Meet the Speakers

Meet the Speakers

Erin Vilardi

Founder, VoteRunLead

Erin Vilardi is the Founder and CEO of Vote Run Lead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for office and win. She first launched the program as Vice President of Program and Communications at The White House Project. She has also served as a Leadership Development Consultant for a range of clients, including Fortune 100 companies, global girls’ initiatives, and the U.S. Department of State, reaching women leaders in a dozen international cities. 

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Danielle Allen

Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Professor Danielle Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. She is a professor at Harvard University and Director of Harvard's Edmond Safra Center for Ethics, a former Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

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Shenna Bellows

Secretary of State (Maine)

Secretary Shenna Bellows is Maine’s 50th Secretary of State and first female Secretary of State. Secretary Bellows serves as co-chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Business Services Committee, and as co-chair of the Civic Health Subcommittee of the Council of State Governments Healthy States National Task Force. She previously served as a State Senator. 

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Grace Ramsey

Co-Director, Democracy Rising

Grace Ramsey is the Co-Director of Democracy Rising. Grace brings over 9 years of experience working on RCV advocacy and implementation campaigns across the country. She began her career as an organizer with FairVote Minnesota’s Rank Your Vote campaign, went on to become Deputy Director of Outreach at FairVote, and led voter education and organizing campaigns as a consultant with Democracy in Action. 

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Rebecca Chavez-Houck

Former Utah State Legislator

Rebecca Chavez-Houck is the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center (RCVRC) Vice-Chair and a member of the Utah RCV board. She represented Salt Lake City’s District 24 in the Utah House of Representatives from 2008-18, focusing on public policy related to health and human services as well as voter engagement and access. She now provides leadership coaching and community engagement consulting through her public affairs firm, Aspira Public Affairs, LLC.

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Rina Shah

Political Consultant & CEO, Rilax Strategies

Rina Shah Bharara is a strategic consultant, media commentator, & millennial entrepreneur based in Washington, DC. Prior to launching Rilax Strategies – a government and public affairs firm – Rina served as a senior staffer to Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5) and Rep. Jeff B. Miller (FL-1).  Her expertise includes building winning strategies for political campaigns as well as coordinating public affairs efforts for Fortune 500 companies. 

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Katie Fahey

Co-Founder and Executive Director, The People

Katie Fahey served as founder and Executive Director and campaign manager of Voters Not Politicians, a grassroots, nonpartisan campaign that ran a successful effort to end gerrymandering in Michigan by amending the State Constitution in 2018 with 61% of the vote. Now, Katie is Executive Director of The People, a nonprofit organization committed to sharing the lessons learned in Michigan with voters across the ideological spectrum in all 50 states, bridging political divides, and supporting nonpartisan good governance reforms nationwide.

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Michelle Whittaker

Messaging and Campaign Strategist

Michelle Whittaker has over 15 years of experience in communications, advocacy outreach, and grassroots mobilization. She is the principal at MCW Creative, a boutique strategic consulting firm for nonprofits and political campaigns. She is the statewide coordinator for Ranked Choice Voting Maryland. Her expertise is in strategy development, storytelling, constituency engagement, organizing, and media outreach. Michelle is a seasoned campaign manager and financial administrator, running successful fundraising, outreach, and election programs for local races in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

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Angela Kouters

Director of Government Affairs, FairVote

Angela Kouters is the Director of Government Affairs at FairVote, a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. Kouters has previously held senior roles on Capitol Hill, in campaigns, and within the Obama Administration. 

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Tiffany Gardner

CEO, ReflectUS Coalition

Tiffany Gardner is the CEO of ReflectUS, a national, nonpartisan coalition working to increase the number of women in office and achieve equal representation across the racial, ideological, ethnic, and geographic spectrum. Tiffany brings over a decade of extensive international experience in human rights advocacy and domestic public interest. She has worked on women’s rights, human rights, and grassroots organizing throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States. 

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Stephanie Houghton

Organizing Director, FairVote Washington

Stephanie Houghton is originally from Massachusetts, although she has spent the last few years hopscotching across the country working for candidates at every level of government. For the last year, she has served as the Organizing and Legislative Director for FairVote Washington - spreading the word about how ranked-choice voting works and why it's a vital next step for our Democracy. As a Woman of Field, Stephanie has been dedicated to increasing turnout through one on one conversations and community organizing. 

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Jaqueline Castaneda

Advisory Board Member, More Voice DC

Jaqueline Castaneda is currently a board member with the DC Latino Caucus in Washington, DC. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where she also received her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Through her involvement in the DC Latino Caucus, Jaqueline has strongly advocated for more representation of Latinx/o/a people in DC. Her most notable work has been championing Ranked Choice Voting in DC alongside other DC grassroots organizations.

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Jessica Lieberman

Program Officer, American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Jessica Lieberman is a Program Officer for American Democracy, Political and Voting Reform at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In this role, she works to implement the recommendations in the Academy's landmark 2020 report, Our Common Purpose, with a focus on reforms related to political institutions and voting. Prior to joining the Academy, Jessica served as a Senior Campaign Advisor for New Politics, a bipartisan organization that provides leadership training and campaign advice to veterans and national service alumni running for elected office. 

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Sarah Higginbotham

Managing Director, Unite America

Sarah Higginbotham is Unite America's Managing Director. As such, she is tasked with overseeing the Unite America Fund, an innovative philanthropic venture fund that seeks to scale the non-partisan democracy reform movement. Sarah has spent her career at the helm of winning campaigns to effect policy change and elect candidates to protect the public interest. 

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Maria Perez

Co-Director, Democracy Rising

Maria Perez is the Co-Director of Democracy Rising, a program of More Equitable Democracy that seeks to create a democracy where all communities have political equity and are fully able to participate in shaping policy and holding elected officials accountable. A seasoned non-profit leader, Maria previously served as Campaign Lead and later as Interim Hub Manager for the California Endowment’s project Building Healthy Communities (East Oakland), Director of FairVote New Mexico, and more recently as Campaign Manager for Common Cause New Mexico.

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