2019 Conference Speakers

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Thursday, November 21st

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Opening Remarks


Debbie Cox Bultan, CEO, The NewDEAL 

Debbie Cox Bultan has twenty-five years of experience in center-left politics, public policy and non-profit leadership. As CEO of NewDEAL, she oversees both strategy and day to day operations for the organization.

Debbie previously served as Executive Director for the Civic Leadership Foundation, a Chicago-based non-profit that prepares underserved youth for college, career and civic life. Prior to helping launch NewDEAL, Debbie spent fifteen years at the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) where she served in a number of capacities, including National Political Director and Chief of Staff. Among her accomplishments at the DLC was developing a network of, and policy tools for, state and local elected officials across the country.

Debbie is also a veteran of numerous political campaigns in California.


Morning Plenary: Ideas Matter

Empowering Disadvantaged Communities through increased Mobility


Cathilea Robinett, e.Republic

Cathilea is president of e.Republic, where she oversees sales and operations for the company’s award-winning media platforms; Governing and Government Technology. Cathilea also oversees e.Republic’s websites, conferences and events, and its national research and advisory groups: the Center for Digital Government, the Center for Digital Education and the Governing Institute. 

Cathilea is a frequent speaker for government and education organizations worldwide, including the United Nations, Harvard University, the State Legislative Leaders' Foundation, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and the World Congress on Information Technology. She has been quoted frequently in publications including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Forbes and others.

Cathilea is a recipient of NASCIO’s National Technology Champion Award for her outstanding contributions in advancing public sector information technology innovation as well as the Gertrude Crain award for women’s leadership in the media. 

In 2014 she launched her legacy project, the Women in Government Leadership Program, an initiative to increase the number of women elected officials in the state and local government market.  In 2018 she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.  

Her expertise in government, education, technology and business has made her a trusted advisor for both government and industry leaders throughout the United States.


Beth Osborne, T4A

Beth serves as the director of Transportation for America, which is Smart Growth America’s transportation arm. In this position she leads transportation policy development and technical assistance with departments of transportation. She was previously at the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy beginning in 2009. At USDOT, Beth managed the TIGER Discretionary Grant program, the secretary’s livability initiative, the development of the Obama administration’s surface transportation authorization proposal, and the implementation of MAP-21. Before joining USDOT, Beth worked for Sen. Tom Carper (DE) as an advisor for transportation, trade and labor policy, as the policy director for Smart Growth America and as legislative director for environmental policy at the Southern Governors’ Association. She began her career in Washington, DC in the House of Representatives working as a legislative assistant for Rep. Ron Klink (PA-04) and as legislative director for Rep. Brian Baird (WA-03).



Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA

Christopher Cabaldon was first elected Mayor of West Sacramento in 1998, and is serving his eleventh term.  He is the first mayor elected directly by the voters of the city, after serving four terms as Mayor on the city council.  The Sacramento Bee says that “under his leadership, the city has become one of the municipal stars of the region.”

Cabaldon acts in a leadership role at the United States Conference of Mayors, where he is Chair of the Jobs, Education, and the Workforce Committee.  He is also a member of Sacramento Area Council of Governments Board, has served on a variety of regional transportation and air quality agency boards, and is California’s commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.

In 2019, Cabaldon was named the first Hazel Cramer Endowed Chair in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at CSU Sacramento.

Mayor Cabaldon’s work on transportation, land use, water, air quality and climate change, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and statewide scales has won numerous awards, and has become the model for effective regional collaborative action. Mr. Cabaldon earned his B.S. in environmental economics from UC Berkeley, and a Master of Public Policy & Administration degree from CSU Sacramento, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

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Rebuilding Community through National Service


Emily Cherniack, New Politics Academy

Emily Cherniack is steeped in the traditions of servant leadership. From her service in AmeriCorps and employment with City Year AmeriCorps, to being part of the founding team of Be the Change — where she led a coalition of over 200 organizations to engage 250,000 people for a Day of Action in support of the $6 billion Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009 — Emily has worked tirelessly to serve our country and support others who serve. In 2018, Emily was named to the Politico 50 as one of the 50 "thinkers, doers, and dreamers driving politics."

Emily’s path to politics came when her boss and mentor, Alan Khazei, decided to run for the US Senate in 2009. Khazei asked Emily to become his Deputy Campaign Manager and, although he was defeated, Emily learned a great deal from his campaign and the power of political leaders who chose to serve country before self.

This experience led Emily to conclude that our current system for recruiting political talent is broken. The current talent pipeline is intentionally exclusive, and has significant barriers that prevent transformational leaders from successfully running for office; the only way to change that is to change the pipeline. New Politics was founded in 2013 to address exactly that.

Emily graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a Masters Degree in Education Policy. She lives in Boston.


California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday

 Josh Fryday was appointed California's Chief Service Officer by Governor Newsom to lead service, volunteer and civic engagement efforts throughout California.

Fryday is a military veteran and the former Mayor of Novato, his hometown. He also served as President of Golden State Opportunity (GSO), leading on the expansion and implementation of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and other programs to provide financial security to millions of low-income working people in California. 

Prior to GSO, he served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for NextGen Climate, a leading national organization focused on climate change and clean energy. 

Fryday served in the military as an Officer in the United States Navy (‘09-‘13) as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). He was stationed in the Office of Military Commissions, working on the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detainee cases, and testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the closing of Guantanamo. He also served overseas in Yokosuka, Japan, where he augmented the Navy’s 7th Fleet’s Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief efforts during ‘Operation Tomodachi’ following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. 

Fryday received his law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law, and clerked in the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, as well as the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for then District Attorney Kamala Harris. He also received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors. He later served on the UC Berkeley Alumni Board of Directors (06-09), where he co-founded the Equity Scholarship to increase diversity on the UC Berkeley Campus. 

He is a former fellow with the Truman National Security Project, former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and was a proud volunteer in the Dominican Republic with the Amigos De Las Americas Program. He currently serves as Board Chair for Demos, a national think-tank focused on issues of democracy and economic equality. Josh is married to Mollye Fryday, a public school teacher, and they have three energetic young boys, Shay, Calvin and Tam.

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Modernizing Retirement Saving in a New Era of Work


Elizabeth Kelly, former Special Assistant to the President, National Economic Council

Elizabeth Kelly serves as SVP of Operations for United Income, recently acquired by Capital One. United Income uses new data and technology to provide holistic financial planning and investment management targeted at people nearing or entering retirement. 

Prior to joining United Income in 2016, Elizabeth served as Special Assistant to the President at the White House National Economic Council, where she led White House engagement with federal agencies and external partners to develop and execute the President’s retirement security and financial inclusion agendas. In this capacity, she coordinated the development, rollout, and defense of major rules and guidance, including the fiduciary (“conflict of interest”) rule and Military Lending Act rules closing prior loopholes to cap loans to service members at 36% APR. Earlier in her career, Elizabeth worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as a law clerk to Judge Stephen A. Higginson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Elizabeth holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. from Duke University.



Senator Eric Lesser, Massachusetts

Eric P. Lesser was elected to the Massachusetts Senate on November 4, 2014. He represents nine communities in the First Hampden & Hampshire District, proudly serving Western Massachusetts as one of the youngest members of the State Senate.

Lesser’s legislative agenda focuses on the fight for greater economic opportunity and quality of life for Western Massachusetts, with initiatives around high-speed rail, a high-tech economy, job training, and innovation in government. Elected at the age of 29, Senator Lesser also spearheads the Senate’s agenda on millennial issues, including technology policy, student debt, and greater youth engagement in public affairs.

