Meet the Team
Democracy for America staff and interns put their talents and skills to work each and every day to make the Democratic Party more progressive and move our country forward.
As the chair of Democracy for America, Jim Dean is committed to carrying on the legacy of his brother, Governor Howard Dean. As DFA's key spokesperson and fundraiser, Jim keeps DFA in the national spotlight. Jim brings DFA's mission to all 50 states. He meets with candidates, organizers, party leaders and activists, inspiring everyone to get involved and take back our country. Jim has been involved with DFA since our founding in 2004.
Before joining DFA, Jim worked on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, beginning in early 2002. Jim has been responsible for a variety of campaign functions including fundraising, political organizing and supporting several additional DFA state organizations. Jim’s background is in marketing research, business development and sales. He has worked at both Yankelovich Partners Inc. and Greenfield Online Inc.
Charles joined Democracy for America in 2006 as Political Director, where he led campaigns for the public option and against telecom immunity for spying on Americans as well as endorsements of controversial primary candidates against Sen. Joe Lieberman, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, and Rep. Al Wynn. He also directed DFA's successful campaigns to stop the Republican War on Working Families in Wisconsin and Ohio. In January of 2012, Charles became the Executive Director of Progressive Congress, the foundation for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Charles rejoined DFA as Executive Director in August of 2013 and leads the strategic direction of the DFA team.
Before DFA, Charles spent over a decade grassroots organizing and directing statewide campaigns in 17 states for direct democracy initiatives and referendums working with the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Americans for Medical Rights, and others in fights ranging from funding early childhood development and protecting civil liberties to defending collective bargaining rights and raising the minimum wage. He's also served on staff for Assemblymember Scott Wildman in California's 43rd as the community organizer responsible for revitalizing in-district resident associations, neighborhood watches, and PTA's.
Chief of Staff
Mia has been at Democracy for America since 2009, starting as the Finance Director. In January 2010 she became DFA’s first Chief of Staff, focusing her efforts on hiring, supporting and getting results from great staff; long-term planning and budgeting. Mia has a diverse background in organizing and fundraising -- dating all the way back to her college years at the University of Wisconsin, where she worked on campaign finance reform with WISPIRG and served on student government. She began her professional organizing career working with students at the University of California-Berkeley, and their high priority campaign succeeded in convincing the state of California to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2017. Mia has also directed telephone outreach offices to raise money and mobilize activists of groups like MASSPIRG and Environment North Carolina. Before her current work with DFA, Mia directed the major gifts program for Toxics Action Center, nearly doubling the income from this program within two years.
When she's not working, she's likely reading DIY and decor blogs, watching Project Runway or trying to get outside and go running.
Prior to joining DFA in 2013, Eden was U.S. Campaign Director at Change.org, where he was instrumental in building and leading a campaign team from 2011-2013 that fueled the world's largest petition platform, empowering more than 50 million people around the globe. From 2007-2010, Eden directed digital strategy and staff as Managing Director of the Courage Campaign, including leading Courage's national LGBT rights campaigns in the aftermath of Prop 8's passage. In 2006, Eden served as Online Communications Director for Jerry McNerney's congressional upset victory over Rep. Richard Pombo. Prior to 2006, Eden served as Online Marketing Manager at CREDO Action and organized in support of Gov. Dean's presidential campaign in California and Iowa. In 2003, Eden graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science.
Annie Weinberg joined Democracy for America in 2014 after serving as the Chief of Staff for Progressive Congress, the foundation of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She has served in a senior role on a variety of Congressional races from Connecticut to Minnesota to Michigan, notably managing bold progressive Ilya Sheyman's nationally watched, highly targeted race for Illinois' Tenth Congressional District.
As the National Field Organizer for MoveOn from 2009-2011, she lead trainings, mobilizations, and grassroots organizing efforts on everything from the public option to campaign finance reform to clean energy. From 2007-2009, Annie worked at Food and Water Watch, building a campaign to protect public water infrastructure and challenge corporate abuse of water. She's a proud graduate of Green Corps, the Field School for Environmental Organizing, which trains the next generation of environmental leaders while making a critical impact on timely campaigns.
Annie graduated Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied dance and environmental policy. Her first job after college was teaching the dance moves from Michael Jackson videos in Times Square; she still remembers almost all of it, and will be happy to teach you.
Mari Schimmer brings over a decade of organizing, training, and advocacy experience to Democracy for America. Mari got her political start as a fundraising canvasser in 2004. In 2005, Mari moved to Denver, Colorado to work on the Progressive Voter Network, a national project to recruit and train volunteer leaders in key states to advocate on environmental issues. She also helped plan and run voter contact and get out the vote operations in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.
From 2011-2016, Mari worked at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, a national organization dedicated to young leaders in the reproductive justice movement. During her tenure at URGE, Mari helped grow the field team from one to six organizers, brought hundreds of students to DC to advocate for comprehensive sex education and abortion access, and organized statewide advocacy days in six states.
