Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a Brooklyn native proud of her Jamaican heritage, attended the New York City public schools, graduated from Oberlin College, and was a recipient of the prestigious APPAM/Sloan Fellowship in Public Policy and Policy Analysis.
Prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Clarke served on the New York City Council, representing the Fortieth District in Brooklyn. She succeeded her pioneering mother, former City Council Member Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the City Council.
As the representative of the Ninth Congressional District of New York, she has dedicated herself to continuing the legacy of excellence established by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman and Caribbean American elected to Congress.
As an activist, a community organizer and now as a legislator, Congresswoman Clarke’s boldness, compassion and love for the people has allowed her to become an effective leader and an outspoken advocate on numerous issues of great importance to her constituents.
In the 115th Congress, Congresswoman Clarke serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Committee on Small Business, and the Ethics Committee. Congresswoman Clarke has demonstrated her capacity for leadership as Chair of the Multicultural Media Caucus, dedicated to eliminating stereotypes in the media and expanding ownership to include communities of color, and as Co-Chair of the Black Women & Girls Caucus, which develops programs to support the aspirations of African American women of all ages, and an At-Large member of the Congressional Black Caucus Executive Committee.
In addition, Congresswoman Clarke serves as Co-Chair of the Caribbean Caucus, where she has works to build the relationship between the United States and the Caribbean community (CARICOM) on matters of trade, immigration reform, and direct investment through development programs.
Congresswoman Clarke currently resides in the neighborhood where she grew up, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
Congresswoman Grace Meng
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her third term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace was born and raised in New York City, attended public schools, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1997. After attending Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, she served as a public interest lawyer before being elected to represent Queens in the New York State Assembly in 2008 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.
As a DNC Vice Chair, Grace has focused her efforts on representing new and diverse constituencies within the Democratic Party. During the 2016 presidential campaign, she focused her efforts on turning out voters in the major Asian American communities, resulting in almost double the rate of early voter turnout in those communities—and a dramatic increase in the number of non-English and new media outlets with which the DNC communicated.
Grace is the first Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, and the only Congressmember of Asian descent in the entire Northeast. She is also the first female Member of Congress from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. In Congress, Grace has focused her legislative efforts on vulnerable women and children as well as America’s minority and rural communities. She is a founding member and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Kids’ Safety Caucus, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Leadership PAC, and a member of the Democratic Future Forum.
Through her AT THE TABLE! PAC, Grace supported 11 successful minority candidates in their elections to federal office in 2016. She also serves as an original member of the Board of Directors of EQUALITY PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, of which she is also a member.
Grace lives in Queens with her husband Wayne and their two sons, Tyler and Brandon.
Genesis Aquino is a candidate for AD 51 State Committee Member (Female District Leader). As an activist and community organizer she has been outspoken advocate for issues including housing, immigrants rights, education and police accountability, which have been issues of great importance to her community. Genesis was raised in Sunset Park, where her grandparents and extended family have been living permanently since early 1980s, after migrating from the Dominican Republic. She attended New York City public schools and graduated from The City University of New York where she earned Bachelors in Social Work and Urban Community Development, and received scholarship and extensive training in public service by the Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government and Public Affairs. She believes in the power of civic engagement, and is intentional with involving herself and neighbors in Participatory Budgeting, getting out the vote, and various campaigns to promote progressive policies that benefit her community.
Tarana Burke, Creator of #MeToo
The simple yet courageous #metoo hashtag campaign has emerged as a rallying cry for people everywhere who have survived sexual assault and sexual harassment – and Tarana’s powerful, poignant story as creator of what is now an international movement that supports survivors is moving, uplifting, and inspiring.
#metoo is not just an overnight hashtag sensation; Tarana has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and to laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault. The movement now inspires solidarity, amplifies the voices thousands of victims of sexual abuse, and puts the focus back on survivors.
A sexual assault survivor herself, Tarana works under the banner of The ‘me too’ Movement to assist other survivors and those who work to end sexual violence. She is the senior director at Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity. Her work at its core is about lifting up marginalized voices, enabling survivors across all races, genders, or classes to know that they are not alone, and creates a place for comfort and healing to those who have experienced trauma.
