Rakeb Abate is an experienced senior public policy analyst and program manager with extensive
experience of working with national governments across Africa. For over a decade she has overseen
various complex and high-pressure projects related to governance and public sector capacity
building. Rakeb has an excellent ability to tackle complex problems, strong analytical and budget
Dr. Belt is an ordained Elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. She has served as pastor of Mt. Tabor UMC in Crownsville, MD, and the founding pastor of New Beginnings UMC, a new church start located in Severn Maryland which ministered mainly to youth and young adults. She currently serves as the pastor of Harwood Park UMC and Mt. Zion UMC.
Dr. Belt has facilitated workshops and seminars across the United States.She is a contributing author in the book Sister to Sister, Volume 2, edited by Dr. Linda Hollies.She is contributing author to the books God's Promises for Women of Color, and The Women of Color Study Bible. She serves on the board of directors for Precious Times Magazine and has written several articles for that publication. Most recently she contributed an essay to the book The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture, edited by Dr. Emmett T. Price of Northeastern University.
Dr. Belt is the first African American clergy woman to be sworn in as a Chaplain for the Anne Arundel County Police Department. She has served as the Chairwoman of The National Black Clergy-Women of The United Methodist Church, and as an Adjunct Professor of Preaching at Wesley Theological Seminary. In 2003, she was recipient of the Denman Evangelism Award from the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.
In the business world, Dr. Belt has over twenty years of experience in the computer field.She has traveled across the United States providing computer training and installation for small businesses, corporations and computer user groups.Her accomplishments in the business field earned her a place in Who's Who in American Business in 1991 and 1992.
Dr. Belt has a B.S. in Management Science from University of Maryland, University College. In 1997, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wesley Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity Degree.She received her Doctor of Ministry degree in 2000 from Wesley Theological Seminary, with a special emphasis on The African American Church and Its Ministries. Dr. Belt considers her greatest accomplishment and her highest honor that she is a born again, blood washed, spirit filled Christian, who is called to serve God's people.
Ernestine Blango is Senior Advisor at AARP where she manages multimillion-dollar operational budgets for AARP's federal and multi-state advocacy efforts.Since joined AARP in April 2006 has helped to tackle complex business issues, strengthen relationship with cross-functional and contributed positively to the financial health for AARP to advance its top priorities of health and financial security.Ernestine is a graduate of Trinity College. She is native of Sierra Leone and lives in Beltsville, MD with her husband and two children.
Heather R. Brown is a grassroots organizer that has mobilized the progressive vote, while expanding the electorate, across the United States at a local, state and national level. In addition to domestic politics, she has worked abroad in Europe, South America, and Africa to help progressive activists strengthen their political engagement as well as sharpen their messaging and communication skills.
For the past 15 years, Brown has found her voice in progressive politics, most notably running the California Democratic Partyâ€™s statewide youth outreach in the historic 2008 election, National Chief of Staff for the Young Democrats of America for four years, National Trainings and Organizing Director for FieldWorks, a US-based paid field company specializing in signature gathering for candidate and ballot initiatives, and then working for Democratic GAIN, a U.S. based non-profit that focuses on building a long-term sustainable infrastructure for progressives, as their Programs Director.
Once Brown started her own firm, she focused on political and professional consulting for political parties, candidates, labor unions, allied organizations, and youth activist groups in Europe, most notably spending 2017-2018 living in Brussels working for a European Political Party, running their training and grassroots outreach department.
Kate has dedicated her professional career working on issue advocacy and candidate campaigns, in more than half the country. Building a diverse pipeline of elected leaders at all levels of government, she has recruited, trained, managed and elected hundreds of women and people of color.
Her passion for changing the world through civic engagement and leadership development, has led to holding leadership positions throughout major organizations and campaigns, while also managing large national teams and programs.
Kate's experience working with candidates, educating voters and shaping public discourse around issues most affecting women and communities of color, culminated in being selected as the National Women's Vote Director to lead President Obama's efforts in the 2012 election. Her organizational experience also includes EMILY's List, SEIU, America Votes, Hillary Clinton for President, and Communication Workers of America. Kate specializes in program, infrastructure and leadership development through a diversity and equity lens.
