served as a trustee for six years on the board of a small music and arts nonprofit in her hometown.
Heather graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Social Thought and Political Economy in 2015 and a Master of Public Policy in 2016—both from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Intern, Public Square
Taylor Harris is an Intern at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on a vibrant media and the public square, Taylor supports the Public Square Program in its mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Current grantees of the Public Square Program include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the American Press Institute, and the Engaging News Project.
Taylor joined the Democracy Fund in September 2016 following her completion of her undergraduate degree. She graduated magna cum laude receiving her B.A. in Print/Online Journalism from Howard University. While completing her undergraduate degree Taylor was active in various media and community service organizations on campus including acting as Editor-in-Chief of her college’s newspaper, The Hilltop. Taylor has worked at organizations such as The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post, and freelanced for organizations such as American Press Institute and USA Today. She also received fellowships from ProPublica, Online News Association, National Association of Black Journalists, and Investigative Editors and Reporters.
Sean Raymond is an Intern at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on principled leadership and effective governance, Sean supports the Governance Program in it’s mission to invest in approaches that help our elected leaders deliberate, negotiate, and serve the American people. Current grantees of the Governance Program include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Aspen Institute’s Congressional Program, and the Faith & Politics Institute.
Sean joined the Democracy Fund in 2016, bringing a broad depth of experience in politics, government, and advocacy ranging from local campaigns to Capitol Hill. Most recently he interned in the Campaigns & Elections office of the National Education Association, where he coordinated staff and volunteers on the ground in crucial primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa and served as a point of contact between the NEA and presidential campaigns throughout endorsement selection proceedings. Other areas of focus during his time at the NEA included conducting research about NEA programs, developing databases to record data about members and their political activity, and monitoring education-related legislation and executive actions. He has interned in two different Congressional offices during his time in D.C., in addition to several roles in local government and on campaigns in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Sean is a rising senior at The George Washington University, where he studies Political Communication with a minor in American history.
Senior Fellow & Consultant, Elections
Terry Ao Minnis is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing valuable insight into the current voting rights community and important dynamics shaping our elections, Terry advances the work of the Elections Program by advising staff on emerging needs and opportunities to improve voting for all, but specifically for those who face unique challenges under our current system.
Terry currently serves as the Director of the Census and Voting programs for Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC). She co-chairs the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Census Task Force and sat on the U.S Department of Commerce’s 2010 Census Advisory Committee from 2002 through 2011, when the committee’s charter ran out. Terry has published several articles and has been counsel on numerous amicus briefs filed before the Supreme Court on voting rights cases, including Shelby County v. Holder. Terry was one of the key leaders in campaigns on reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and on Census 2010. She received her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from American University Washington College of Law and her Bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Chicago.
Follow Terry on Twitter @Tao_Minnis
Senior Fellow & Consultant, Elections
Commissioner Paul DeGregorio is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing extensive expertise on election administration policy and execution, Paul advances the work of the Elections Program by advising staff on effective strategies and representing the Democracy Fund at key events to strengthen the administration of elections in the United States.
In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Paul to be one of the first members of the newly-created U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Serving as the EAC’s chair and vice-chair during his term, Paul focused on implementing the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and fostering higher standards for electronic voting systems, best practices for election officials, and the use of new technology to serve voters, particularly voters with special needs.
Paul is a Senior Advisor to the Association of World Election Bodies, a global organization devoted to the promotion of the professional administration of elections, and has worked in over 35 countries. Previously, Paul served as Chief of Elections for the voting technology company Everyone Counts Inc., and focused his efforts on improving voting processes for military and overseas voters, as well as the disabled. Prior to that he served as Executive Vice President and COO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), where he oversaw work in 23 countries on democracy development projects.
He has testified and presented before hundreds of election management bodies and organizations throughout the globe and before the U.S .Congress. Paul’s leadership has been recognized in the United States and by the international community. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the prestigious Freedom Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for his achievements in promoting freedom and democracy throughout the world.
A former Director of Elections for St. Louis County, DeGregorio has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Missouri St. Louis and the Political Science Chapter of the UM-St. Louis.
Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulSDeGregorio
Senior Fellow and Consultant, Public Square
Daniela Gerson is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing extensive expertise in immigration reporting and participatory media, Daniela advises the Public Square Program on its work to strengthen ecosystem news through journalism innovation and engagement with multiethnic communities.
In fall 2016 Daniela joined California State University, Northridge Journalism Department as its first assistant professor with a focus on community, ethnic and participatory media.
Previously, Daniela worked with the Los Angeles Times as a community engagement editor, charged with bringing in new perspectives that reflect the diversity of L.A. and creating feedback loops to inform coverage. She was part of three teams: engagement/social media, education and a youth journalism initiative. Over the course of a year her projects — including student immigration walkouts, closure of LAUSD, and Porter Ranch gas leak — implemented techniques to use digital tools to integrate readers into the reporting process, and to visually demonstrate their contributions.