Catalina Cruz, Coordinator of Elected Officials’ Volunteers, New York City Council Campaigns
Catalina Cruz is an experienced attorney and a leader for immigration reform and workers rights. She recently served as the Chief of Staff for Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the New York City Council Finance Committee. Catalina has worked to help pass key legislation protecting workers, women, and business owners. She previously served as the Director of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Exploited Workers Task Force, helping New York become a national leader in the fight against worker exploitation. Catalina came to the United States in 1992 from Colombia with her single mother, a domestic worker who experienced wage theft but never felt able to report it. Catalina is a DREAMer: she was undocumented for more than a decade and understands firsthand the fear that immigrants face when reporting crimes to law enforcement. Catalina has worked several local campaigns, coordinated volunteers, petitioning, and door knocking.
Katelynn Eckert, New York Life Insurance, Senior Analyst
Katelynn Eckert is an advocacy professional with extensive experience in state and federal lobbying, grassroots campaign management, and message development.
Currently, a member of the government affairs team at the New York Life Insurance Company, Katelynn conducts legislative and regulatory research and contributes to advocacy campaign development for a Fortune 100 company. In her previous role a legislative lead for the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, she managed a portfolio focused on the advancement of science education and funding for scientific research.
Katelynn received a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2015, she was named a Bryce Harlow Fellow for her demonstrated commitment to practicing lobbying with the highest level of integrity.
Jerry Goldfeder, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Special Counsel
Jerry Goldfeder has practiced election and campaign finance law for over thirty five years, and has represented dozens of candidates from local office to President of the United States. He teaches the subject at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Fordham Law School, where he was voted Adjunct Professor of the Year in 2015. He is the author of the treatise, Goldfeder's Modern Election Law (New York Legal Publishing Corp, 2018), now in its Fifth Edition, and has written numerous articles for academic journals and the popular media. He lectures regularly on election issues.
Jessica Goodman, Senior Editor, Cosmopolitan magazine
Jessica Goodman is a senior editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, where she oversees all lifestyle content and writes about politics, sex, and relationships. Prior to Cosmo, Jessica was a digital news editor at Entertainment Weekly and an editor at HuffPost. Her work has also been seen in New York Magazine and the Village Voice. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Jessica lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and a dozen houseplants. Follow Jessica on Twitter at @jessgood and Instagram as @jessicagoodman.
Kathy Hochul, New York Lieutenant Governor
New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is President of the NYS Senate and Chairs the Regional Economic Development Councils and NYS Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission. She Co-Chairs the NYS Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force and Community College Councils.
Lieutenant Governor Hochul chairs 10 Regional Economic Development Councils that have transformed the state’s economy by building upon regional strengths through long-term strategic plans. The Councils include leaders from academia, business, labor and not-for-profits and, to date, have invested $4 billion into more than 4,100 projects across the State. The Lieutenant Governor also chairs the State Workforce Investment Board which addresses the number one concern of businesses: the lack of skilled workers.
Governor Cuomo appointed Lieutenant Governor Hochul to chair the Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction. In this capacity, she convened eight outreach sessions across New York State to hear from experts and community members in search of answers to the heroin crisis and works to develop a comprehensive strategy for New York.
Hochul spearheaded Governor Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses beginning in 2015 hosting and attending more than 25 events. As the highest ranking female elected official in New York State, she continues to be a champion for women and families across the state. In March 2016, Governor Cuomo named her to the New York State Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.
Representing Governor Cuomo across the state, Hochul tours main streets, meets local business owners, visits college campuses and meets regularly with mayors, supervisors and other community leaders. The Lieutenant Governor builds support for the Governor’s initiatives including the minimum wage increase, paid family leave, ethics reform and infrastructure investment.
Hebh Jamal, Public Relations Director, IntegrateNYC
Hebh Jamal was featured on the front cover of the Volume 5 edition of TeenVogue, highlighting her activism and work in combatting school segregation .She's director of Public Relations for IntegrateNYC, and youth policy fellow for NY Appleseed. She co-founded the Diversity Council for IntegrateNYC. Hebh prides herself in being a Muslim Palestinian Bronx native that combats injustice without sacrificing her identity.
Letitia James, Public Advocate, City of New York
Letitia James is the Public Advocate for the City of New York, the second highest ranking elected office in the City.Public Advocate James made history in 2014 by becoming the first woman of color to hold citywide office in New York City.