An accomplished public speaker and media spokesperson, Kate has made multiple appearances at campaign and organizational events, appearing in publications from USA TODAY and Roll Call to Glamour magazine.
Kate, a native of Southern California, currently resides in Los Angeles. Kate counts raising her 9 year old daughter, Sinatra, among her greatest accomplishments.
Heather is the CEO of Run the World Digital, which she launched in 2015 to help progressives, especially women, have the resources to run and win their campaigns for elected office. She is a nationally renowned fundraiser, and has been a political consultant for progressive nonprofits, political organizations, campaigns, and candidates for public office for more than 15 years. Her clients have included Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Originally from Charleston, SC, China Dickerson has almost two decades of experience working in the areas of political campaigns, community development, and the federal government. Ms. Dickerson began her career as a high school student working in her congressman's district office. She later moved to Washington, DC to attend Howard University.
Upon graduating from Howard, Ms. Dickerson served in the US Peace Corps in El Salvador where for two years she facilitated the formation and improvement of programs that promoted development and capacity building in poverty-stricken municipalities. Her work included organizing and overseeing workshops given to women in regards to their civil rights and prevention of domestic violence; men on the topic of sexism; and youth regarding self-esteem, STD awareness, and sexual abuse.
Returning to the States from the Peace Corps, Ms. Dickerson enrolled into Howard University School of Law. While in law school, she interned at the White House, Podesta Group, and managed Brianne Nadeau's winning campaign for DC City Council.
In addition to the several advisor and staff positions that she has held, Ms. Dickerson is former Deputy Director of Women Ready for Hillary, a constituency office at Ready for Hillary, where she organized tens of thousands of women across the country to encourage Hillary Clinton to run for President of the United States and former Manager of State Engagement and Development at EMILY's List, the nation's largest resource for women in politics, supporting pro-choice Democratic women candidates.
Most recently, Ms. Dickerson was Senior Advisor for Dionne Reeder, who ran for DC City Council, At Large and Campaign Manager for Lauren Underwood who recently won her race to be the youngest African American woman elected to U.S. Congress.
Ms. Dickerson is also proud to be Chair of the Young Democrats of America Women's Caucus and to serve on the executive boards of Women Under Forty PAC and Men4Choice.
A’shanti F. Gholar the founder of The Brown Girls Guide to Politics. A’shanti also serves as the national political director for Emerge, the only organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. In this role, she focuses on strengthening national partnerships and working closely with state affiliates to strategically recruit for key seats, as well as directing the organization’s overall political strategy. For 15 years, A’shanti has been a grassroots organizer and activist for women, communities of color and progressive causes. She has experience in building coalitions, program development and community and political engagement. Prior to coming to Emerge America, A’shanti served as the National Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Director of African American Engagement for the Democratic National Committee. A’shanti has also served as the Manager of National Partnerships for United Way Worldwide, as a political appointee in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor and as the Director of Public Engagement for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte, NC. A’shanti serves as an Advisory Board Member for First Ask, an Expert Advisor for Forward Majority Action, 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center Leader, and as a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for OxFam America.
Highly skilled outreach, communications, civil society, political campaign and elections, and training expert with 20+ years of experience, including more than 10 years of international experience. Recent short-term work includes a focus on decentralization, especially in areas of budget and service delivery, as well as education, specifically early grade reading programs. Directed communications and outreach for large-scale USAID-funded stability program in Afghanistan. Managed a civil society program focusing on outreach for Egyptian parliamentary elections for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). Opened NDI Gulf Regional office, and directed a permanent staff of four, along with various short-term consultants, for programs in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Designed and implemented multiple grants from a variety of funders in amounts ranging from $300,000 to $2.3 million. Oversaw the implementation of a State Department grant to develop the skills of women within political parties in Iraq. Trained elected officials, civil society activists, candidates and political party members on a variety of topics including fundraising strategies, strategic planning and community and constituent outreach in a wide variety of countries. Served as accredited international election observer in Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Egypt. Has worked (both short-term and long-term) in Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Kuwait, Nigeria, Qatar, Mozambique, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Alicia Jones has spent her adult life committed to transformative community organizing. Like many young adults in 2008 Alicia, joined then Senator Obama's campaign as a fellow in Savannah, Georgia on her HBCU campus, Savannah State University. There she honed that passion of helping others into the craft of Organizing. After a successful run in Virginia, Alicia has spent the last 12 years traveling the Country and working on various political campaigns. From Georgia, to Maryland, to Chicago, and back to Virginia, Alicia made her mark in the political world as a skilled, dedicated and strategic operative.
