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Joan Huffer


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.

Anna Aurilio

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.

Nick Chedli Carter

Nick Chedli Carter is currently the director of the Resilient Democracy research and funding initiative (formerly 2020 Vision Ventures), and chair of the Civic Digital Organizing Group Digital Transition project. Nick also works with a variety of pro-democracy organizations, funders and researchers, was a recent Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellow, and has held senior positions in presidential, federal and statewide electoral campaigns and policy advocacy efforts.

He has also worked at VICE Media, Planned Parenthood, CCTV Center for Media and Democracy, and is a proud Americorps Alumni.

Nick is keenly interested in identifying and scaling effective initiatives that merge innovative technology and media with people- driven civic engagement. This is towards increasing more consistent civic participation,  closing equity gaps in who drives and benefits from civic innovation, and towards building more inclusive civic identities.

Emi Gusukuma

Emi Gusukuma provides legal and strategic advice to the founders of the Sandler Phillips Center, manages outside counsel, and is responsible for all legal matters and operations associated with the Center’s activities. With over 20 years of legal experience, Emi litigated a broad array of employment and commercial matters in private practice. She was a trusted adviser to clients large (including companies in the Fortune 500) and small, in the nonprofit and for profit sector, representing a wide range of industries from healthcare to tech. She regularly defended clients in investigations by state and federal agencies, and conducted scores of trainings, understanding that education was key to achieving compliance.

Emi has a long-standing commitment to public service. She was President of the Asian American Bar Association, one of the largest minority bar associations in the country, from 2012-2013. Active in civil society, she served on the Immigrant Rights and Ethics Commissions for the City and County of San Francisco. Appointed to the Ethics Commission in 2004, she chaired the Commission for two years before her term concluded in 2010. During her tenure, she oversaw a dramatic increase in the staff and budget, which allowed the Commission to expand its public and municipal education programs, and to fulfill its mandates.

Emi is a 2010 recipient of the Best Under 40 Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and a 2013 recipient of Minority Bar Coalition’s Unity Award for her longstanding work to increase diversity in the legal profession and in the judiciary.

Emi holds a BA degree from UCLA, and a law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Kim Hoover

Kim Hoover is an attorney, a business owner, a philanthropist and an activist. She is the founder of RED Multifamily, a developer, owner and manager of residential real estate properties in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, New York City, and Miami, FL. In 2010, Hoover co-founded Allyson Capital, a development and investment firm specializing in large-scale urban residential projects. Prior to that, she had a 20-year legal career after graduating from Duke University School of Law, where she was Executive Editor of the Law Journal. Hoover is on the Board of Directors of Revere Bank in Montgomery County, Maryland, and she serves on a number of nonprofit boards, including Advocates for Youth and Lambda Literary. She is the past board chair of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, where she worked to elect hundreds of out LGBTQ people to office across the country. In 2018, she received the inaugural Business of Pride Award from the Washington Business Journal.

Sam Jammal

Sam Jammal currently serves as Chief of Staff at Mosaic, a solar residential lending platform. He previously worked as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Firefly, an advertising technology start-up. Prior to his recent roles, Sam held legal and policy positions at SolarCity and Tesla. Before entering the private sector, Sam served as a Chief of Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives and as a Legislative Counsel in the U.S. Senate. Sam also served in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began his career in civil rights as a Legislative Staff Attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

In 2018, Sam ran for Congress in Southern California and continues to advocate for progressive policies. In addition to serving on the board for Voices for Progress, Sam serves on the boards of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Grid Alternatives Greater Los Angeles and the Arab American Democratic Action Fund.

Joel Kanter

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 Legislation; 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.

Brian Kettenring

Brian Kettenring is the Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). Brian served as Executive Director of Leadership Center for the Common Good prior to its merger with CPD in late 2013. As the Director of Common Good, Brian and his team built an organization that worked with partner organizations in 18 states and 45 cities nationally. Common Good and its partners played essential roles in campaigns for economic justice, Wall Street accountability, education reform, environmental justice, and much more. During his 18-year organizing career, Brian has helped run four living wage campaigns, three campaigns against predatory lending, and a wide range of other campaigns, including: urban school reform, campaign finance reform, tenant legislative protections, adoption of a progressive federal budget, passage of a federal economic recovery package, and campaigns promoting smart growth and environmental justice. Brian received a BA in African and European Intellectual History from Carleton College.

Surina Khan

Surina Khan is the Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of California. A first generation immigrant, Surina came to the US with her parents and five older siblings in 1973, and she has been dedicated to gender, racial, and economic justice issues for most of her life. As CEO,Surina oversees the Foundation’s strategic direction, which is focused on building community-based power through investing in effective community-based organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, connecting key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources. Earlier in her career, Surina served as Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now OutRight Action International) where she worked to advance the human rights of LGBTQI people and people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Surina is currently co-chair of the Board of Directors of Funders for Reproductive Equity. She is also a member of the Board of Alliance for Justice, and La Cocina and a member of the Advisory Board of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a founding Advisor for the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative, and a member of the Public Policy Committee for Southern California Grantmakers and Northern California Grantmakers. In 2015, Surinawas recognized with a Leaders in Action Award from Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and in 2017 the South Asian Network recognized Surina with a Community Solidarity Award. Her writing and research have been published widely in print and online publications including the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Philanthropy News Digest.

Dave Montez

Dave Montez is the Vice President of Investment Services at the Democracy Alliance. Dave has been running the New American Majority fund at the DA for several years.  Prior to joining the DA, he was the Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s only LGBTQ advocacy organization. Under his leadership, One Colorado saw phenomenal success from helping to bring the freedom to marry to Colorado to defeating anti-transgender bathroom bills and religious exemptions legislation. Prior to joining the One Colorado team, Dave served as the acting president of GLAAD. During his tenure there – where he also served as Chief of Staff – the organization made its final push to lift the Boy Scouts’ ban on openly gay youth. He also helped develop a coordinated strategy within the LGBTQ movement in support of immigration reform. He also worked for five years as a senior program officer at the Gill Foundation, one of the nation’s leading funders of LGBTQ equal rights work.  


Zach Polett

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

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.

Ted Trimpa

Ted Trimpa is the Principal and CEO of Trimpa Group LLC, a national political consulting and government relations firm that specializes in progressive public policy advocacy and political strategy.  Called “Colorado’s answer to Karl Rove” by The Atlantic, Trimpa is a nationally recognized strategist and operative. Trimpa brings more than a decade of government relations and political consulting experience with a proven record of results. In 2010, he brought together environmentalists and natural gas companies to pass landmark legislation that established health-based emission standards for power plants—making Colorado the first state in the country to do so. In addition to his work in Colorado, Trimpa is a nationally recognized thought leader and a leading advisor to progressive donors and foundations. He has been recognized in national publications, including The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, National Review, and The Advocate, for his central role in designing cutting-edge public policy strategies.