Before joining the Los Angeles Times, Daniela directed the Civic Engagement and Journalism Initiative at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. As part of that role, she was the founding editor of Alhambra Source, a multilingual community site. It is also a research initiative into how local news can foster civic engagement and cross linguistic and ethnic barriers. She also developed Reporter Corps, a program to train young adults to report on their own communities.
In addition to the Los Angeles Times, Daniela has reported for the Financial Times Magazine, The New York Times, PRI’s The World, Weekend America, Der Spiegel, WNYC: New York Public Radio, among other outlets. Her first newspaper job was an immigration reporter for the New York Sun, where her beat included Chinese-Italian tensions in Brooklyn, Irish undocumented immigrants in the Bronx, the national immigration debate in Washington and Dominican deportees in Santo Domingo.
She spent more than a year reporting from Berlin on guest worker programs as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Scholar and Arthur F. Burns Fellow. She also was awarded a Radio in the American Sector award for a personal German-language documentary on the legacy of the Holocaust for Deutschlandradio Kultur.
Daniela graduated from Brown University with a BA in International Relations and History, and USC Annenberg with an MA in Specialized Journalism, focusing on demographics, immigration and digital media. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, German and Hebrew.
Follow Daniela on Twitter @dhgerson
Senior Fellow and Consultant, Public Square
Martin Kaiser is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing extensive expertise in the fields of journalism and local news media, Kaiser advises the Public Square Program on its work to strengthen journalism at the state and local levels and on its efforts to increase public engagement with news.
Martin Kaiser is a nationally recognized journalism media consultant specializing in leadership, digital innovation, ethics, investigative reporting and editing. He has worked in the United States, Canada and Europe. He was Editor/Sr. Vice President of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from 1997 to 2015. Under his leadership, the Journal Sentinel earned a national reputation for its journalism and digital innovation. Kaiser’s newsroom won Pulitzer Prizes in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and was honored as a finalist six other times from 2003 through 2014. While he was editor, the Journal Sentinel won awards in almost every major U.S. journalism contest. Columbia Journalism Review wrote that the Journal Sentinel had one of the most acclaimed watchdog teams in the country, period. In 2010, he was named a Vice President of Journal Communications, the parent company of the Journal Sentinel.
Editor & Publisher magazine named Kaiser its Editor of the Year in 2009 – recognizing his ability to increase investigative and enterprise reporting while developing one of the most respected newsroom cultures in the nation. In 2011, the Milwaukee Press Club honored him with its Headliner Award for leadership in Wisconsin, only the second time a journalist had been selected in the 55-year history of the award.
He joined the Milwaukee Journal, predecessor to the Journal Sentinel, as Managing Editor/Vice President in 1994. Before arriving in Milwaukee, Kaiser was Associate Managing Editor of the Baltimore Sun. He previously served in editing and reporting positions at the Chicago Sun-Times, and at Florida newspapers in Sarasota and Clearwater.
He is on the board of directors of the American Society of News Editors Foundation and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Reporting. He is on the advisory boards of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. He is also a member of the Colby College (Me.) Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award Board and has been a Pulitzer Prize judge three times.
In 2010, Kaiser completed his term as president of the American Society of News Editors. During a tumultuous time, he was instrumental in refocusing the almost century old organization on a digital future, revitalizing the organization’s finances and reinstating the editors‘ annual convention.
Kaiser was honored in 2009 at the University of Georgia by being selected to give the school’s annual Ralph McGill Lecture. In 2010, Penn State University chose him to give its annual Oweida Lecture on journalism ethics.
He earned his B.A. from The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., and completed the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management Executive Program.
Senior Fellow & Consultant, Public Square
Tracie Powell is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing extensive expertise in the fields of journalism and media policy, Tracie advises the Public Square Program on its work to strengthen journalism innovation and its efforts to increase public engagement with news especially in terms of guiding news organizations in adding to audience by reaching and engaging with increasingly diverse emerging markets, both in terms of staffing and audience development.
She is a JSK (Knight) Fellow at Stanford University She is the founder and editor-in-chief of AllDigitocracy.org, a platform focused on media and its impact on diverse audiences and communities, she was contributing writer to the Columbia Journalism Review from 2012 to 2015, a Sensemaking Fellow for the Poynter Institute from 2011 to 2012, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly’s CQPolitics.com from 2009 to 2010, an Associate Editor for Diverse Issues In Higher Education from 2008 to 2009, a 2011 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. She was a 2007 American Political Science (APSA) Fellow, a 2006 Kiplinger Fellow in Public Affairs Journalism. She was a founding team member of Black America Web, founding editor of Eclipse Magazine and DallasHapps.com in Dallas, TX and the editor-in-chief of The Dallas Examiner, a weekly newspaper in Dallas, TX.
Before that, Powell was a government reporter for The Austin American-Statesman and a government and cops reporter for The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA. She began her career in advertising and as a circulation manager as a management trainee with Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Inc.
Powell’s work in open records and public meetings led to her receiving the Open Records Award from the Georgia Press Association. She is a graduate of the Henry Grady College of Journalism at The University of Georgia.