Alicia has worked for large progressive organizations in both the Climate and Federal Advocacy spaces, Primaried in the 2016 Elections, ran experiments for both Youth Engagement programs like Next Gen Climate and some of our newer progressive partners, Indivisible Guide. Alicia lead strategic planning, staff management and setting organizational goals for key battleground states across the country. No matter where she is, not matter who she is contact with it, Alicia Jones will bring a skill level and determination that will take any organization or movement she is apart of to the next level.
A mind stretched to a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions. - Oliver Wendell
Georgia-raised and Chicago-born, LaToia A. Jones is an, organizer, community leader, activist and strategist. Currently, LaToia is the Vice President of Public Affairs at Hustle, a progressive digital outreach company. With over 16 years of extensive political experience in presidential campaigns, gubernatorial races, and countless congressional and local races her purpose and drive have always been to be the most effective public servant possible. LaToia is also a Truman National Security Partner and serves on the boards of the National Council of Negro Women, National Labor Roundtable, Higher Heights for America, and Generator Development Group.
Laurie Moskowitz is the Founder and Principal of LM STRATEGIC, a consulting firm specializing in social impact campaigns. Founded in the belief that societal problems will not be solved in a silo, Laurie works in partnership with individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropists to leverage resources, creative assets, and the power of people to achieve scalable tangible results for some of society's most pressing problems. Laurie brings decades of experience in multiple sectors to the table. She most recently served as the Senior Director for US Campaigns for The ONE Campaign, an advocacy group dedicated to fighting extreme poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, founded by Bono of U2. ONE specialized in building bi-partisan advocacy efforts to support investment in global development. She was a Founding Partner of FieldWorks, one of the nation's premiere grassroots communications and field strategy firms where she ran hundreds of grassroots campaigns for candidates and state political parties, advocacy organizations and ballot initiatives including organizations Laurie has also served the Democratic Party and numerous candidates over the years at the national, state and local level. However, Laurie got her start working with what is now Environment America, both organizing and running door-to-door canvass efforts, which she still credits for her ability to have have tough conversations and describe almost any issue in under 30 seconds.
Atima is the President & Founder of Omara Strategy Group, LLC, a consulting firm that works with candidates and organizations across the country with the goal of building political power for women, people of color, LGBTQ+through winning political campaigns and strengthening their advocacy organizations through capacity building and building political programs. Previously in 2015, Atima served as Vice President of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a research based advocacy reproductive rights organization. Prior to that, Atima served as President of the Young Democrats of America (YDA) from 2013-2015. Her national election in 2013 was historic, in that she was the first African American, and fifth woman to be YDA President in its then 81 year history. In addition, Atima served as campaign staff (campaign manager, deputy manager, field director, and finance staff) on over 9 federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns in battleground states across the country. She has also organized with labor unions and progressive community organizations on grassroots voter registration, ballot initiatives, and GOTV operations in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities. Atima has routinely spoken on the importance of political participation and leadership for young people, women, and people of color at places and organizations such as: the Junior League Netroots Nation, Running Start, and Women & Politics Institute at American University. She received her BA from the University of Virginia and her Masters in Public Administration with a non-profit management concentration at George Mason University.
