About Us

Two Organizations, One Network

If you’re looking for a community of powerful progressive leaders fighting for justice and equity, you’ve come to the right place! With a network of over 1300 and growing across 673 localities and 47 states, we empower and mobilize local electeds championing transformative change. 

We are reshaping what is possible in our localities across the country by:

✔️  Developing and supporting local elected leaders. 

✔️  Organizing local elected officials for collective impact

✔️  Building a new model of collaborative governance

Local Progress

A registered 501(c)4 organization, Local Progress is a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government. We are elected leaders who build power with underrepresented communities and fight to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country.

Local Progress Impact Lab

A registered 501(c)3 organization, the Local Progress Impact Lab brings together local leaders, partners, and experts to build the knowledge, skills, and leadership needed to advance racial and economic justice at the local level.

Our Strategy

Our Strategic Framework – Redefining What is Possible from the Ground Up – outlines four key elements that anchor our strategy as a network – a firmly rooted commitment to racial justice, a belief in the power of collaborative governance to create transformational change, the knowledge that the change that happens in our communities has the potential to change our country, and an understanding that our power and impact is greatest when we are organized. 

Our Network

Founded in 2012, Local Progress has built a powerful network of local leaders — mayors, district attorneys, county commissioners, city councilmembers, and school board members — representing major cities, growing suburbs, and rural communities. As our network grows to reflect the multi-racial democracy we’re fighting for, we’re proud to be a member-led organization. 

Learn more about LP’s organizing and community spaces:

IDENTITY CAUCUSES

Local Progress organizes caucuses for members to do work together within shared identities. Caucuses are a safe space for community building, organizing, and collective healing. We currently have two caucuses: the Black Caucus and the Women’s Caucus

Steering Committees

As a member-driven network, our issue steering committees are leadership bodies that shape and influence our work on key issues - ultimately helping create our collective vision of what it means to govern as a progressive.

STATE CHAPTERS & STATE ORGANIZING

We organize and build the infrastructure in key states to impact policy and governance outcomes at the state level. We currently have fully certified chapters in New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Minnesota and are organizing across Florida

Our Board

Local Progress is overseen by a Board of Directors that guides the strategic direction of the network. Our board consists of local elected officials from localities across the country and organizational members from labor and movement partners. 

Helen Gym

Co-Chair | Philadelphia City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)
Helen Gym is a longtime community organizer and the first Asian American woman elected to Philadelphia’s City Council. Prior to Council, she was a leading voice for immigrant rights, helping establish Philadelphia as a Sanctuary City, and a parent organizer for public schools. Seated in 2016, Helen leads a human rights agenda rooted in housing, education, and racial and economic justice. In her time on Council, she ended a 17-year state takeover of the Philadelphia schools and restored nurses, counselors, music programs and safe drinking water to every public school; established a legal defense fund and mandatory pre-filing diversion for renters facing eviction; and expanded labor rights by establishing a permanent Office of Labor and passing groundbreaking legislation such as advance scheduling and right to return laws. As Chair of the Committee on Children and Youth, she has led an aggressive agenda to reform juvenile justice systems and youth residential facilities, including shutting down three of Pennsylvania’s largest providers due to abuse of children in their care. She is a second-generation Korean American and mom to three children, all current students or graduates of Philadelphia’s public schools.
Co-Chair | Philadelphia City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)

Jillian Johnson

Co-Chair | Durham City Councilmember (she/her)
Jillian Johnson is a Durham City Councilmember, a long-time grassroots organizer and activist, and a mother of two. Elected in 2015, she was the first openly LGBTQ person to serve on the council and was unanimously chosen to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore from 2017-2021. She championed Durham’s first participatory budgeting initiative, is a strong advocate for affordable housing and helped secure the city’s $95 million affordable housing bond, and continues to push forward work to reimagine public safety. Jillian is a co-founder of Durham for All, serves on the board of Southern Vision Alliance and is the North Carolina State Advisor for Movement Voter Project.
Co-Chair | Durham City Councilmember (she/her)

Alexsandra Annello

El Paso City Representative (she/her)
Alexsandra Annello has been a member of the El Paso City Council since 2017. After graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Communication, she worked with artists primarily focusing on border and immigration issues, which inspired her to run for local office. Since being elected, Alexsandra has shown a deep commitment to bringing community voices into the decision-making processes to fight for corporate accountability, workers’ rights, immigrant justice, infrastructure, and much more.
El Paso City Representative (she/her)