Powell is the immediate past chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Digital Journalism Task Force.
Follow Tracie on Twitter @TMPowell
Senior Fellow & Consultant, Public Square
Jake Shapiro is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Brining extensive expertise on news media production and distribution, Jake advises the Public Square Program on issues related to the future of news media distribution across the country.
Jake is founding CEO of Public Radio Exchange (PRX), an award-winning nonprofit whose mission is to deliver significant stories to millions of people. Since its launch in 2003, PRX has been a leader and innovator in public media. PRX programs include The Moth Radio Hour, This American Life, Snap Judgment, Reveal, 99% Invisible, and the Radiotopia podcast network. Fast Company named PRX as one of the world’s Top 10 Most Innovative Media Companies in 2015.
In 2012, Jake helped found Matter Ventures, a for-profit startup accelerator for mission-driven media entrepreneurs. Jake is an Ashoka Fellow, Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and advisor to a number of public media organizations, media funders, and Internet startups. Jake holds a B.A. in history and literature from Harvard University and plays a mean guitar for Two Ton Shoe.
Follow Jake on Twitter @jakeshapiro
Senior Fellow and Consultant, Governance
Rick Shapiro is a Senior Fellow and Consultant at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Bringing extensive experience and knowledge of Congress and congressional operations, Rick advises the Governance Program on its efforts to enhance the capacity of the Congress, increase citizen engagement in the work of Congress and enhance public trust in both the legislative and executive branches of government.
Rick served as Executive Director for the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) for 18 years. CMF is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of Congress. Over the past 25 years, Rick has provided management consulting services to leaders in both the House and Senate and more than 200 House and Senate offices, including Member offices, committees, leadership offices and institutional offices responsible for the overall management of the Congress. While at CMF, Rick authored or co-authored of a number of books and reports on congressional operations. He also testified before Congress on improving congressional operations and was quoted regularly in newspaper, radio and television stories about the Congress.
Currently, Rick is the President of Strategic Assets Consulting, a management consulting firm that specializes in providing management services to federal, state and local government, non-profit organizations and businesses. He also provides management consulting services to congressional offices through his continued affiliation with CMF.
Earlier in his career, Rick worked in the Senate as an investigator for a Senate subcommittee and served as a Staff Director for two House oversight subcommittees conducting oversight of the federal government. He also worked as an external management consultant for a large, international consulting firm and as an internal management consultant for the Governor of Arizona providing management services to Arizona state agencies.
Rick holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Illinois and a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Founder and Chairman
Pierre Omidyar is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who is best known as the founder of eBay. Starting from the premise that people are basically good, Pierre created eBay in 1995 – an online platform that gives people equal access to information, opportunity, and tools to pursue their goals. Today he serves on the board of directors of the company, which enables millions of buyers and sellers to connect and prosper over shared interests.
As a philanthropist, technologist, and innovator, Pierre has seen the positive impact social entrepreneurs can have on addressing the world’s most challenging problems. This perspective helped inform his creation of the Democracy Fund, which he guides with his strategic vision, values, and unique approach to the field of philanthropy.
Pierre and his wife Pam are active philanthropists who believe that every person has the power to make a difference. Guiding their work is a common set of values – a deeply rooted belief in humanity, and a conviction that the world thrives when we prioritize treating others with compassion, dignity, and a respect for diversity. Working across many sectors and geographies, the Omidyars have contributed more than $2 billion to causes ranging from economic advancement for the underserved, technology for improving kids’ health, human rights, reimagining journalism and sustainability initiatives. In 2011, Pierre and Pam were honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy for the lasting impact of their work.
To fulfill their mission, Pierre and Pam are deeply engaged in the organizations they founded, including: Democracy Fund, HopeLab, Humanity United, Omidyar Network, and Ulupono Initiative. While each organization across The Omidyar Group has a specific focus, they are united in that they all aim to create opportunities for people to improve their quality of life and that of their communities.
Pierre currently serves as founder and CEO of First Look – a media and technology company dedicated to upholding and promoting the tenets of the First Amendment. He is CEO and publisher of Honolulu Civil Beat, a local news service in Hawaii that encourages greater civic participation through media. Pierre also sits on the PayPal board of directors and is a trustee of Tufts University, Santa Fe Institute, and Punahou School.
Pat Christen joined the Democracy Fund board in 2014. Pat is a managing director of The Omidyar Group, serving as a senior advisor to philanthropists Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Pat brings curiosity, a sense of humor and a commitment to high accountability to her role, which focuses on cultivating environments of learning, innovation and impact across all Omidyar Group organizations and initiatives.
Prior to joining The Omidyar Group, Pat served as President and CEO of HopeLab, a non-profit harnessing the power and appeal of technology to improve human health and well-being. Under Pat’s leadership for more than a decade, HopeLab’s work centered on the development of specially designed technology to drive positive health behavior among youth. HopeLab is currently focused on the research and development of new social technologies to promote human resilience.