Public Advocate James has a long history as an advocate for children and families. Whether defending children in foster care who were the victims of irreparable harm, protecting children with disabilities who were forced to ride on dangerously hot school buses, or ensuring that our students have the best quality education they deserve, she has never backed down from doing what is right for our children. She is a leading voice in the fight for universal free lunch for public school students and for comprehensive reform of the system to track education plans for students with disabilities. She is also a strong advocate for paid family leave, raising the wage, and introduced legislation to ban questions about salary history from the employment process to end gender wage discrimination.
Prior to being elected Public Advocate, Letitia James served as a City Council Member from 2004 to 2013. As a City Council Member, she fought for Paid Sick Leave, and passed the Safe Housing Act, which ensured that thousands of families in rental buildings receive prompt and full repairs to their apartments.
Public Advocate James is a graduate of CUNY's Lehman College and Howard University School of Law. She previously served as an Assistant Attorney General, and a public defender. She currently resides in Brooklyn.
Maura Keaney, First VP, Amalgamated Bank
Maura Keaney manages Amalgamated Bank’s engagement with Non-Profit and political clients in the NorthEast. She also works closely with progressive organizations and campaigns around the country to develop strategic partnerships.
Her extensive work in New York City government includes serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to the City Council and leading public engagement for the NYC Department of Education. She was NYS Political Director for the garment workers union and had organized and lead many issue-based and candidate campaigns across the State and City.
Maria Cruz Lee, Former New York State Digital Director at Hillary for America
Maria Cruz Lee is an advocate for immigrant leaders and civic tech. Starting her career in online advertising, Maria has worked in digital, city government and national campaigns for the past 10 years. From 2010 – 2014 she served as Special Assistant to Commissioner Fatima Shama at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs during the Bloomberg Administration. After she joined the leadership team of Define American, a national nonprofit focused on immigrant narratives, founded by Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas. During the 2016 general election, Maria served the Hillary Clinton campaign as part of the digital coalition's team at headquarters in Brooklyn. She is an alum of the New American Leaders' 2017 Ready to Run Cohort in Detroit, Michigan. Maria is currently the Director of Digital Marketing at the City University of New York and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media from CUNY Hunter College.
Sally Frank, Former Campaign Manager for Assemblywoman Nily Roznic
Sally Frank managed the campaigns of two brilliant young women: Nily Rozic for State Assembly and Rebecca Lynch for City Council. She currently works at the Department of Education. Previously, she served in a variety of policy and legislative roles in city and state government. A proud Queens native and a graduate of New York's public schools, she knew she wanted to serve the public from a very early age. She attended University at Albany, SUNY on scholarship and received a B.A. in Public Policy and an M.A. in Public Administration.
Suzanne Markland-Suwareh is a senior international marketing major at Baruch College. She is currently the President of Ignite at Baruch and board member of Bronx Community Board 5. Some of her greatest passions are women's rights, girls education, economic development in the Caribbean and is committed to ending violence against women and girls.
Larissa Martinez, Executive Director of Right Now
Larissa Martinez brings wide-ranging expertise on policy, communications strategy, political engagement, and operations to bear on behalf of Invariant’s clients. She served on President Donald Trump’s transition team, advancing communications and third-party outreach in support of the President’s Cabinet nominations. In addition, she served as executive director and senior advisor to Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), developing strategic policy initiatives and overseeing day-to-day operations.
She managed the Senator’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee portfolio, along with judiciary, health care, and labor issues. Larissa also served as the Senator’s political director after her time as deputy campaign manager in 2012.
Tara Moore, Managing Editor, FutureVision
Tara is Managing Editor of FutureVision, the trendspotting arm of R/GA. In this role she hosts the FutureVision Conversations podcast, collaborates with executive leadership to craft editorial-driven thought leadership focused on technology and digital disruption. Prior to joining R/GA, she was a senior editor of the collaborative journalism team at Edelman where she developed and executed editorial strategy for brands, including the creation of INTELLIGENCE magazine, a print publication on the Internet of Things for a large tech client. Prior to entering the marketing world, she worked as a reporter, researcher and writer for several magazines including Fortune, Fast Company, all while maintaining a focus on business and political journalism. Somewhere in the midst of all that, she obtained her Master's in Political Management from GWU in 2016.