Dorcey Applyrs

Albany Chief City Auditor (she/her)
The Hon. Dr. Dorcey Applyrs has built a personal and professional life in the City of Albany devoted to improving the quality of life for residents. Dr. Applyrs currently serves as Albany’s Chief City Auditor. After being appointed to this position January 1, 2020, she was elected to serve in this capacity in the historic 2020 election. Prior to serving as Chief City Auditor, Applyrs served on the Albany Common Council representing the City’s First Ward. She was elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. During her second term, she served as Chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Albany Chief City Auditor (she/her)

Kristerfer Burnett

Baltimore City Councilmember (he/him)
Kristerfer Burnett, a lifelong Baltimorean, represents District 8 on the Baltimore City Council and lives in the Edmondson Village community where he and his wife, Vanessa, are third-generation homeowners. He was educated through both the Baltimore City and County public school systems. He holds degrees from the University of Maryland-College Park and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Kristerfer is a longtime community organizer, a journey that began at a young age as he watched as his grandmother organize her neighbors in an effort to save their neighborhood from the expansion of Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. He has been a community organizer with SEIU 1199, founded Neighbors Without Borders of Greater Southwest Baltimore, and worked to create the Community Roots Leadership Development Academy as well as the Edmondson Village Farmers’ Market. Kristerfer truly believes that the most fulfilling aspects of his life have been giving back to those who need it and empowering the residents of Baltimore to be change makers.
Baltimore City Councilmember (he/him)

Andrew Friedman

Senior Director of Strategy and Co-Founder of The Action Lab (he/him)
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 DefenderService 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 Fundsfor Justice, and the Community Health Leaders Award of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his work at MRNY.
Senior Director of Strategy and Co-Founder of The Action Lab (he/him)

Megan Ellyia Green

St. Louis Alderwoman (she/her)
Megan Ellyia Green was elected to represent the 15th ward of St. Louis in 2014. Since assuming office, Alderwoman Green has become the progressive champion of St. Louis, fighting for a $15 minimum wage, civilian oversight of our police department, reproductive rights for women, and responsible development with community benefits. She has been an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement to address racial disparities that exist within the St. Louis Community, and nation. She also currently sits on the Continuum of Care to end homelessness in the St. Louis Region. After being a surrogate for Bernie Sanders’s Campaign for President, in 2016, Alderwoman Green was elected to represent Missouri as a Member of the Democratic National Committee for the next four years and also sits on the Executive Committee for the Missouri Democratic Party. In such roles, Alderwoman Green ensures that the needs of St Louis are heard at both the State and National levels.
St. Louis Alderwoman (she/her)

Kelly Kent

Culver City Unified School District Governing Board Member (she/her)
In November of 2020, Kelly Kent was elected to her second term on the Culver City Unified School District Governing Board and since joining the board has successfully fought to get strategic arts and equity plans adopted, an environmental sustainability coordinator funded, a commitment to fully inclusive special education instruction Kindergarten through 12th grades, and a coalition formed with the City of Culver City working on supporting Boys and Young Men of Color through My Brother’s Keeper, along with many other equity-focused initiatives. Since she completed her PhD in neuroscience and Postdoctoral work in autism at The University of Southern California, Kelly has been taking her experience and expertise garnered at higher educational institutions and applying them to the real world around her through her organizational and educational consulting company, adaptED Consultants. Dr. Kent also teaches psychotherapy graduate students at Antioch University Los Angeles
Culver City Unified School District Governing Board Member (she/her)

Robin Kniech

Denver City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)
First elected to Denver City Council in 2011, Robin Kniech serves At-Large. The Councilwoman has a record of bold accomplishments that support access to and funding for affordable housing, good paying jobs, sustainability, police accountability and equity. She led passage of a citywide minimum wage that reached $15.87 in 2022 and has delivered raises to 100,000+ workers. By 2030, funding initiatives she spearheaded will have invested approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars into housing and reducing homelessness. Councilwoman Kniech has also strengthened independent police oversight, passed more equitable zoning standards and one of the strongest immigrant protection ordinances in the nation, and been a champion for workers’ rights and protections. Councilwoman Kniech was the first out member of the LGBTQ community to serve on Denver’s Council. She serves on the board of Local Progress and as a trainer for the Progressive Governance Academy. And she’s a proud mama.
Denver City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)