Prior to HopeLab, Pat was President and Executive Director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for 15 years, where she worked with her counterparts nationally to craft the federal Ryan White C.A.R.E. Act. This precedent-setting legislation now generates more than $2 billion annually in funding for AIDS care in the United States.
Pat also served as President of the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, establishing AIDS clinics and playing an active role in AIDS-planning efforts globally. As president of Pangaea, she was responsible for the construction of the Infectious Diseases Institute at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, a state-of-the-art AIDS clinic, research, and training center which opened its doors in August of 2004. Pat has written, studied, and lectured on social and health issues both in the U.S. and abroad. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, East Africa from 1982–1985. She was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and is now a member of the Exiles Chapter because she is too old to be considered a “young” president any longer! She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she studied biology and political science. She is also a mother of four, a role that deeply inspires her work.
Will Fitzpatrick has served on the Democracy Fund board of directors since its founding. As the principal of Will Fitzpatrick PC, Will supports several of Pierre and Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic endeavors around the world and throughout The Omidyar Group. He serves as general counsel and secretary of the board of Omidyar Network. He also serves as advisory counsel for First Look Media, which is reimagining journalism for the digital age, combining the promise of technological innovation with the power of fearless reporting.
Will is sought out by foundations, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals who wish to integrate their philanthropy and their for-profit investing. His experience is rooted in years as both an in-house counsel and running independent law practices for diverse technology firms, including Google, Electronic Arts, and OpsWare, among others.
Will began his career as a clerk for Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court in Alabama, and prior to law school he worked for the Equal Justice Initiative, providing post-conviction legal assistance to death row inmates. Will earned his JD from Columbia University and graduated with honors from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in American history and literature.
Follow Will on Twitter: @willfitz
Mike Mohr has served as a member of the Democracy Fund board of directors since its founding. As the founder and chairman of Comprehensive Financial Management, he has served as a close advisor to Pierre Omidyar, and his wife Pam, for many years. Mike brings more than 25 years of diverse financial and managerial experience to his governance role at Democracy Fund. He also serves as a trustee, director, and officer of a significant number of charitable organizations and commercial ventures.
Photo by Eric Millette.
Sarah Steven joined the Democracy Fund board in 2016. Since 2008, Sarah Steven has held a variety of communications and program management roles across the organizations and initiatives of The Omidyar Group (TOG).
Sarah works closely with Pierre and Pam Omidyar, their advisors, and leadership teams, to develop communications strategies and platforms that allow TOG to share its efforts, key findings, and unique contributions with targeted audiences. She leads a team of communications experts who share her passion and high standards for supporting the mission and work of the Omidyars.
With a career spanning more than two decades, Sarah draws from a diverse set of professional experiences beginning in Washington, D.C., where she managed public affairs programming for such clients as Home Box Office, Microsoft, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Silicon Valley, she worked with both Fortune 500 companies and startups on programs ranging from environmental sustainability to consumer and enterprise technologies and services.
Throughout her career, Sarah has been recognized for her expertise and aptitude for managing crisis situations and developing large-scale programs that are global in nature and reach. She firmly believes that the challenges and opportunities inherent in each of these areas bring greater energy and creativity to her work.
Sarah holds a B.A. in communications from George Mason University. She loves her Southern Virginia roots, but is equally grateful for her home in Hawaii where she and her husband can be found trying to teach their toddler son how to shaka.
The Honorable Robin Carnahan leads the State and Local Government Practice at 18F, the team of digital technology consultants housed within the General Services Administration. Carnahan was twice elected Secretary of State of Missouri and served as senior director at the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group. Before serving in public office, Ms. Carnahan was a business executive, senior advisor at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and a corporate lawyer.
Ms. Carnahan has worked extensively on elections and governance issues both in the U.S. and abroad. She has led international election observer delegations and worked in more than a dozen countries throughout Central Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Ms. Carnahan was an inaugural member of the Aspen Institute Rodel Fellows in Public Leadership Program, a 2013 fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and currently is a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. She frequently speaks on a variety of government policy issues ranging from civic technology and innovation to election administration and financial regulatory reform.
Ms. Carnahan also serves on the board of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and advises a number of civic technology companies.
Tom Davis grew up in Northern Virginia, served as a page boy in the US Senate in High School. Graduated with Honors from Amherst College, and earned his Law Degree from The University of Virginia Law School. He served as an Infantry Officer in the U. S. Army and National Guard.
He began his career as a District Supervisor on the Fairfax County Board, winning 63% of the votes in 1979 with re-elections of 78% and 84%. He challenged the incumbent Democrat, Audrey Moore, for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board in 1991, winning with 66% of the vote and went on to defeat incumbent Democratic Representative Leslie Bryne- in 1994 for a seat in the U.S. House, where he was re-elected by wide margins six times.
He served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The campaign arm of House Republicans in 2000 and 2002. He made history in 2002, when for the first time in history the Republicans picked up seats in the House in a midterm election where they held the Presidency.
He then went on in 2003 to Chair the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, leading the investigation of Hurricane Katrina, passing the first cyber security law (FISMA) and the Control Board and Revitalization packages for D.C.
