Board of Directors

Robert McKay - Chair

Rob is the President of the McKay Family Foundation, which supports community-based organizations working for long-term social, political, and economic progress. Rob, along with his brother and parents, established the McKay Foundation in 1992 to bring healthcare coverage and a living wage to low-income workers.

Rob’s commitment to funding advocacy work has extended beyond philanthropy to include raising awareness around the issue of greater civic engagement and voter participation. Rob is also the managing partner for the McKay Investment Group, which provides venture capital for early-stage technology and consumer product companies. He serves on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including the Ms. Foundation for Women, Salon Media Group, and Mother Jones magazine.

Originally from Orange County, Rob received a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a Master’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley in Social and Public Policy.

Mary Kay Henry - Vice Chair

Mary Kay serves as International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest-growing union in North America with 2.2 million workers in healthcare, public, and property services.

Mary Kay joined SEIU’s staff in 1979, rising to become chief healthcare strategist and International Executive Vice President in 2004. She led the union’s efforts to win a stronger voice for healthcare workers and enact historic healthcare reforms. In 2010, Henry was unanimously elected International President.

Mary Kay sits on the boards of the Economic Policy Institute, American Income Life, Fresh Thinking, and is an advisory member of the National Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice. She also serves on the Change to Win Leadership Council and is a founding member of SEIU’s gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus. Mary Kay previously served on the executive board of Families USA and was a labor adviser to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Paul Egerman - Treasurer

Paul is a retired software entrepreneur who previously founded two successful health information technology companies: eScription, a company that provides dictation and transcription management and automatic speech recognition for the healthcare industry and IDX Systems Corporation, a worldwide supplier of administrative and financial solutions for healthcare organizations.

Paul is involved in several progressive political campaigns, recently serving as finance chair for Elizabeth Warren. He also cares deeply about Israel and is affiliated with progressive Israel policy groups as a member of the J Street Advisory Council and Board of Directors for the New Israel Fund.

Paul holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gara LaMarche

Please see bio listed below.

James D. Gollin

Through the Angelica Foundation, Jim and Suzanne Gollin fund environmental, pro-democracy and human rights groups in the U.S. and Mexico. Jim chairs New Mexico’s progressive donor collaborative and is President of the Board of Rainforest Action Network.

Jim worked at a number of think tanks in Japan and the U.S., was an investment banker at Nomura Securities and Morgan Stanley International in Tokyo and then in London, co-founded the investment management company Pacific Partners in New York, is a founding member of the Social venture Network, and is an active real estate investor.

Jim received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a Masters from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in International Economics and Japanese Studies. He lives in Santa Fe, with his wife Suzanne and son, Noah.

Areas of Interest: aligning economy with ecology, new mexico, latin america, japan, and drug policy reform.

Steven Phillips

Steve is an attorney and political organizer in San Francisco. He is the Chairman of Vote Hope, a federal PAC that supports candidates who champion policies of hope and justice. Over the past 20 years, Steve has worked as an education reformer, attorney, and elected official.

Steve has written nearly 100 columns and essays published in newspapers across the country. In 2003, he founded PowerPAC.org, a statewide social justice organization working with community activists to build political power in California.

In 1992, at the age of 28, Steve successfully ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education, and became the youngest elected official in the city’s history. He attended Hastings College of the Law, and in 1997, began practicing civil rights and employment discrimination law. He successfully litigated against a broad number of entities ranging from municipalities to multi-million dollar corporations.

Cynthia Ryan

Cynthia is the former principal of Boston-based The Schooner Foundation, a family foundation that honors human dignity, thinks big, and acts where trustees see the greatest need and opportunities for leverage locally, nationally and globally.

Cynthia is a current or former trustee of National Braille Press, Women for Women International, the Ploughshares Fund and the National Association of Health Education Centers. She is a member of the Peace & Security Funders Group, the International Human Rights Funders Group, National Network of Grantmakers, Women Waging Peace, and Grantmakers Without Borders. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and on the Women’s Leadership Board at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch and a member of the Women Donors Network.

Cynthia received her B.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York and a Masters of Arts from the School of Oriental & African Studies at University of London in England.

