Local Progress is a project of the Center for Popular Democracy, a high-impact national organization that builds organizing power to transform the local and state policy landscape through deep, long-term partnerships with leading community-based organizing groups, innovative and insightful research, and strategic partnerships. In addition to the staff listed below, an array of staff at the Center for Popular Democracy provide policy, communications, research, recruitment, campaign, and other operational support. The Center for Popular Democracy is responsible for day-to-day operations, policy coordination, and membership engagement. For more information about our 501 c(4) partner, Local Progress Action please visit www.localprogressaction.org.
Local Progress Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Sarah is director of Local Progress. Prior to joining CPD, Sarah served as the Managing Director at Working Families where she also ran an electoral and candidate recruitment program that doubled the size of the New York City Progressive Caucus. Sarah got her start as a political organizer for SEIU 32BJ. Sarah is a graduate of Williams College and Pratt Institute, where she received a Masters in Urban Planning.
Local Progress Policy and Program Manager, Center for Popular Democracy
Tarsi is the policy and program manager for the network. Prior to joining Local Progress and CPD, Tarsi served as Program and Operations Manager at the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of national education associations committed to strengthening public education for all students and previously worked at the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network. Tarsi received a BA in Political Science from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Executive Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.
Local Progress Southern Regional Coordinator, Center for Popular Democracy
Danielle Adams comes to CPD from the Institute for Southern Studies, a public interest media, research and education center aimed at drawing attention to the national importance of the South. She is also a current local elected official serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in Durham, North Carolina. She received the Outstanding District Supervisor of the Year award from the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in 2012 and in 2014 was selected as a fellow to the Young Climate Leaders Network.
Currently she serves as an ambassador to Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet program, and is a member of the Young Elected Officials Network. She received her BA in political science with a minor in music from North Carolina Central University and studied Environmental Politics and Policy Analysis at Appalachian State University.
Local Progress New York State Coordinator, Center for Popular Democracy
Chad organizes Local Progress New York. He will be working closely with partner organizations throughout the Empire State to bring progressive policy solutions to our local elected progressives. Chad comes to us from the Alliance for Quality Education where he served as Statewide Campaign Coordinator, working with small cities and poor rural areas to ensure adequate school funding regardless of zip code.
Local Progress Campaigns Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Silvia is the Campaigns Director on Local Progress, a network of elected officials from across the country who are dedicated to passing progressive legislation at the municipal level. She coordinates strategic multi-city campaigns on immigrant rights, civil rights, economic justice and democracy and voting.
Silvia joined the Local Progress team after leading the AFL-CIO’s young worker program, NextUp. In that role, Silvia designed and implemented a strategic and measurable plan for NextUp, which engaged young workers on issues such as securing a stable future through good jobs, racial and gender justice, access to affordable and quality higher education.
Prior to the AFL-CIO, Silvia was senior staff on the OUR Walmart campaign at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union for eight years where she led an alliance of Walmart associates, union members and community partners in changing Walmart around solidarity actions, including Black Friday strikes. Two of her proudest accomplishments in that work included Walmart changing its pregnancy policy for women and winning 1.3 million working people a $2 raise in response to the campaign. Silvia graduated from Monmouth College in Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in Spanish.
Communications Manager, Center for Popular Democracy
As Communications Manager, Asya helps shape CPD’s vision for a more inclusive and sustainable democracy. She previously spent several years at a national political consulting firm, acted as a spokesperson for a leading elected official in Massachusetts, and closely analyzed the intersection of labor and budget policy as a researcher at a New York-based think tank. Asya holds a BA with Honors from Bowdoin College. An immigrant from the former Soviet Union, she is currently a proud resident of Brooklyn.
Local Progress Campaign Organizer, Center for Popular Democracy
Ari is the Campaign Organizer on Local Progress. He works to deepen the engagement and leadership of Local Progress members in specific campaigns related to immigrant rights, civil rights, economic justice, and democracy and voting.
Before joining Local Progress, Ari was lead organizer at DC Jobs With Justice, where he steered a community-labor coalition and led strategic campaigns. In that role, Ari developed and coordinated the “DC Just Hours” campaign to win full-time work opportunities and stable schedules in service sector industries. In 2013, he co-coordinated the final coalition push that won both a raise to D.C.’s minimum wage and an expansion of paid sick leave. At DC Jobs With Justice, Ari also led efforts to pass D.C.’s strong oversight laws to combat wage theft and student loan fraud, as well as helped workers recover tens of thousands of dollars in stolen wages. An experienced trainer, Ari has led English-language-learning workshops, “Know Your Rights” outreach programs, union organizing training, and student debt clinics.
Ari graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and lives in Washington, D.C.