Jerry Maldonado

PolicyLink Vice President of Programs (he/him)
Jerry Maldonado, Vice President of Programs, oversees PolicyLink’s cross program leadership team working to advance racial equity in our democracy, economy, and built environment. With over two decades of experience working at the intersection of civic engagement, research, policy advocacy, and philanthropy, Jerry supports the development of integrated, cross-program strategies that advance the creation of thriving communities and center the voice, vision, and dignity of low-income and BIPOC communities across the country. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Jerry served as the Director of the Ford Foundation’s Cities and States program and played a leadership role in shaping the development of the Foundation’s place conscious and equitable development grantmaking. He received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. An avid traveler and hiker, Jerry and his family call New York’s Hudson Valley and Santurce, Puerto Rico home.
PolicyLink Vice President of Programs (he/him)

Eddy Morales

Gresham City Council President (he/him)
Eddy is the founder and principal at Morales Public Relations, where he cultivates long-term and trusted relationships with industry leaders, elected officials, funders, media sources, and influential decision makers. He has held key positions at the United States Student Association, Center for Community Change, VotoLatino, Crossroad Campaigns, and the Democracy Alliance. He currently serves as Council President for the city of Gresham, Oregon’s fourth largest city; the Treasurer for the Democratic Party of Oregon; and plays a pivotal role as a board member of the Community Catalyst, Midwest Academy, National LGBTQ Task Force, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, Local Progress, Participatory Budgeting Oregon, Oregon Recovers, Battleground Texas, East Country Rising, and the University of Oregon Alumni Association. He studied Planning, Public Policy, and Management and Spanish at the University of Oregon and currently resides in Gresham with his husband Hugh and their rescue dog Besitos.
Gresham City Council President (he/him)

Stephanie Morales

Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney (she/her)
Stephanie Morales was the first woman to be elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in her city in 2015. A month after taking office, she created sustainable programming aimed at reforming the criminal justice system. She has engaged over 150 youth which she calls “Junior Commonwealth’s Attorneys” under her “Future Leaders Initiative” program and has formed the “Social Media by the Statutes” program where her team enters the public schools to keep students on the right track. Under her “Ctrl+Alt+Del Program” she has held dialogue and taught effective re-entry strategies in seminars held in the community and inside state prisons and has helped reduce recidivism by working with formerly incarcerated citizens to restore their voting rights and help them become productive community members. Three months into Morales’ first term an officer in her city killed an unarmed teen. Morales secured an indictment and led the prosecution at jury trial, leading to a voluntary manslaughter conviction of the officer, and resulting in police accountability in her city. She is a fierce advocate for justice and a wife and mother of four children.
Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney (she/her)

Teresa Mosqueda

Seattle City Councilmember (she/her)
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda was elected in November 2017 and reelected in 2021 as a Labor Democrat to serve the over 725,000 residents in Seattle as the citywide Councilmember in Position 8 for a four-year term. Mosqueda’s top priority on City Council is promoting healthy communities, lifting up working families, and creating more affordable housing for all residents through the city. Mosqueda works every day to build an economy that works for all, and has dedicated her career to amplifying the voices of the most vulnerable in our communities. She chairs the Finance and Housing committee – shepherding the entire Council through budgets and was named one of Seattle’s Most Influential People in 2018 for her work on critical legislation in her first year in office, followed up by receiving the same award for being one of Seattle’s Most Influential People in 2021. Teresa was awarded the Local Progress 2019 Ady Barkan Progressive Champion Award. She is also the first first-time candidate in the Nation to win using publicly financed campaign vouchers committed to only taking small dollar contributions and engaging new voters with Democracy Vouchers. Mosqueda is a Board Member of the National League of Cities, appointed to their National Housing Affordability Taskforce, and is on the Human Development Committee.
Seattle City Councilmember (she/her)

Marcelia Nicholson

Milwaukee County Board President (she/her)
Marcelia Nicholson is an award-winning activist, and first Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, representing District 5. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, she works to provide opportunities that were given to her as a young woman growing up in one of the nation’s poorest and most incarcerated zip-codes. She is a proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools and an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to her election, she taught 4th grade at Pierce Elementary School and served in various capacities. Supervisor Nicholson is a champion for working people, public education, economic development, and community empowerment. Her past work as a union activist, community organizer, and educator, helps to inform her policy and community work. She has sponsored over 40 pieces of legislation, including a $15 living wage ordinance, eviction reduction program, an anti-discrimination resolution, and funding for woman of color seeking entrepreneurship.
Milwaukee County Board President (she/her)

