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 more than 1400 and growing across 673 localities and 48 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

Local Progress Policy Action d/b/a Local Progress is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(4) organization, which 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

Local Progress Policy Institute d/b/a Local Progress Impact Lab is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization, which 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. 

Kristerfer Burnett

Co-Chair | 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.
Co-Chair | Baltimore City Councilmember (he/him)

Marcelia Nicholson

Co-Chair | Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman (she/her)
Marcelia Nicholson is an award-winning activist, and the first Black woman and Latina elected as Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Prior to her election as Board Chair, she served as 1st Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Economic & Community Development and Intergovernmental Relations committees. She sits on the board of directors of several community and national organizations, including Local Progress, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Chairwoman Nicholson works to make opportunities that were given to her as a young woman growing up in 53206—one of the nation’s poorest and most incarcerated ZIP codes—available to others. Chairwoman 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 informs her policy and community work. She has authored and sponsored several significant pieces of legislation, including a $15 living wage ordinance, an eviction reduction program, a resolution establishing Juneteenth Day as a major holiday, and a declaration of racism as a public health crisis (Milwaukee County was the first county or municipality in the United States to do so). She has also secured funding for County parks, advocated on behalf of women of color seeking entrepreneurship, and fought for criminal justice reform. Chairwoman Nicholson is a proud product of Milwaukee Public Schools and is an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to her first election to the Board of Supervisors in 2016, she taught 4th grade at Milwaukee Public Schools. As a member of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA), she worked to organize MTEA members and community groups for better teaching and classroom conditions. She earned recognition for her activism and dedication to Social Justice Unionism with a feature profile and cover story in the Fall 2016 edition of the National Education Association magazine. Chairwoman Nicholson is also the Director of Civic Engagement and Independent Political Power at the Center for Popular Democracy. In her spare time, Marcelia serves as a national trainer for the Progressive Governance Academy, where she trains progressive elected officials across the country on various skills, including transitioning to public leadership and setting an agenda. She also has a passion for baking and owns her own business baking cookies, cakes, and sweets.
Co-Chair | Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman (she/her)

Alexsandra Annello

Former 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.
Former 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)

Kendra Brooks

Philadelphia City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)
Kendra Brooks is a Councilmember At-Large from North Philadelphia and the first Working Families Party member ever elected to City Council. She has a background in organizing for social movements, public school advocacy, gun violence prevention, and restorative justice, all of which inform her priorities as an elected official. Some of her recent accomplishments include championing eviction prevention and reforming the rental application and screening process; guaranteeing emergency paid sick time to frontline workers; expanding protections for survivors of domestic violence; and protecting neighborhood-led community gardens.
Philadelphia City Councilmember At-Large (she/her)

Ashley Dwire

Director of State & Local Programs, SEIU (she/her)
Ashley Dwire is the Director of State & Local Programs at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) where she works with SEIU locals and state councils to drive progressive issue campaigns at the state and local level that empower workers and improve the quality of life for their communities. After spending nearly a decade in the labor movement in Tennessee working with the Tennessee Labor Management Center and TN AFL-CIO Labor Council, Ashley knows the importance of workers having a voice not just at their jobs but also in their communities. Ashley has also worked to lift up the voices of low income workers through supporting progressive candidates on both the state and local level in her home state of Tennessee as well as across the country- seeing the importance of having electeds who mirror the values of their communities. In addition to serving on the Local Progress Board Ashley serves on the National Conference of State Legislators Foundation Board of Directors and works closely with SiX to support state/local electeds in their efforts to expand the right to organize and collectively bargain through traditional and new forms. Outside of work Ashley enjoys spending time with her partner, Michael and their 11 year old husky, Lily camping, hiking and taking in DC city life as well as splitting time with family in Tennessee and Vermont.
Director of State & Local Programs, SEIU (she/her)

Andrew Friedman

Senior Director of Strategy and Co-Founder, The Action Lab (he/him)
Andrew Friedman is Senior Director of Strategy and co-founder of The Action Lab. He is also the Director of the Initiative for Community Power at NYU School of Law. He founded the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), the largest federated network of community organizing groups in the United States, in 2012 and co-lead the organization for 10 years. Andrew previously co-founded and spent 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Andrew helped found Local Progress, and has taught at the NYU School of Law, Cardozo School of Law, the New School for Social Research and Columbia Law School. He is on the Board of Directors of Make the Road Action, Hester Street, the Action Lab and Local Progress, as well as the Editorial Advisory Board of The Forge. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law. Most importantly, Andrew is the overjoyed and proud father of three beautiful boys.
Senior Director of Strategy and Co-Founder, The Action Lab (he/him)

Megan Ellyia Green

President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen (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.
President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen (she/her)