Jen Pihlaja is the founder and President of Rowan Strategies.She is currently launching a pilot program around training campaign managers for future races.She previously was founder and managing partner of McKenna Pihlaja, a women-owned media firm in Washington, DC., where the firm provided impactful work for individuals and organizations within the Democratic community through advocacy, electoral campaigns, and strategic communications.In addition, Jen has managed races, worked in political leadership at EMILY's List and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and done a whole lot of other things.Throughout her career, Jen has been a trainer, mentor and advocate for candidates, and more importantly to her, for campaign staff.Jen lives in Washington DC with her husband but will tell you she's from Upper Michigan, remains a proud Midwesterner, a loyal Green Bay Packers football fan, and an ambassador from real America to the Beltway.
Kourtney A. Pompi brings 20 years of international development experience in over 50 countries to the design, implementation and evaluation of projects that provide citizens with the tools and information needed for them to actively engage their government and press for fundamental freedoms, as well as greater transparency and accountability. Ms. Pompi has significant experience in both program management and technical skill areas, including citizen engagement, electoral participation, community empowerment, peace building, social cohesion and inclusive development programming. Specifically, Ms. Pompi has technical depth in program design, training support, materials development, and evaluation in: civic and voter education, international and domestic election monitoring, coalition-building and networking, organizational development, advocacy, community organizing and empowerment, religious tolerance, conflict mitigation, inclusion of vulnerable populations, participatory budgeting, parliamentary monitoring, access to information and open data. Ms Pompi worked with several international and domestic election observer groups to monitor elections abroad, and has served as an election official in the United States. Previously she held positions or consultancies with BroderickHaight Consulting, Camris International, Counterpart International, Creative Associates, Democracy International, International Alert, International Organization for Migration, International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy, Social Impact, and the US Department of State's Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Blanchi Roblero has extensive experience in legislative advocacy, strategic outreach and knowledge in navigating the congressional process. She currently serves as a Senior Associate at Penn Hill Group. Previously, Blanchi served as Deputy and Acting Chief of Staff to the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA) in the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In this role, she provided strategic advice to senior leadership in OLCA, as well as built and managed relationships with Members of Congress and other agencies. In addition, she managed OLCA's role in a range of policy and funding areas, including appropriations, civil rights policy, higher education policy and other key policy issue areas.
Blanchi is passionately engaged in promoting immigrants' and women's issues in the education field and growing her own expertise and experience. She completed a Gates Foundation-sponsored Graduate Public Policy Fellowship for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in 2012, where she worked both for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics on Federal policy matters directly impacting minority students.
In 2012, Blanchi authored a policy brief, Professional Development: The Importance of Teaching Vulnerable Populations, which highlighted the challenges of adequately preparing teachers to educate English Language Learners (ELL) and underscored the absence of high-quality professional development programs for teachers who educate ELLs. This brief was published by the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy.
Blanchi holds a Master's degree in Education Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from New York University (NYU) and two Bachelor's degrees in Economics and Sociology from the City University of New York (CUNY), Hunter College.
Darikka Scollard has worked with campaigns, non-profits and a variety of organizations, helping them to develop effective digital strategies to communicate their missions online as well as offline. In addition to her work across the United States, including Barack Obama's successful Presidential run in 2008, Darikka has worked internationally in Ghana and with U.S. based international NGO's. She enjoys the challenge of effectively sharing ideas and information with a global audience.
Ashley Spillane is a social impact strategist whose expertise bridges the political, technology and entertainment industries. She has over a decade of experience developing and implementing organizational and campaign strategies that drive measurable impact.
As the head of organizations like Rock the Vote, The Atlas Project, and Democratic GAIN, she forged large-scale cause marketing partnerships with companies including iHeartRadio, Microsoft, Verizon, USAToday, Twitter, and Tinder. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University and a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School where she was awarded the Roy and Lila Ash Fellowship in Democracy.
Mehrnaz Teymourian is an international development expert seeking to improve people's lives across the developing world with special focus on women issues, sustainable growth and job creation in Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. During her tenure at the World Bank Mehrnaz worked on infrastructure, environment, health, education projects while mentoring young women to reach their best potential at theBank.
Rebecca Thompson got her start in politics at just 14 years old when she served as an intern for a woman elected official in her hometown of Detroit. Since then, she has traveled the world training women, especially women of color, to run for office. She has served as a Vice President at Deliver Strategies, one of the leading progressive direct mail firms in the country and as the Run to Win Director for EMILY's List, leading the largest candidate recruitment and training program in the organization's history.