Mari majored in Politics and Women’s Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. Outside of organizing, she enjoys roadtrips, vegan cooking, knitting, and beach days.
Kristina started her career at DFA as Governor Dean’s Executive Assistant and helped raise over one million dollars for progressive candidates and causes. Before joining DFA, she served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Democratic Party. Kristina spent a year coordinating youth outreach for President Obama’s New Hampshire Primary campaign and went on to aid get-out-the-vote efforts in six subsequent primary states.
She comes to DFA with nearly a decade of professional experience in Democratic politics, fundraising and strategic planning.
Kristina graduated magna cum laude from Bradley University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies.
Prior to joining DFA, Neil was the Press Secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Communications Director for Ann McLane Kuster's 2010 campaign in New Hampshire's Second Congressional District. He has also served in the Obama administration as the Director of New Media at the U.S. Department of Commerce, ran social media projects for MoveOn.org, and managed new media for Barack Obama's primary campaigns in South Carolina & Ohio. Neil graduated from George Washington University and studied politics and philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford.
Electoral Campaign Manager
Mondale has been a part of more than 25 campaigns including local, state, federal, international, and advocacy. He is at his core a community organizer, with a track record of succeeding when and where most others see no light, this is a skill he honed as the middle of thirteen (13) children.
Before joining DFA, Mondale was the Executive Director of Conyers Institute of Public Policy, an organization that seeks to ensure equitable governance and inter-social treatment for persons of African descent, in countries where they are a minority population. Mondale also managed National Park Service contracts for the C Institute. Mondale is also a political columnist for two publications; an online magazine (The Village Celebration), where he is also a political contributor to magazine's weekly syndicated radio show, and a statewide newspaper (Arkansas Talks). He lectures on the "Culture and History of Black Politics" throughout the world.
Mondale graduated from Livingstone College, a Historically Black College and University (Salisbury, NC), with a BS in Political Science, and a concentration in African and Latin American Politics. In a perfect world, where equity was the norm, Mondale would spend his days building pallet furniture from ideas off of Pinterest.
Senior Campaign Manager
Robert Cruickshank was born and raised in Orange County, California and educated at UC Berkeley. In 2004 he was active in the Howard Dean campaign while a graduate student in Seattle. After moving back to California in 2007, he got involved in statewide politics. He wrote at Calitics, providing opinion leadership at the state’s leading progressive blog, and that same year started working at the Courage Campaign as an online organizer. By 2009 he had become Public Policy Director at the Courage Campaign, organizing Californians around a progressive agenda to fix the state’s numerous budget and governance problems and helping build coalitions to win ballot initiative campaigns. In 2011 he and his wife returned to Seattle where he began working as a Senior Communications Advisor to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a position he held until the mayor’s term of office ended in December 2013.
Robert has been a longtime member of the Netroots, from the early years of Daily Kos to starting his own blog focused on the California High Speed Rail Project. He has held several positions within the Democratic Party, including vice-chair of the Monterey County Democrats and a member of the California Democratic Party executive board. He’s still active in local politics in Seattle, particularly around transit issues, and continues to advise local elected officials and candidates on communications and political strategy.
Digital Strategy Manager
Jay joined DFA in 2009 with a background in student organizing and electoral work. As a DFA Field Organizer, Jay arranged Campaign Academies across the country and helped develop the new Action Summit program. He joined the No on 1 Campaign in Maine as part of their canvassing effort and worked as GOTV Director for the Beth Krom for Congress campaign. As Digital Strategy Manager, Jay works with DFA members across the country to bring positive change to their communities.
Jay graduated with a BA from Oberlin College. Outside of the office he enjoys playing with his dog, reading and live music.
Karli Wallace Thompson
Karli jumped into political organizing with both feet in early 2008, when what started as a volunteer opportunity supporting Barack Obama in the Minnesota Super Tuesday primary quickly turned into a full time (and then some) position doing field work for OFA in the critical state of Ohio. Since then, she has organized around a wide variety of progressive candidates and issues in a number of Midwestern states. She is most proud of the work she has done in her home state of Wisconsin - first, working for former Sen. Russ Feingold; then organizing protests, petitioning and recall campaign activities for SEIU, MoveOn PAC and DFA in the wake of the passage of Scott Walker's union-busting legislation.
When she's not busy organizing you can find her outside hiking, poking around the farmers' market, cooking up something delicious, or watching her beloved Green Bay Packers, of which she is one of many owners.
Social Media Manager
Brieanna is a native born Texan who has been deeply involved in progressive politics for many years. She began her DFA career as a communication intern, where she used her marketing and communication skills to increase member engagement on DFA’s social media accounts. In her role as Social Media Manager, Brieanna hopes to continue to create long lasting connections with the amazing progressives that make up the bulk of DFA’s membership.
She has vowed to make turning Texas blue a reality, and looks forward to spreading the progressive message across the country.
