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Announcing the 2019 Strengthening Democracy Fellows

By October 30, 2018September 26th, 2019No Comments

Rockwood is proud to announce the 2019 cohort of the Fellowship for Leaders Strengthening Democracy.

A partnership between Rockwood and the Piper Fund, this fellowship focuses on supporting new voices in democracy in order to reduce the influence of special interests on America’s political and judicial systems.

The fellows are key influencers in organizations and networks that protect democratic systems from the influence of money, are positioned within their communities to help demonstrate new and better ways to lead and work together, and are working to engage the new American majority: women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, and young people. They will hone skills related to articulating vision, managing difficult conversations, and identifying personal leadership strengths and challenges while also connecting with each other to build a powerful network.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 fellows:

Jasmine Banks | Executive Director, UnKoch My Campus

Jasmine Banks is a former non-profit co-founder, digital organizer and strategist, Chief Marketing Officer, and small business owner. As a first-generation high school and university graduate, she understands the critical role that all education plays in shaping our democracy. Jasmine joined UnKoch My Campus as a digital organizer. Her exceptional leadership with the digital program led to her promotion as Executive Director. Jasmine’s strategic approach, in all of her organizing, is to center the most vulnerable communities impacted by structural oppression. She is a mother of 4, an eternal fan of Beyoncé, and a passionate supporter of her queer Black community.


Nicole Borromeo | Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Alaska Federation of Natives

Nicole serves as the executive vice president and general counsel for the Alaska Federation of Natives, the oldest and largest Native organization in Alaska. Prior to joining AFN, she worked as an associate attorney at Sonosky, Chambers, Sasche, Miller & Monkman, LLP, a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i, and as a law clerk the Honorable Patricia Collins (Ret.). After earning her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Alaska-Anchorage, she obtained her juris doctorate degree from the University of Washington School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Washington, Hawai’i, and Alaska. She is an enrolled member of the McGrath Native Village Council (a federally recognized Indian tribe), a shareholder of Doyon, Ltd. (an Alaska Native regional corporation), and chairman of the board for her village corporation, MTNT, Ltd., in which she also holds shares. Nicole is active in Alaska Native legal and policy work at the state and national levels. She resides in Anchorage with her husband Emmanuel, and their three children Kellan, Kaia, and Kapono.


Marilyn Carpinteyro | Chief of Internal Operations and Strategy, Common Cause

Marilyn is the chief of internal operations and strategy at Common Cause, working to advance the organizations missions to uphold the core values of American democracy.  Since joining Common Cause in 2010, she has served in a myriad of roles including national outreach director and director for state operations where she supported state affiliates in developing and advancing state and local democracy reforms including small donor systems, disclosure, and voter modernization. Prior to joining Common Cause, Marilyn was the legislative and political director at New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) where she worked advanced progressive policies, including paid family leave, clean elections pilot programs, and increased the state minimum wage. Marilyn is a graduate of Seton Hall University.


Amber Carrillo | Native American Liaison, New Mexico Human Services Department

Amber’s ancestors are the Seneca of New York, Choctaws of Mississippi and Oklahoma, Laguna Pueblo, and Mescalero Apaches. This diverse heritage drives her passion for social justice. The experience of her people before and after contact is a significant context for the evolution of her values. Early Seneca nation building founded democracy, freedom, and equality in their lives and from that, Amber’s study on traditional indigenous democratic practices has enriched her work in social justice and academic pursuits on modern democratic theory. In 1996, she became a community organizer on a sacred site issue in New Mexico. Since then, she’s been a political organizer working numerous campaigns and served as the Native vote director in the 2008 Presidential campaign of then-Senator Obama. Amber learns and grows with her two daughters, a dog, and three cats, hoping that our work results in the greater good of all and that social justice prevails.


Joy Davis, MA | Executive Director, Portland African American Leadership Forum

Joy is an interdisciplinary design strategist who has held support and leadership roles in various social justice organizations for over nine years. Joy is a Cincinnati native and graduate of Miami University with a bachelor of arts in political science and Parsons School for Design with a master of arts in theories of urban practice. Joy is the founder of the award-winning Design+Culture Lab, a research-driven, urban-social enterprise that works in the intersection between identity and place. She currently serves as the executive director of the Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) where she works to helps Black community imagine the alternatives they deserve and build political participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.