Gabriela Santiago-Romero

Detroit City Councilmember (she/her)
Gabriela Santiago-Romero (sher/her) is an immigrant from Mexico and a Southwest Detroit native. She’s the former Policy and Research Director at We The People MI based in Detroit. She earned her master of social work studying Social Policy and Evaluation with a focus on Community and Social Systems from the University of Michigan. She has made history by becoming the first out female LGBTQ Detroit councilmember and the first queer Latina legislator in the state of Michigan. She’s a community activist and organizer who has extensive experience working for Detroit nonprofits and local government. Love and food fuel her work.
Detroit City Councilmember (she/her)

Arti Walker-Peddakotla

Oak Park Board Trustee
Arti Walker-Peddakotla is an Oak Park Village Trustee, Director of Engineering for a non-profit tech company, a first generation Indian American, U.S. Army veteran, community organizer, law student, and microbiologist. Arti advocates for racial justice and reimagining community safety with Freedom to Thrive Oak Park and Vets for the People, a project of the Working Families Party. In addition to co-founding Freedom to Thrive Oak Park, Arti is the co-founder of Activate Oak Park, a PAC with a mission to elect progressive candidates to local office in Oak Park, IL.
Oak Park Board Trustee

Becky Wasserman

SEIU (she/her)
Becky Wasserman is the Deputy Director of Government Relations at SEIU, the nation’s fastest-growing union, representing 2 million workers in healthcare, public and property services. Becky has been designing advocacy strategy and developing grassroots campaigns for over a dozen years. Formerly, she was Director of Campaigns and Organizing for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), launching a new organizing department at this $50+ million human rights non-profit. Before joining AJWS, Becky was the Deputy Director of Government Affairs at J Street working on Middle East peace, she coordinated a multi-year campaign for national labor law reform as Government Relations Manager at American Rights at Work (ARAW) and was President of the United States Student Association (USSA). Becky has been trained by the Rockwood Leadership program, Wellstone Action and the Midwest Academy. Originally from Swampscott, MA, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, Becky lives in Silver Spring, MD.
SEIU (she/her)

Our Staff

Our work is powered by a high-functioning team of staff who bring Local Progress members, partners, and allies together to shape and advance a bold collective shared vision. 

Joshua Acevedo

Campaigns Organizer, School Boards (he/him)
Josh is the Campaigns Organizer for school boards. In this role, he fosters relationships with school board members across the country to build a policy agenda. He supports school board members by providing resources and leadership development programming that brings members into collective action with each other in efforts to win transformational local policy for strong and equitable public schools. Since 2019, Josh has served on the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) Board of Trustees in El Paso, Texas. Prior to joining Local Progress, he managed two separate higher education programs – an internship program for university students and a backbone organization for mental health and emotional well-being in a binational region. Josh has taught policy and government classes for undergraduate and graduate students. He has also staffed a county official, worked on various local government campaigns, and interned on Capitol Hill. Josh was born, raised, and resides in El Paso, Texas. He is a four-time graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso, where he has earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, a Master of Arts in Political Science, a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Management, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration. Josh’s dissertation was a case study of school closures that occurred at EPISD in 2019. The study found inequities at EPISD schools and exposed forms of interconnected oppression that families experienced related to their race/ethnicity, class, culture, immigration status, socioeconomic status, language, environment, and gender.
Campaigns Organizer, School Boards (he/him)

Melissa Carrera

New York Downstate Coordinator (she/ella)
Melissa Carrera is the New York Downstate Coordinator. In this position, she drives Local Progress’ work in New York City and Long Island – including growing and strengthening our members and leadership, cultivating relationships and buy-in from key organizational and labor partners, identifying and implementing NYC and Long Island specific campaigns. Melissa will also support the statewide work of the New York State Chapter along with contributing to the Local Progress network. Prior to joining the Local Progress team, Melissa worked for the Center for Popular Democracy, focusing on building relationships and increasing engagement with organizational affiliates across the country. Melissa also worked at Churches United For Fair Housing (CUFFH) serving as the Special Projects Coordinator, building their network of churches fighting for affordable housing in New York City. Melissa is a Bushwick, Brooklyn native who serves on her community board. She is an active member fighting for affordable housing and a more livable city.
New York Downstate Coordinator (she/ella)