During his first term in office, Senator Lesser helped pass significant new laws related to substance abuse treatment and prevention, job training, and promotion of tourism and the arts. In his second term, he co-authored An Act Providing Continued Investment in the Life Sciences Industry in the Commonwealth, signed by the Governor in June 2018, which established $623 million in bond authorization for education, workforce training, and research and development in the life sciences sector. He also co-authored An Act Relative to Economic Development in the Commonwealth, a jobs and infrastructure bill that provided $1.15 billion in bond authorization for municipal infrastructure, waterfronts, and downtowns; established a new apprenticeship tax credit; and restricted the use of non-competition agreements.

Senator Lesser holds several leadership positions in the Legislature. He is Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Senate Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, and Senate Chair of the Joint Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, the Gateway Cities Caucus, and the Libraries Caucus as well as Senate Co-Chair of the Food Systems Caucus. 

Prior to becoming a state Senator, Lesser worked in the Obama White House, first as Special Assistant to Senior Adviser David Axelrod, and later as Director of Strategic Planning for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Lesser began as a young aide on President Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign, traveling to 47 states and six countries with then-Senator Obama and his senior team. Lesser has been described as “the face of the promised Obama political generation” by the New York Times.

Lesser has a law degree from Harvard Law School, a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard College, and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar. He holds a number of national recognitions, including a Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership at the Aspen Institute, and Co-Chairs the Future of Work Initiative at NewDEAL, a national network of pro-growth, progressive state and local elected officials. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the Student Borrower Protection Center, a new advocacy group for student loan borrowers, and teaches workshops on campaigns, elections, and public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Lesser lives in Longmeadow, just blocks from where he grew up, with his wife, Alison, two young daughters, Rose and Nora, and family dog Cooper.

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Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing


Ankur Jain, Kairos

Ankur Jain is founder and CEO of Kairos, a venture fund building and investing in companies to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Over the years, Kairos has helped launch and grow over $6.5bn worth of companies tackling problems in healthcare, housing costs, transportation networks, and more. Before rejoining Kairos in May 2017, Jain was the Chief Product Officer at Tinder, the world's largest social network for meeting people. He joined Tinder after it acquired his previous company, Humin, where he served as Founder & CEO., 

Over the years Jain has been recognized for a variety of achievements. In 2017, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2011, Inc. magazine named Ankur Jain the "Best Connected 21-Year-Old in the World" and awarded Jain "30 Under 30". In 2012, Jain was named “30 under 30: Solution Broker” by the Christian Science Monitor. And in 2015, Forbes also named Jain to their “30 under 30” list. Jain also currently serves on the innovation board of the X-Prize foundation and as a member of the Pacific Council on Foreign Relations. 

Jain graduated from the Wharton School of Business in May, 2011. 


Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, Cincinnati, OH

P.G. Sittenfeld was elected to Cincinnati’s City Council in 2011. P.G. is the Vice-Chair of the Job Growth Committee, and also serves on the Finance Committee and Strategic Growth Committee. P.G. is focused on making Cincinnati economically competitive, seeing that citizens receive high-quality basic services, and ensuring that local government lives within its means.

Following work experiences at Google and Time Magazine, P.G. returned to his hometown to become the Assistant Director of the Community Learning Center Institute. All across Cincinnati, P.G. works to help turn schools — otherwise unused in the afternoons and evenings — into hubs of neighborhood activity offering health, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for students, families and the surrounding community.

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Breakouts Session 1


Expanding Access to Secure Voting


Sheila Nix, Tusk Philanthropies

Sheila Nix is an American political strategist, most recently serving as Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden. She is currently the President of Tusk Philanthropies where she leads efforts to dramatically increase voter turnout and participation in U.S. elections through mobile voting. She has coordinated successful pilots in West Virginia, Denver and Utah County that allowed some voters, including deployed military members, to vote by using a blockchain based mobile voting application that increases security and ease of voting.  Sheila’s role also includes supporting Tusk’s clients with an array of political, communication and regulatory issues. Previously, she served as a Deputy Assistant to President Obama, was Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden on the 2012 re-election campaign, helped develop policies as Deputy Governor of Illinois and Chief of Staff to two U.S. Senators, and coordinated resources to fight poverty and disease in Sub-Saharan Africa as the U.S. Executive Director of Bono’s ONE Campaign.



Recorder Adrian Fontes, Maricopa County, AZ

Adrian is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served on active duty from 1992 to 1996, and was nominated for a meritorious commission.

His service to our country taught him the importance of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice to forcefully fight for the American dream. After leaving active duty, Adrian received his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University before continuing on to the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver.

Since graduating from law school, Adrian has spent his career advocating for justice and fighting for those who are disadvantaged — first as a prosecutor with the Denver District Attorney and then for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office and the Arizona Attorney General’s office before entering private practice.

As County Recorder, he has worked to bring a renewed energy and vision to the office, with the goal of rebuilding public trust in the election system in Maricopa County. He has focused on the voters’ experience, accountability, and security. Adrian will continue to work to make sure that every Maricopa County citizen who is eligible to vote is able to vote, whether at their kitchen table completing their early ballot or at the booth on Election Day — and that all of their ballots are counted.

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Talking about Immigration


Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council

Wendy Feliz is the Director of Communications Programming at the American Immigration Council. She has directed communications strategy for the organization since 2008, and is now incubating a new initiative, the Center for Inclusion and Belonging, that will serve as an umbrella to the campaigns, training, and outreach programs the American Immigration Council is currently investing in. Wendy’s experience in public policy/advocacy communications spans her career in the communications field, which has included positions in non-profits and foundations. Wendy is also an adjunct communications professor currently teaching at Georgetown University. Wendy holds an M.A. in Public Communication from the American University, a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New School University, and an A.A. from East Los Angeles Community College.



Maria Praeli, Fwd.us

FWD.us is a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. For too long, our broken immigration and criminal justice systems have locked too many people out from the American dream.








Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit

Steve Tobocman served as a State Representative from Detroit from 2003-2008 before term limits ended his time in the Michigan House. Steve served as the House Majority Floor Leader, the second-ranking position in his final term and was a proud member of the inaugural (and only) class of Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) State and Local Fellows program.

For the past 20 years, Steve has launched innovative nonprofit enterprises in community development, economic development, politics, and other arenas, playing a leadership role in the creation of Michigan Community Resources, Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD), Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, and ProsperUS Detroit. Today, Steve serves as the Executive Director of Global Detroit, a regional economic development initiative launched by the Detroit Regional Chamber and New Economy Initaitive to build an immigrant-inclusive and high-growth regional economy. Steve also helped create and lead the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network, a 10-state network of more than 20 local immigrant economic development efforts. WE Global is a program of Welcoming America, run in partnership with Global Detroit.

Since 2010, Steve also has served as the Democratic co-director of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University, one of the nation’s premier bipartisan political leadership programs for rising political leaders across Michigan, as well as having taught for three semesters at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. More recently, Steve took a half-time leave of absence from his work at Global Detroit in 2018 to co-manage the improbably primary campaign of his former staff person and successor in office, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, helping her to become one of the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. 

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The Future of Recycling


Jules Bailey, Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative

Jules Bailey is the Chief Stewardship Officer and Director of External Relations for Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), a private corporation owned by the beverage industry.  As CSO, Jules is responsible for charting the future of Bottle Bill implementation and ensuring the deposit and redemption system remains convenient, relevant, and effective for Oregonians. He is also responsible for new initiatives, including the BottleDrop Refill program for refillable bottles, and developing new markets for recycled plastic.  As Director of External Relations, Jules oversees all press, media, and public communications, charitable partnerships, relationships with grocers and corporate partners, customer service, and government relations.

A NewDEAL alumnus, prior to joining OBRC Jules served as a Multnomah County Commissioner, and is a former state legislator in Oregon with experience working on the Bottle Bill and with the beverage industry.  He is trained as an economist and environmental policy specialist, receiving degrees from Princeton University and Lewis and Clark College. He is a native of Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his family.

