I’m honored to announce that as of April 20th, I am CEO of Democracy Works, a civic tech nonprofit organization on a mission to help America vote, no matter what. Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of being on the Democracy Works team as General Counsel, and in recent months, as Interim CEO. Each day, I watch in sheer amazement of the talent that lives within this organization. I’m humbled to have been unanimously appointed by our Board of Directors to guide such a dedicated and capable team in this pivotal moment in our democracy.
I don’t have to tell you that this is a critical election year. Primary season is in full swing, local elections are happening around the clock, and the window between now and the Presidential election is closing every day. While the challenges that voters and election administrators face remain very real, I know that with our support, voters will break turnout records again this year. But before we get down to business, I want to tell you a bit more about me.
In some ways, you might say I was raised to be an engaged citizen with a pointed interest in government and policy. As a kid, my father would quiz me on the order of U.S. presidents. I wore my mother’s campaign buttons and made sure to know the capital of every U.S. state. I valued my social studies classes and the “Nightly News'' assignment that required us to recite an item from the previous evening’s news segment in class the next morning. I remember feeling a mix of enthusiasm and duty as I expanded my understanding of our institutions with programs like School House Rock. Such foundational experiences ignited my passion for responsible government in service of an informed and engaged electorate. These, along with moot court in high school and episodes of Law & Order, were the underpinnings of my decision to practice law.
But the path to law school wasn’t so linear for me. I went to Syracuse University, where I juggled classes with deejaying and my on-campus desktop support job. After graduating, I spent several years working as a software developer before my love of government and institutions pulled me back to law school. As an Intellectual Property attorney, I represented a number of world-renowned brands in private practice before going in-house at the YMCA to serve as lead trademark counsel for the organization that I grew up in. At the Y, I seized the opportunity to leverage my background in technology and data to serve communities nationwide. At each stage of my career, I’ve sought to refine how I was bettering our society, both at large and for people who came from places like me.
Fast forward to the summer of 2020, when COVID was peaking — again — and a racial justice reckoning was underway both in the U.S. and abroad. When I watched the news, I listened as these (and other) events unraveled around the election. In particular, I became concerned about people’s access to the ballot, whether in-person, by mail, or by dropbox. I knew I had a role to play in upholding the integrity of our elections, and so I signed up to be a poll worker in my new home state of Florida. But when I learned that Democracy Works was looking to bring on General Counsel, I immediately felt called to join an organization working to expand access to voters by providing timely data and resources. Once I officially joined the team, Democracy Works offered me a place to use my skills, pursue my passions, and now, this opportunity to lead our efforts to help America vote no matter what.
The reality is that 2020 was not an aberration. This year, Americans are facing more intense barriers to voting than ever before. Jurisdictions across the country are working to circumvent another poll worker shortage. And election administrators are still charged with helping the public participate in the safe, free, and fair elections they conduct, despite the roadblocks in their way. Indeed, this is a critical moment for our democracy, and Democracy Works has the experience, tools, and tenacity needed to secure our elections in 2022, and in every election to come.