Rebecca is a graduate of the Women's Campaign School at Yale, EMILY'S List, VoteRunLead and numerous other leadership programs. She is also a national trainer for the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ElectHer, New American Leaders, the Front Line Leaders Academy, VoteRunLead, and others.
Rebecca has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Essence Magazine, and was recently named one of the American Association of Political Consultants' Top 40 Under 40 award recipients. She was inspired to create "Changing the Face of Power" the first podcast in the country dedicated to inspiring black women to run for office â€“ after losing her election for State Representative in Michigan by just 6 votes on Election Day. She wants to teach candidates everything she learned the hard way so they can run and win the first time.
As a top strategist and unifying force for change, Karen brings a wealth of experience and nonstop energy to her leadership role at NEA. Driven by passion for the NEA mission to advocate for education professionals and vision for a vibrant, future-focused association, she works tirelessly to advance the association's core values of equal opportunity, a just society, democracy, professionalism, partnership, and collective action.
As Deputy Executive Director, Karen contributes to shaping strategies and priorities of the association while working closely with state affiliates and national leadership. With clarity of direction, insight into the education sector's socio-political landscape, and experience running both internal and external organizations at NEA, she has brought game-changing transformation to the association throughout her tenure.
Upon joining as National Political Director, Karen led the creation of NEA's national campaign program and budget while managing multimillion-dollar national campaigns. She established NEA's first-ever Advocacy Fund to stay competitive with corporations and strengthen NEA's independent work. She cultivated key partnerships and put NEA on significant boards to help drive program priorities. She also brought a focus on data analytics and set the digital foundation for more targeted, impactful campaign and issue advocacy.
As Senior Director of Campaign for Strong Affiliates, Karen designed and directed the first-ever NEA strategic goal focused solely on NEA affiliates. Leveraging strong external relationships and an authentic communication style, she deftly managed difficult conversations around association and affiliate priorities at state, local, and national levels. During this time, she was elected as one of the inaugural members of the newly formed NEA Cabinet.
Karen was selected as Senior Director of Enterprise Data and Information & Strategy to lead the development, deployment, and adoption of NEA360, an enterprise-wide, online platform designed to strengthen NEA's ability to support members. With innovation, determination, and transparency, she directed strategies, budget, and resources to quickly bring a critical project that had derailed to successful fruition.
Before joining NEA, Karen served as the National Political Director for EMILY's List, the nation's largest political action committee and a prominent political network for pro-choice Democratic women candidates. In her early career, she was recognized for her work on numerous gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns. Her successes earned her the position of Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. She also served as the Governor's Senior Advisor, developing complex and politically sensitive issues into meaningful strategies that allowed the Governor to achieve his high-profile legislative priorities.
Karen's work in Democratic politics helped hone her skills in understanding diverse groups of people and the impact they can have in the political arena. She is a dedicated advocate for social justice and continues to leverage her extensive experience in Democratic political activism in her work at NEA.
Coming from a long line of teachers, Karen grew up participating in the fight for great public schools and better support for school personnel. Her mother, a teacher of more than 20 years, served 15 years as Uniserv Director with the Michigan Education Association and created one of the first NEA chapters in the state of Michigan. Karen learned early in life that political action is vital to improving the quality of education and even spent time on picket lines while her family lobbied legislators for better conditions in the classroom.
A master fixer, Karen thrives on challenge and is better than anyone at getting tough work over the finish line. In leading diverse teams to overcome difficulties, she sets the tone of ""we're all in this together"" and treats everyone as equals. She leads with honesty and integrity, fosters inclusion and equity, and bring joy and humor to her work. She is an expert in building community, creating shared vision, and nurturing the talents of those around her.
Karen serves on 21st Century Democrats Advisory Board, Catalist Board of Directors, and NEA Retirement Board. A graduate of Michigan State University, she continues to cheer on the Spartans alongside her husband and three children. At other times, she enthusiastically cheers on her family's accomplishments in work, school, and service. Karen can be reached at [email protected] or (410) 507-2317.