OBRC is a member-owned, cooperative corporation that collects and processes nearly all containers sold and redeemed in Oregon. OBRC counts, sorts, crushes, bales and recycles nearly 2 billion containers each year. The entire process is funded and managed by the beverage and grocery industries at no cost to taxpayers.


Councilmember Erika Strassburger, Pittsburgh, PA

Erika Strassburger is a Member of Pittsburgh City Council, proudly serving the residents of the City’s 8th District. She is the first woman elected to this seat. Previously, Erika served as Chief of Staff for her predecessor, former-Councilman and NewDEAL Alumnus Dan Gilman.

In her first year on City Council, she introduced trailblazing legislation to expand employment protections for pregnant workers, those seeking to become pregnant, and their partners, helping to protect workers throughout the City. In addition, she introduced legislation to overhaul and modernize Pittsburgh’s municipal waste and recycling code, which among other provisions, set parameters for residential composting, codified best practices for containment and storage of waste, and built a foundation upon which Pittsburgh can become a Zero Waste City. She has also helped to prioritize initiatives and legislation to create a more inclusive and welcoming city for immigrants and refugees.

As the Council Member representing the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Erika was immediately impacted by the October 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. In response, she led the way on a package of ordinances to ban the use of assault weapons and certain firearm accessories in the City, implement red flag policies for those at risk of harming themselves or others, prevent the extreme risk to children by holding gun owners accountable, and increase funding for the City’s violence prevention initiatives.

She has been an outspoken advocate for policies promoting clean water and air, equitable and diverse communities, safe, complete streets, and an open and transparent government, and is passionate about offering new ways for her constituents to be informed involved in city government.

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NewDEAL Forum Education Working Group Launch: Expanding Access to Quality Career & Technical Education


Phillip Lovell, Alliance for Excellent Education

Phillip Lovell serves as All4Ed’s vice president of policy development and government relations. He is a passionate advocate for the nation’s underserved children and youth, having spent the past two decades advocating on Capitol Hill in areas such as juvenile justice, homelessness, and education.

Mr. Lovell joined All4Ed in 2010 and is responsible for leading the organization’s efforts on Capitol Hill, with the White House, and U.S. Department of Education to advocate for federal policy that will prepare the nation’s students to graduate from high school prepared for college and the workforce. He also leads All4Ed’s effort at the state level to ensure that high schools with low graduation rates receive comprehensive support and intervention under the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act.

Mr. Lovell began his career as policy coordinator for the National Crime Prevention Council, best known for its public advertising campaign featuring “McGruff the Crime Dog.” He also cofounded the National Youth Network, a partnership of more than twenty national youth organizations with the U.S. Department of Justice that strengthened the voice of young people regarding juvenile justice during the youth violence epidemic of the late 1990s. Most recently, Mr. Lovell served as vice president for education, housing, and youth policy at First Focus and America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Ret. General Colin Powell. He represented the organization on Capitol Hill and in the media, raising the visibility of the impact of the “Great Recession” on children, and leading legislation to address the academic and nonacademic needs facing underserved students and high school dropouts.


Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA

Christopher Cabaldon was first elected Mayor of West Sacramento in 1998, and is serving his eleventh term.  He is the first mayor elected directly by the voters of the city, after serving four terms as Mayor on the city council.  The Sacramento Bee says that “under his leadership, the city has become one of the municipal stars of the region.”

Cabaldon acts in a leadership role at the United States Conference of Mayors, where he is Chair of the Jobs, Education, and the Workforce Committee.  He is also a member of Sacramento Area Council of Governments Board, has served on a variety of regional transportation and air quality agency boards, and is California’s commissioner on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.

In 2019, Cabaldon was named the first Hazel Cramer Endowed Chair in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at CSU Sacramento.

Mayor Cabaldon’s work on transportation, land use, water, air quality and climate change, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and statewide scales has won numerous awards, and has become the model for effective regional collaborative action. Mr. Cabaldon earned his B.S. in environmental economics from UC Berkeley, and a Master of Public Policy & Administration degree from CSU Sacramento, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.


Senator Elena Parent, Atlanta, GA

Elena is a State Senator, attorney, and progressive champion. First elected in 2010 as one of 12 Democrats in the nation to unseat a Republican incumbent, Elena focused her efforts in her first term on government transparency and ethics, including independent redistricting. Elected to the State Senate in 2014, Elena has focused on improving access to early childhood education and health care, promoting common-sense gun safety measures, and defeating job-killing and discriminatory "religious freedom" legislation. She has also continued her work toward an independent redistricting commission for Georgia. Elena passed a bill that would close a loophole that allowed severely mentally ill Georgians to acquire guns and is also working toward keeping guns away from those committed of domestic violence. She also was a key part of passing Georgia's Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act in 2016. In 2018, Elena was elected Vice Chair of Campaigns and Fundraising to the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus, which has allows her the opportunity to recruit and raise money for progressive candidates in Georgia.

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The Political Landscape


The 2020 Electorate


Emily Cain, EMILY's List

Emily Cain joins EMILY’s List as Executive Director with a decade of experience as a state legislator and public policy leader, two cycles as one of the country’s top ranked Democratic congressional candidates, more than a decade of work in higher education and recent leadership as Chief Strategy Officer for a private sector tech company.

Emily, who was first elected to office at age 24, made her mark in Maine politics serving in both the House and Senate over five terms in the state legislature, leading the Appropriations Committee as Chair and serving as the youngest woman House Minority Leader in state history. In 2012, against all odds, Cain led House Democrats back into the majority by recruiting top candidates, electing more women, and winning tough seats in Maine’s challenging rural areas. As a leader in the legislature Emily Cain was known as a tough negotiator, deal closer, and champion for women, equality, domestic violence prevention, and economic development. In 2014 and 2016 Emily ran for U.S. Congress in two of the most competitive house races in the country.

As a candidate and leader of her party, Cain knocked on thousands of doors and travelled thousands of miles across rural Maine listening to the stories of working people who feel their elected officials are out of touch. Cain brings to EMILY’s List the perspective of someone who has been on the ground listening to voters, earning votes in tough places.

Prior to joining EMILY’s List, Emily was the Chief Strategy Officer at HistoryIT, a technology company dedicated to making historical collections more accessible and meaningful through digitization.

The daughter of a shoe salesman and a sign language interpreter, Emily is the oldest of three sisters and learned at a very young age the value of hard work, family, and education. Emily has lived in Maine most of her life, was born in Kentucky, and spent her childhood years in Illinois and New Jersey.

Emily is a graduate of the University of Maine and Harvard University, and is currently working to complete her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Maine. Emily and her husband of thirteen years, Danny Williams, live in Orono, ME with their dog, Bartlet the pug.


Teri Arvesu, Univision

Teri Arvesu serves as Vice President of Content for Univision Chicago. In this capacity, she oversees the station's News & Content, driving strategy for content across platforms, messaging and solutions for both internal and external clients. In 2016, Teri was named one of Chicago’s 40 Under 40 by Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine and, in 2019, she was named one of Chicago United Business Leaders of Color. She is a recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award, 13 Emmy Awards and 2 Lisagor Awards, and, under her leadership, Univision Chicago became the first Spanish language television station in that market to be awarded the Emmy for Best Evening Newscast. In 2015, Teri launched the first Chicago radio show for bilingual millennials by bilingual millennials, after founding a fellowship with DePaul University and the McCormick Foundation to train high school and college Latinos interested in media.