Alex Gomez | Co-Executive Director, Living United for Change in Arizona

Alex trained alongside many others to organize the community in the aftermath of Arizona’s strict anti-immigration bill SB1070. That’s led her to incredible opportunities, where she worked for Organizing for America in Arizona, the Adios Arpaio campaign she directed with NOI, and as a deputy organizing director at United We Dream during the immigration reform push in 2013 and 2014. Since then, she’s become a co-executive director at Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), where they organize and coordinate many different efforts across a range of issues locally, including immigration, worker’s rights, living wages, and voter registration. Alex brings a wide lens perspective given both the local and national roles she’s served, and has been one of the most influential people in Arizona, investing in new leadership that is changing the political landscape at home.


Isela Gutierrez | Research and Policy Director, Democracy North Carolina

Isela is the research and policy director at Democracy North Carolina, a state-based organization that works for free, fair, and, accessible elections, where she has worked in various roles since 2013. Prior to moving to North Carolina, Isela worked on statewide juvenile justice reform in Texas and drug policy reform in Seattle. She has a BA in history from Scripps College, an MSW from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and over a decade of experience in social justice advocacy. When she isn’t working, she enjoys time with her three daughters, husband, and pets at their home in Durham.


Atteeyah Hollie | Senior Attorney, Southern Center for Human Rights

Atteeyah currently serves as a senior staff attorney in the Southern Center for Human Right’s (SCHR) Impact Litigation Unit (ILU). She previously served as an investigator in the ILU for four years before returning in 2010.  Atteeyah has litigated cases challenging the denial of the right to counsel for poor Georgians, illegally closed courtrooms, wealth-based detention, inhumane prison conditions, and the denial of utility services because of court debt. In addition, Atteeyah, along with Managing Attorney Patrick Mulvaney, has spearheaded SCHR’s efforts to end extreme sentences for nonviolent drug offenses in Georgia.  Atteeyah is a 2010 graduate of Gideon’s Promise and currently assists the organization with training public defenders. She was named a 2017 “On the Rise” Georgia lawyer by the Fulton County Daily Report. She received her BA in history from Dartmouth College in 2002 and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2010.


Kayse Jama | Executive Director, Unite Oregon

Kayse, executive director of Unite Oregon, was born into a nomad family in Somalia. He left when the civil war erupted, and finally found sanctuary in Portland. From 2005 to 2007, he trained immigrant and refugee community leaders in five Western states—Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho—under a prestigious New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center. He has been awarded the 2007 Skidmore Prize for Outstanding Young Nonprofit Professionals, the 2008 Oregon Immigrant Achievement Award from Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the 2009 Lowenstein Trust Award (presented yearly to “that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland), and the 2012 Portland Peace Prize. In 2018, Kayse ran for Oregon Senate and refused to take any corporate PAC money, instead building a grassroots fundraising infrastructure.


Getachew Kassa | Senior Campaigner, Democracy Initiative

Getachew is the senior campaigner at the Democracy Initiative, where he works with the 69 partner organizations to coordinate efforts on democracy reforms. Previously, he was the manager of the Voting Rights Department at the NAACP. Within that capacity, he directed partnerships between the NAACP and national and state partners to increase democracy by protecting and enhancing voting rights.  He is a dedicated and passionate public advocate who has worked to support the needs of young people, people of color and underserved communities.  Previous to his work at the NAACP, Getachew worked at Generational Alliance, a coalition of 22 national youth organizations, where he worked on electoral organizing and training. Prior to that, he worked at the United States Student Association as legislative director, representing the interest of millions of college students to Congress, the Obama Administration, and Department of Education.  Getachew is also a graduate of the University of Oregon, where he studied political science.