Silvia Fabela

Program Director (she/her)
Silvia is the Program Director for Local Progress. She oversees the organization’s overall program agenda and is primarily responsible for conceiving of and designing member engagement strategy and plan that includes member education, federal advocacy, and identifying new opportunities for member engagement/collective action in collaboration with LP members/team, cross-CPD campaigns teams, and policy partners. Silvia joined the Local Progress team after leading the AFL-CIO’s young worker program, NextUp. Prior to that, 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. In addition to her community and labor organizing background, she has also done electoral work on multiple presidential and congressional races. Silvia graduated from Monmouth College in Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in Spanish. She lives in Washington, DC where she takes advantage of the free museums and tries diligently to keep her fish and plants alive with mixed success.
Program Director (she/her)

LiJia Gong

Policy and Legal Director (she/they)
LiJia is the Policy and Legal Director at Local Progress. She leads the development of Local Progress’ policy and research capacity to support members and drives the development and growth of national program areas. LiJia is an attorney with over a decade of experience in policy, litigation, and political strategy. Prior to joining Local Progress, she served as Counsel at Public Rights Project, an organization that empowers local and state governments to advance civil rights, worker and consumer rights, and environmental justice. At Public Rights Project, she launched a partnership with Local Solutions Support Center to fight abusive state preemption of local policymaking. LiJia has worked on the 2018 campaign to re-elect Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and served as a law clerk for Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Prior to becoming a lawyer, LiJia worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. LiJia earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University. She immigrated to the United States from China at age 5, grew up in Maryland, and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband (Andrew) and cat (Wilma).
Policy and Legal Director (she/they)

Reynold Graham

Campaigns Organizer (he/him)
As Campaigns Organizer, Reynold develops strategies and programs to transform public safety in deep collaboration with Local Progress members. Previously, Reynold served in various roles within New York City government. He co-managed the nation’s largest municipal-run free tax preparation program, creating communications tools to help 70,000 New Yorkers claim valuable tax credits and COVID stimulus checks. In addition, Reynold developed strategies to direct public money to the city’s cooperative economy in an effort to narrow the racial wealth gap, implemented state and federal workforce policy and programs, and coordinated supply delivery at emergency shelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Reynold has also supported efforts to create the equitable implementation of water infrastructure in California and to oppose oil and gas projects on indigenous land in Texas. Reynold grew up in New Jersey on the land of the Lenni Lenape people. He now lives in Washington, D.C. with his partner.
Campaigns Organizer (he/him)

Iimay Ho

Director of Organizational Development (they/them)
As the Director of Organizational Development, Iimay leads the work to build Local Progress’ organizational infrastructure, administration, and operations. In their last role, Iimay was the Executive Director of Resource Generation for over four years, and established systems to help the organization scale as it transitioned from being a fiscally sponsored project to an independent 501(c)3, doubled its staff, and tripled its budget. Iimay also led the launch of Resource Generation’s 501(c)4 sibling organizing, RG Action, in 2020. Iimay is dedicated to organizing across class for racial and economic justice. They have been organizing at the intersection of LGBTQ, racial justice, and youth movements for over 10 years, starting with their first political home at Southerners on New Ground. Iimay graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Sociology.
Director of Organizational Development (they/them)

Nate Horrell

Policy & Research Analyst (he/him)
Nate is the Policy & Research Analyst at Local Progress. He develops policy resources and provides research support for members on a broad array of issues, including climate justice, reimagining public safety, economic justice, immigrant rights and advancing housing justice for all. Before joining Local Progress, Nate worked for a decade in the labor movement as a researcher and campaign strategist with hotel, food service and health care workers at UNITE HERE, National Union of Healthcare Workers, and Health Professionals and Allied Employees, AFT/AFL-CIO. Nate’s research supported organizing, bargaining and policy campaigns at tech campus cafeterias, hotels, airports and hospitals across the country, fighting for a union, affordable healthcare, affordable housing, transportation access, community benefits, Covid-19 workplace safety, mental health parity and more. Nate graduated from Cornell University’s school of Industrial and Labor Relations and resides in the Bay Area with his family.
Policy & Research Analyst (he/him)