Akunna Cook, Drake Road Strategies

Akunna Cook is an accomplished diplomat, policy advocate, and attorney.  She is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Drake Road Strategies where she advises individuals and organizations on public policy strategy and advocacy.  Previously, Akunna served as the founding executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, a non-partisan organization focused on driving economic progress in the black community through policy development, advocacy, and supporting candidates for office. Akunna also practiced law at Covington & Burling LLP, where she advised former Attorney General Eric Holder on all aspects of his role as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Akunna managed a team of attorneys researching political and legal strategy on redistricting around the country. She also advised a variety of clients on public policy, government affairs, and corporate governance.

Before practicing law, Ms. Cook served for almost ten years as a career diplomat with the Department of State where she focused on economic and political development. Akunna served overseas in China, South Africa, and Iraq where she advised U.S. companies on trade, investment, and political risk. In Washington, Akunna served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State responsible for African affairs, multilateral engagement, management, and legal issues. Akunna received her law degree from the Yale Law School and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is also a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration. Akunna is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Washington, D.C. bar.


Representative Chris Harris, Forest Hills, KY

A former underground coal miner, Chris Harris was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representative in 2014. He represents the 93rd legislative district of Kentucky, serving Martin and Pike counties. Chris is a member of the Committees on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology, Transportation, and Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection. Prior to his election to the Kentucky General Assembly, Chris served in local government as a Pike County Magistrate for 12 years. During his tenure, he was elected by county officials from across the Commonwealth as the President of the Kentucky Association of Counties, a bipartisan organization dedicated to serving all of Kentucky and advocating for legislative solutions for issues affecting county governments around the Commonwealth.

When the General Assembly is not in session, Rep. Harris works at his private law practice. Chris is licensed to practice law in Kentucky and West Virginia and has argued cases before the Supreme Courts of both states. He and his wife Leslie have three children, Corbin, Wilson, and Emma, and live in Pike County, Kentucky. 

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A View from the Early Primary States


County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, Santa Cruz, CA

Ryan is Chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the two-time former Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz.  He is also an entrepreneur, author, and educator. He is the host of the NewDEAL’s "An Honorable Profession" podcast. He was the cofounder of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation (now owned by Pacific Workplaces), a lecturer on law and government at UC Santa Cruz, and co-author of The Rise of the Naked Economy – How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace and wrote Etched in Stone – Enduring Words from our National Monuments. Ryan was selected by the Aspen Institute to be a Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership as one of "the nation’s most promising young elected officials.”

On the Board of Supervisors, Ryan has created incentives to support affordable workforce housing, led the expansion of the public safety and treatment programs, led efforts to sue oil and gas companies for carbon emissions, established a Thrive by Three Fund to support families' health and educational outcomes.


Senator Liz Mathis, Cedar Rapids, IA

Liz Mathis was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2011. She ran in a special election to secure the majority seat in a 50-person chamber.

Senator Mathis is ranking member on the Human Resources Committee and Agriculture Appropriations. She also serves on full Appropriations, Agriculture, Commerce and Ethics committees.

Liz grew up on her family’s farm near DeWitt, graduated from the University of Iowa and did post-graduate work at UNI.

Liz was a broadcast journalist for 25 years and now works for a child welfare and behavioral health agency. She has received numerous awards for her work in journalism, women’s leadership, the legislature and her community, including the Corridor Business Journal’s “Women of Influence,” and “Most Influential Leader.”

Liz and her husband, Mark, own a family business, and over that last four years have acquired two other businesses in Iowa and Wisconsin.


Senator Jon Morgan, Brentwood, NH

Jon Morgan knocked on thousands of doors running for the State Senate in 2018. He heard the struggles of Granite Staters that have lived here their whole lives, but are being pushed out by rising property taxes. He talked to young families like mine trying to start a life here, but are struggling. In Concord, he's focused on passing legislation that helps all Granite Staters, and he's proud of what New Hampshire has accomplished so far.

The state irresponsibly downshifting cost to towns has put the squeeze on property taxpayers in his district. SB 243 will expand access to property tax relief programs to help folks get back on their feet. It's time for New Hampshire to get serious about child welfare. Senate Bill 6 will create 77 new positions for and fully fund the NH Division for Children, Youth, and Families.



Assembly Assistant Majority Leader Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Las Vegas, NV

State Assemblymember Daniele Monroe-Moreno ran for office after living in her district for over two decades and seeing the need for criminal justice reform, affordable and accessible healthcare in Las Vegas, and advocacy on behalf of the state’s veterans. After being elected in 2016, Assemblywoman Monroe-Moreno has served on and led a number of committees, including the Legislative Committee on Child Welfare and the committee on Government Affairs, Legislative Operations, and Elections.

The Assemblywoman has sponsored legislation that would expand access to healthcare in Nevada through authorizing healthcare providers licensed in any state to provide healthcare free of cost. She has also worked on legislation to address the effects of the opioid epidemic in her district. Based off of her extensive experience as a corrections officer, Monroe-Moreno has been a passionate advocate for the banning of for-profit prisons in Nevada, and introduced a bill that would give the prison system time to transition to an all public prison model. She is a strong supporter of comprehensive criminal justice reform because she has seen that improvements must be made to the conditions of the prisoners and believes that for-profit prisons contribute to Nevada’s mass incarceration problem. Assemblymember Moreno also believes in supporting workers, and sponsored legislation that would make meals businesses provide for their employees not taxable. She is also the recipient of the Emerge America’s 2017 Ambition to Action award.

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Breakouts Session 2


The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan: A Case Study in Making Progress on Water Policy


Congressman Greg Stanton, Phoenix, AZ

Throughout his career, Greg Stanton has worked tirelessly to deliver results for Arizona families. Serving as Phoenix mayor from 2012 to 2018, he focused on building an economy rooted in innovation and trade. Under his leadership, Phoenix created thousands of quality jobs and recently saw the highest wage growth in the nation.

Greg has earned a reputation for working across the aisle to get things done. His biggest accomplishments in Phoenix were passed with bipartisan support: the City’s investment in the biosciences and higher education, support for small businesses, and national recognition for leadership on LGBT equality.  In 2015, Stanton won reelection and successfully led one of the most ambitious transportation initiatives in the country—a bipartisan, voter-backed plan to extend Phoenix’s light rail system, expand bus service, and improve thousands of miles of roadways over the next 35 years.

Before his election as mayor, Greg served nine years on the Phoenix City Council and as Arizona’s Deputy Attorney General. He attended Marquette University on the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan. 

Greg and his wife Nicole have two children. 


Sue Brown, Walton Conservation Coalition

Sue Brown is the director of the Walton Conservation Coalition providing legislative, electoral and advocacy support to complement the work of the Walton Family Foundation’s environment program. 

Sue has been a leader at the intersection of environmental policy and politics at the local, state and national level for two decades. She has served as the director of National Wildlife Federation Action Fund and was the founding executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. As a consultant, Sue provided strategy and program development guidance to a range of non-profit clients. Sue has also worked on dozens of political campaigns for local, state, federal and Presidential candidates. 

Sue is a graduate of the University of Michigan and lives in Denver, Colorado where you can find her on the hiking, biking or skiing trails. 


Kevin Moran, Environmental Defense Fund

Kevin Moran, Senior Director, EDF Western Water Program, directs strategy and operations for EDF’s program in the seven Colorado River Basin states.  EDF works to reverse groundwater depletion, incentivize water conservation and innovation to benefit both economic security and ecosystems, and balance water supply and demand in the Colorado River Basin and California. His background includes working for over 11 years in executive leadership at Cox Communications Arizona broadband business and various roles in strategic communications and policy advocacy.  Kevin was a conservation NGO participant in the Arizona Lower Basin DCP Steering Committee Process. Kevin earned a B.A., History, from Brown University, a J.D. from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and an MBA, ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management. He is based in Phoenix.