Tom leaves a political legacy that includes:
After leaving Congress, UNDEFEATED and UNINDICTED, he served as Vice-Chairman of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, where he oversaw construction of Phrase I and Full Funding for Phase II of Rail to Dulles Airport. He currently serves as Rector, the Chairman of the Board of Visitors at George Mason University, where he is an adjunct Professor of Political Science. Tom has twice won National Journals Political genius award in their annual trivial pursuit competition, and is frequently quoted in major newspapers and cable news. Having appeared in Meet the Press, Fox Power Player of the Week, CNN Sunday and This Week with George Stefanopolis as well as Morning Joe and CBS Nightly News.
Juleanna Glover advises major corporate clients with high-stakes public and governmental affairs challenges in a myriad and diverse range of issue areas. Ms. Glover has decades of experience working on some of the most important government policy debates, high profile political campaigns and corporate controversies in the U.S. and abroad. The New York Times cited Ms. Glover as a “consummate political insider”, and in September 2012 Bloomberg news profiled Juleanna stating: “She brings Washington power players together in a way others can’t match. If you’re looking for the right introduction in D.C., you need to know Juleanna Glover.” She is regularly included in publications’ lists of the most influential and powerful people in the nation’s capital.
Ms. Glover served on the senior staffs of then President-elect George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and then Senator John Ashcroft. She advised Senator John McCain in his bid for the White House, traveling with him throughout the 2008 presidential primary season.
Juleanna Glover remains a Senior Advisor at Teneo Intelligence after joining the group as Managing Director in 2013. Prior to joining Teneo, Glover founded the Ashcroft Group, LLC, a corporate integrity consulting company with former Attorney General John Ashcroft. She also served as Director at Clark and Weinstock. Ms. Glover has experience directly advising some of the world’s largest companies including Microsoft, Oracle, eBay, Verisign, Gen PhRMA, Eli Lilly, JP Morgan Chase, ArcelorMittal, First Solar, BNP Paribas, the Big Four accounting firms, AT&T, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, PepsiCo, Lenovo, Motorola, Google, Alibaba, Uber, SpaceX and Snapchat.
Glover has been featured in profiles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, National Journal, the Financial Times, the London Daily Telegraph, as well as Elle, Marie Claire and Washingtonian magazines since leaving the White House in 2002. Glover comments frequently on US public policy and politics in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Politico and National Review.
The Honorable Charles A. Gonzalez was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1945, to Henry and Bertha Gonzalez in San Antonio, Texas. The third of eight children, he attended local schools and graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School, attended San Antonio College, received a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin, and attained a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law.
From 1972-1982, he practiced law and in 1982 was elected Judge of the County Court at Law Number Two and served until 1987. From 1987-1988 he was Of Counsel with the Pasqual and Pozza law firm. In 1988, he was elected Judge of the 57th Judicial District Court and served until 1997. From 1997-1998, he was Of Counsel with the Law Offices of Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson.
During his judicial career, he was voted one of the highest ranked judges in Bexar County. While Judge of the County Court at Law Number Two, he instituted numerous reforms which included the creation of a separate civil docket system lauded by civil law practitioner and the business community, as well as a Domestic Violence docket, worked to make Municipal Courts tribunals of record, and sponsored rules that placed prohibitions on the use of the county courtroom and personnel for personal gain.
As Judge of the 57th Judicial District Court, he instituted the Alternative Dispute Resolution System (ADR) which continues to be utilized and is regarded as one of the most successful ADR models. He served on State Bar Committees on Alternative Dispute Resolution and was a featured presenter at Advanced Legal Education Courses sponsored by the State Bar of Texas. He also served as President of the San Antonio Bar Association and President of the William Sessions Inn of Court.
In 1998, he sought to succeed his father as U.S. Representative from the 20th District of Texas. Elected in 1998, he served until January 3, 2013. He joined his father in representing the 20th Congressional District for a combined total of 51 years. During his seven terms in Congress, he served on the Committees on Financial Services, Small Business, Homeland Security, House Administration, Judiciary, and Energy and Commerce. He chaired the task force to determine the winner of the contested Florida Congressional District 13 election. Service also included positions on ad hoc committees dealing with election reform, voting rights, campaign finance reform, and the census. From 2011-2012, he was Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as well as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
He is currently a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform.
During his judicial and congressional careers, he has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his commitment and work in achieving excellence in the legal profession and seeking public policies in furtherance of diversifying our nation’s energy sources, increasing access to quality health care, improving our educational system, and fostering better relations with Mexico.
He is married to the former Linda Heemer and has a son, Leo, from his previous marriage.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Ph.D., is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of its Annenberg Public Policy Center. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the International Communication Association, Dr. Jamieson is the author or co-author of 16 books including: Presidents Creating the Presidency (University of Chicago Press, 2008); Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment (Oxford, 2008); and unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation (Random House, 2007).
