2021 VA Program
Cohort Member Portal
Jenner is originally from southeastern Connecticut and began his political career working on then state Senator Jennifer Wexton’s Congressional Campaign and to work as her Finance Director. He later moved to the Central Valley of California, working for frontliner Rep. Josh Harder’s campaign and helping him raise over $7.5 million for the cycle.
Fun Fact – I collect snow globes from all the places I’ve ever visited and I’ve bungee jumped from over 500 feet!
Lauren Garrett is currently leading Del. Joshua Cole’s (VA HD-28) reelection campaign as Campaign Manager. Prior to her work with the Cole team, Lauren managed a $30 million program focused on communicating to AAPI, Black and Hispanic/Latinx voters at the DCCC. Lauren is former a Staff Assistant to the DSCC, GOTV Director to the Mike Espy campaign (2018) and Regional Field Director to the Doug Jones campaign (2017).
Fun fact – I taught myself all the choreography to every tour Beyoncé has ever done — just in case she needs me to be a back-up dancer one day. When I’m not doing campaign work, I like to bake, write raps and write jokes.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Maya got her start working on local elections while in college, including communications work for a DA’s race in her home county and fundraising for the Mayor of Oakland. After graduating from Yale University, she joined Kamala Harris’s historic primary campaign, as a National Ballot Access Coordinator working on the ground with local parties, committees, and volunteer teams in seven different states to get then-Senator Harris on the ballot. She finished the 2020 cycle at Supermajority, working across the Executive Office and Political departments to help run a virtual leadership series introducing young women to the basics of organizing, facilitate a voter contact program that reached over 3 million women in battleground states, and help stand up the organization’s early vote and vote by mail programs. Maya now joins the BLC team as the program coordinator, standing up operations for the 2021 Virginia cohort. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Ellyn Quigg serves as BLC’s Deputy Executive Director and Program Director for the 2021 Virginia program. In 2018, Ellyn helped start Blue Leadership Collaborative as an answer to the need for Democratic investment in talent. Since then, she has helped build and lead 3 iterations of the program and worked closely with 50+ talented, diverse campaign leaders to get them to the next level in their career. With Blue Leadership Collaborative, she has trained and placed campaign managers in 17 states around the country on races at all levels from US Senate and Congressional races, to critical State House races in the fight for control of state legislatures, to local school board and city council races.
Prior to BLC, Ellyn worked for several startups, including Honest Tea and as an early marketing hire at sweetgreen. At sweetgreen she helped create and formalize new capacities for the company, including community marketing, retail marketing, and consumer insights, before leading the company’s mission and social impact strategy for several years. She moved into politics full-time as a result of the 2016 presidential election.
Ellyn currently lives in South Los Angeles with her partner, dog, and foster dog. When she is not working on the latest campaign, she loves to be out for a run or at home gardening.
Zoë has worked on a range of progressive campaigns throughout her career, most recently serving as the West Digital Director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Before that, she was a member of the Board of Directors for California Women’s List and worked on a spate of successful races as manager and communications director. Zoë graduated with highest honors from University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Economics and English Literature, and is passionate about working to advance an economic vision that delivers meaningful opportunity and prosperity for all.
Fun fact – “My first summer job was working in my seaside hometown as an ocean kayak tour guide.
During college, I lived in an old hotel that was converted in a student housing cooperative — and every Tuesday, my friends and I attempted to cook dinner for the 150 people who lived there. I still love to cook!”
Stephanie is a queer non-binary Latinx from the Midwest who believes strongly in the power of community organizing. They began as a rural organizer in Illinois and have worked across the country to elect Democrats, and most recently, worked as a regional political director for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign and as Director of Spanish Language Engagement at the Progressive Turnout Project. Stephanie is currently the campaign manager for Del. Danica Roem (VA HD-13), who made history in 2017 as the first out-and-sitting trans legislator in the country.
Fun fact – “I cage-dived into shark-infested waters off the western coast of South Africa and I have owned many pets in my lifetime, including a chicken, several rats, crabs, and cats!”