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Fostering Entrepreneurship


Jason Wiens, Kauffman Foundation

Jason Wiens is Policy Director in the Entrepreneurship Department at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he leads the Foundation’s strategy to reduce barriers to entrepreneurship by improving public policy. His views on entrepreneurship policy have been published in leading media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, The Hill, Washington Monthly, and VentureBeat.

Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Wiens was deputy legislative director for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran where he provided counsel to the Senator and oversaw the development and implementation of the Senator’s legislative agenda. He led bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate related to entrepreneurship, immigration, and economic mobility. 

Wiens earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in sociology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. 



Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner

Seth Magaziner was elected to the office of Rhode Island General Treasurer in November of 2014, and is committed to promoting economic growth and expanding opportunity through honest, effective leadership.

 As Treasurer, Seth launched the BankLocal program, which has helped hundreds of Rhode Island small businesses get access to the capital they need to grow and expand, by moving millions of dollars of the state’s cash to local community banks and credit unions. He also was a driving force behind Rhode Island's once in a generation statewide school construction initiative and the establishment of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. Seth made Rhode Island a leader in financial transparency with the launch of his Transparent Treasury initiative, that allows citizens to easily access information about where their public dollars are invested. 

Seth was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, and started his career as a public school teacher, and later as an investment professional. He serves on the board of Crossroads RI, Rhode Island's largest nonprofit provider of services to the homeless. Seth and his wife Julia live in Providence.


Representative Caroline Simmons, Stamford, CT

Caroline B. Simmons is the State Representative for Stamford’s 144th district in the CT General Assembly. Caroline serves as Chairwoman of the Commerce Committee and on the Public Safety and Higher Education & Advancement Committees. She is a champion for small business growth and job creation, cybersecurity initiatives, public school enhancements, and protections for police and firefighters.

Previously, Caroline worked at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for four and a half years. As Director of Special Projects in the Counterterrorism Coordinator’s Office at Homeland Security, Caroline provided support for DHS’s counterterrorism and countering violent extremism initiatives. Before this, Caroline interned at the U.S. Department of State for the Middle East Partnership Initiative within the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. She also worked with the Women's Business Development Council in Stamford. Caroline has a BA from Harvard and a Masters in Middle East Studies from George Washington University.

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The Changing Nature of Employment


Vikrum Aiyer, Postmates

Vikrum Aiyer is the Vice President of Global Public Policy & Strategic Communications for the on-demand technology platform, Postmates. As Postmates creates new opportunities for brick & mortar businesses to distribute their products in the era of e-commerce, it is also shaping the way independent workers and automation shape the labor market. Aiyer leads the legislative and regulatory policy discussions at the federal, state, and local levels which impacts the Future of Work in the gig-economy, taxation in online marketplaces, consumer privacy and the deployment of emergency technologies. He also serves the Mayor of San Francisco as political appointee and Commissioner to the Mayor's Workforce Investment Board. 

Previously, Aiyer was as a senior official in the Obama Administration serving as Senior Advisor in The White House for innovation & manufacturing policy, and as the the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.


James Conigliaro, Jr., Independent Drivers Guild

Jim began his career with the Machinists Union (I.A.M.A.W.) as an Organizer for District Lodge 15. He subsequently attended St. John’s University School of Law and worked as a labor lawyer for Pitta, LLP before re-joining the Machinists Union in various roles representing thousands of members through organizing, collective bargaining, political and social campaigns, traditional labor and management relations, and related court litigation. He also served as Executive Board member for the AFL-CIO’s NYC Central Labor Council and Chief of Staff of the Eastern Territory, which represented approximately 50,000 members across the northeast. 

In 2016, working off the experiences of organizing black car drivers, Jim founded the Independent Drivers Guild (“IDG”), a not-for-profit organization representing app-based drivers and fighting for a fair for-hire vehicle industry. The IDG was the first to sign an agreement with Uber Technologies providing basic worker protections and a voice in the workplace. Within the first few years of their existence, the organization diverted nearly $1 billion dollars back to workers through a number of successful campaigns and achieving the first livable wage standard in the app-based industry.

Jim is committed to researching, developing, and implementing solutions for the growing independent workforce. He currently works as a labor lawyer, a Board Member of the Independent Drivers Guild and as an appointee by Governor Cuomo to the Board of Directors of the Black Car Workers' Compensation Fund, which has recently created the first of its kind portable benefit program for drivers in NYC.

Jim lives in Rockaway Park, New York with his wife Kristin and four daughters.

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Criminal Justice Reform


District Attorney Charles Branson, Douglas County, KS

District Attorney Charles E. Branson, was first elected as District Attorney of the 7th Judicial District on November 2, 2004 and took office January 10, 2005. Since then Charles has been re-elected without opposition in 2008, 2012 and is unopposed in 2016.

Charles believes the prosecutor’s office must be more than just a mechanism to incarcerate offenders. He believes the office should support all facets of the community; from developing an active consumer protection division, starting a first of its kind property crimes compensation board to reimagining how victims of crime are addressed by the court system. Charles is an integral part of planning a local behavioral health court that will divert those with mental health problems away from the court system, sparing them criminal records that can jeopardize their support and housing.

Charles is also leading the charge in finding fair justice. He is actively engaged in state and national efforts to determine the best practices for prosecutors’ offices across the country. These efforts are aimed at making sure the rights of individuals are protected while serving the interests of justice. Where defendants are held accountable for their actions and crime victims are afforded the respect and dignity they deserve.


City Attorney Zach Klein, Columbus, OH

Zach Klein was sworn in as Columbus City Attorney on January 1, 2018 after serving the previous seven years as a member of Columbus City Council, including as Council President from 2016-2017.

As City Attorney, Zach has focused on how the law can be applied most effectively to promote public safety, encourage economic progress for all, and protect the most vulnerable among us—whether that is making the criminal justice system more equitable and fair, combatting human trafficking in city hotels and massage parlors, using civil litigation to shut down nuisance properties and illegal businesses, protecting civil rights, promoting social justice reform, or encouraging private sector investment to turn blighted properties into neighborhood assets.

Zach also is committed to finding bold and creative ways to use the full breadth of the City Attorney’s office to better serve all Columbus residents. One of his first moves was creating the City Solicitor General’s office, a position designed to promote important public policy changes. He also established a Proactive Litigation Team for the City Attorney’s office to actively seek opportunities to protect the rights of Columbus residents.

Zach is currently at the forefront leading a statewide, bipartisan effort to change criminal justice policy and reform Ohio’s drug sentencing laws to focus on rehabilitation and treatment instead of incarceration—appropriately distinguishing between those who are fighting addiction and the drug traffickers who prey upon them.

In 2018, Zach spearheaded Columbus’ efforts to enact several new common-sense gun laws—making dozens of technical and substantive changes to the city’s criminal codes related to firearms offenses, including laws to prohibit convicted domestic abusers and other violent felons from possessing firearms.  While effectively closing the gap between existing federal and state firearms law to get guns out of the hands of criminals who have violent and dangerous backgrounds, Zach also has pushed to prohibit imitation weapons from being on the streets and to expand Ohio’s nuisance code to include properties where violent felony crimes occur.

Under Zach’s leadership, the City Attorney’s office has filed, joined, or supported several lawsuits aimed at protecting workers’ rights, civil rights and safeguarding taxpayer dollars.  The City of Columbus is currently the lead plaintiff in a lawsuitwhich includes the cities of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia—to defend the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare protections for millions of Americans.


Mayor Lee Harris, Shelby County, TN

In August 2018, Lee Harris was elected as the 6th Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee. Prior to his election, Mayor Harris served in the Tennessee Senate and the Memphis City Council. Throughout his political career, Mayor Harris has been an unwavering voice for neighborhoods, public safety, environmental protection, and a strong middle class. He has won numerous awards because of his work in politics and government, including selection to the prestigious Aspen-Rodel Fellows program and as a New Deal Leader.

