Speakers

Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policy-maker, an activist, and a survivor. On November 6, 2018, she was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
Like many in her district, Congresswoman Pressley has endured numerous hardships throughout her life, and it is because of those experiences that she remains a dedicated activist who’s devoted to creating robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences. She believes that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power and that a diversity of voices in the political process is essential to making policies that benefit more Americans.
In 2009, she launched a historic at-large campaign for Boston City Council and won, becoming the first woman of color elected to the Council in its 100-year history.

Ezra Levin

The Impeachment Crisis, Grassroots Response and the 2020 Elections with Ezra Levin

Defending Democratic values and norms at a time of major challenge

Ezra Levin is a co-founder and co-Executive Director of the Indivisible Project. Previously, Ezra worked as a poverty policy wonk and advocate. He most recently served as the Associate Director of Federal Policy at Prosperity Now. He was Deputy Policy Director for Congressman Lloyd Doggett and an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Homeless Services Division of the San Jose Housing Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and a master’s in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Jim McGovern

First elected to Congress in 1996, Jim McGovern has fought tirelessly for the people of Massachusetts and has earned the respect and trust of his colleagues – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named him Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee during the 116th Congress.

Jimmy Tingle is a comedian, commentator and the founder of Humor for Humanity. He was a 2018 candidate for Lt Governor of Massachusetts and received 41.3% of the vote in the Massachusetts primary on September 4th, 2018. He is a graduate of UMASS Dartmouth and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where he earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA). He has worked as a humorist and commentator for 60 Minutes II and MSNBC and has appeared on The Tonight Show, CNN, Conan O’Brien, Fresh Air with Terry Gross and in his own HBO half-hour comedy special. Tingle has the rare distinction of winning Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” in the stand-up comedy category and for “best alternative theater” as the producer and artistic director of Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theater in Somerville. He is the founder of a new social enterprise and solo show entitled “Humor for Humanity” which aspires to raise spirits, funds and awareness for nonprofits, charities and social causes

Matt Allen

Activism and the Law; ACLU: Know Your Rights Training

Matt Allen joined the ACLU of Massachusetts in September of 2014, and is now the Field Director. He has worked as a community organizer on a range of issues from economic justice, to campaign finance reform, to homelessness prevention. Prior to joining the ACLU, he was the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, the group that brought the 2012 medical cannabis initiative to the voters. Before founding the Alliance in 2009, Allen campaigned and lobbied in favor of state policies to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment services. He earned an M.S. in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern University in 2013.

Jamie Eldridge

Healthcare in MA: What we can do to improve healthcare in our state

Jamie Eldridge has served as State Senator for the Middlesex and Worcester district since January 2009. Senator Eldridge serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services, and is known for his leadership on progressive issues. Previously, Senator Eldridge served as State Representative for the 37th Middlesex district, after being elected the only Clean Elections candidate to public office in Massachusetts history in November 2002. For the 2017-18 session, Senator Eldridge, has filed bills aimed at reducing the wealth gap, improving health care, protecting the environment, increasing education opportunities, reforming the criminal justice system, and safeguarding the civil rights of immigrants and Muslims in Massachusetts.

Miles Rapoport

Advancing Democracy Reform: from expanding voting rights to fighting big money

Defending Democratic values and norms at a time of major challenge

Miles Rapoport served in government as Connecticut’s Secretary of the State from 1994-1998, and as a state legislator for ten years from 1984-1994. He did community organizing in Chicago and Connecticut, and was the Boston Organizing Director for Massachusetts Fair Share. He has written, spoken, and organized widely on issues of American democracy.

Vatsady Sivongxay

Working to Defend the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees in MA

Vatsady Sivongxay joined MIRA in July 2019 to lead our statewide outreach for the 2020 U.S. Census, supporting Eva in her role as Chair of the Statewide Complete Count Committee. Her background as an attorney, facilitator, public policy director, and entrepreneur as well as her experience as a refugee immigrant collectively inform her strong commitment to democratic engagement and advancing equity, diversity, inclusion and racial equity. Prior to joining MIRA, Vatsady managed, collaborated on, and led community outreach and public policy initiatives, and even ran for elected office. She serves as an advisor and board member of several community organizations, including the Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund and the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts. She has a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University.

Joel Rivera

Working to Defend the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees in MA

A native of Texas, Joel Rivera joined MIRA in 2016, bringing strong experience in campaign organizing, Get Out the Vote efforts, and constituency services for immigrant and Latino communities. He has been a volunteer coordinator and canvassing manager for mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns in Texas, and served as an immigrant intern in the Office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, working with constituents on visa and legal status issues. Joel holds a BA in Political Science from Boston College.