Written with Kate Kenski and Bruce Hardy, Dr. Jamieson’s The Obama Victory (Oxford, 2010) was the winner of an American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in government and politics and the International Communication Association’s outstanding book award. Dr. Jamieson has won teaching awards at each of the three universities at which she has taught and won political science or communication awards for ve of her books.
She is co-founder of the Webby award-winning FactCheck.org, which researches the veracity of claims made by political players. Its SciCheck feature was launched in 2015 to expose the misuse of scientific evidence in political discourse.
Brett Loper is Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, for American Express. In that role, he coordinates the Company’s engagement strategy with Congress, the White House, federal agencies, and state and local governments.
Before joining American Express, he held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff to U. S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). In that role, he led a team often foreign and domestic policy experts, and served as chief legislative strategist to the Speaker.
Prior to joining the Speaker, he held the position of Senior Executive Vice President for the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed). In that role, he led the medical device and diagnostics industry’s advocacy efforts at both the federal and state levels.
Loper has served in a variety of capacities in the White House and the Congress. This includes serving as the Republican Staff Director for the House Committee on Ways and Means, whose legislative jurisdiction includes all tax and trade laws, and the Medicare program. He also served as both Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff in the House Majority Leader’s Office, where his principle responsibility was coordinating the
legislative schedule for the House of Representatives. Early in the Administration of President George W. Bush, Loper served as a Deputy Associate Director for the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Loper received his B.A. from Villanova University, and his M.B.A. from the George Washington University. He has served as an adjunct professor at Villanova, and is Board Member for the University’s Center for Marketing and Public Policy Research. In addition, he serves as a senior advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center. He and his wife, Ginger, live in Arlington with their three daughters, Grace, Kate, and Sarah Clayton.
Geneva Overholser, an independent journalist in New York City, is a senior fellow at USC Annenberg’s Center for Communication Leadership and Policy. She was until 2013 director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. She serves on the boards of the Rita Allen Foundation, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the Women’s Media Center, and the Academy of American Poets.
Previously she held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism. Overholser was editor of The Des Moines Register, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. While at the Register, she was recognized as Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation and as “The Best in the Business” by American Journalism Review.
In addition, Geneva has been ombudsman of The Washington Post, a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group, and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. She was a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review and an early blogger at Poynter.org. She spent five years overseas, writing from Paris and Kinshasa.
Through the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in 2006 she published On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change. She is co-editor, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of “The Press,” part of the Oxford University Press Institutions of American Democracy series.
Geneva has served on numerous boards including the Knight Fellowships at Stanford, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. She was for nine years a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the final year as chair, and is a former officer of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She is a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
She holds a B.A. in history from Wellesley College, a master’s in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a French language certificate from the Sorbonne. She is married to David Westphal, also a journalist. They have three children.
Follow Geneva on Twitter @genevaoh
Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. He is also a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University, and the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression. While working at the 2008 Obama-Biden Transition, Spencer chaired the Election Assistance Commission agency review team and worked on ethics matters in the office of the general counsel. In the first term of the Obama Administration, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice, where he partnered with White House officials to lead the Administration’s democracy work and co-chaired the Attorney General’s reentry and alternatives to incarceration task forces (many of the groups’ proposals have since been implemented).
He currently serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, and as the national chair of public policy for the nation’s oldest African-American fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi (the Boulé). He served on the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform and the Commission on Presidential Nomination Scheduling and Timing (where he led an effort that resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to 98,000 Iowans who had completed their sentences). He has also served on several non-profit boards, including Common Cause, Demos, The Center for Responsive Politics, and the American Constitution Society. Spencer is an honors graduate of both Hampton University and Harvard Law School.
The Honorable Deborah Pryce leads a team at Ice Miller Whiteboard which offers detailed expertise regarding all levels of the policymaking process, including legislative mechanics, committee dynamics and procedures, communications, coalition building, fundraising, and vote counting on both federal and state levels for clients in industries ranging from health care to financial services.
Ms. Pryce has served as Chairman of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission and was appointed by Governor Kasich (2010-present). The mission of the Liquor Control Commission is to ensure compliance with the liquor laws and regulations of the state of Ohio and to provide fair and impartial hearings for the protection of the public and permit holders alike. The Commission works in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Ms. Pryce served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-2008. Ms. Pryce held positions of freshman class president, deputy whip, House Republican Conference secretary, vice-chair, and chairman. As the House Republican Conference Chairman (2003-2006), she was the fourth-highest ranking Member of Congress and the highest-ranking Republican woman in the history of the House. In this role, she presided over the Conference, developed communications strategies, built coalitions, liaised with the White House, and designed strategic initiatives to advance the legislative agenda.
As a member of the House Rules Committee, she served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process. In this role, she:
As a member of the Committee on Financial Services, she acted as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology. Her complete jurisdiction included: domestic monetary policy; multilateral development lending institutions, such as the World Bank; coins and currency; and international trade and finance, such as the IMF and Eximbank. In this role she:
As a Ranking Republican Member on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, she had jurisdiction over: capital markets and securities industry, government- sponsored enterprises, and insurance.