Local Progress Florida State Coordinator, Center for Popular Democracy
Francesca Menes is the Florida State Coordinator for Local Progress. Prior to joining CPD, Francesca served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and Political Director for FLIC Votes, where she led the development and implementation of strategic legislative, policy and voter engagement campaigns locally and statewide. She co-coordinated the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, which led the passage of ordinances in several counties throughout the state. In 2014, she successfully led the statewide campaign “We Are Florida’s Future” to pass in-state tuition for undocumented students and led the campaign to establish the Office of New Americans of Miami-Dade County, establishing a public-private partnership to promote naturalization. In early 2017, she led the passage of several Welcoming Cities and School District resolutions.
She is a co-founder of the Black Immigration Network, serves on the Miami-Dade County Community Action Agency Executive Board appointed by past-Chairman Jean Monestime and serves on several organizational boards. Most recently, she was elected the youngest Treasurer of the Florida Democratic Party.
Francesca graduated from Florida International University, earning her BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies and her Master’s in Public Administration, with a certificate in Community Development. She was born and raised in Miami’s Little Haiti community.
Local Progress Texas State Coordinator, Center for Popular Democracy
Mercedes comes to us from Paul Quinn College, a historically Black college in Dallas, as the former Special Assistant to the President. Under her management, she assisted in launching the African American Leadership Institute, a Dallas-based think tank housed at Paul Quinn, for the study and advancement of public policy, economic development, civic engagement, and leadership development as it relates to the African American community and Black elected officials throughout the state of Texas. She previously worked for Young People For (YP4), a program of People for the American Way Foundation, in Washington, DC. While there, she developed critically conscious curriculum for strategic youth leadership development training and oversaw their national civic engagement and voter mobilization campaigns with many of her of projects in North Carolina to combat voter suppression.
She has worked with several youth leadership organizations across the country, such as the NAACP and BYP100, and is an experienced and respected voice on political strategy, racial justice advocacy, effective progressive leadership training, grassroots organizing, and public policy. Her life’s work builds at the intersections of electoral politics and social justice developing socially conscious leaders in marginalized communities to combat inequities with a global lens.
She was the former chairwoman of the National Youth Work Committee of the NAACP, former Youth Board Member on the National Board of Trustees for the NAACP, and has also served as the Dallas NAACP Youth Advisor. Mercedes received her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and her BA in Political Science from the University of North Texas. She lives in Dallas Texas.
Organizing Director, Local Progress
As Organizing Director, Ivan will be working closely with our state & regional coordinators to help build our organizing, membership and chapter models. In addition, he will be working to advance new state and regional organizing projects with CPD partners and allies.
Prior to joining CPD, Ivan served as Director of the Community Engagement Division of the New York City Council. In his 4 years at the Council, Ivan directly worked in the development of IDNYC, which give all New Yorkers access to a municipal ID card, expansion of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, creation of the Unaccompanied Minors Initiative and expanding New York City Council’s Participatory Budgeting Process to all five boroughs.
Prior to the New York City Council, Ivan worked at Make the Road New York as their LGBTQ Justice Organizer, working at the intersections of immigrant and LGBTQ Rights. In between, he’s run and worked on electoral campaigns at the Working Families Party, including managing Carlos Menchaca’s City Council race in 2013, which successfully unseated a multi-term incumbent.
Ivan graduated from Loyola Marymount University with B.A. in Political Science and Spanish, and from New York University with M.A. in Politics
Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Andrew came to CPD after 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically-run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including the organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance departments.
Andrew has worked with the Latino Workers’ Center, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Center for Urban Community Services, the Government Benefits Unit at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and MFY Legal Services Mental Health Law Project. Andrew has been awarded the Union Square Award of the Fund for the City of New York, the Cornerstone Award of the Jewish Funds for Justice, and the Community Health Leaders Award of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his work at MRNY. Andrew was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow, a Senior Fellow at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He has worked as an adjunct professor in New York University School of Law’s Clinical Program, NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service and the New School for Social Research, and serves on the Board of Directors of Make the Road New York, and the Make the Road Action Fund. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.
Strategic Advisor, Local Progress, Center for Popular Democracy
Ady helped launch Local Progress and served as co-director until February 2018. He is currently the co-director of Fed Up, an initiative also housed at CPD. Before joining CPD, Ady was a law clerk to the Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York. Prior to that he was a Liman Fellow with Make the Road New York, where he represented low-wage workers seeking to recover unpaid wages, engage in collective action, and obtain safe and dignified working conditions. He helped design and draft policy proposals to enhance the quality of low-wage jobs in New York City including the right to paid sick days, regulation of major retailers, and unionization of the car wash industry. He graduated from Yale Law School and Columbia College, cum laude.