Kathy Gasperine

Fundraising for Candidates and Causes

Kathleen (Kathy) Gasperine has worked at the forefront of high-profile, Democratic political campaigns. A veteran of the 3 most recent presidential campaigns, she is a seasoned and strategic fundraising professional. Most recently, Kathy was the Deputy National Finance Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, responsible for raising more than $47M, managing a multi-office team and more than 240 events.
Previously, she worked for President Obama in various fundraising leadership roles at Obama for America, the DNC, and Organizing for Action (OFA). As OFA’s National Development Director, she was responsible for raising more than $40M. She led NE fundraising for the 2012 Obama campaign raising $32M and served as Gov Deval Patrick’s Finance Director for his successful re-election in 2010, raising $9M. Kathy is a graduate of Ithaca College with dual degrees, a BS in Organizational Communication from the Park School of Communications and a BA in Politics.

Susan Labandibar

Making the Most of Postcarding and Other Mailings

Susan Labandibar is a political activist helping New Englanders take effective action in 2020 to win control of the White House, the Senate, and key state legislative races. Susan has a certificate in Leadership, Organizing and Action from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Tristan Grieve

Gun Safety: What we can do to prevent gun violence

An organizer of one of the many high school walkouts to protest gun violence in Spring of 2018, Tristan Grieve took a gap year after graduation to get more involved in the gun violence prevention movement. As a volunteer with March for Our Lives: Boston, he worked on digital and grassroots engagement. He currently serves as the Massachusetts State Director of March for Our Lives.

Pam Wilmot

Advancing Democracy Reform: from expanding voting rights to fighting big money

Election (In)security: How to fix broken voting systems

Pam Wilmot is Executive Director of the Massachusetts chapter of Common Cause. She has steered many successful state campaigns for Common Cause including redistricting, campaign finance, ethics, lobbying, open government, and election reform. She also serves as the organization’s national expert on electoral policy. A sought-after commentator on public affairs, Pam frequently appears in the Massachusetts and national news media.

Pam has been Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts since 2002, and also held the position from 1989-1993. Prior to Common Cause she was legislative director for Rhode Island PIRG. Pam has a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, a M.S.W. from Smith College School for Social Work and a B.A. from Brown University.

Michael Ansara

Strengthening your Local Group for 2020 and Beyond

Michael Ansara had a long career as an organizer starting with civil rights and anti-war organizing in the 1960’s. He was Executive Director of Mass Fair Share for 8 years, He has worked on numerous political campaigns, voter registration efforts and trained many organizers.

Berl Hartman

Voter Registration: Register Democrats, Save the World!

Berl Hartman is the Maine Voter Registration Coordinator for Swing Left Greater Boston (SLGB). Together with Field Team 6 and volunteers from all over Massachusetts, the group has registered over 1100 progressive voters in Maine.
Prior to her work with SLGB, Berl was the Director of the New England chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity. Ms. Hartman was also a founding member of the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC); served on its Board of Directors; and received the Council’s first Clean Energy Leadership Award. Ms. Hartman also serves on the Woods Hole Research Center’s (WHRC) President’s Advisory Council. Prior to her career in cleantech, Ms. Hartman had a successful career as a senior executive in several database software companies, including Sybase and Computer Corporation of America.

Dan McCool

Voter Registration: Register Democrats, Save the World!

Dan McCool, PhD, is the founder and administrator for Blue Revolution, a progressive online community of 38,000+ members. Dan has taught American politics and political theory at different colleges since 2007. His book on political theory, ”Three Frames of Modern Politics: Self, Institutions, and Others” was published by Palgrave-Macmillan Press. Dan is the Philadelphia Field Director for Field Team 6. He travels to Philly once a month for a week to lead teams for Democratic voter registration. For the 2018 midterms, Blue Revolution worked with 23 Democratic House candidates, raising over $277,000, texting over 1.1 million voters, & writing over 10,000 postcards to voters. So far, they have raised $170,000 for the eventual 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and sent over 6500 voter registration letters to likely Democratic voters. Dan is an avid dog-lover, pun-teller, and musician in a number of touring, nationally-recognized punk and indie bands.

Jason Berlin

Voter Registration: Register Democrats, Save the World!