Mayor Lee Harris is a proud product of the public schools in Memphis (Alcy Elem., John P. Freeman Middle, and Overton High). He was a top student at Morehouse College and worked his way through law school at Yale. After law school, Mayor Harris practiced law and later joined the faculty of the University of Memphis Law School. He is believed to be the first African American tenured full professor of law at the University of Memphis.

Mayor Lee Harris is married to Professor Alena Allen and, together, they have three children, Lee Allen, Claudia, and Lou.

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VIP Dinner


Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes

Mandela Barnes serves as Wisconsin’s 45th Lieutenant Governor. He was elected on November 8, 2018.  He is the first African-American to serve as a Lieutenant Governor in Wisconsin, and the second African-American to ever hold statewide office.  

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Lt. Gov. Barnes is the son of a public-school teacher and a United Auto Workers member, to whom he credits much of his success. He grew up attending Milwaukee Public Schools and graduated from John Marshall High School in 2003. 

Lt. Gov. Barnes attended Alabama A&M University. After his time there, he worked for various political campaigns and in the city of Milwaukee mayor’s office, eventually becoming an organizer for Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, a Milwaukee-based interfaith coalition that advocates social justice.

In 2012, at the age of 25, Lt. Gov. Barnes was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, where he served two terms.  His tenure in the State Assembly included serving as Chair of the Legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus and becoming a recognized leader on progressive economic policies and gun violence prevention legislation. 
Within his current role, Lt. Gov. Barnes serves as the Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change while also serving as co-Chair of the New DEAL Climate Change Policy Group. The New DEAL is a national network of rising state and local elected leadersThe lieutenant governor uses a platform of sustainability and equity to fight for solutions that invest in opportunities and fairness for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of zip code.


Former Virginia Governor Terry R. McAuliffe

In November 2013, Terry McAuliffe was elected the 72nd Governor of Virginia. 

As Governor, McAuliffe focused on equality for all Virginians, enhancing quality of life, and building a new diversified economy that made economic opportunity a right, not a privilege.

To keep Virginia competitive, McAuliffe implemented major economic development initiatives designed to strengthen the Commonwealth’s pro-business climate, ensure efficient investment in world-class infrastructure and develop a 21st century workforce capable of meeting the needs of emerging businesses and industries.

As Governor, McAuliffe conducted a record 35 trade missions to dozens of countries, personally delivering Virginia’s calling card to business leaders around the globe. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs were created and more than $20 billion in capital investment to communities across the Commonwealth, which was billions more than any previous governor. He oversaw the unemployment rate dropping from 5.4% to 3.6% and initial unemployment claims fell to a 44 year low.  Personal income rose 12.3% during his term of office. 

Protecting the rights of all Virginians was always a top priority for McAuliffe. He successfully vetoed a record 120 bills that would have taken Virginia backwards. In doing so, McAuliffe protected women’s access to health care, Virginia’s world-class education system, the environment, the integrity of our electoral system and kept more guns off the streets.  

He made unprecedented progress on the restoration of civil rights to rehabilitated felons who had completed their sentences and paid their debt to society. During his tenure, McAuliffe restored the rights of more than 173,000 Virginians, more than any other governor in U.S. history.

During the McAuliffe administration, the Department of Juvenile Justice reduced its population in state-operated Juvenile Correctional Centers by nearly two-thirds. Virginia achieved the lowest adult recidivism rate in the nation in 2016 and maintains that position today. 

McAuliffe won bipartisan support for an historic $1 billion investment in public education and higher education, the most in Virginia history. As a result of his actions, students saw the lowest tuition increase in 15 years.   He also successfully secured passage of a law establishing a pay-for-performance workforce training program, the first of its kind in the country. Virginia became the first state in the nation to adopt computer science and computational thinking standards in its K-12 curriculum.

McAuliffe also took the lead in rebuilding Virginia’s aging infrastructure. Through his efforts, $10 billion in new roads projects were announced. The Port of Virginia was saved from insolvency, and he strengthened Dulles International Airport. 

McAuliffe also led the effort to make Virginia the first state in America to be certified to have functionally ended veteran homelessness.  In addition, 30,000 veterans were hired through the Virginia Values Veterans program, a six-fold increase.

McAuliffe won bipartisan support for legislation to reduce gun violence in Virginia.  It was the first comprehensive gun legislation to become law in 24 years.

McAuliffe was twice elected chairman of the Chesapeake Bay executive council.  He took executive action and Virginia became the first Southern State to implement a carbon reduction program.

He served as Chairman of the National Governors Association, where he used that leadership position to assist states as they strengthened their cybersecurity policies and infrastructure. 

McAuliffe worked to build a solid cyber ecosystem in Virginia where he created a cyber security commission charged with developing industry relevant recommendations. He was the first Governor to take executive action to secure consumer transactions and the Commonwealth’s data. Virginia now has the most cyber companies in the United States of America.  


Adrienne Elrod, Former Spokesperson, Hillary for America

Adrienne Elrod was a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary for America.

With over 16 years of government, communications, and campaign experience, Adrienne Elrod is a seasoned strategist and government operative. Prior to joining Hillary Clinton's campaign, Adrienne was the Vice President of Communications for American Bridge PAC and the Communications Director for Correct the Record, a strategic research and rapid response effort that defends potential Democratic presidential candidates from right-wing, baseless attacks.

Elrod previously served as Chief of Staff to California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, where she led the legislative and communications agenda for a senior California member of Congress. Prior to working for Rep. Sanchez, Elrod served as a campaign aide to the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, where she held a variety of positions, including regional press secretary, Texas Communications Director, and Deputy Director of the Congressional Delegate Selection office.

A native of Arkansas, Adrienne started her career as a political appointee to President Bill Clinton’s Administration, serving as the executive assistant to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, and later as a Special Assistant at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she worked under the leadership of Secretary Cuomo to develop and expand the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition. At the end of the Administration, Elrod moved back to Arkansas, joining the Arkansas Democratic Party as its communications director during an active election cycle which resulted in the election of Senator Mark Pryor.

After a brief stint at a political consulting firm in Little Rock, Elrod moved back to Washington to serve as Rep. Mike Ross’s (AR) communications director. During the 2004 election cycle she took a leave of absence to manage the campaign of Rep. Nick Lampson (TX). In March of 2005 she joined the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the regional press secretary, working with candidates across the country under the leadership of Chairman Rahm Emanuel, ultimately resulting in a Democratic takeover of the House in 2007. She joined freshman Rep. Ron Klein’s (FL) team in 2008 as his Deputy Chief of Staff, helping him devise his policy agenda, resulting in legislative successes that earned him the title of “Rookie of the Year” by Politico.

Adrienne received her B.A. in journalism from Texas Christian University.

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Friday, November 22nd

jump to Morning Plenary: Cities & States Driving Change  |  Afternoon Plenary: China's Rising Power |  Closing Keynote

Social Media Best Practices


Kelly Vingelis, BerlinRosen

Kelly is an experienced digital advertising planner and buyer. She joins BerlinRosen as the new Vice President of Digital Advertising.

Kelly works across teams to deliver best in class advertising for clients, building media plans and strategies for clients in the political, advocacy, and nonprofit industries. Kelly specializes in performance-based advertising and believes that digital advertising is the most effective way to drive tangible outcomes for clients. Prior to joining BerlinRosen, she was the Vice President of Advertising at Revolution Messaging. She started her career at GMMB, where she planned and bought media across platforms, including OOH, print, and broadcast TV.

Kelly received her BA in Communication Studies from James Madison University. A lifelong resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia (until very, very recently), Kelly’s dream is to one day turn the purple state into a solid, beautiful blue stronghold.


