Joan Huffer has focused on ensuring lower-income Americans have access to economic opportunity in her career and her philanthropy. She worked in the U.S. Senate for twenty-seven years where she focused on education and income support programs. During that time, she worked for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (SD) for 8 years, served two stints on the Senate Budget Committee, and worked on the personal staffs of Senator Kent Conrad (ND) and Senator Don Riegle (MI). After retiring from the Senate in 2007, she joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to run the Federal Budget Initiative, a program that provides technical assistance to state non-profit organizations on federal budget, tax, and low-income policies. Ms. Huffer is a partner and member of the board of the Democracy Alliance and founded Virginia Plus, a progressive donor collaborative focused on increasing civic and electoral engagement in Virginia. She also sits on the Boards of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis and the Alliance for Excellent Education.
Kim Anderson is Executive Vice President of the Democracy Alliance. She previously worked at the National Education Association for over 15 years, most recently as Senior Director of the Center for Advocacy & Outreach at the National Education Association, where she oversaw the organization’s Campaigns and Elections Department, Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy Department, Government Relations Department, Human and Civil Rights Department, and Minority Community Organizing and Partnerships Department. Prior to that role, she directed the Government Relations department and served as a Manager for Issue Advocacy in the Campaigns and Elections Department. Before joining the NEA, Anderson served as Legislative Director and Counsel to Senator Charles Robb (VA). She has also worked at the law firm of Covington and Burling, and is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Anderson received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and received her law degree from George Washington University.
Anna Aurilio is a long-time environmental advocate. For the past 10 years, she was the Director of the Washington DC office for Environment America, a federation of 29 state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations. Ms. Aurilio led a team of advocacy staff and was responsible for policy and strategy development for campaigns on clean water, clean air, energy, global warming and preservation issues. She has testified in Congress numerous times and has been named a top grassroots lobbyist by The Hill for the past 9 years. Before leading the federal office of Environment America, Ms. Aurilio served as federal legislative director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG).Ms. Aurilio received a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1986 and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources from MIT in 1992 where she published several papers on water pollution in Woburn Massachusetts. Prior to receiving her Master’s degree, Ms. Aurilio was a Staff Scientist with the National Environmental Law Center where she investigated major water polluters and provided technical expertise for Clean Water Act citizen suits.
Amy K Dacey is Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Issues Management and Public Affairs at MWWPR. Dacey leads the firm’s public affairs practice and serves as a key member of the firm’s management team. Prior to joining MWWPR, Amy served as the CEO of the Democratic National Committee, where she helped steer the organization through an especially tumultuous time by expanding the Committee’s diversity initiatives, investing in technology infrastructure and eliminating the Committee’s multimillion dollar debt. Prior to that she served as the Executive Director of Emily’s list, the nation’s most prominent organization dedicated to the election of women at all levels of government. Among her many successes, she was responsible for increasing the organization’s membership by 500%. In addition to her expertise in communications strategy and campaign development, Amy is a noted expert in public sector and political issues with a 25-year career in that space. She is a well-known and highly sought after resource – both nationally and globally – for her vision, leadership and strategic thinking.
Judy Gibbons is a social activist and retired school teacher. Judy taught at Brookline Public Schools in Brookline, MA and the Hunter College High School in New York, NY. She is on the board of the Gallery North Art Center in Setauket, NY; the National Museum of Mathematics in New York, NY; and the East Harlem Tutorial Program, New York, NY. She is active with the College Mentorship Program of the East Harlem Tutorial Program and works with Brookhaven Democrats on activation and support. She is the former Chair of the New York Metro Chapter of the Women’s Leadership Forum and served on the Advisory Board of Organizing for Action from 2014 to 2016. She is married to Francesco Scattone and is the mother of John, a computer scientist, and Anna, a New York City school teacher.
Joel Kanter has served as President of Windy City, Inc., a privately held investment firm, since July 1986. Mr. Kanter has served as the President, and subsequently as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Walnut Financial Services, Inc., a publicly traded company. Mr. Kanter started his career as Legislative Assistant to former Congressman Abner J. Mikva (IL); served as Special Assistant to the National Association of Attorneys General where he was involved in the legislative efforts to reenact the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and to enact the original Superfund Legslation; and served as the Staff Director of the House Rules Subcommittee on Legislative Process Chaired by former Congressman Gillis Long (LA). Mr. Kanter serves on the Board of Directors of two public companies; is a Trustee Emeritus and past President of the Board of Trustees of The Langley School in McLean, Virginia; is the current Board Chair of the Black Student Fund; is the Education Committee Chairman of the Kennedy Center’s National Committee on the Performing Arts; and serves as an appointee of the State Legislature to the Gubernatorial Virginia Israel Advisory Board.
Sandy Newman founded Voices for Progress and two other successful organizations. Project Vote, founded in 1982, had become the nation’s leading minority voter participation organization by the time Newman left it in 1993. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, founded in 1995, today comprises 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and elected prosecutors, all advocating programs like Head Start and quality child care. As a donor advisor and strategist from 2003 to 2009, Newman played a key role in reviving then-extinct voter registration drives. Voters registered due to these drives cast 2.3 million ballots in 2008 alone. Sandy and his clients also sparked revived enforcement of laws requiring public assistance offices to provide voter registration services, which has now led to registration of an additional 3.5 million voters. To strengthen rigorous scientific assessment what really works to increase voting, and to explore innovations, they helped establish the Analyst Institute. Before founding Project Vote, Newman clerked for a federal Court of Appeals judge, worked to increase access to healthcare for minorities and the poor as a test case litigator, conducted legislative and policy research for the Democratic Study Group in the House, and worked as a volunteer on passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Newman has now returned to advising donors on voter participation and other democracy issues.
Zach Polett is Senior Vice President and Campaigns Director at The Public Interest Network (which includes US PIRG and the State PIRGs, Environment America, and other public interest organizations), is the former Executive Director of Project Vote, and has been leading and directing grassroots community, anti-poverty, consumer, and worker organizing on the local and national level for over 40 years. In addition to his board service with Voices for Progress, he serves on the board of the Arkansas Broadcast Foundation.
Faye Straus co-founded The Firedoll Foundation with her husband, Sandor. The Firedoll foundation provides grants in several areas including environmental conservation, community development and immigrant rights. Previously, Faye has worked at the federal and local levels of government, conducting budget analysis and program evaluation. She has been active in peace and human rights advocacy, co-facilitating Jewish-Palestinian dialogue and serving as the Board President of the Tibet Oral History Project.
Tonya Williams is the Vice President for policy, communications and knowledge analytics at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. A newly created position, the vice president for policy, communications and knowledge analytics provides pivotal support in setting the direction for the foundation’s policy, communication and advocacy investments worldwide. Williams most recently served as the special assistant to the vice president and director of Legislative Affairs for Vice President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., where she served as the primary liaison between the Office of the Vice President and Congress. Prior to this, Williams served as the chief of staff and floor assistant for Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC) at the U.S. House of Representatives and director of Intellectual Property Policy for North and South America at GlaxoSmithKline. She also served as general counsel to longtime Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight at North Carolina General Assembly. Williams obtained a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.