Sarah Johnson

Executive Director (she/her)
Sarah is the Executive Director of Local Progress. Prior to joining Local Progress, Sarah served as the Managing Director at the Working Families Organization where she helped develop a senior management team to guide organizational strategy and as the Elections Director for the New York Working Families Party where she helped recruit, train and elect progressive elected officials at all levels of government and contributed to doubling the size of the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council. Sarah got her start as a political organizer for SEIU 32BJ where she managed member-to-member political programs and supported the union’s equitable development advocacy work including the passage of the a prevailing wage bill for New York City building service workers. Sarah is a graduate of Williams College and Pratt Institute, where she received a Masters in Urban Planning.
Executive Director (she/her)

Jessy Lancaster

Membership Data Manager (they/them)
Jessy is the Membership Data Manager at Local Progress and is part of the Organizing Team. They are responsible for data collection and analysis, creating reports, communicating data in accessible ways to inform strategic decision making, and supporting Local Progress to build a data driven approach to our organizing, programmatic, and fundraising work. They also engage with members and partners in coordination with relevant team members to increase engagement. Prior to joining Local Progress, Jessy spent thirteen years in the labor movement working as an organizer, data manager, and product owner for academic and hospitality workers at UAW 2865 and UNITE HERE. Jessy’s data and product work supported union organizers and leadership on campaigns across the US and Canada. They graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with an M.S. in Cognitive Psychology, and they reside in Chicago with their partner and two cats.
Membership Data Manager (they/them)

Ivan Luevanos-Elms

Organizing Director (he/el)
As Organizing Director, Ivan works closely with our state and regional coordinators to help build our organizing, membership, and chapter models. Ivan also works with Local Progress partners and allies to advance new organizing projects and partnerships. In addition, Ivan is part of the Executive Committee of the Progressive Governance Academy, a joint project of Local Progress, State Innovation Exchange and re:power to build and develop the leadership and governance skills of progressive state and local elected officials across the country. Prior to joining LP, 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 on numerous initiatives including the creation of IDNYC, NYC’s municipal ID card, as well as expanding the Participatory Budgeting Process. He previously worked at Make the Road NY 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. Ivan graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish and from New York University with a M.A. in Politics.
Organizing Director (he/el)

Francesca Menes

Deputy Organizing Director (she/her)
Francesca Menes is the Deputy Organizing Director for Local Progress. She supports building and organizing a membership and collaborative space in Florida alongside Local Progress members and allied organizations towards policy solutions. Francesca is also working to advance the development of our network caucuses, supporting the expansion of the Progressive Governance Academy and organizing with network members, national partners and allied organizations to protect local democracy from ever-growing threat of state interference and preemption. Prior to joining Local Progress, for over a decade, Francesca led the development and implementation of strategic legislative, policy, and voter engagement campaigns locally and statewide. Her work led to the passage of resolutions and ordinances in several counties throughout Florida as well as passage of laws in Tallahassee to benefit immigrants, New Americans, youth, and communities of color. Francesca is also the former Treasurer for the Florida Democratic Party, former State Committeewoman for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. She currently serves on board of the Miami-Dade County N.W. 79th Street Corridor Community Redevelopment Agency and The Black Collective. Francesca graduated from Florida International University, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Women’s Studies with a minor in Philosophy, a certificate in National Security Studies, and her Master’s in Public Administration with a certificate in Community Development. Francesca is a first generation Haitian-Dominican-American and was raised in Miami’s Little Haiti community.
Deputy Organizing Director (she/her)

Deandrea Newsome

North Carolina State Coordinator (she/her)
Deandrea Newsome is the North Carolina State Coordinator. Deandrea is responsible for driving all of Local Progress’s work in NC including: growing and strengthening our membership and leadership, creating and implementing an organizing strategy, identifying and implementing NC specific campaigns and supporting the work of NC members to participate in LP’s broader work. She works closely with partner organizations throughout the Tarheel State to support and collaborate with our local elected officials. Prior to joining LP, she served as the Organizing Director of Advance Carolina, where she managed political and community campaigns in majority black counties across the state. She has worked in the North Carolina General Assembly and organized for the North Carolina Democratic Party and Common Cause. In the Durham community she spearheaded an initiative she co-founded called 2020 StartsNow and registered students on the campus of North Carolina Central University in 2018. Deandrea graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a B.A. in Political Science and minor in Philosophy and will be receiving her Master’s of Public Policy from Duke University in May 2020.
North Carolina State Coordinator (she/her)

