Democracy Fund Welcomes New Teammates

February 26, 2018

​Diverse perspectives inform us, passion for impact fuels us, and the power of action together ignites us. As chief people officer of the Democracy Fund, I am inspired by the individuals with whom I work side by side — and even more excited by the alchemy generated by each of our teams.

​We have grown more than 40 percent from just a year ago — and we’re still seeking a few more essential team members. Since last summer, each department has augmented its team carefully — whether deepening our ability to execute on established strategies, adding capacity for new initiatives and projects, or bringing needed expertise in-house. We believe that inclusion of voices of people across multiple and diverse political, racial, ethnic, gender, and other identities is necessary to find achievable solutions to the complex problems facing our democracy. Terrific additions to our passionate and dedicated staff are creating new forces for impact on every team. I’ll start, however, with one important role expansion before discussing build out of our teams.

​Strategy and Program

​Srik Gopal, Vice President of Strategy and Program: Srik, who joined Democracy Fund in 2016, has played a key role in the development of our Strategy, Impact and Learning team. We are thrilled to announce the expansion of his role to Vice President of Strategy and Program, where he will focus on guiding the organization’s overall programmatic portfolio. “As he moves into this new position and begins working more closely with program, Srik remains dedicated to supporting a culture of learning within the organization, and ensuring that our work remains impactful in the field,” said Joe Goldman, President of Democracy Fund.

​Liz Ruedy, Director of Evaluation and Learning: Liz joined the Strategy, Impact, and Learning team from the International Republican Institute — bringing extensive experience in evaluation, a broad-based knowledge of democracy, and fluency in systems thinking and inquiry-based approaches. Liz oversees our ongoing efforts to design and implement evaluations that capture our organization’s impact and provide greater insight into our political and civic systems. “Liz will be instrumental in helping achieve our quest to be a truly adaptive learning organization,” said Srik Gopal, Vice President of Strategy and Program.

​The Governance Team

​Lara Flint, Associate Director for Oversight and Congressional Capacity: As our first Associate Director for Oversight and Congressional Capacity, Lara focuses on checks and balances and the rule of law to strengthen safeguards that ensure our government is transparent and accountable to the public. Most recently chief counsel for national security to then-Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lara brings over 15 years of experience in long-term congressional oversight and the ability to develop and maintain bipartisan coalitions across government, civil society, industry, and other stakeholders. “Lara’s extensive policy expertise, legal know-how, Capitol Hill experience and can-do approach have already brought even more energy, knowledge, strength and depth to our strategy development and grantmaking, and to Democracy Fund as a whole,” said Betsy Wright Hawkings, Program Director of the Governance team.

Nathaniel Turner, Program Associate for Oversight and Congressional Capacity: Nathaniel joins the team as a new Program Associate for Oversight and Congressional capacity. Nathaniel most recently served as a legislative assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he advocated before Congress on issues of surveillance reform and cybersecurity. “With his passion for protecting the rule of law, his valuable nonprofit experience, and his strong organizational skills, Nathaniel has jumped right in – and is already a tremendous asset to our work to strengthen government accountability and transparency, ” said Lara Flint, Associate Director for Oversight and Congressional Capacity.

Sean Raymond, Program Associate for Oversight and Congressional Capacity: Sean, who first joined Democracy Fund as an intern and then played a key role as program assistant, has assisted in building out both the team’s oversight and capacity work, bringing on-the-ground experience in campaigns and on Capitol Hill. “His recent promotion to Program Associate serves as recognition of the superior work he has done for the team, and we are so fortunate to have him supporting the capacity work full time,” said Betsy Wright Hawkings. Sean graduated magna cum laude from George Washington University with a BA in political communication, and American history.

Anne Gleich, Program Assistant: First joining the Democracy Fund as an intern during the summer of 2017, Anne has since integrated seamlessly into the Governance team, and organization as a whole. Anne joins us from Hastings, Minnesota, and is a recent graduate of the College of Saint Benedict, where she received a B.A. in Political Science. “We count on her to take the lead on innovating projects, knowing we can throw any ball at her and she will catch it and run. Anne is the capstone on a great team, and we are truly grateful to have her join us permanently as a Program Assistant,” said Betsy Wright Hawkings.

​The Public Square Team

Nadia Firozvi, Project Manager for the Special Project on Fostering a Just and Inclusive Society: Nadia joins us from the Department of Homeland Security, where she was a Policy Advisor in the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She also has served as Domestic Policy Coordinator at the Arab American Institute, and as a Staff Attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center. “We’re very fortunate to have Nadia directing the Just and Inclusive Society initiative. With her previous background at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, along with her extensive expertise in civil rights law, Nadia brings significant insight to our team, and will be instrumental to the success of our project,” said Tom Glaisyer, Managing Director of the Public Square team.