Jessica Carter was raised in a single parent, low-income household in Philadelphia, Mississippi. After graduating from Cornell University with a major in Industrial and Labor Relations, she decided to focus her career on being an agent of change in Mississippi, and the South overall.
Jessica began her career in organizing as an Organizer with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). She traveled throughout the country from New Mexico organizing childcare workers, to Kentucky organizing state employees. In an effort to return to the south, Jessica obtained a position with the Southern Poverty Law Center as a Youth Advocate, and focused on community organizing in New Orleans, LA and Mississippi around education reform, juvenile justice, and the school to prison pipeline. Following these exceptional experiences, Jessica decided to attend law school. She completed her Juris Doctor degree in 2015 at the Paul M Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA.
Since law school, Jessica has continued to organize for change, by working with the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign as a Campaign Coordinator. Later, she obtained a position with a MS based nonprofit organization, Faith in Women, focusing on educating and organizing the faith community around reproductive health issues.
Senior Development Associate
Ben joined the finance team at Democracy for America in 2012. He began his career in fundraising in Oregon for numerous groups such as the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, the Human Rights Campaign and Save Our Wild Salmon. After 2 years, he moved back to Burlington, VT and worked with TrueMajority.org as an Operations and Special Projects Manager.
Ben graduated from the University of Vermont in 2003 with a degree in Environmental Studies and focused his thesis research on land conservation in a remote area of Costa Rica.
When he's not working, he devotes himself to his other passion -- photography. He has traveled to Vietnam, Loas, Thailand, New Zealand, and throughout Europe.
Dee Pha is a proud daughter of Hmong refugees. She began organizing as a student through the Midwest Asian American Students Union where her work revolved around building the racial consciousness of Asian American youth. Dee has also taken an active role as a member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Washington DC chapter to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. Prior to DFA, she worked at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund which is dedicated to supporting AAPI students in higher education.
Dee is an alumna of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where she studied Strategic Communications, History and Asian American Studies. In her free time, she is most likely out and about checking out trendy spots around town or in her room binge watching a show on Netflix.
Jase joined DFA in 2010. Prior to DFA, he took a one-week vacation to Vermont in 2003, rented an apartment, and then returned home to begin packing to relocate here permanently. When he isn't neck-deep in HTML, CSS, MySQL, and other acronyms, he spends his time gardening, mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding, playing bike polo, in-line skating, building stuff, and raising worms.
Jase's academic background is in Conservation Biology, but he's been developing since 1997.
Prior to DFA, Miles ran a one-man web design and development shop building online tools and websites for progressive organizations and candidates including the Courage Campaign, the California Labor Federation, and the Daily Kos.
With a degree in Fine Art, Miles developed one of the first paint systems for a PC, Time Arts Lumena. He went on to become Senior Software Architect at Macromedia for the multimedia authoring system, Director. His earliest gig was as the first programmer for the platform that became America On-Line.
Miles served as president of his local DFA chapter, and has been a member of both his state and county Democratic central committees.
Junior Web Developer
Aaron joined DFA staff after interning with the web development team in 2013. As a human rights activist, Aaron believes in empowering communities through grassroots activism and open source technology.
Previously a mechanic by trade, Aaron's interests include vintage motorcycle restoration and independent radio.
Emma joined DFA in 2011, becoming our fantastically organized Operations Manager. Emma first became active in politics in 2003, when she canvassed for Governor Howard Dean during his presidential campaign.
Emma spent a year in Germany before attending the University of Mary Washington, where she double-majored in Political Science and German, and then received a Master’s Degree at University College London in the U.K.
She enjoys traveling, the changing of the seasons, baking, crazy dance moves, playing with dogs, and (despite her better judgment) reality TV.
Laurie arrived at DFA in June of 2010. Prior to keeping the books for DFA, she had a wide range of experiences from international opportunities to local accounting firms and mid-sized small businesses. In addition to financial reporting and management, she has an income tax background and many years working in employee benefits.
She graduated with a B.A. in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
Veronica joined the DFA team in 2012. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2002 with a degree in Business Administration and went on to earn her CPA license in 2007.
When she’s not immersed in numbers, Veronica enjoys hiking, biking, golfing, and any other outdoor activity.
Governor Howard Dean
Governor Howard Dean founded Democracy for America in 2004 to build on the grassroots momentum that his bid for the presidency sparked. The movement propelled DFA into a successful national organization committed to to Gov. Dean's "50 State Strategy" to rebuild the Democratic Party.
In early 2005, DFA ran a people-powered campaign to elect Governor Dean to chair the Democratic National Committee. Democrats nationwide badly wanted reform and found the answer in Governor Dean. From 2005 – 2009, Governor Dean spearheaded the DNC’s 50 State Strategy to support the base of the Democratic Party, setting Democrats up to take back Congress in 2006 and win the White House in 2008. Upon leaving the DNC in early 2009, Gov. Dean returned to DFA as a senior adviser, until stepping down from that role following the 2016 election. Gov. Dean is no longer involved in the strategic direction of DFA.