Jason Berlin: I was a TV writer for 18 years¬—and then Trump got elected. It broke my mind and heart. I quit my job and learned to organize with Indivisible and Swing Left, where I became Regional Organizing Coordinator in charge of flipping the 5 districts of Southern CA. The CA Democratic Party hired me, to lead a volunteer army to register 6,000+ Democratic voters and swing all 5 target districts, including all of Orange County. After the midterms, I co-founded Field Team 6, a national organization on a mission: register Democrats. Save the world. By registering Democrats in key battlegrounds that need them most, we aim to grow our House majority, flip the Senate, and take the White House. We’ve built 17 chapters across 6 states and are working to expand to 5 more. Our growth trajectory has brought the cost of each battleground Democrat down to less than $5 –and put us on track to register over 100,000 voters, potentially changing election outcomes.

Lew Finfer

Raising Up Massachusetts

Lew Finfer has been the Director of the the Dorchester based Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN) since 1985. MCAN is a federation of faith based community improvement organizations with affiliates in the Gateway Cities of New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton, Lynn, Salem, Springfield, Worcester, and Boston. Mr. Finfer has been a community organizer in Massachusetts since 1970, working with neighborhood improvement groups in Dorchester and Somerville in the 1970’s, directing the Massachusetts Tenants Organization and then the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance in the 1980’s, and as founding co-Director and later Director of Greater Boston Interfaith Organization from 1996 to 2002.

Janet Singer

Going the Distance: Volunteering for Campaigns in Key Battleground States

Janet Singer has been an activist in electoral politics since she was in 8th grade and knocked doors for her best friend’s mother’s mayoral race. She is a midwife and advocate for abortion access, which makes her fiercely devoted to taking back the Senate. She has helped lead large out-of-state trips to Memphis TN and Charlotte NC.

Whitney Taylor

Reproductive Rights at Risk: Defending reproductive rights in Massachusetts

Money Management for Non-profits Like Us

Whitney Taylor joined the ACLU of Massachusetts in May 2010 to help develop the statewide presence of ACLU supporters to advocate on behalf of civil liberties. A national expert on illicit drug policy, the criminal justice and public health systems, and the electoral ballot initiative and legislative processes, she coordinates the development and implementation of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ public advocacy agenda.

Whitney directed the successful 2008 Massachusetts Marijuana Decriminalization initiative campaign and a consultant to the successful 2012 Medical Marijuana and 2016 Marijuana Legalization campaigns. She was a coordinator with the 2005-2008 CORI reform coalition and a legislative agent working on expansion of treatment services and diversionary programs. Before returning to Massachusetts, Whitney worked on successful legislative and initiative campaigns in California, Utah, Ohio, New Mexico, Maine and Washington, DC.

Whitney was on the Executive Committee of the successful Yes on 3! Transgender Rights ballot initiative in 2018 and currently sits on the Executive Committee of the ROE Act Coalition.

Whitney received a B.A. in Criminal Justice and an M.S. in Public Policy from American University in Washington, DC.

Gena Frank

Reproductive Rights at Risk: Defending reproductive rights in Massachusetts

Gena Frank joined the NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts team in September 2017. Previously, she worked as an aide and legislative director at the Massachusetts State House. Gena graduated from Allegheny College in May 2014, where she double-majored in Women’s Studies and Psychology.

Jesse Woellhof

Cross-Group Support: A Workshop to Share and Scale Together

Jesse Woellhof is an systems engineer and project manager who uses technology to automate processes and make life easier. As a volunteer for Swing Left Greater Boston, he has helped make it easier to gather information about events, upload them to the calendar and post them in the newsletter.

Joel Silberman

Cross-Group Support: A Workshop to Share and Scale Together

Joel Silberman is a professional facilitator, coach, and trainer who helps teams work better together and continuously improve in a respectful and collaborative way.

Meg Ansara

What Works? Analysis of the most effective tactics to win close elections

Meg Ansara grew up in a family of organizers and teachers. Today she serves as CEO and a Founding Partner at 270 Strategies, a progressive public engagement firm that helps organizations build winning campaigns and engage everyday people in their work. Previously, Meg served as the Battleground States Director for Hillary for America and National Regional Director for the 2012 Obama for America campaign, where she oversaw the grassroots and public engagement programs in the Midwest and southern states. She’s worked with political campaigns and party committees at the national and local level to provide strategic guidance and best practices. She also serves as an advisor to a number of foundations, advocacy and direct service organizations committed to improving public schools and ensuring all children have the opportunity to succeed in college and in life. Meg is a Boston native and graduate of Oberlin College, where she earned a BA in History and African Studies.