Jonathan Peebles

Development Manager (he/him)
As the Development Manager, Jonathan is focused on building and maintaining Local Progress’ fundraising systems and strategies. For the last three years, he worked as the Development & Operations Director of the Latin American Coalition, a regional nonprofit serving the Latino and immigrant community. In that role, he amplified fundraising strategy which led to the organization’s best fundraising year in its thirty-year history. Additionally, he modernized program processes, implemented new data collection systems, and implemented new organizational operating procedures. Jonathan graduated from Old Dominion University and received his Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He currently resides in Charlotte, where he serves on community boards and actively fights for economic and racial justice.
Development Manager (he/him)

D’Ana Pennington

Program Manager (she/her)
D’Ana is the Housing Program Manager. In this role, she advances long-term solutions to our nation’s housing crisis by developing and executing Local Progress’ organizational strategies, including direct member support and collective action coordination. Prior to joining Local Progress, D’Ana served as Senior Policy Aide to the Minneapolis City Council President, where she advanced policies and programs like Inclusionary Zoning, Rent Stabilization and Right to Counsel to generate and preserve affordable housing, protect renters, and prevent evictions. As Senior Policy Aide, she also advised and worked on a range of local issues including public safety, emergency response, transportation and public health. D’Ana has a public health background, with experience in research, evaluation and program administration at the Minneapolis Health Department and as a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. D’Ana graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History and lives in Los Angeles.
Program Manager (she/her)

Jillia Pessenda

Minnesota State Coordinator (she/her)
Jillia is the the Minnesota State Coordinator. In this position, she drives Local Progress’ work in Minnesota — helping to grow and strengthen Local Progress’ membership and leadership, cultivate relationships and build coalitions with organizational and labor partners, create and implement an organizing strategy alongside members, and implement Minnesota campaigns rooted in racial and economic justice. Prior to joining Local Progress, Jillia was the Senior Political Director at Women Winning where she led a statewide Political and Training Program to recruit, train and elect pro-choice women to all levels of office who support reproductive health and access. She has also worked to pass state and local policy, including on the legislative campaign to pass marriage equality in Minnesota and the Safe & Supportive Schools Act. She served as Finance Director for Ilhan Omar’s historic 2016 campaign and senior advisor to her 2018 Congressional Campaign. Jillia graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis with her partner Monica and their husky mutt Luna.
Minnesota State Coordinator (she/her)

Rebecca Poutasse

Communications Manager (she/her)
As the Communications Manager for Local Progress, Rebecca develops and executes media and digital strategies to amplify Local Progress members and local policy wins, advance federal advocacy, and build the communications capacity of Local Progress members. She also leads on strengthening Local Progress’ media relations infrastructure. Prior to joining Local Progress, Rebecca worked in media relations at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and policy institute focused on strengthening anti-poverty programs. There, she helped plan and execute media strategies to promote research and analysis in federal fiscal policy, state fiscal policy, and food assistance policy. Rebecca also worked closely with the Center’s internship program, serving as both a coordinator for the program and mentor to the communications interns. Rebecca graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Multimedia Journalism and minors in Leadership and Social Change, Professional and Technical Writing, and Global Engagement. She grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and currently lives across the river in Washington D.C.
Communications Manager (she/her)

Chad Radock

New York Chapter Manager (he/him)
Chad is the NY Chapter Manager, the first state chapter in the Local Progress network. He works closely with partner organizations throughout New York State to bring progressive policy solutions to our local elected officials. For the past two years, Chad has worked closely with members and partners to take collective action. Throughout his time with Local Progress, Chad has helped to lead Local Progress NY’s participation in coalitions that have protected renters, modernized election laws, and secured driver’s licenses for all New York residents. Chad also coordinates the sharing of best practices and legislation among chapter members, builds network programming, and organizes our annual New York state convening. A former elected official himself, Chad worked as a high school teacher, as a member of numerous local, state, and federal electoral campaigns, and he has worked as an organizer within the progressive movement in New York State for over a decade.
New York Chapter Manager (he/him)