Claire Darby, BerlinRosen

Claire Darby began her career as a community and union organizer for UNITEHERE in California, before taking the tactics and strategies she learned in the field into the digital realm. For more than ten years, she’s been building websites, developing email and social campaigns, running digital ads, and growing the online presence of progressive organizations and candidates to help them win on their issues.

Claire directed the digital team at SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, where she ran innovative and creative digital campaigns for candidates, for union contract and organizing campaigns, and on issues as varied as Obamacare enrollment, increasing funding and access to Medicaid in California, and raising the minimum wage.

She ran the digital team at The New Media Firm, where she developed and implemented digital advertising campaigns for hundreds of advocacy, ballot initiative, and electoral projects. Her favorite projects included successful minimum wage and school funding campaigns in Maine; capping the expansion of charter schools in Massachusetts; stopping right-to-work legislation in Delaware, helping labor unions across the country grow their base of supporters and members, and flipping 6 Virginia Assembly seats blue in 2017 (including the historic campaign for Danica Roem—the first openly transgender person to serve in a state legislature). 

Since coming to BerlinRosen, she’s run comprehensive digital campaigns for the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition, SEIU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Supermajority, among others. 

She lives with her husband, her son, and their dog—a dead-ringer for Toto from the Wizard of Oz—outside of Washington, D.C.

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Cities & States Driving Change


Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY

Greg Fischer was elected Louisville’s 50th mayor in 2010 -- and was sworn in for a third four-year term on January 5, 2019. During Mayor Fischer’s tenure, Louisville has experienced a renaissance, adding 80,000 jobs and 2,700 new businesses. More than $13 billion dollars in capital construction is planned or underway, including 25 new hotels built to support the city’s thriving bourbon and local food tourism, also known as Bourbonism.

Louisville has been named an International Model City of Compassion four times and was a 2018 Top 15 city for attracting millennials.Governing Magazine named Mayor Fischer Public Official of the Year in 2013. A 2016 Politico survey named him as the most innovative mayor in America, and in 2017, Politico named him among its list of the nation’s most interesting mayors. Mayor Fischer has been elected by the mayors of America to be president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2020.



New Mayors Panel


County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, Santa Cruz, CA

Ryan is Chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the two-time former Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz.  He is also an entrepreneur, author, and educator. He is the host of the NewDEAL’s "An Honorable Profession" podcast. He was the cofounder of NextSpace Coworking + Innovation (now owned by Pacific Workplaces), a lecturer on law and government at UC Santa Cruz, and co-author of The Rise of the Naked Economy – How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace and wrote Etched in Stone – Enduring Words from our National Monuments. Ryan was selected by the Aspen Institute to be a Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership as one of "the nation’s most promising young elected officials.”

On the Board of Supervisors, Ryan has created incentives to support affordable workforce housing, led the expansion of the public safety and treatment programs, led efforts to sue oil and gas companies for carbon emissions, established a Thrive by Three Fund to support families' health and educational outcomes.


Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, Lincoln, NE

Leirion Gaylor Baird is the mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska. Mayor Gaylor Baird previously served for six years as a member of the City Council and one term as a Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commissioner. Her career includes experience as a management consultant, fiscal and policy analyst, and Boys and Girls Club Director. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Mayors and Metro Universities Task Force of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is a participant in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. 

The mayor earned her B.A. from Yale College and a M.Sc. from the University of Oxford. She and her husband, Scott, have three children - who, upon their mother’s election as mayor, were deeply disappointed to learn that she does not get to tell the School Superintendent when to call snow days.



Mayor Steven Reed, Montgomery County, AL

Steven L. Reed was elected as the Probate Judge of Montgomery County, Alabama in November 2012. He is the first African-American and youngest person elected to the county’s highest elected office.

Steven L. Reed was born and raised in Montgomery where he attended public schools, played sports, and participated in YMCA programs. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Morehouse College. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management.

Steven L. Reed is a co-founder of the Healthy Minds Network, a public private partnership, which aims to improve outcomes of those impacted by mental illness. A graduate of Leadership Alabama he sits on the board of Trustmark Bank, the River Region United Way, and the Metro YMCA.  He represents the state of Alabama on the United States Election Assistance Commission and also serves on the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Government Coordinating Council Election Integrity Commission.

Highlighting a growing list of public recognition Steven Reed was honored to be nominated for the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award and is also the proud recipient of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Alpha Upsilon Lambda Chapter Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy/Leadership Award for Governmental Service.

Steven Reed has appeared in several national and international media outlets such as: “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, “German Television,” the Washington Post, NPR, and The New York Times.

On October 8, 2019, Steven L. Reed was elected as Montgomery, Alabama’s first African American mayor in the city’s 200 year history.  He has since appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Politics Nation with Al Sharpton as a result of his historic win.  On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, he was sworn in as the city’s 57th mayor. 

Mayor Reed is the Moderator at Community Congregational United Church of Christ as well as an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Mayor Steven L. Reed and his wife Tamika are the proud parents of three children.


Mayor-elect Brandon Whipple, Wichita, KS

Brandon Whipple was elected mayor of Wichita in 2019. He previously served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2013, representing the south side of Wichita. Prior to serving in the legislature, Brandon served in multiple positions within the local Democratic Party and has taught at the college level since 2008. He currently teaches both Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

As the first person in his family to graduate college, Brandon believes that a robust education system is crucial to building a strong workforce in Kansas. Brandon has advocated for legislation that increases opportunity and job growth for all Kansans and has worked with the South Wichita Business Association to lower property taxes for local businesses.

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A Case Study: Climate


Christy Goldfuss, Center for American Progress

Christy Goldfuss, former managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), rejoined the Center for American Progress as the organization’s senior vice president for Energy and Environment Policy. As managing director, Goldfuss helped develop and implement the Obama administration’s environmental and energy policies, including the Climate Action Plan, then-President Barack Obama’s major initiative to combat climate change. She co-chaired the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and identified priorities for protecting the country against the worst impacts of climate change.

While leading the CEQ, she advised on the creation of the National Environmental Policy Act climate guidance and testified repeatedly in the U.S. House of Representatives defending it. She also coordinated policy discussions on ozone pollution levels, the review of the coal leasing program, and conservation finance, to name a few.

During Goldfuss’ time at the White House, she served as co-chair of the National Ocean Council, where she worked on a wide variety of issues. She oversaw the completion of the first federal seafood traceability regime to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. She advised on the completion of the first two regional marine plans in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and assisted in collecting community input for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.


School Board Member Laura Capps, Santa Barbara, CA

Laura Capps, a proud graduate of Santa Barbara public schools, is a member of the Board of Education for Santa Barbara Unified School District. Her son is in the first grade at the elementary school she attended, and she is the only member on the board with a student currently in the district. In the short time she has been in office, she has lead the charge to solarize campus buildings, instituted a new program to register eligible students to vote, and worked with her colleagues to close a $2 million dollar budget shortfall.

Laura has devoted her career to public service, serving as a White House speechwriter for President Clinton, a communications director on John Kerry’s presidential campaign, an advisor in the United States Senate to Senator Edward Kennedy, part of Al Gore’s climate change campaign, and an ocean conservation advocate. In addition to her service with the Santa Barbara Unified Board of Education, Laura manages her own public affairs practice collaborating with non-profit organizations on issues of climate, poverty, immigration, and childhood hunger. Active in the community, Laura is President of the Board of the Community Environmental Council and a Director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She recently served on the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women and on the Board of Trustees for her alma mater, University of California, Berkeley. She has taught college courses on Congress and politics at the University of California Washington Center and holds a Masters in History with Distinction from the London School of Economics.