Debbie Paul

Reorganizing & Strengthening Indivisible MA for 2020 & Beyond

Concerned and passionate about our democracy, Deb Paul began her activism in November 2017. She is Co-leader of the Governance Task Force, on the Working Board of Indivisible MA, Co-leader of Neighbors United Indivisible Wellesley, and Outreach & Affirmative Action Officer of the Wellesley Democratic Town Committee. A member of the Wellesley Service League and Co-board Chair of volunteers for Charles River Day Center art & music therapy. Professionally she recently retired as CEO of a British owned pharmaceutical & biotech market data company.

Brooke Nadell

Using Social Media in 2020: Best Practices and What’s Changed

Brooke Nadell is a former English professor and novelist, who after family separation decided I could no longer stay on the sidelines; She has volunteered for a number of groups and spend a lot of time on outreach, building networks, and helping people plug in. She works with DemCast, Lean Left Vermont, and Sister District NYC.

Jonathan Cohn

How to Lobby the Massachusetts State Legislature

Making the Massachusetts House More Progressive

Jonathan Cohn is the Co-Chair of the Issues Committee and the Elections & Endorsements Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots organization that works to elect progressive candidates advance progressive policy, and represents the group in the Election Modernization Coalition. Since working as a campaign fellow for Obama for America in his home city of Philadelphia in 2012, he has volunteered on numerous electoral and ballot initiative campaigns, and was the co-founder of No Boston 2024, which successfully organized against Boston’s 2024 Summer Olympics bid. In his day job, he is a managing editor at the Tellus Institute, where he oversees Tellus’s Great Transition Initiative. He holds a BA from Georgetown University, an MA from Columbia University, and an MSc from the London School of Economics.

Paula Joseph

Canvassing Confidential: Real stories from canvassing in Maine

As a Swing Left Greater Boston organizer, Paula Joseph helped lead the 2018 effort to bring MA canvassers to Maine’s CD-02 and elect Jared Golden to Congress. Rebecca Riccio and Paula Joseph are currently working with Swing Left and the Maine Democrats to gear up for Maine’s 2020 Senate race and turn Susan Collins’ seat blue.

Rina Schneur

2020 Electoral Strategy: Key Races to Hold the House, Flip the Senate and Win the White House

What Works? Analysis of the most effective tactics to win close elections

Gun Safety: What we can do to prevent gun violence

Rina Schneur is the co-founder of 435 labs which developed www.elect535.org. She was a Dir. of Business Analytics at Verizon, Sr. manage at Sabre Technologies and did her Post Doc. the Math. Dept. of IBM Research Center. In her career, Dr. Schneur has focused on applying analytics methodologies to industry problems. She also served on Verizon’s energy board. In 1999 Rina co-founded Emptoris Inc., a procurement solution provider, and served on its advisory board for ten years. The company grew to hundreds of employees and worldwide customers and bought by IBM in 2011. Rina has been an active member of Informs – the largest org. for analytics professionals. She served on its board for seven years, as VP Meetings and President. Rina is currently the MA legislation lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety. Rina is a member of Minuteman Indivisible and the Indivisible MA board focusing on elections strategy and tactics. Rina graduated from The Technion with a BSc. In Engineering and from MIT with a MSc and PhD in Engineering and Advanced Analytics.

Ed Loechler

2020 Electoral Strategy: Key Races to Hold the House, Flip the Senate and Win the White House

Ed Loechler is a Professor of Molecular Biology and cancer researcher at Boston University. He has been a political activist his whole life. Ed started doing work to defeat Republicans in Swing Districts in 2004 and has spent time in ME, NH, CT, NY, PA, OH and NC, along with organizing phone banking into states all over the country. In 2018, he was the Swing Left coordinator for Anthony Brindisi, who flipped the NY 22nd. Ed was a co-founder of Force Multiplier and helped develop a methodology to identify flippable tossup races in Republican-held congressional districts.

Michelle Olson

2020 Electoral Strategy: Key Races to Hold the House, Flip the Senate and Win the White House

Michelle Olson is one of the co-founders of Elect535.org – a tool to find and support candidates for Congress. She is also a founder of Minuteman Indivisible and one of the leads of their Elections team. In that role, she developed a model for evaluating 2018 house candidates which grew into Elect535. In a former life, Michelle was a quantitative strategist for Merrill Lynch where she developed data models and trading strategies for the bond markets.

Susan Leslie

Collaborating with Faith Communities in your Area

Susan Leslie is a Congregational Advocacy & Witness Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association. She has worked in the UUA’s national social justice and multicultural staff teams since 1991.

Craig Altemose

Designing our Action Plan to Combat Climate Change

Responding to the Imperative of Climate Change

Craig Altemose (he/him), Executive Director of Better Future Project, supervises the staff and provides strategic guidance and support to campaigns and the network as a whole.