Amy Odell, Editor for Cosmopolitan.com
Amy Odell is the editor of Cosmopolitan.com, the largest community of millennial women on the Internet. She was named to the post in September 2013 and oversees all of Cosmopolitan’s digital presence, including editorial content, social media, and original video production. Odell is responsible for expanding the website’s editorial to include a wide range of feminist, political, and LGBTQ topics alongside celebrity news, and relationship and style coverage. Under her leadership, Cosmopolitan.com has more than tripled traffic to reach 36 million monthly unique visitors, Cosmo is the #1 channel on Snapchat Discover, and the brand’s social media following has increased threefold. Additionally, Cosmo was recognized on Adweek’s annual Hot List in both 2014 and 2015 as the “hottest magazine in digital.”
In 2016, Adweek named Odell a Young Influential, one of a select group of individuals acknowledged for remaking business and culture. In 2015, she made the Forbes' list of “30 Under 30” in media and was featured in Adweek as a “New Publisher,” one of 15 young innovators who will change the magazine business. In 2014, Odell was selected to Crain’s New York Business prestigious “40 Under 40” list, and included in the Business of Fashion 500, a professional index of people shaping the global fashion industry.
Prior to Cosmopolitan.com, Odell was an editor at BuzzFeed from 2012 through 2013 and is credited with the launch of two women’s verticals for the viral news site, BuzzFeed Fashion, and BuzzFeed Shift. Odell began her journalism career in 2007 as a party reporter for New York magazine, where she ultimately became the founding blogger of the magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, in 2008. Her first book, Tales From the Back Row: an Outsider's View From Inside the Fashion Industry, a humorous look at the world of high fashion, came out this fall. She has over 119 thousand followers on social media across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow Amy on Twitter @amyodell.
Crystal Patterson, Outreach Manager at Facebook
With more than 15 years of experience in policy and political communications and digital strategy, Crystal leads Facebook's work with Democratic and progressive elected officials, campaigns and advocacy groups. A native of northeast Ohio and a graduate of Northwestern University, Crystal is based in Washington, DC.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, CO-founder of Higher Heights
Kimberly Peeler-Allen has been working at the intersection of race, gender and politics for almost 20 years. Kimberly is the Co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office. A highly skilled political fundraiser and event planner, Kimberly was the principal of Peeler-Allen Consulting, LLC from 2003 to 2014, the only African American full-time fundraising consulting firm in New York State.
After completing the 2002 gubernatorial campaign of H. Carl McCall where she served as the deputy finance director, Kimberly founded her New York City-based consulting firm to help develop capital for clients, organizations, and issues affecting people of color that have historically been kept outside of the mainstream.
Kimberly served as finance director for Letitia James’ successful bid to become Public Advocate of the City of New York and the first African American woman elected citywide in New York’s history.
In 2010, Kimberly was named to the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list as well as named one of The Feminist Press’ 40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism.
Mónica Ramírez is the daughter and granddaughter of migrant farmworkers. Her parents inspired her to become involved with social causes and public service. Mónica has dedicated her career as an attorney and advocate to ending gender based violence in the workplace and achieving gender equity. She has been specifically engaged in direct service and advocacy on behalf of farmworkers, Latinas and immigrant women. Mónica also has a long history promoting women’s leadership and political power, including leading LatinasRepresent, the only national non-partisan initiative focused on increasing Latina representation and participation in public leadership positions.
She is the founder of several major initiatives and projects, including Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mónica has received numerous awards for her work and has been featured in national and international media. She is the co-founder and Board President of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (National Farmworker Women's Alliance). Mónica serves on the Board of Directors of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).
Mónica holds a Juris Doctorate from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University Chicago.
Mónica resides in Montgomery County, Maryland with her husband and her son. In October 2017, she was confirmed to serve as a Commissioner for the Montgomery County Commission for Women. Mónica is the Deputy Director for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) and the Director of LatinasRepresent for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA).
Chuck Rocha, President and Founder of Solidarity Strategies
Born and raised in Tyler, Texas, Chuck Rocha followed in his father’s footsteps as a union worker for the Kelly – Springfield Tire Company. Chuck started his union career at 19 as a member of the United Rubber Workers Local 746. He soon after became the youngest officer ever to be elected of Local 746 and later was appointed as National Political Director. Chuck became the only Latino to serve as the National Political Director of a significant U.S. labor union. He served as Dick Gephardt’s and John Edwards’ National Labor Director during the 2004/2008 presidential election cycles.
