Democracy Fund has grown a lot in 2016. Since January, we have hired 10 new full time members of our staff – and as we look ahead to 2017, we are continuing to recruit for several open positions.
As an organization, we believe that the inclusion and participation of diverse voices from across the political spectrum and from all walks of life is critical to our work to strengthen our democracy. Our staff includes talented, tireless Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who are committed to working together to make our democracy work better.
We are delighted to welcome our new Board Member, Sarah Steven, our three new Senior Fellows, Daniela Gerson, Marty Kaiser, and Rick Shapiro, and three new staff members, Isaiah Castilla, Teresa Gorman, and Robin Stevenson.
- Sarah Steven is the newest member of Democracy Fund’s board of directors. Since 2008, Sarah has held a variety of communications and program management roles across the organizations and initiatives of The Omidyar Group (TOG), where she currently serves as Director of Communications. 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. 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. Sarah holds a B.A. in communications from George Mason University.
- Daniela Gerson is a Senior Fellow for the Public Square Program. Bringing extensive expertise in immigration reporting and participatory media, Daniela will advise on ways to strengthen ecosystem news through journalism innovation and engagement with multiethnic communities. In fall 2016 Daniela joined the 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 with creating feedback loops to inform coverage. 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. She has also reported for Financial Times Magazine, The New York Times, PRI’s The World, Weekend America, Der Spiegel, WNYC: New York Public Radio, among other outlets.
- Marty Kaiser is a Senior Fellow for the Public Square Program. He is a nationally recognized 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.
- Rick Shapiro is a Senior Fellow for the Governance Program. He is the President of Strategic Assets Consulting, a management consulting firm that specializes in providing services to federal, state and local government, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Previously, Rick served as Executive Director for the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), 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. He has authored or co-authored of a number of books and reports on congressional operations, and testified before Congress. He has appeared on the CBS Evening News, CNN, C-Span, CNBC, and National Public Radio and is frequently cited in newspaper, radio, and television stories about the Congress. Rick holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Illinois and an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
- Isaiah Castilla joins the Democracy Fund as Senior Counsel, bringing an array of knowledge to our team as he both oversees the Democracy Fund’s legal affairs and provides guidance on its strategy development. Isaiah previously served as the Bolder Advocacy Counsel at Alliance for Justice (AFJ) where he advised foundations on how best to maximize their advocacy capacity. Before joining AFJ, Isaiah was the founding partner of The Castilla Law Group, where he simultaneously managed a caseload of civil and criminal matters and provided legal guidance to nonprofits and political organizations. Isaiah holds a J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law, and earned a BA in Music from Tougaloo College where he graduated magna cum laude.
- Teresa Gorman joins the Democracy Fund as the Local News Associate for the Public Square Program, supporting the Public Square team’s mission to invest in innovations and institutions that help people understand and participate in the democratic process. Teresa previously worked as the Supervising Producer of “Localore: Finding America,” for the Association of Independents in Radio, adapting new storytelling models to meet the individual needs of communities across the country. She has spent her career at the intersection of public media, local news, and digital media, working as one of the first ever social media editors for PBS NewsHour. Teresa attended Boston University where she received her BS in Journalism.
- Robin Stevenson joins the Democracy Fund as the Executive Assistant to the President and Vice President of the Strategy, Impact, and Learning, bringing more than 25 years of related professional experience to the position. She recently she served as the Assistant to the Regional Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts International. Robin previously has worked as the Executive Assistant for various Vice Presidents and Directors at The American Institute of Architects, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, and George Washington University Hospital.
To learn more about our board, fellows, and staff, please visit www.democracyfund.org/about-us.