Laurie Veninger

Reorganizing & Strengthening Indivisible MA for 2020 & Beyond

Laurie Veninger is an adjunct professor of English at Cape Cod Community College, Laurie now finds being a leader of Indivisible Outer Cape as well as Cape Cod Women for Change a full time calling.

April Nichols

Text Your Way to Victory: Texting for Candidates and Causes

April Nichols was newly-minted as an activist shortly after the 2016 election. She is now a co-lead of the Greater Andover Indivisible group and active with Indivisible MA, where she is working to build our groups of committed people across the state into the power to change the world (- with honor to Margaret Mead).

Judy Maslen

Money Management for Non-profits Like Us

Judy Maslen served for over three decades as CFO for CT Citizen Action and CT Citizen Research Groups, assisting more than 30 activist nonprofit organizations and training dozens of nonprofit organization staff and board members. She is the recipient of Public Citizen’s 2005 Phyllis McCarthy Public Interest Award.

April Smith

Election (In)security: How to fix broken voting systems

April Smith is a technical writer and editor who became an activist in 2016. She began with writing postcards to voters and sharing lobbying scripts with other concerned citizens. When she learned about the hackability of electronic voting machines and their capacity to corrupt elections, she began advocating for secure elections as a single focus.

Mark Dyen

Responding to the Imperative of Climate Change

Designing our Action Plan to Combat Climate Change

Mark Dyen is a long time activist on climate/energy issues, working with Indivisible Mass and 350 Mass. He was one of the founders of the largest residential energy efficiency and renewable energy companies in the US, and designed and managed energy efficiency programs for many utility companies, state governments, the province of Quebec and the (pre-Trump) US Department of Energy.

Nate Lerner

Using Social Media in 2020: Best Practices and What’s Changed

Nate Lerner is the founder of Build the Wave and an experienced political operative who has worked or consulted on over a dozen campaigns, including the 2012 Obama campaign. During the 2018 midterms, Nate developed a texting operation that sent 2 million texts to voters for 37 different Democratic campaigns. He’s also the creator of the Boycott Trump app and has appeared on MSNBC, NowThis, and the Washington Post.

Dale Smith

Fundraising for Candidates and Causes

Dale Smith is co-chair of Force Multiplier, which focuses on supporting out-of state Democratic candidates for House and Senate, as well as supporting organizations working for voter empowerment. Force Multiplier concentrates on races that are toss-ups and incumbents that are vulnerable. Dale jumped into political fundraising after the 2016 election and has made it her second act, after a career in consulting to non-profit health care organizations.

Caroline Kerrigan

Red, Blue & YOU: Fight Gerrymandering with Sister District’s State Strategy

Caroline Kerrigan has been working with Sister District since 2017 writing postcards and making phone calls to voters. In 2019, she added texting for Sister District candidates through the Sister District partnership with Red2Blue to her activism repertoire. She enjoys helping volunteers get up-to-speed on the technology used for both phonebanking (VPB) and texting (ThruText and Slack) and finding the right activity for volunteers’ interests and skill sets.

Martha Durkee-Neuman

Be the Change:  Running for Office 101

Martha Durkee-Neuman is the Campaigns & Fundraising Organizer with Mass Alliance and works to help identify, recruit, train, and coach grassroots progressives across Massachusetts to run for state and local office. She also serves as the Legislative Director for the Every Voice Coalition, advocating for the passage of statewide legislation to combat campus sexual violence. Her background is in community organizing and human services and she is originally from Washington State.

Anna Callahan

Activists and the Democratic Party presented by Our Revolution MA

Anna Callahan was a software engineer until 2016 when she quit her job to volunteer full time for the Bernie campaign. She was involved in the movement to pass public financing of elections in Berkeley, CA and served on Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission and Open Government Commission. In 2017 Anna founded The Incorruptibles, a non-profit training organization that teaches a new, much more successful model of political organizing. She volunteers with Our Revolution and DSA.

Juliet Eastland

Red, Blue & YOU: Fight Gerrymandering with Sister District’s State Strategy

Juliet Eastland drives herself crazy worrying about so many big issues, and is thankful to have discovered Sister District Project (SDP) in 2017 so that she can work on getting people elected across the country who will address these issues. She appreciates the SDP strategy, which focuses on flipping state legislatures in a thoughtful, deeply-researched way, and enjoys doing Communications for the MA-RI chapter of the group. When she’s not activisting, Juliet is a writer and musician in Brookline, Mass.