Aparna Raj

Communications Manager (she/her)
As the Communications Manager for Local Progress, Aparna develops and executes media and digital strategy to amplify Local Progress members and local policy wins, advance federal advocacy, and build the communications capacity of Local Progress members. Prior to joining Local Progress, Aparna worked at DC Greens, a local food justice nonprofit, where she built their communications department. There, she developed and maintained the organization’s media and digital strategy, collaborated with other grassroots organizations on advocacy communications, and structured the communications program to center racial equity and people impacted by food insecurity. Aparna has also worked as a political researcher and as a consultant for pro bono nonprofit clients. Aparna grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania and went to school at Vanderbilt University, where she studied Political Science and Economics. She lives in Washington D.C. with her dog Frank and is a community organizer around tenants rights and labor issues.
Communications Manager (she/her)

Vishal Reddy

Legal Fellow (he/him)
Vishal is with Local Progress as a Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow. He will support the growth of policy and legal education and resources for members on a broad array of issues. Prior to joining Local Progress, Vishal was in law school. As a law student, Vishal worked and interned at TakeRoot Justice’s Workers’ Rights Program, Center for Popular Democracy, Legal Aid Queen’s Housing Practice, ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and Detroit Justice Center. He also took a leave of absence from law school in 2020, first working for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and later for People’s Action to elect down-ballot progressives and defeat Trump. Before law school, he worked in Cleveland at Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless organizing hand-in-hand with folks experiencing homelessness. These experiences have strengthened his fierce commitment to being a movement lawyer who helps mass social movements build our world. Vishal was born in Canada, grew up in Cleveland, and currently lives in Seattle. He is an anthropology graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and he received his J.D. from NYU School of Law in 2022.
Legal Fellow (he/him)

Elizabeth Roberts

Operations Manager (they/them)
Elizabeth is the Operations Manager. In this position, they are responsible for supporting and implementing a wide range of administration, operations, and events efforts at Local Progress. Based in DC, Elizabeth was most recently the operations manager at a rapidly growing public affairs and communications firm where they brought their passion for systems and processes to supporting business development, compliance, and more. Prior to that, they worked in fundraising and database management at the LGBTQ Victory Fund & Institute.
Operations Manager (they/them)

Ari Schwartz

Associate Program Director (he/him)
As the Associate Program Director for Local Progress, Ari develops campaigns and strategies in which Local Progress members take collective action together across localities on a wide range of issues including economic justice, immigrant rights, policing and public safety, and affordable housing. 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 campaigns to win fair workweek protections for service workers, to strengthen D.C.’s minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, to pass wage theft and student loan fraud oversight laws, and to help workers recover tens of thousands of dollars in stolen wages. Ari grew up in Maryland, graduated from Vanderbilt University, and lives in Washington, D.C.
Associate Program Director (he/him)

Kara Sheehan

Texas Chapter Manager (she/her)
Kara serves as the Texas State Coordinator with responsibilities including growing and strengthening our members and leaders, cultivating relationships with organizational and labor partners, creating and implementing strategy across the state, and implementing Texas-specific campaigns. Kara supports Local Progress’ overall work in Texas, helping to move our members and community partners to build out and implement our longterm vision. Prior to joining the Local Progress team, Kara worked for the North Texas Jobs With Justice chapter, focusing on building community and labor coalitions and implementing campaigns that made broader demands in the workplace and in other areas, such as housing. Kara has years of experience in the Texas labor movement working for the Texas AFL-CIO and Workers Defense Project. She continues to help in building a cadre of young workers and union members across the state. Kara grew up in Missouri and received her undergraduate degree from Saint Louis University. She has lived in Texas since 2013.
Texas Chapter Manager (she/her)

Trisa Taro

Communications Director (she/her)
As the Communications Director for Local Progress, Trisa leads our network’s media relations and digital strategy. She works closely with members and movement allies to elevate legislative wins and models of co-governance, helping to build public will needed to advance our work. Prior to joining Local Progress, she was part of the Center for Popular Democracy’s Public Affairs and Strategic Communications team, helping to build CPD’s thought leadership and amplify the voices of affiliates across the country. She came to progressive movement work from the global health sector, where she supported advocacy for universal HIV treatment access. Trisa graduated from the University of California, San Diego, and received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Southern California. A proud second-generation immigrant, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently resides in Brooklyn.
Communications Director (she/her)

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