In 2010, Chuck founded Solidarity Strategies, a consulting firm that specializes in providing political services including mail, phones, and general consulting to progressive candidates, corporations, and nonprofits. Solidarity Strategies is a 100% minority-owned small business. Clients vary from VoteVets, NCLR, to Bernie Sanders for President.
Chuck frequently makes appearances on the news providing insight on Latino issues and current political races. He is a regular contributor to FOX News as a Latino vote expert and Democratic strategist. Chuck also authors op-eds on the Hill and the Huffington Post.
Chuck currently serves as an Executive Board Member for the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and Demos. He is a graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union program. Chuck is a recipient of the 2016 Goldies All-Stars award for his work as a Senior Advisor to Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign. Most recently, he was elected a member of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee.
Kayla Santosuosso is a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn-based community organizer. Most recently, she managed the El-Yateem for City Council campaign, engaging hundreds of volunteers from across New York City and garnering national press attention to the local race. Prior to that, she served as the Deputy Director of the Arab American Association of New York, overseeing social service and advocacy programming in the heart of the largest Arab community in NYC. While at AAANY, she founded an initiative called The Accompany Project - a program which has trained thousands of New Yorkers to safely intervene when someone is being harassed or attacked in public. She is also one of the founding members of the NYC chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national organization which organizes people to disrupt racism in their own communities. Kayla holds a Bachelor's Degree from New York University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and is currently earning her Juris Doctor as a Global Law Fellow at New York Law School.
Erin Schrode, Citizen Activist
Erin Schrode is a citizen activist, social entrepreneur and writer. This leading voice on sustainability, social impact and millennials and vocal advocate for environmental action, public health and equal justice recently ran an unprecedented campaign for US Congress in California – to redefine civic engagement and reinvigorate a culture of public service. Since co-founding Turning Green in 2005, she has developed eco education and action platforms to inspire, educate, and mobilize
millions of students and global masses. Erin speaks and consults internationally, contributes to ABC, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Refinery29, and is frequently tapped as an expert for and featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CNN, NBC, FOX, Seventeen, Forbes, and other media. This community organizer champions civic leadership and environmental stewardship worldwide – from education projects in Haiti to recycling in Ghanaian schools; eco curriculum in Middle East conflict zones to organic school lunch and garden programs in the Bay; Syrian refugee camps in Greece, Macedonia and Jordan to the streets of New York City for racial justice; climate and human rights campaigns at Standing Rock to mass feeding operations in Puerto Rico. Erin is a bold innovator on a lifelong journey to inspire and mobilize people to discover and activate passion for social impact and policy change.
Amanda Septimo is a lifelong Bronx resident with a long, rich history of service to the community. Most recently, Amanda Septimo worked with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) to ensure that school leaders and students have the resources they need to transform every school into a thriving learning environment.
Prior to joining CSA, Amanda Septimo spent four years working with Congressman Jose E. Serrano in The Bronx. In 2014, Amanda became one of the youngest serving senior staffers in Congress when she was promoted to District Director for the 15th Congressional District. During her time as District Director for Congressman Serrano, Amanda Septimo significantly expanded the pool of federal resources in the district and amplified the array of services available to constituents.
With hopes of a continued career in public service, Amanda Septimo continues to pursue work that champions the fight for true justice, educational equality, and economic opportunity for everyone in New York.
Marlene St. Fleur
My name is Marlene St.Fleur. I am a sophomore and attend Sodus Jr/Sr Highschool. I am part of the youth group J.O.Y (Justice Organization of Youth) which aspires to create changes in our community.
Joanna Stach, RCYR Membership Chair
I was born in Sanok, Poland and immigrated to the USA in 2003. Since I received my bachelors degree in Social Science from Cazenovia College, Cazenovia NY. Currently working as a IBMO Analyst at Barclays Capital in Manhattan. I am interested in the event, as I am a member of the Women's National Republican Club and serving on the Communications Committee, I am also the Campaign Chair for the Manhattan Young Republicans and most importantly the Membership Chair for the Richmond County Young Republicans. I am also on the planning committee for the Ssga Michael Ollis Foundation for the annual 5k on Staten Island.
Sarah K. Steiner
Sarah K. Steiner is a sole practitioner in Manhattan, with a practice principally in election and other political law, particularly with regard to campaigns and elections.