Cassandra Bensahih

Collaborating with Faith Communities in your Area

Cassandra Bensahih is the Senior Organizer at UU Mass Action, as well as the Coalition Coordinator for Massachusetts Against Solitary confinement (MASC). Cassandra is a respected leader and frequent speaker on criminal justice reform. She brings her insight as a woman and mother affected by the criminal justice system. The relationships she has built in doing this work to improve the devastating effects the current system has on countless people. She is passionate about fighting for social justice and leadership development.

Rebecca Wood

Healthcare in MA: What we can do to improve healthcare in our state

Rebecca Wood relocated from Charlottesville, VA to the Boston area last May. Over the past three years, she’s worked with many organizations and offices on Capitol Hill in DC. Her healthcare work includes rallies, protests, press conferences, lobbying, and convention speeches. Most notable, she told her and Charlie’s story at the introduction of Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All Act of 2017 and testified before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Pathways to Universal Coverage. Currently, Rebecca works as a community organizer with Mass-Care.

Rachael Dubinsky

Collaborating with Faith Communities in your Area

Rachael Dubinsky has a strong passion for social justice & empowering women. She has served as a senior digital strategies associate for The Hatcher Group and deputy press secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. She holds an M.A. in strategic public relations from George Washington University and a B.S. and B.A. in agriculture and communications from University of Delaware.

Michelle Ottaviano

2020 Electoral Strategy: Key Races to Hold the House, Flip the Senate and Win the White House

Red, Blue, & YOU: Fight Gerrymandering with Sister District’s State Strategy

Michelle Ottaviano jumped into political activism after November 2016, flailing about ineffectively for several weeks before stumbling upon Sister District Project (SDP). SDP’s long-term, focused, and holistic strategy felt right and offered a tangible way to funnel anger and fear into positive action. She’s spent the last three years learning her way around political organizing and helping to build SDP’s MA-RI chapter. Michelle lives in Newton with her husband, three children, dog, and three cats. She works at Harvard Medical School heading up the business operations side of a structural biology computing consortium.

Nick Nyhart

Advancing Democracy Reform: from expanding voting rights to fighting big money

Nick Nyhart is a longtime democracy activist and a top national expert on small donor-driven systems of publicly financed elections. In his role as a leader of Public Campaign and Every Voice Center for two decades in Washington DC, he worked with local activists across the country to develop and help win groundbreaking alternatives to the big money financing of political candidates. Central to his organizational work on campaign finance reform were efforts to broaden and diversify its base of support. He began his career as a neighborhood organizer for Massachusetts Fair Share. A lifelong Red Sox fan, Nick lives in Dorchester.

Ruth Zakarin

Gun Safety: What we can do to prevent gun violence

Ruth Zakarin spent over twenty years working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as human trafficking. She also has extensive experience in violence prevention, developing and implementing public awareness campaigns, and community organizing. In May of 2019, Ruth became the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which includes over 90 member organizations working in collaboration to address gun violence in our communities. Ruth has particular interest in raising awareness about the intersection of domestic violence and guns, and engaging youth voices in shaping the conversation about community violence.

Erika Uyterhoeven

How to Lobby the Massachusetts State Legislature

Making the Massachusetts House More Progressive

Erika Uyterhoeven is co-founder and President for Act on Mass. Erika was a National Organizing Director for Bernie 2016, leading a team who recruited over 1/3 of the volunteers for the historic NH primary victory. Later she served as the Head of Digital and Data for Momentum during the 2017 UK snap election for the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. Locally in MA, she worked to elect Nika Elugardo, defeating the House Ways and Means Chair. She graduated from Harvard Business School in June 2019 and most recently consulted with Marshall Ganz on expanding his organizing trainings. Prior to organizing, Erika worked as a consultant at BCG and an antitrust economist at Compass Lexecon.

Brenda Wright

Advancing Democracy Reform: from expanding voting rights to fighting big money

Brenda Wright is the Senior Advisor for Legal Strategies at Demos. She has led many progressive legal and policy initiatives on voting rights, campaign finance reform, redistricting, election administration and other democracy and electoral reform issues and is a nationally known expert in these areas. She has argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: Randall v. Sorrell (campaign finance) and Young v. Fordice (voting rights). Before joining Demos in 2007, Brenda served as Managing Attorney at the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston. She also served previously as Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C.

Chris Kane

Fundraising for Candidates and Causes

Chris Kane is a longtime communications professional and the co-leader of Candidates & Causes, an email-only fundraising group she co-founded with Paula Joseph in 2018. With 20 volunteers, the group raised $127,000 during the midterms, helping to flip 13 closely contested House seats and 3 state legislative races. This past summer, she co-led a pilot project that raised $27,000 for Virginia state legislative races. Until recently, Chris was also a core team member of Force Multiplier, active on the Political Strategy, Communications and Steering Committees. Candidates & Causes just launched its first mailing for 2020, to support Mark Kelly’s Senate race and grassroots voter groups working to expand Arizona’s electorate.