Liz Kennedy | Senior Director, Government & Democracy Reform, Center for American Progress

Liz is a senior fellow and was founding senior director of the Democracy and Government Reform team at the Center for American Progress, where she works to restructure the rules of democracy in order to rebalance power in government for people. She has served as counsel and campaign strategist at Demos, as an attorney at the Brennan Center, as deputy director of voter protection for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Ohio, and as a student organizer and canvass director with the Public Interest Research Groups. Liz works to expand political participation by eliminating barriers and empowering voters; to fight corruption of democratic government through effective rules and incentives for money in politics; and to fulfill America’s promise of equality and self-government for all.


Melody Lopez | Executive Director, NY Civic Engagement Table

Melody is director of the New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET).  NYCET supports a diverse group of 60 organizations committed to creating a better, more just, and democratic world through year-round civic engagement. At the NYCET, she oversees collaboration with partners, development of a coordinated program, engages new partners, and manages the provision of resources and technical assistance to partner organizations.  Melody has over a decade of experience in community organizing, electoral campaigns, issue campaigns, and coalition building. Melody began organizing at the Working Families Party where she worked on numerous issue campaigns and managed electoral campaigns in NY. She was also fortunate to work in the California Bay Area where she organized communities and coordinated coalitions to build support for affordable housing while at the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. She happy to be home in New York with her family.


Nick Lyell | Media Associate, ReThink Media

Nick is a communications professional in the movement for an inclusive democracy, focusing on rebalancing our democracy away from big money, ensuring fair and impartial courts, and protecting and expanding the right to vote. He’s also a multimedia artist and filmmaker based in Washington, DC.  Nick often investigates themes around power relationships and moral inclusion and likes to experiment with new mediums and technologies in his storytelling.


Maurice Mitchell | National Director, Working Families Party

Maurice recently took over the helm of the Working Families Party as national director. He brings more than 20 years of experience in community organizing, electoral politics, and social movements to the role.  Shortly after graduating from Howard University, Maurice worked at the Long Island Progressive Coalition, leading advocacy and electoral campaigns. He became the organizing director for Citizen Action of New York and then ran the New York State Civic Engagement Table, a coalition of community and civic engagement groups working on issue and electoral campaigns to build progressive power.  In response to the police violence in Ferguson and St. Louis after Mike Brown was killed, as well as police violence against Black people nationally, Maurice co-founded and managed Blackbird, an anchor organization within the Movement for Black Lives. Maurice provided strategic support and guidance to activists and groups around the county.


Shauntay Nelson | Democracy Director, Wisconsin Voices

Shauntay is the democracy director at Wisconsin Voices. Nelson works with a network of progressive organizations to ensure a greater impact of civic and voter engagement, and her work involves collaboration with local and state community leaders, and politicians to create policy that will strengthen her community. Shauntay works diligently to lobby legislators on behalf of issues that impact democracy in Wisconsin. She serves as a guest speaker regarding the statewide redistricting process and has a passion to educate the public about how redistricting impacts communities of color. She is also one of the leaders charged with educating the public about the issue of judicial recusal in Wisconsin.


Andrea Serrano | Executive Director, Organizers in the Land of Enchantment

Andrea is an Albuquerque native who has been working in nonprofit and social justice organizations since 1999. Her experience includes roles as a community educator at the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico and program coordinator at South Valley Academy, and extensive involvement in community organizing and activism with various community organizations.  Andrea began working with OLÉ in 2012 as a Wyss fellow working on urban conservation.  In 2014, Andrea became deputy director, where her focus shifted to leadership development.  In January 2017, Andrea was named executive director of OLÉ. As executive director, Andrea leads OLÉ’s electoral and political program, new citizen program, membership recruitment and activities, and democracy reform work.  Andrea attended the University of New Mexico, where she majored in family studies with an emphasis on human services.


Victricia Simmons | Chief of Staff, New Florida Majority

Victricia currently serves as chief of staff at New Florida Majority, a statewide independent political organization, where she manages the administrative/finance and operations departments, as well as the voter registration program responsible for registering over 100,000 voters in the past five years.  Victricia is a Miami native who got involved in movement work in 2013 as the executive assistant to the executive director at New Florida Majority. Through this position, she became passionate about building Black & Brown independent infrastructure and power in Florida. Since 2013, she has held various positions within the organization that include human resources manager, campaign manager, and recently served as acting director during an organizational transition.  She received a bachelor’s of healthcare management from Florida A&M University in 2009 and went on to obtain a master’s degree in public administration from Florida A&M University in 2011. She also holds a human resources management certification. After college, she returned to Miami to help with the family business of aeronautical engineering at Miami International Airport in 2011. She went on to work at Florida Memorial University in the Office of Advancement Services as public affairs coordinator.