John Stocks

John is the executive director of the National Education Association. Previously, John served as assistant executive director for public affairs at the Wisconsin Education Association Council. He also served as executive director of Idaho Fair Share, a grassroots citizen action organization dedicated to keeping utility rates affordable for working families, and spearheaded legislation on behalf of low and moderate income utility ratepayers. He currently sits on several boards, including Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Learning First Alliance.

In 1988, John ran successfully for State Senate in Idaho. His legislative record includes successfully shepherding a bill to improve protections for people facing foreclosure on their homes due to family medical crises. He established his bona fides in political strategy as chief architect of the Idaho Senate Democrats’ re-election plans, securing seven new Senate seats and protecting all incumbents over three election cycles.

A native of New Orleans, John is a graduate of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He and his wife, Connie, have two children.

David desJardins

David is a private investor, an active philanthropist, and a supporter of many progressive groups and organizations. David and his wife Nancy Blachman are founders of the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, a program of math education and enrichment for middle and high school students.

A mathematician and software engineer, David was among the first 20 employees at Google, where he worked from 1999 to 2005. Since leaving Google, David continues to engage with mathematical research. David is a trustee of the University of California Berkeley Foundation, and a member of two visiting committees at MIT.

David has degrees from MIT and the University of California at Berkeley. His dissertation involved the analysis of a mathematical game, with applications to information theory.

Nick Hanauer

Nick is chairman of Pacific Coast Feather Company and vice chairman of Marchex, Inc. In 2000, he became a founding partner of the venture capital firm, Second Avenue Partners, where he serves on the boards of both MarketLeader, and Qliance Medical Group. Nick is also the former chairman of the board of aQuantive, a digital marketing services and technology company that sold to Microsoft for $6 billion.

Nick is actively involved in the Seattle community. In 2000, he co-founded the League of Education voters and set out to help transform the educational system and increase student achievement. He is a current board member of the University of Washington Foundation.

A Seattle-area native, Nick is an avid adventure traveler who has visited more than 60 countries, a fly fisherman, and an amateur astronomer. He and his wife, Leslie, reside in the Seattle area with their two children.

Weston Milliken

Weston Milliken, Ph.D. is a management consultant specializing in human and organizational development, philanthropy, and quality improvement. He serves on a number of for-profit and non-profit Boards. Weston lives in Los Angeles.

Ted Trimpa

Ted is the Principal and President of Trimpa Group, a national political consulting and government relations firm specializing in public policy advocacy and political strategy at the state and federal levels. Ted is one of the country’s most sought-after advocates resulting from his deep understanding of the national and multi-state public policy, political and nonprofit landscape. He has been recognized in national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, National Review, The Advocate, and The Weekly Standard for his central role in designing cutting-edge public policy strategies.

Prior to forming Trimpa Group, Ted was a shareholder at Hogan Lovells where he was responsible for matters before the Colorado General Assembly and had a multi-state public policy practice. Ted has orchestrated the successful passage of several public initiatives, including major social policy changes and landmark reforms to state fiscal policy.

He previously served as the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Assistant General Counsel for a prominent lobbying firm in Colorado. Before attending law school, Ted served as a legislative aide for United States Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum.

Rob Stein - Founder Emeritus

Rob Stein is Founder of the Democracy Alliance and Co-Founder of the Committee on States. An attorney by training, Rob has founded and run several non-profit organizations (1979-1988); was Strategic Advisor to the Chairman, Democratic National Committee (1989-1992); was Chief of Staff of the Washington Office of the Clinton-Gore Transition (1992); served as chief of Staff of the United States Department of Commerce (1993-1995), and was a private equity investor working with dozens of early-stage companies (1996-2002).

Rob’s original, comprehensive research (2003-2004) about the funding, management and overall infrastructure of the conservative movement over the last three decades led to the formation of the Democracy Alliance.

Staff

Gara LaMarche - President

Gara LaMarche is President of the Democracy Alliance (DA), providing overall leadership, strategic vision and management capacity for the organization. Prior to joining the Alliance, Gara served as Senior Fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and previously, as President and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies. At Atlantic, he led the foundation's efforts to embrace a social justice framework for grantmaking, and spearheaded the largest-ever grant made by a foundation for an advocacy campaign – over $25 million to press for comprehensive health care reform in the U.S. Before joining Atlantic in 2007, Gara served as Vice President and Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations (OSF), launching the organization’s pivotal work on challenges to social justice and democracy in the United States. A longtime advocate for human rights at home and abroad, he has held various positions with Human Rights Watch, PEN American Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Gara is a frequent commentator on progressive issues in the news, and is the author of numerous articles on human rights and social justice issues, which have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Nation, and American Prospect, among many others. He has taught courses on philanthropy, public policy, and non-profit leadership at NYU’s Wagner School, as well as courses at the New School University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. A Westerly, Rhode Island, native, he is a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University in New York.