​Lea Trusty, Program Assistant: As a Program Assistant for the Public Square team, Lea will support our work on Engaged Journalism. Prior to joining Democracy Fund, Lea served as a Newman’s Own Foundation Fellow, where she was placed as a journalist at WSHU Public Radio-an NPR affiliate in Connecticut. Lea graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where she studied politics and Latin America. “Lea brings dedication, enthusiasm, and intellect to her role on the Public Square team. She has already found new opportunities to support our growing network of journalists, grantees, and peer funders, and we are excited to see Lea develop as she explores increased support for women in journalism as a teachable method for audience engagement,” said Paul Waters, Senior Associate on the Public Square team.

​The Elections Team

Trevor Ostbye, Program Associate: Trevor most recently served as National Coordinator at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he worked on Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition. Trevor previously coordinated the creation of a bipartisan coalition around innovative strategies for workforce development at Hope Street Group and has a JD from Wake Forest University. “Adding Trevor to the Elections team has meant improving how we do our work, not just increasing what we can do. He brings keen insight, on-the-ground experience from his time in the voting rights community, and a willingness to dive into the complex ideas and needs of our field. He’s an impressive listener, which makes him a great thought partner. Team members, like myself, are so glad he’s at Democracy Fund,” said Stacey Scholl, Senior Associate on the Elections Team.

​Communications and Network Team

Our Communications and Network Team requires the ability to work collaboratively, flexibly, and creatively with internal and external partners and has added two key people who embody those capabilities.​

Nick Fabiani, Design Associate: Nick is responsible for elevating the Democracy Fund brand and brings digital communications experience from both the philanthropic world as well as political campaigns. He was digital communications manager for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and served as the digital marketing manager for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and other campaigns. “Nick was the Digital Communications Manager at GEO, where he led the brand redevelopment of their website and brand. He brings to Democracy Fund a keen visual eye paired with a rich understanding of the philanthropic world, both of which promise to elevate the work of our grantees, partners, and programs,” said Lauren Strayer, Managing Director of Communications and Network.

​Courtney Hytower, Communications Assistant: As Communications Assistant, Courtney expands the Democracy Fund’s reach and influence, and fosters collaboration among its grantees and with other major leaders in the field. Courtney first joined the Democracy Fund in October 2016 as an intern, following the completion of her undergraduate degree at Syracuse University where she graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Writing & Rhetoric. “Courtney plays an essential role on the Communications and Network Team as a project coordinator and as a thought partner. She has a passion for messaging and best practices that adds to our team’s impact,” said Lauren Strayer.

​Operations and People Team

​On the Operations and People side, the passion and dedication to job excellence and being a team player are exhibited by all of our recent hires.

​Adele Cameron, Operations Assistant: Adele ensures a smooth-functioning office environment and supports Operations. With a degree in political science and international relations from Houghton College, Adele is passionate about learning and our work. “Adele brings over 12 years of extensive administrative experience and passion for people and for making processes better. Her commitment to managing our resources well, and creating a space where people can bring their best selves to the office, makes such a difference in our culture every single day,” said Hugo Castro, Operations Manager.

Sharlene Patel, Accounting and Grants Assistant: Sharlene manages the payables function and the general ledger’s day-to-day activities to ensure accuracy in all our reporting. Additionally, she helps maintain the grants database from a reporting standpoint. Sharlene previously worked extensively in the private and public accounting sectors, and has worked with several non-profits in the DMV area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, with a minor in Finance from St. John’s University. “Sharlene has been a great addition to the Operations team,” said Robin Thompson, Controller, “where her experience managing day-to-day finance activities with a focus on client service is exactly what we needed to round out the Finance function in support of the various teams at Democracy Fund.”

​Lise Woods Fink, Senior Recruiter: Finding fabulous people, as enumerated above, is a special talent. Democracy Fund’s Senior Recruiter, Lise Woods Fink, brings fierce passion for community building along with over 20 years of experience in recruitment, human resource, and other capabilities to Democracy Fund. Prior to recruiting for Democracy Fund throughout 2017, Lise was instrumental in creating and launching First Look Media, where she oversaw talent and community curation, and growing the Omidyar Network, where she focused on executive search, talent management, and organizational design and development. Earlier, she spent six years at Apple as an executive recruiter and as a product development manager, where she spearheaded company-wide human capital initiatives. “As her manager, I count my blessings daily, not only for the talent she has helped to bring through our doors, but also her wisdom, passion for people, and positive energy that have continued to enrich our organizational culture,” said Margaret Yao, Chief People Officer.

​Democracy Fund continues to seek a diversity of expertise, perspective and lived experience to build out our teams — because each member of Democracy Fund’s staff makes a difference as an individual and as part of a collective whole. To learn more about our organization and to see our available positions, visit