Sonal Shah is an economist and entrepreneur. She has spent her career focused on economic policy and actionable innovation in the public and private sectors. Ms. Shah is a global leader on social innovation policy, including impact investing, data and technology for social good, and civic engagement through government, business, philanthropy, and civil society. She has led policy innovations at the White House for President Obama and the Treasury Department for President Clinton. Ms. Shah brings a unique and diverse background. She started her career at the U.S. Department of Treasury where she was an international economist working on timely development issues, including setting up the central bank in Bosnia, working post-conflict reconstruction in Kosovo, implementing poverty reduction strategies in Africa, and working on the financial crises in Asia and Latin America.
Ms. Shah served as Deputy Assistant to the President for President Obama and founded the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. She served on President Obama’s transition board leading the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform group. In the Administration, Ms. Shah led efforts to set up innovative finance mechanisms for service delivery, leveraging technology and partnerships to solve some of the nation’s toughest challenges. She also supported and trained leadership throughout government (political and civic service) to institutionalize innovative practices. In the private sector, Ms. Shah led technology for civic engagement and impact investing initiatives at Google as the head of Global Development Initiatives. She also set up and ran the environmental strategy as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs, Inc.
One of Ms. Shah’s most proud accomplishments is working with her siblings to create a nonprofit organization, Indicorps, to build a new generation of socially conscious global leaders. They worked with some of the leading nonprofit and social organizations throughout India to work on issues in healthcare, education, farming, and women’s development. Indicorps created the service movement in India, inspiring and incubating new social enterprises like Teach for India and Sarvajal.
Ms. Shah is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and serves on the board of the Case Foundation, Social Finance, Inc., Urban Alliance, Nonprofit Finance Fund, and the GSMA Foundation. She also serves as an adviser to the Washington Area Women’s Foundation and the Future Project.
Follow Sonal on Twitter @SonalRShah
Kristen Soltis Anderson is a researcher, pollster, and political analyst. She is a leading expert on the millennial generation and is author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up). During 2013, Anderson was named one of TIME Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30 Changing The World,” and she was named as one of ELLE Magazine’s “Most Compelling Women In Washington” in 2016. As co-founder of Echelon Insights, Anderson leads one of Washington’s most innovative research and data analysis firms, and conducts messaging and polling projects for Fortune 500 companies, associations, nonprofits and campaigns.
Anderson is a political contributor for ABC News, where she appears as part of their national political coverage on programs such as This Week with George Stephanopolous and Good Morning America. She often appears on programs such as MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Fox News’ The Kelly File. She is a columnist at The Washington Examiner, where she covers polling and political trends, and she has also had columns featured in The Washington Post and The Daily Beast. She is co-host of the popular podcast The Pollsters along with Democratic pollster Margie Omero.
During 2014, Anderson was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, where she led a study group series on changing election technology and voter demographics. She serves on the advisory boards of a number of organizations including ClearPath, Empowered Women, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She received her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.
Follow Kristen on Twitter @KSoltisAnderson
Charles J. Sykes is one of the most influential conservatives in Wisconsin. The author of eight books, Sykes is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and is founder and editor in chief of the website Right Wisconsin, and is the editor of the Wisconsin Interest magazine. He recently stepped down as a talk show host at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee and as host of “Sunday Insight” on the local NBC affiliate
During the 2016 campaign, Sykes was a prominent and outspoken critic of Donald Trump, confronting the Republican candidate in a widely discussed interview in March. Sykes has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, BBC, and NPR for his political commentary, including his views on the future of conservativism and the media. He is currently a regular contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.
Sykes’s books include A Nation of Victims, Dumbing Down Our Kids, Profscam, The Hollow Men, The End of Privacy, 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School, A Nation of Moochers, and Fail U: The False Promise of Higher Education. Sykes has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, USA Today, National Review, and other national publications. He has also spoken extensively on university campuses.
He is currently working on a book for St. Martin’s Press tentatively titled “How The Right Lost Its Mind.” It will be published in the fall of 2017.
Follow him on Twitter @SkyesCharlie
Ben is the founder and CEO of Change.org, the world’s largest platform for social change with over 125 million users. Ben has been named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world, Fortune’s 40 Under 40 rising young business leaders, and Fast Company’s most creative people in business, and is a thought leader on the intersection of technology, business, and social change. He has been profiled in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, NPR, Washington Post, and CNN, and is a graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics.
Arturo Vargas is the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a national membership organization of Latino policymakers and their supporters governed by a 28-member Board of Directors. Arturo also serves as Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund, an affiliated national nonprofit organization that strengthens American democracy by promoting the full participation of Latinos in civic life. The NALEO Educational Fund’s programmatic activities include U.S. citizenship outreach and assistance, civic participation and integration, voter engagement, technical assistance to elected and appointed Latino officials, research on Latino demographic and electoral trends, and policy analysis and advocacy on access to the democratic process. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the NALEO Educational Fund is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors, maintains offices in Houston, New York, Orlando and Washington, D.C., and has an annual budget of $9 million.