As the daughter of two US Air Force veterans, Shannon grew up moving all over the country, but considers San Antonio, Texas home. Over the course of her political career, she has organized in South and West Texas for Gina Ortiz Jones in 2018, built digital fundraising programs for large Democratic PACs, and served as the Deputy Digital Director for US Senator Tina Smith’s successful re-election campaign in 2020. Shannon is passionate about building political power in under-served communities — particularly in the South — and looks forward to beginning an exciting career managing Democratic campaigns for candidates who prioritize the needs of working and middle class families like her own.
Fun Fact – I’ve been to 46 US states an am on a quest to travel to all 50 states before the end of this year.
I can juggle and sing the alphabet backwards at the same time.
Mark Hatton currently is the Campaign Manager for Del. Nancy Guy in Virginia’s 83rd District. Mark has worked on campaigns at the legislative, Congressional, Senatorial and Presidential level and has extensive nonprofit experience, particularly focused on youth engagement. Mark is originally from Orlando, FL.
Liz is currently the Campaign Manager for Del. Wendy Gooditis in HD-10. Prior to 2021, Liz served as the Finance Director and Deputy Campaign Manager on Hillary Scholten’s 2020 Congressional Campaign and as the Finance Director on Del. Gooditis’ 2019 re-elect. She started her career at EMILY’s List on the State and Local Campaign Team where she served as the Western Coordinator. Liz is from upstate New York and is a graduate of American University.
Fun Fact – When I’m not managing campaigns, I am a spin instructor in DC and I spend my free time chasing Brandi Carlile around the country.
Kenneth is the current manager for Delegate Dan Helmer. He most recently the Deputy Out of State Director for Jon Ossoff for Senate. Prior experiences include the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Pete for America, Amy McGrath for Senate, and the Iowa Coordinated Campaign.
Fun Fact – Rent is my favorite musical, and I have Tedx on YouTube!
Jasmine, or Jazz as she’s known, is a queer woman from the south side of Chicago. Coming from social work, she uses her path in campaigning/ politics as a way to right some of the wrongs she noticed while working with homeless youth. Over this past cycle, she has gotten some extensive knowledge working in Iowa on the Harris campaign, in Illinois with the Bloomberg campaign and most notably in Michigan, managing Wayne county most specifically.
Fun Fact – I can play about 15 western African instruments and am a huge comic book nerd
Gowri Buddiga is currently managing Finale Norton’s campaign in VA HD-100, which is one of two Clinton-Biden districts still held by a Republican. She most recently managed a 22-day Special Election campaign in VA HD-2 during the Holiday season, a race won by a margin of 283 votes. Born and raised in the South, Gowri has been on the ground with campaigns in Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Fun fact – I trained in opera during my college days, and I love frisbee.
D. Richard Merritt, from Atlanta, GA, is a campaign management and civic programming professional committed to empowering others. Richard’s passion for advocacy took root in undergrad at Morehouse College, initiating the first campus environmental organization and campus sustainability committee. Richard currently employs his skills and expertise in grassroots and digital organizing in both issue based and electoral campaigns. This past cycle Richard held the position of National Field Director for For our Future and For Our Future Action Fund.
Camille is a proud Boricua woman who has put her heart and energy into community organizing around immigration and Latinx issues, and Democratic campaigns. She worked to establish a refugee advocacy organization in Washington, DC and in 2018 went on to work in finance for a Red to Blue State Legislative race in Massachusetts. She then worked as a finance assistant at a PAC Fundraising firm in DC, and most recently worked as the Executive Coordinator for the Chairwoman at the DCCC.
Brian Gregory is a native of Jacksonville, Arkansas. After graduating, his involvement in cas the campaign manager for Warwick Sabin in the 2018 Little Rock Mayor’s race. He has since been involved in several campaigns, including working as an organizer for Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 primary and Regional Field Director in Detroit for Biden. He is currently working as the campaign manager for Delegate Clinton Jenkins.
Fun Fact – I can quote Lion King word for word. I am the oldest six kids.