Jillian Johnson

Southern Regional Director, Movement Voter Project (she/her)
Jillian Johnson is a former 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.
Southern Regional Director, Movement Voter Project (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)
headshot of shane larson

Shane Larson

Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy, Communications Workers of America (he/him)
Shane Larson is the Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy at the 500,000 member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA). Prior to serving in this role, Shane was Legislative Director (2010 – 2019) and Legislative-Political Director (2019) for CWA. Shane, a native of South Dakota, attended Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, earning a BSFS in International Politics. Shane began his professional career working for Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) in Washington, D.C. and South Dakota serving as Deputy Press Secretary in his Senate office and Communications Director on his 1998 re-election campaign. In 1999, Shane was hired by the Association of Flight Attendants as the Senior Government Affairs Representative, eventually becoming Director of Government Affairs. During his decade at AFA-CWA he developed membership training programs that resulted in a meaningful increase in the number of legislative and political activists. He was responsible for a number of important legislative victories including the decade’s long goal of flight attendant certification, legal seniority protections for airline employees in an airline merger and correcting the FMLA to guarantee full time airline employees qualify for coverage. As Legislative Director of CWA he helped lead efforts to reform the Senate rules and opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He served as Co-President of the National Executive Board of Pride at Work, the LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO for 5 years. He currently serves as President of the Congressional Progressive Congress Action Fund Board.
Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy, Communications Workers of America (he/him)

Jerry Maldonado

Vice President of Programs, PolicyLink (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.
Vice President of Programs, PolicyLink (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

King County 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.
King County Councilmember (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)

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. 

Tannya Benavides

Texas Chapter Manager (she/her)
Tannya Benavides is a first-generation Mexican American and the daughter of working class immigrants. A product of South Texas public schools, Tannya earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas State University with minors in English and History. Tannya also holds a Masters in Education with a concentration in Education Policy from Johns Hopkins University. In Spring 2020, Tannya moved back home to Laredo, where she joined the No Border Wall Coalition to help in the fight and defeat the U.S./Mexico border wall. Their efforts culminated with the cancellation of federal contracts worth over $1 billion and 71 miles of wall in October 2021. Tannya previously co-founded and led the grassroots coalition Organizing For Equity NY. As a classroom teacher and lead organizer in New York, Tannya helped attain policy wins at the NYC Department of Education including an expansion of the universal 3K program. She also worked to drop the length of out-of-school suspensions from 180 school days down to 20 days, and advocated for the addition of community schools to high-need districts. At the start of her career, Tannya served in Teach For America, where she taught third grade bilingual education in Houston. She also became a community organizer with the Organizing Network for Education (ONE) Houston, fighting against exclusionary discipline, where she contributed to a policy win that effectively canceled a multi-million dollar contract with the third-party affiliate private prison company, Camelot Schools of Texas. Prior to joining Local Progress, Tannya spent her time working the Texas state legislature as Advocacy Director at Commission Shift, fighting for sound environmental reforms to move the Railroad Commission of Texas to be more responsive to the people of Texas.
Texas Chapter Manager (she/her)

Melissa Carrera-Solano

New York Chapter Manager (she/ella)
Melissa Carrera is the New York Chapter Manager. In this position, she drives Local Progress’ work in New York – including growing and strengthening our members and leadership, cultivating relationships and buy-in from key organizational and labor partners, identifying and implementing state-specific campaigns. 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 Chapter Manager (she/ella)

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

Program Coordinator (he/him)
As Campaigns Organizer, Reynold develops strategies to create real safety rooted in addressing our communities’ basic needs in deep collaboration with Local Progress members. Reynold’s passion for organizing and policy began as he learned about his grandmother’s journey as a domestic worker in Jim Crow South Carolina, where she was excluded from basic worker and discrimination protections. Reynold comes from a long line of New York City government workers, having worked in a number of policy areas, including financial empowerment, workforce development, and homeless services. In addition to transforming public safety, Reynold is passionate about strategies to build local cooperative economies in an effort to disrupt corporate power and narrow the racial wealth gap.
Program Coordinator (he/him)

Iimay Ho

Managing Director, People & Operations (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.
Managing Director, People & Operations (they/them)

Kat Kerwin

Legal Fellow (she/her)
Kat was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, where she worked as a youth organizer before announcing her plans to run for office. At 20 years old, she became the youngest city council person in Providence history. While in office, Kat launched a campaign to decriminalize the municipal code and worked with community activists to invest in alternative policing strategies. Kat went to law school to develop her advocacy skills because she knows elected officials need support in implementing the transformative policies that their communities urgently need. She is excited to continue this advocacy with Local Progress.
Legal Fellow (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)