Kelly Craighead - Senior Advisor
Kelly Craighead is the immediate past President and Managing Director of the Democracy Alliance and currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Board and Management team. Kelly came to the DA with extensive experience in politics, and also the private and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining the DA full-time, she was a strategic consultant to progressive non-profits, including the DA and Media Matters for America, helping to secure essential start-up capital and providing operations, communications and fundraising expertise. Kelly served eight years in the Clinton Administration with the rank of Deputy Assistant advising both President and First Lady Clinton on a range of domestic and international activities and initiatives. Kelly started her career in the private sector designing and marketing corporate incentive and association management programs for Fortune 500 companies and national trade organizations. Kelly received her B.A. from California State University, Chico.

Kimberly Douglas - Office Manager

Kimberly Douglas has experience in customer service, special events, meeting planning, administration, operations and systems management in both nonprofit & corporate organizations. While attending Frostburg State University, Kimberly worked at WPGC 95.5 FM as a broadcast news intern. After graduation, Kimberly worked at the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, where she served as ACRPs 1st Education Services Representative. Kimberly was instrumental in helping design and implement ACRP's Customer Service Center. In 2005, Kimberly joined the Forum for Youth Investment as their Office/Meetings Manager and served as the primary liaison between staff and external vendors. Kimberly also worked as the Administrative Director for the Population Institute.

Kimberly has a Masters degree in Organizational Communications and Human Resources from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications, Ballet and Modern Dance from Frostburg State University.

Alexandra Acker-Lyons - Director, Youth Engagement Fund

Alexandra Acker-Lyons is a recognized political commentator who appears regularly on CNN and Fox News. Currently, Alexandra is directing the Youth Engagement Fund, a collaborative project of the Democracy Alliance and civic engagement foundations, and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. She also travels internationally as a trainer for the National Democratic Institute. Alexandra’s expertise in youth politics culminated during the 2008 election cycle, when she served as Executive Director of the Young Democrats of America. Acker-Lyons’s previous work includes Democratic GAIN, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. A native of Nyack, NY, Acker-Lyons graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York at Binghamton and now lives in Mountain View, CA.

Julie Kohler - Managing Director

As Managing Director, Julie works closely with the President and the Board to develop and implement the Democracy Alliance’s (DA’s) strategic plan and annual goals, oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations, and directs the staff team. Julie previously served as the organization’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for ensuring synergy between the Investment and Partner Services divisions and leading the DA’s investment services work. Julie has over a decade of experience in philanthropy, with deep expertise in civic engagement, state infrastructure, policy/advocacy, and social innovation grant making.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Julie served as Director for Education & Civic Engagement at Public Interest Projects, where she managed four funding collaboratives designed to promote stronger participatory democracy and more equitable public schools. She also directed the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s National Venture Fund, which invested $13 million annually in civic engagement and social venture projects, and taught at the University of Maryland.

Julie holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in family social science from the University of Minnesota.

Dominic Lowell - Vice President, Investment Services

Dominic Lowell is responsible for leading all of the DA’s progress monitoring and investment research – setting rigorous benchmarks for all recommended organizations and conducting extensive due diligence on APOs’ progress toward those mutually agreed-upon goals. In his tenure at the DA, Dominic has written rigorous progress monitoring reports on the organizational and financial health, as well as the programmatic and political impact, of over forty progressive organizations across three different portfolios cycles. Dominic has managed relationships with organizational leaders and key stakeholders within the movement, and he has conducted research on demographic, technological, and political trends (in both conservative and progressive movements), in order to generate timely briefings and updates for Alliance Partners. Recently, he led the DA’s efforts to engage scores of organizations as part of its new approach to recognize and track the work and impact of the broader progressive infrastructure.
Dominic is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, though his heart now belongs to Washington, DC, where he enjoys cycling, trivia, and far too many political blogs. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College where he earned a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology.