Ashley started in Market Research as a Client Service Account Manager for Ipsos before she decided to leave the business world for politics in 2018. She began as an organizer on a targeted Ohio Congressional race in 2018, quickly learning the skills that led her to manage an Ohio State Senate race in 2020. After joining BLC Ashley is taking everything she learned in Ohio to Northern Virginia by managing Delegate Kathy Tran’s re-election campaign.
Fun Fact – My choice caffeine is Mountain Dew – I HATE coffee.
I’m a first generation college student who put myself through school waiting tables at Skyline Chili (a Cincinnati Chili parlor and my favorite food).
Because his mom, a single parent from a rural corner of North Carolina, lost her job in the 2008 recession Aron was inspired to organize for progressive candidates. Aron started his career as an organizer beginning with a high school internship in 2014 for then-Senator Kay Hagan. Aron’s career is highlighted by working in tough environments for inspiring candidates, this is underscored by most recently working in Missouri for Senator Claire McCaskill’s reelection campaign, Nevada for the Presidential Caucuses for Elizabeth Warren, And for Dr. Barbara Bollier in the Kansas Senate race.
Fun Fact – I technically graduated high school *after* community college in 2015.
Alejandra (Ale) worked as a server before starting to organize in her home state of Pennsylvania during the 2018 Midterms. She is a queer DACA recipient from Colombia and quickly found a love for the empowering work of organizing. She went on to become an organizer in Des Moines, IA for Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential campaign and then a Regional Organizing Director in Phoenix, AZ for Mission for Arizona (Coordinated Campaign).
Fun Fact – I’ve hiked the Angel’s Landing trail in Utah and I’ve seen over 60 bands/musicians live in concert!
Justin Myers is the Executive Director of Blue Leadership Collaborative where he has led the effort to develop the group’s 2021 program to place high-level and diverse leaders on Virginia legislative campaigns to maintain majorities there and build a talent pipeline that will benefit Democratic campaigns throughout the country. Justin is committed to building the bench of the next generation of diverse and talented campaign managers to boost Democratic majorities, and build more equity across the Democratic Party’s leadership.
Justin was most recently the CEO of For Our Future and For Our Future Action Fund, one of the largest, permanent progressive organizing programs across Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. During his tenure, Justin oversaw the organization’s contribution to sweeping electoral progress, securing progressive victories up and down the ballot. Under his direction, For Our Future helped bring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, secure the pickup of 5 gubernatorial seats and 1 U.S. Senate seat, flip numerous congressional and state legislative seats, and enact a string of ballot measures to advance voting rights, environmental protections, and fair wages.
Prior to working at For Our Future, Justin managed races at various levels of the ballot and served as the Executive Director of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee. He also served as DCCC’s Northeast Political Director where he helped flip two seats.
Justin grew up as the son of a minister and two long-time union members in Philadelphia. After graduating from Colgate University, he taught history at a Title I high school, while attending Fordham University for graduate school. His career in politics began in Harlem where Justin became a community organizer and City Council liaison. He has been featured in national and local media outlets including, NBC News, POLITICO, AP, ABC News, C-SPAN, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, and New York Magazine.
Justin resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.
Betsy comes with an over two decade track record in electoral and advocacy politics, serving or running campaigns across the nation. Most recently, she served as executive director to a civic engagement non-profit, working with partner organizations across eleven states, building an expanded organizational footprint and deepening financial and political support among a broad range of stakeholders.
She started out in Washington state, helping to develop and support the first coordinated work to identify voters in the state’s voter file, worked to organize health care workers in southern California as part of SEIU’s historic organizing campaign, ran the Alliance for a Better California campaign in Orange County, CA and served as field director for Senator Akaka’s re-election in Hawaii in 2006.
Her work in Washington DC started in 2007 as a deputy political director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, helping to directly elect Senators Kay Hagan, Mark Udall, Tom Udall and Mark Warner in the 2008 cycle.
She served on Capitol Hill as senior policy advisor for Senator Byron Dorgan through 2010, managing his appropriations portfolio. After Senator Dorgan’s retirement, she became chief of staff to Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, running her historic 2012 campaign to elect the first Asian American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Betsy served as Senator Hirono’s top advisor for nearly seven years, building her senate operation between Washington DC and Hawaii in to a professional staff of 46, and managing the politics on Capitol Hill and in state.