Sarah Steiner was Chair of the Election Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York from 2013 to 2016. She remains a member of the Committee, and continues to run the annual program at the City Bar "How to Get on the Ballot in New York City." She has represented candidates ranging from those seeking citywide office to the most local candidates, all with the same attention to detail. Ms. Steiner also represents non-profit corporations, civic associations and PACs on the legal aspects of their political activities, and advises candidates and elected officials on state and federal campaign finance law and ethics obligations. Her experience includes litigation and appearing before administrative agencies.
Cynthia Richie Terrell, Founder and Director of Representation2020
Cynthia Richie Terrell is the founder and director of Representation2020 and a co-founder of FairVote - a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. Terrell has worked in the area of voting system reform in the United States and abroad.
Previously, Terrell worked extensively on political campaigns, working as campaign manager and field director for campaigns for the U.S. President, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, for governor and for state and city-wide initiative efforts, including a state equal rights amendment and a city campaign for fair representation voting.
Terrell has been published in numerous print journals including: the Washington Post, The Nation, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The American Prospect, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, and The Christian Science Monitor; has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal; and has participated in numerous radio shows & panel discussions on the topic of structural strategies to elect more women. She has three children and is active in the Quaker community. She graduated with a B.A. in political science from Swarthmore College in 1986.
Erin Vilardi, Founder and Director of VoteRunLead
Erin Vilardi is the Founder and Director of VoteRunLead, a national organization leveraging technology and training to accelerate the number of women in civic and political leadership. She first launched VRL as Vice President of Program and Communications at The White House Project, establishing the largest national political training program readying women for public office and civic life, training over 15,000 women. She has served as a Leadership Development Consultant for a range of clients, including the Yahoo! Business and Human Rights division and Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she developed the Athena CORE10© – an innovative set of leadership competencies for 21st century women leaders based on the latest research and gender analysis. She has worked with a diverse range of clients including Fortune 100 companies, global girls’ initiatives and the U.S. Department of State, reaching women leaders in a dozen international cities. Vilardi serves on the Advisory Boards of Girl Meets World, the New American Leaders Project, and Democracy.com and is on the Leadership Teams of Vision2020 and Political Parity. She is an Executive Producer of Ann Richards’ Texas, a documentary about the late pioneering governor. She has appeared on CNN, BBC, and Fox News and her work was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine as well as numerous international and domestic articles on women and leadership.
Melissa Mark Viverito, Former Speaker of NYC Council
Melissa Mark-Viverito served as the Speaker of the New York City Council from 2014-2017, the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold citywide office. She represented the 8th District, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem and the South Bronx from 2006 to 2017. Born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, she worked for over a decade in local activism, nonprofit organizations and grassroots labor organizing before being elected to the City Council in 2005. She was unanimously elected to serve as New York City Council Speaker in January 2014.
Led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City has emerged as a national leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Speaker Mark-Viverito is also an outspoken advocate for local and national criminal justice reform, and launched the Young Women’s Initiative to address disparities faced by women in such areas as education, workforce development, healthcare, and the criminal justice system.
In 2011, she was one of four Council Members to pioneer the first-ever Participatory Budgeting process in New York City. Since Mark-Viverito’s speakership, Participatory Budgeting has spread to 31 districts across New York City.
Before becoming Speaker in 2014, Melissa served as founding co-chair of the New York City Council Progressive Caucus. From 2010 -2013, she also chaired the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation.
Sheridan Watson, Senior Communications Consultant, Aetna
For more than 10 years, Sheridan Watson served as an on-the-record spokeswoman and communications advisor for members of Congress, including House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx and U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and Zell Miller. Previously she managed a portfolio of policy issues for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and served in communications roles at the Archdiocese of Washington and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
As president of the Georgia State Society, Sheridan planned the first Georgia Inaugural Gala in 2009. As a volunteer during the 2015 papal visit, she managed media at Pope Francis’ mid-day prayer with U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. She currently lives in Manhattan where she works for Aetna providing external communications support to markets in the northeast and southeast.
Katherine Wynne, Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist at George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management
As the Recruitment and Enrollment Specialist at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, Katherine engages and works with prospective students who are passionate about advancing their careers in politics, advocacy, and communications. While earning her master's in global Political Management, she worked as a Presidential Fellow for GWU and launched a grassroots community advocacy grant competition. Prior to that, she has experience on Capitol Hill in D.C., with a lobbying team in Sacramento, CA, and in international and national NGOs empowering women in the public sphere.