Councilmember Andria McClellan, Norfolk, VA

Andria McClellan is using her experience as an entrepreneur, civic leader and community activist, parent of three school-aged children, and former Planning Commissioner to make meaningful and progressive changes to the city of Norfolk, Virginia. Unseating a 16-year incumbent in 2016, she was elected to serve a Superward City Council seat for the second largest city in Virginia because of her pro-growth, innovation platform which focused on improving public schools; diversifying the economy in a city home to the largest Naval Base in the world; finding innovative solutions and funding to address sea level rise; and, creating a more engaged, accessible and transparent city government.

Andria has served on numerous boards and commission throughout the city, the region and the state, including the Virginia Small Business Advisory Board, the Virginia Family & Children’s Trust Fund, and the Local Government Advisory Committee for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program. She began her career working in sales and marketing for two Fortune 500 companies, after which she ran two start-up enterprises (one in manufacturing and one in tech). Andria earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and graduated from the Wharton Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a proud graduate of the CIVIC Leadership Institute and U.Va’s Sorensen Political Leaders Program.


County Commissioner-elect Josh Maxwell, Chester County, PA

Josh Maxwell is in his third term as the mayor of Downingtown after being sworn in as Downingtown’s youngest Mayor in 2010 at the age of 26. Maxwell has focused on urban redevelopment, improving the tax-base, and personalizing the role of Mayor during his tenure. In 2017, Maxwell negotiated the largest public and private investment in Downingtown’s history - a $224 million transit-oriented development that includes a Amtrak/Septa station and trail extension that increases the value of the community by 17%.  Downingtown has gone one of the largest stretches for a Chester County borough without a tax increase and has paid down more than 60% of its debt.

Downingtown has been recognized as a leader in urban redevelopment and as a community on the rise. Downingtown was named a “Top Ten Place to Live” by Philadelphia Magazine, while Maxwell was named “Best Young Politician in Philadelphia” by the same publication.  Maxwell holds a Bachelor’s Degree from West Chester University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.


Mayor Jon Mitchell, New Bedford, MA

Jon Mitchell, now in his third-term, is Mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the top commercial fishing port in the United States for nearly two decades. Under his leadership the historic city has moved aggressively to reform its schools, modernize its port, and solidify its downtown’s status as the cultural and economic hub of the region. New Bedford has emerged on the national stage as a leader in solar energy and the emerging hub of the nascent offshore wind energy industry in America. It has seen the local unemployment rate fall faster than any metropolitan area in America twice in the past two years. And the City presently enjoys the highest bond rating in its history. For these accomplishments the New Bedford Standard-Times named Jon the “2015 SouthCoast Man of the Year."

Prior to his service as Mayor, Jon served as an Assistant U. S. Attorney in Boston where he prosecuted cases in the areas of white collar crime, firearms, narcotics, environmental crime, and public corruption. Many of his cases were of national importance, including his work as the prosecutor on the task force searching for Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger. Jon hails from a local fishing family. He attended Harvard College and George Washington University Law School, and is married to Ann Partridge, a breast cancer doctor and researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. They have three daughters.

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Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson

Senator Bill Ferguson is the Vice Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee and Chair of the Education, Business, and Administration Subcommittee. He was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 2010, then becoming the youngest ever-elected State Senator in Maryland’s history. He serves as the State Senator for Maryland’s 46th Legislative District, located entirely within Baltimore City, including neighborhoods in south Baltimore, downtown near and around the Inner Harbor, and southeast Baltimore.

A lifelong Maryland resident, Bill made Baltimore City his home when he joined Teach for America after graduating from Davidson College with a double major in political science and economics. From 2005 to 2007, Bill taught U.S. history and U.S. government to ninth and tenth graders in a breakout academy of one of Baltimore’s most challenged high schools. Senator Ferguson is married to fellow Teach for America alum Lea Ferguson (Baltimore City, ’05). They live in Patterson Park with their son Caleb and daughter Cora.

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Panel Discussion: China's Rising Power


Orit Frenkel, American Leadership Institute

Dr. Orit Frenkel is the Executive Director of The American Leadership Initiative, a think tank developing values-based policy initiatives to restore American global economic leadership in 2020 and beyond. She is also the President of Frenkel Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in Asia policy and trade issues and is a Senior Advisor to APCO Worldwide, and to Asia Group Advisors, an ASEAN based consulting firm.

From 1991 to 2018, Orit was the Senior Manager for GE Global Government Affairs, following a decade in the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. Orit has worked on every major trade negotiation over the past 37 years, and has worked on government relations, trade, investment and CSR issues in ASEAN, North and Central Asia, and in the CIS countries. She has a Ph.D. in international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a Masters in International Public Policy from The University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Maryland. 


Dr. Melanie Hart, Center for American Progress

Dr. Melanie Hart is a senior fellow and director for China policy at the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute based in Washington, DC. She leads the Center’s work on China and U.S.-China relations. Her most recent work focuses on developing a comprehensive U.S. strategy toward China, analyzing the domestic political factors driving Chinese foreign policy in the Xi Jinping era, tracking Chinese industrial policy in the energy and information technology sectors, and assessing China’s intentions toward the global order. 

Dr. Hart has worked on Chinese domestic and foreign policy issues for nearly two decades. Before joining American Progress, she worked in the information technology sector helping American businesses understand China’s emerging industrial policies. She also worked as a consultant on the digital economy for the Aspen Institute and on China policy issues for the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and other policy and business advisory organizations. Hart currently serves on the board of the American Mandarin Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the professional development of current and future stewards of the U.S.-China relationship. 

Dr. Hart has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and a B.A. from Texas A&M University. She studied Chinese at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing and has worked as a Chinese-English translator for Caijing Magazine. 


Kevin Nealer, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Kevin G. Nealer, a Principal of The Scowcroft Group, provides strategic risk advisory services and direct investment support to clients, specializing in financial services and trade policy issues for emerging markets, with emphasis on China and Southeast Asia. 

A former career State Department officer and member of the U.S. Senate leadership staff, he served on the President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) and was a Member of Board of Directors and Audit Committee of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in the Obama Administration. 

Mr. Nealer served as a Fulbright professor in the People’s Republic of China, and as an  adjunct professor of trade law and policy at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. 

He is a Senior Adviser (Non-resident), at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of numerous articles on political economy, including co-authoring the Council’s report Beginning the Journey: China, the United States, and the WTO

Mr. Nealer received his BA from the University of Michigan and his JD from Case Western Reserve University.


Jeremie Waterman, China Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Jeremie O. Waterman is president of the China Center and vice president for Greater China at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Waterman is responsible for developing and executing Chamber policy initiatives in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mongolia as well as steering the Chamber’s policy work in the Asia Pacific region.

Waterman works on trade and investment policy advocacy and initiatives in the areas of investment, innovation, intellectual property rights, financial services, agriculture, health care, energy and environment, and corporate governance and social responsibility.

Waterman has pioneered a number of initiatives focused on China, such as the U.S.-China CEO Dialogue and the newly created China Center. He is frequently quoted in the media on a broad range of China issues relating to international business and trade policy and is a periodic guest on news programs.

Before joining the Chamber, Waterman worked for five years at the US-China Business Council as director for government affairs. He also served at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in the offices of Congressional Affairs and Africa.

Waterman received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston and is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Closing Keynote


James Fallows, The Atlantic

 James Fallows is a long-time writer for The Atlantic. He is the author of 12 books -- most recently the national bestseller Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, with his wife, Deborah Fallows. That book is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary. Fallows grew up in Southern California, studied American history at Harvard and economics at Oxford, and worked during Jimmy Carter's administration as chief White House speechwriter. He and his wife have reported from around the world, including based on many years of living in China. He has won the National Book Award for nonfiction and the National Magazine Award.


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