Betsy was born the daughter of immigrants and raised in Washington state. When she’s not on the campaign trail, you can find her in search of the perfect wave.
Karin founded Progressive Facilitators in 2018 to build on her career as a leading political strategist and manager of winning campaigns for candidates and causes. In 2019 she received an Executive Certificate in Facilitation from Georgetown University.Her career highlights include serving as: Chief of Staff to Congressman Steny Hoyer, liaison between the Obama White House and progressive groups, Political Director of EMILY’s List and National Political Director of the ACLU. In 2012 she managed Tammy Baldwin’s historic election to the US Senate. As Executive Director of the DCCC she was one of the architects of the 2006 Democratic takeover of the U.S. House.
As a principal at the Dewey Square Group, Johanson advised progressive and political organizations and corporations, including the AFL-CIO, American Rights at Work, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, AT&T and Microsoft.
Kevin Harris is a public affairs strategist who has spent over a decade advising corporations, non-profits and political leaders, including more than 50 campaigns for federal, state and local office and various ballot initiatives focused on criminal justice reform, education funding and civil rights. He has held senior positions on the past four presidential campaigns and served in the Obama Administration helping to direct outreach to state and local governments, steer passage of major legislative packages in domestic and foreign policy, and guide strategic communications for the Peace Corps and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn Initiative.
In Congress, Harris previously served as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Senior Adviser to the Bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and Director of Communications and Policy to Congresswoman Karen Bass.
In local government, Harris served as Deputy Mayor for Public Affairs for former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Communications Director for Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
He received his B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Howard University, a M.A in Government from Johns Hopkins University and programs in policy and business at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University School of Social Work, Yale University School of Management and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Kevin is a native of Birmingham Alabama.
For over two decades, Matt Burgess has served at the most senior levels in campaigns, at the nation’s leading progressive organizations, and managed winning campaigns for United States Senate and Governor.
With an extensive background in communications and developing winning messages, Matt is a strategic partner and advisor to candidates, elected officials, and advocacy organizations across the country.
Matt managed now-U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan’s 2012 campaign for governor of New Hampshire resulting in a 12-point victory for the first-time statewide candidate.
In 2014, a terrible year for Democrats, Matt managed U.S. Senator Al Franken’s reelection in Minnesota directing the team that brought Franken a 10-point victory from a 312-vote margin in 2008. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd named the Franken campaign “the best of 2014.”
Matt has also served in senior communications roles on dozens of campaigns on the ground in Florida, Rhode Island, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, and during his time at EMILY’s List where he recruited and helped candidates for U.S. Senate, House, and Governor. At EMILY’s List, he helped candidates and campaign managers create campaign plans including budgets,
fundraising, earned and paid media, digital, research and polling, targeting, and get-out-the-vote programs.
Matt has broad experience working with advocacy organizations to implement political and communications strategies, having served as Senior Political Strategist for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Political Director for Everytown for Gun Safety, Executive Vice President at End Citizens United, and consulted with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Communications Workers of America and others.
During the 2006 election cycle, Matt worked with Will Robinson and Tierney Hunt on the media team to elect Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, as well as multiple independent expenditures.
A New Hampshire native, Burgess cut his political teeth on Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential campaign. He lives in Washington, DC with his husband Cole and their dog Chester.
Rebecca Pearcey is one of the most accomplished Black political operatives in the country. She most recently served as Political Director and Senior Advisor for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, overseeing political strategy in all 57 states and territories, and managing staff in over 30 states.
During her 20-year career, Rebecca has steered hundreds of campaigns across the country, including statewide campaigns in Ohio (Strickland for U.S. Senate) and Indiana (Gregg for Governor). In 2018 she directed the national independent expenditure campaign for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a cycle in which Democrats flipped over 400 legislative seats and 8 chambers. She has served as a Senior Advisor for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Based in D.C., Pearcey has guest lectured at Harvard, Georgetown and George Mason universities.