Prior to joining NALEO, Arturo was Vice President for Community Education and Public Policy of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund where he supervised and directed MALDEF’s community education and leadership development programs. His prior positions at MALDEF included Director of Outreach and Policy where he coordinated the organization’s 1991 redistricting efforts which led to an historic increase in the number of Latinos serving in the California legislature. Before that, Arturo directed MALDEF’s National 1990 Census Program, an award-winning national outreach and public policy effort to promote a full count of the Latino population. Before joining MALDEF, Arturo was the senior education policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza in Washington, D.C.
Arturo is a nationally recognized expert in Latino demographic trends, electoral participation, voting rights, the Census, and redistricting.
He has severed on numerous nonprofit and foundation Boards and currently serves on the board of the Alliance for a Better Community and is an appointed member of the U.S. Census Bureau National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations. He previously served on the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, appointed by both Republican and Democratic U.S. Secretaries of Commerce, and on the 2001-2002 and 2011-2012 Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commissions.
Arturo has received Hispanic Magazine’s Hispanic Achievement Award for Community Service, the National Federation of Hispanic Owned Newspapers’ Leadership Award, the National Association for Bilingual Education President’s Award, the City University of New York’s Civic Leadership Award, Univision’s Community Service Corazon Award, the National School Board Association’s Hispanic Caucus Abrazo Award, and Community Lawyers’ John R. Ortega Community Advocate Award. He has been included in Hispanic Business Magazine’s List of 100 Hispanic Influentials twice, and has been named one of the 101 most influential Latinos nine times by Latino Leaders Magazine.
Arturo holds a masters degree in Education and a bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish from Stanford University. He is from Los Angeles, and was born in El Paso, Texas.
Anthea Watson Strong leads the Civics team at Google, building products that help decision makers govern more effectively, help people access public services more efficiently and help users engage in the civic process. She has launched products for Google in over 30 countries, reaching hundreds of millions of users. Most recently, for the 2016 U.S. elections, her team developed and launched features on Google search to help people participate in the elections by registering to vote, researching candidates and understanding the outcome and impact of the elections.
During the 2012 campaign cycle, Ms. Strong worked as the Director of Voter Experience with President Obama’s technology team. On the campaign, she assisted in the building of tools that helped reach, register and protect potential voters. Before joining the campaign, she ran an open data effort, the Voting Information Project—a non-partisan effort to collect, standardize and distribute, through an open API, a nationwide database of polling locations and election-related information. The API received 22 million look-ups in 2012 and was used by Google, AT&T, Microsoft, Foursquare, CNN and Politics-360 among many others.
In addition to the work for which she gets paid, Ms. Strong builds predictive models for news organizations, teaches product management at Girls Who Code and Tech Lady Mafia, and writes extensively about product design for civic tech. Ms. Strong holds a certificate in data science from Georgetown University and a law degree from Boston University.
Follow Anthea on Twitter @antheaws
Ernest J. Wilson III, Ph.D., is Walter Annenberg Chair in Communication and Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He is also a professor of political science, a faculty fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, a member of the board of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from 2000 to 2010, the last year as chairman.
Dean Wilson’s experience at the intersection of communication and public policy spans the private and public sectors. He has served as a consultant to international agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations, worked in government at the White House National Security Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and led research centers and academic departments at premier institutions of higher education.
With an academic focus on the convergence of communication and information technology, public policy, and the public interest, Dean Wilson is a student of the “information champions,” the leaders of the information revolution around the world.
In addition to his most recent books – Governing Global Electronic Networks and Negotiating the Net: The Politics of Internet Diffusion in Africa – Dr. Wilson co-founded and co-edited the MIT Press series The Information Revolution and Global Politics and the journal Information Technologies and International Development.
Nominated by President Clinton in 2000, Dean Wilson served on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting until November 2010. He founded the board’s New Digital Media Committee and Public Awareness Initiative Committee. He is a member of the Carnegie-Knight Commission on the Future of Journalism Education and The National Academies Board on Research Data and Information. He was deputy director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission from 1994 to 1995.
Dean Wilson’s other government experience includes service as director of International Programs and Resources on the National Security Council at the White House (1993–94) and director of the Policy and Planning Unit, Office of the Director, U.S. Information Agency (1994). He advised President Obama’s transition team on matters of communication technology and public diplomacy.
Formerly a professor and senior research scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dean Wilson was director of that university’s Center for International Development and Conflict Management from 1995 to 2002. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
Dean Wilson is the recipient of numerous research fellowships and awards, including the Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Communication section of the ISA, an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Dean Wilson earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard College.
The Democracy Fund has committed more than $30 million to support a healthy democracy. Established by philanthropist and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar in 2011 and incubated inside Omidyar Network, the Democracy Fund launched as an independent foundation in July 2014 and is a member of The Omidyar Group. These are our first financial documents as an independent organization. We also support and make our grantmaking data available to the Foundation Center’s Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy tool.
We take seriously our commitment to transparency and will continue to share additional financial information as it becomes available.
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