Tori Miyagi - Program Manager

Tori Miyagi joined the Latino Engagement Fund at its founding in 2012 and currently serves as Program Manager and principal deputy. Miyagi marshals the resources of the Fund’s staff and directs national programming and services. Miyagi implements the investment process, providing intensive performance measurement and hands-on relationship management to a portfolio of high-performing community organizations. In this role, Miyagi also manages strategic partnerships with allied funds and funding efforts and facilitates complex, strategic projects with multiple funders and co-investors.

Previously, Miyagi was an Associate in the Democracy Alliance’s Investment Services department where he worked with movement stakeholders to analyse, communicate, and document the programmatic and political impact of the Alliance portfolio to Alliance Partners. Earlier in his career, Miyagi worked with immigrant-rights organizations and political campaigns at a political consulting firm in Washington, DC.

Miyagi was born and raised in a union family in Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi. He is an alumnus of The American University, holding a BA from the School of Public Affairs, and is a graduate of The American University’s Campaign Management Institute and Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute.

Eddy Morales - Director, Latino Engagement Fund

Eddy brings more than ten years of senior leadership experience to the Democracy Alliance, most recently serving as the Deputy Director of Voto Latino, an organization founded by Rosario Dawson aimed at increasing Latino civic engagement. While there, he helped increase the annual operating budget and oversaw strategy and day-to-day operations.

Previously, Eddy was the Deputy Director of Leadership Development at the Center for Community Change, where he launched a leadership development program to recruit and nurture low-income community organizers of color into community based organizations.
At the DA, Eddy is the Director of the Latino Engagement Fund, a collaborative effort between individual and institutional donors designed to strengthen high-performing Latino civic engagement organizations and increase the political power of the growing Latino population.

Since 2009, Eddy has been continually recognized by Washington Life Magazine as one of the most influential people under 40 in DC.

Katherine Storch - Senior Research Analyst

Katherine joins the Democracy Alliance as a Senior Research Analyst with the Investment Services team. She previously worked at Sachs Waldman, P.C., a Detroit firm known as a progressive and effective representative of labor organizations and their members, as well as a significant force in plaintiff’s personal injury law litigation. While in law school she clerked at the Free Legal Aid Clinic, assisting indigent Detroit residents in family law matters, was a leader in the student chapter of the American Constitution Society, and founded her school’s chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Katherine holds a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School, a Masters in European Studies from Jagiellonian University, Krakow and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the University of Michigan. In her spare time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring new cities, and spending time with her rescued dog, Todd.

Jenna Narayanan - Vice President, Partner Services

Jenna comes to the DA with 10 years’ experience in development and politics, helping organizations maximize their potential by conceptualizing and implementing revitalized funding strategies. Before joining the DA, Jenna was the Vice President of Development and Strategic Partnerships at NDN. Prior to leading the fundraising operation for NDN, Jenna was the Director of Development at Democracia USA. Jenna was also the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Finance Director for the Edwards for President campaign, where she focused on Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.

Jenna has also worked for Swanson Consulting in Washington DC as a strategic fundraising consultant on federal and non-federal campaigns across the nation. During this time she raised money on a wide variety of clients that included Koster for Attorney General, Don Wiviott for Congress and John Boccieri for Congress, as well as the American Association for Justice, the Human Rights Campaign, For Maryland for our Future and People for the American Way. Additionally, Jenna raised money for John Edwards' One America Committee and the Center for Promise and Opportunity.

Jenna graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a double major in Print Journalism and Political Science. Jenna is a native of Tucson, Arizona and currently lives in DC with her husband and daughter. In her free time she enjoys reading and running.

Ngozi Nezianya - Senior Analyst, Investment Services
As a Senior Analyst on the Investment Services team, Ngozi helps monitor the performance and evaluate the impact of Partner organizations, as well as help develop a cohesive strategy for the DA portfolio. His additional responsibilities include liaising with other organizations in the progressive movement at-large and conducting secondary research in areas ranging from tracking dynamic political movements to benchmarking hundreds of millions of dollars in conservative political funding. Before joining the DA, Ngozi worked as the Interim Head of the Leadership Department at African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. There, he spearheaded the research, writing, and design of the Academy’s two year leadership curriculum; taught courses in leadership and entrepreneurship; and coached students on developing and launching new enterprises. To hone his skills at analysis, Ngozi enrolled in the Summer Institute for General Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he earned the Dean’s Award for Excellence – an academic honor bestowed upon the top ten participants in a class of 130 with a 15% acceptance rate. Ngozi is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned a B.A. in Political Science.