Micah Sims | Executive Director, Common Cause Pennsylvania

Micah serves as executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. The goal of this national nonpartisan advocacy organization is to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest. Common Cause Pennsylvania has over 30,000 members.  Micah is a fifth-generation ordained minister, who has pastored significant African Methodist Episcopal church congregations in Pennsylvania. His ministry calling is not exclusively in the pulpit but is additionally active in civic engagement and community development. This passion is personified in his work on several political campaigns including as senior staff in the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama.  He attended Villanova University for undergraduate studies and Lancaster Theological Seminary for graduate degree pastoral theology and divinity. Micah is a lifetime member of NAACP and, member of American Political Science Association.  Micah is married to Rev. Tameaka Reid Sims and they are the proud parents of five talented young people.


Alex Spriggs | Chief of Staff, SAVE Foundation

Alex was born in Penang, Malaysia and raised in Brisbane, Australia. He began his working career as an English tutor in Japan for 12 months and upon returning to Australia, he spent 10 years in hotel management before relocating to the United States in 2015. On his arrival in the U.S., Alex started volunteering for SAVE, Florida’s longest-serving LGBT advocacy organization, becoming a full-time staff as events manager, and then progressing to chief of staff.  Alex enjoys exploring and learning about new people and places, and spent 18 months traveling the globe before settling in the U.S. He enjoys cooking for friends in his spare time.


Hamsini Sridharan | Program Director, MapLight

Hamsini is MapLight’s program director, leading work to research and promote policies that reform the political process. She has previously worked with nonprofits focusing on fair trade and financial transparency. She received a BA with honors in anthropology and international studies from the University of Chicago and an MA in anthropology from Columbia University. In her downtime, she likes working with animals, kickboxing, and reading feminist fiction.


Corie Tanida | Executive Director, Common Cause Hawaii

Corie is the executive director for Common Cause Hawaii. She manages the state office in Honolulu, creates and manages civic engagement projects, conducts research, advocates for policy changes at the State Legislature and County Councils, and directs fundraising initiatives. Corie has been a part of Common Cause since 2013, first as project coordinator, then as senior organizer, and is honored to be executive director. Prior to joining Common Cause, she served in the Peace Corps (El Salvador), consulted on various state political campaigns, and worked at the Hawaii State Legislature. Corie holds a master’s in business administration with a nonprofit concentration and a bachelor’s in political science.


Tempestt Tuggle | Voter Program Lead, Organization for Black Struggle

Tempestt was born and raised in St. Louis. Growing up in foster care, she learned she had a passion for helping people find their purpose.  Tempestt is now a voter program lead for the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS). When she first came to OBS as an administrative assistant, she had previous experience organizing in labor unions and political campaigns. When it was discovered that Tempestt had the desire and drive to become a community organizer, she was trained to become city organizer where she carried out OBS’s base-building goals through ballot initiatives, community trainings, and other grassroots campaigns. Tempestt has a passion for organizing and mentoring youth.


Carlos Valverde | State Director, Colorado Working Families Party

Carlos is the state director of Colorado Working Families Party.  He has more than 18 years of experience in grassroots community organizing and social change work.  He recently returned to Colorado from six years in Nicaragua, where he worked in community based economic development and empowerment programs with the Peace Corps and other international organizations.  Prior to Nicaragua, Carlos served as an executive director for the Colorado Progressive Coalition, where he led numerous legislative and ballot measure campaigns for racial, economic, and health justice.


Olivia Zink | Executive Director, Coalition for Open Democracy

Olivia is Open Democracy’s executive director. She has worked in New Hampshire as a community organizer since 2000. Olivia lives in Franklin, NH with her daughter and serves on the Franklin city council.

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