Monica Cannon

Gun Safety: What we can do to prevent gun violence

Monica Cannon is Activist, Organizer, Author and Public Speaker in Boston Massachusetts. She has resided in the Roxbury area for 16 years. In 2016 she was a Candidate for State Representative for the 7th Suffolk District. Monica is a Community Liaison in her neighborhood of Warren Gardens. She has hosted an Annual Back to School Block Party for Peace for the past 10 years where she distributes over 1,000 backpacks with school supplies. She was a member of the Peace Collaborative where she was the Director of Promotions and has helped host their 100 Slices bake sale and Annual Got Peace Basketball Tournament. She was the Executive Director of The Tito Jackson Community Fund where she organized his Annual turkey where they gave away 4,000 turkeys. She has also organized his Annual Turkey Fry where they have served at least 800-900 people in the former city Councilors neighborhood. Monica sits on the Advisory Board for an organization named Community Call. Monica is a former member of the Citywide parent council and Former Chair of the Young Adult Committee for the NAACP and current member. Monica currently is the CEO/Founder of the Violence In Boston movement highlighting disparities around violence in communities of color. Monica has been a op-ed contributor to Commonwealth Magazine in regards to violence prevention. Monica is the lead organizer for the Fight Supremacy March in the city of Boston where 45,000 people marched against racism in 2017 From Roxbury to the Boston Common. Monica Fought Supremacy once again on November 18th 2017. Monica more recently organized a Black Womxn’s and Marginalized Genders conference where over 250 women of color came together to support, empower and uplift each other. She was the lead organizer of Fight Supremacy: Hands Off Our Pride a counter-protest to straight Pride in the city of Boston.

Kim Kargman

Reproductive Rights at Risk: Defending reproductive rights in Massachusetts

Kim Kargman is the Organizing Manager at Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. She leads a team of organizers in supporting and engaging volunteers across the state to advocate for protecting and expanding reproductive rights and access to reproductive and sexual. Alongside colleagues from NARAL Pro Choice MA and the ACLU of MA, Kim leads grassroots organizing efforts for the ROE Act coalition, a coalition of more than 70 organizations working together to modernize MA’s abortion laws and eliminate burdensome barriers to abortion care. Prior to joining Planned Parenthood, Kim organized and led organizing programs on federal, state, and local campaigns in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Kim is a Cambridge native and a current resident of Allston-Brighton.

Cindy Rowe

Collaborating with Faith Communities in your Area

Cindy Rowe is the Executive Director of JALSA. Her extensive work in the nonprofit sector over the past two decades has strengthened many organizations and has enabled them to address critical needs such as affordable housing, health care, access to legal aid, immigration assistance, and many other essential services. She previously served as JALSA’s Deputy Director for Development and Outreach and has led efforts to engage members and the general public in many recent JALSA campaigns, including guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and $15 an hour for all MA workers and serving on the Strategy Committee guiding the passage of the state’s most recent gun violence prevention law. Cindy has also led all of JALSA’s development initiatives, which provide the necessary financial support for their work.

Vick Mohanka

Responding to the Imperative of Climate Change

Designing our Action Plan to Combat Climate Change

Vick Mohanka graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and from Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy with a Master of Science in Climate Science and Policy. His expertise lies in state environmental and energy policy with a focus on environmental justice and energy economics. He grew up in Shrewsbury and currently lives next door in Worcester where he volunteers with environmental and social enterprise organizations using his background in climate science and heterodox economics respectively.

Archon Fung

Defending Democratic values and norms at a time of major challenge

Archon Fung is the Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses upon public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School. His books include Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency (Cambridge University Press, with Mary Graham and David Weil) and Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy (Princeton University Press). He has authored five books, four edited collections, and over fifty articles appearing in professional journals. He received two S.B.s — in philosophy and physics — and his Ph.D. in political science from MIT.

Angela Christiana

Gun Safety: What we can do to prevent gun violence

Angela Christiana is a non-profit professional and grassroots activist at the forefront of gun violence prevention work in Massachusetts. Out of her desire to end gun violence for all communities, she took a hiatus from her career in International Development and Fundraising to establish the Boston metro area group for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She now serves as the Massachusetts Chapter leader for Moms Demand Action, marshalling over 6000 volunteers across the state. With an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and a Masters degree from Florida State University in vocal performance, Angela has been putting her experience in front of a crowd to use at numerous public speaking opportunities, sharing the stage with respected local activists, state and federal elected officials, and survivors of gun violence. Angela is a mother to 2 elementary age children, both budding social justice activists in their own right.