Ryan Rodriguez - Vice President, Partner Services

Ryan Rodriguez is responsible for coordinating the Democracy Alliance's semi-annual conferences, assisting with regional events, and working on other partner engagement activities. Prior to joining the Democracy Alliance, Ryan was the National Events Manager for EMILY's List, where he organized their national conferences, their major annual DC luncheon, and a variety of other fundraising events around the country. Ryan has significant fundraising experience, having worked as the finance director and on the finance staff for a number of congressional races including Gwen Moore (WI-04, the first African American woman elected to the US House from Wisconsin), Eleanor Jordan (KY-03), and Christine Jennings (FL-13). Before getting his start in politics, Ryan spent several years at the Smithsonian Institution where he secured corporate sponsorships and organized opening receptions across the country for the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition service. Ryan has a B.A. in political science from the American University. Ryan is a native of Wisconsin and currently lives in Washington, DC. In his free time he enjoys reading historical non-fiction about the War of 1812.

Caitlin Blair - Recruitment Manager, Partner Services

Caitlin Blair is the recruitment manager within the Partner Services team at the Democracy Alliance. Caitlin joins the DA after spending the past 5 years on the campaign trail. Most recently she worked as the finance director for Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia. Previously, Caitlin worked as a regional finance director on the successful campaign of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Caitlin also worked for HM Consulting in Washington, DC as a fundraising consultant on the successful 2010 campaign of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and CHC BOLD PAC, a PAC dedicated to electing members to Congress who will add diversity to our leadership and who will address issues that impact the Hispanic community in the United States. Caitlin began her political career as an intern for U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) on his successful 2008 campaign.

Caitlin graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in political science. Caitlin is a Virginia native who now lives in Washington, DC.

Erick Pleitez - Communications Associate, Partner Services

Erick Pleitez is the DA’s Partner Services and Communications Associate, helping to maintain the channels of communication between Partners and Alliance Partner Organizations. Prior to joining the DA, Erick served as the Junior Electoral Data Manager at the Center for Community Change. While at the Center Erick worked with its partner organizations to maximize their access to voter file data, enabling them to run efficient voter registration and GOTV efforts. Prior to joining the Center, Erick served as Voto Latino’s Data and Targeting Manager; Erick identified VL’s target universe for both its (c)(3) and (c)(4) efforts, developed VL’s voter registration program and voter contact strategies. A first-generation American, Erick received his B.A. in Government from Cornell University.

Frank Smith - Consultant (Investment Services)

Francis Smith has been involved in political and public policy issues throughout his career. He is President of a Cambridge, Massachusetts consulting firm specializing in election and non-profit law and policy work. He has served as an Assistant District Attorney in Boston and worked on a number of political campaigns, including two Presidential elections. He is co-author of a recent book on the American healthcare system and writes a monthly newsletter on American politics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Boston College Law School, and a member of the Massachusetts Bar. He has served on a number of non-governmental organization boards.

Wendi Wallace - Executive Assistant to the President and Managing Director

Wendi Wallace joined the Democracy Alliance in October of 2010 as the executive assistant to the President & Managing Director. Previously, she was at the Americans for Financial Reform.

After graduating from Miami University in 2004, Wendi began working in real estate and mortgage. While working on mortgages she saw how the housing crisis was impacting the lives of moderate, low income and immigrant families. It was here that an interest in immigration reform as well as many other issues addressed by the progressive movement inspired Wendi to seek her current career path.

Robert Wimberley - Partner Services Manager, Partner Services

Robert Wimberley oversees research operations within Partner Services at the Democracy Alliance. Before joining the organization, Robert worked as a political opposition researcher for over 40 campaigns across the country. Robert had previously worked as the finance director for a myriad of campaigns in red states, including a congressional race in Texas that earned a spot on the DCCC’s highly competitive Red-to-Blue program. His first campaign, straight out of the University of California at Berkeley, was working field in both West Virginia and Florida for the 2004 Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign. Robert holds a B.A. in both Political Science and French. Originally from Los Angeles, Robert lives in D.C. with his wife, Sarah. In his spare time, Robert volunteers with Special Olympics.