Amy Hollman

Text Your Way to Victory: Texting for Candidates and Causes

Amy Hollman, an attorney, practiced environmental and general litigation before migrating to the federal courts as a Career Law Clerk to Magistrate Judges in the U.S. District Courts. In 2017, after 25 years of legal work, Amy left the judiciary to stay home with one of her children. She decided to dip her toe into the world of progressive political activism and ended up plunging in headfirst, becoming one of the leaders of Greater Andover Indivisible (GAI). During the midterm election, Amy helped implement Get-Out-the Vote initiatives and led a team of GAI members working closely with the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) to canvass environmentalists with poor voting records. The team knocked on close to 2,000 doors, producing a 7% increase in turnout among targeted voters. Currently, Amy is an active member of GAI’s texting team and its Progressive Leadership Working Group. She also spearheads GAI’s Environmental Working Group, focusing on issues of climate change and sustainability.

Rebecca Riccio

Canvassing Confidential: Real stories from canvassing in Maine

Rebecca Riccio is the Khaled and Olfat Juffali Director of The Social Impact Lab at Northeastern University, an innovation hub that bridges sectors, disciplines, and generations to facilitate knowledge building in the social impact arena. The Social Impact Lab houses several programs that Rebecca has built on a foundation of twenty years’ experience working and teaching at the forefront of the social change arena, including Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G), an experiential philanthropy education program, and Giving With Purpose, the world’s first massive open online course (MOOC), on effective charitable giving and informed civic engagement.

Carol Oldham

Designing our Action Plan to Combat Climate Change

Carol Oldham joined MCAN in 2014 after nearly a decade of working on climate for national environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation. She has managed regional campaigns, staff, and consultants and has focused on influencing federal climate change policy and increasing our use of clean energy from the pueblos of New Mexico to the towns and cities of New England. With her strong background in grassroots organizing and a history of working with communities to make positive change, she was drawn to MCAN’s town-based climate organizing model. Carol holds an MBA in policy and planning from the University of New Mexico and an undergraduate degree from Bennington College.

Michael Gilbreath

Activists and the Democratic Party presented by Our Revolution MA

Michael Gilbreath began his political life at age 7 silk-screening “Freedom & Justice” T-shirts in 1959. He licked envelopes for the United Farm Workers in 1967, got “Clean for Gene” in 1968, co-coordinated Roslindale for Mel King Mayoral campaign in 1983, volunteered for Jesse Jackson in 1984 & 1988 and provided weekly food deliveries to Occupy Boston in 2013. An active member of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) since 2007, Michael served as a Sanders Delegate and “whip” during the 2016 convention, is a founding member of Our Revolution Massachusetts (ORMA) and is a member of the MA Democratic State Committee.

John Kirk

How to Lobby the Massachusetts State Legislature

Making the Massachusetts House More Progressive

A long time political activist and member of Progressive Needham and ProgressiveMass John Kirk has developed and implemented flexible strategies for legislative advocacy. John’s day job is restructuring financing arrangements for the benefit of clients, mostly non-profits and hospitals.

Kristina Mensik

Building Your Action Plan for Election Day Registration

Kristina Mensik is the Assistant Director at Common Cause Massachusetts, where she helps advance campaigns aimed at making our government more open, participatory, and accountable. Before that, she worked at the Scholars Strategy Network where she helped researchers translate their findings into accessible, engaging resources for policymakers, civic leaders, and the media. In particular, she worked on projects around student civic engagement, academic freedom, and the criminal legal system. In addition, Kristina volunteers with MassPOWER Vote to restore voting rights to incarcerated Bay-Staters, and she helps develop a Next 50 Chapter in Boston to encourage more young people to become civically engaged. Kristina is born and raised in Chicago, holds a BA in Peace & Justice Studies from Tufts University, and now lives in Cambridge with her two cats.

Lior Gross

Racial Justice, White Supremacy and White Nationalism in a Time of Trump

Lior Gross (they/them) is a connector, educator, ecologist, poet, and community organizer, guided by their Jewish values towards creating systemic change by building resilient & sustainable communities at the local level. They are an Empower Fellow with the JOIN Jewish Organizing Fellowship this year, working with Indivisible MA as a community organizer. They have worked as a peer educator & trainer on justice and intersectionality, and have been building community power towards justice for the past 8 years. Some movements they have worked as a leader in include fossil fuel divestment, Sunrise, IfNotNow, Never Again Action, and Boulder energy municipalization.

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