Mia Loseff

Housing Program Coordinator (she/her)
Mia is the Housing Program Coordinator, working alongside local elected officials to develop collaborative, long-term strategies that address housing needs for all. Prior to joining Local Progress, Mia was the South Texas Regional Director of Texas Housers. In this role she organized with public housing tenants and low-income families to advance housing policies that center the voices of those experiencing the challenges of the housing crisis firsthand. Mia brought together tenant leaders and community partners to establish San Antonio’s Proactive Apartment Inspection program, which ensures that all tenants have a safe and dignified place to call home. Mia served on the city’s first Housing Bond Committee where she advocated for the needs of San Antonio’s most vulnerable populations. Mia also helped create the first Eviction Case tracker in Bexar County, providing local officials and community members with the information needed to create policies that effectively address evictions. Mia graduated from Trinity University with degrees in Urban Policy and Spanish. She lives in San Antonio, TX, where she spends the majority of her time outside of housing justice work playing ultimate frisbee with the larger Texas community.
Housing Program Coordinator (she/her)

Ivan Luevanos-Elms

Executive Director (he/el)
Ivan Luevanos-Elms is the Executive Director of Local Progress, a national network of local elected officials advancing racial and economic justice through all levels of local government. He is applying his nearly 15 years of experience in electoral work and grassroots organizing to helping the more than 1300 local elected officials across the LP network change what is possible in our localities. Before becoming Executive Director, he served as LP’s Organizing Director, overseeing a multi-state organizing strategy and helping to develop and grow the Progressive Governance Academy in deep collaboration with the State Innovation Exchange and re:power. Prior to that, he served as Director of the Community Engagement Division of the New York City Council where he helped create NYC’s municipal ID card system and expand the city’s participatory budgeting process. He also previously worked at the intersections of immigrant and LGBTQ+ rights for Make the Road NY, and on electoral campaigns at the Working Families Party. He is a proud queer Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. at age 4 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he still lives with his husband, dogs, and cat.
Executive Director (he/el)

Lucia Mattox

Organizing Director (she/her)
Lucia is the Organizing Director, supporting the development of LP’s caucuses and state, regional and national organizing strategies. This work includes building an organizing infrastructure as well as advancing membership recruitment and key partnerships throughout California. Prior to joining LP, Lucia worked at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) as the Director of Western States Outreach. At CRL she helped advance state and federal policies to protect economically vulnerable communities from predatory financial products. In 2019, she led a coalition of consumer advocates, community partners and other stakeholders to successfully pass a landmark California state bill to curb predatory lending. She also launched the organization’s portfolio on criminal legal debt issues, working within state and national coalitions to contribute qualitative research, legislative and campaigns support on bail and fines & fees policies. Before moving back to the Bay Area, Lucia spent almost a decade working in New York, including with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, a national nonprofit that supported community leaders dedicated to helping Black men and boys thrive. She was born and raised in San Francisco, and currently resides in Oakland, CA. Lucia received her undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Barnard College.
Organizing Director (she/her)

Arami McCloskey

Executive Assistant (she/her)
As the Executive Assistant for Local Progress and the Impact Lab, Arami supports the Executive Director, Organizational Development team, and Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Local Progress team, Arami worked as the Project Manager for Nosotros Organization striving to create an inclusive and accessible pipeline that empowers Latine actors to thrive and excel in their craft. Arami also served on the Board of Directors for Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) and led the ELITE Academy, a program focused on personal and professional development for high school Latinas in the DC metropolitan area. Arami is passionate and deeply committed to elevating the voices of underrepresented individuals and remains dedicated to advocating for their inclusion.
Executive Assistant (she/her)

Francesca Menes

Managing Director, Membership & Organizing (she/her)
As Managing Director, Francesca works closely with our state and regional coordinators to help build, expand, and strengthen LP’s organizing infrastructure, chapters and membership development across the country. She also works closely with Local Progress partners and allies to advance new membership recruitment and organizing strategies and partnerships. In addition, Francesca 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 local and state elected officials across the country. Francesca is a political educator, legislative and policy strategist, entrepreneur and former television host. She is the daughter of working-class Haitian immigrants raised in Miami’s Little Haiti community and mother of Joie. With over 15 years of experience, Francesca has led successful coalitions and legislative, policy and advocacy campaigns with undocumented families, immigrants, refugees, students, Black communities and communities of color, resulting in the passage of local, state, and federal resolutions, policies and laws on the issues of education, immigration, housing, wage protections and job security. Francesca graduated from Florida International University, earning her BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies with a minor in Philosophy and a certificate in National Security Studies and her Master’s in Public Administration, with a certificate in Community Development.
Managing Director, Membership & Organizing (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 Director (she/her)
D’Ana is the Program Director, responsible for overseeing Local Progress and the Local Progress Impact Lab’s issue-focused member programming and education. Prior to this role, D’Ana developed and managed Local Progress’ organizational strategies on housing justice, 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 to generate and preserve affordable housing, protect renters, and prevent evictions and advised on a range of local issues including public safety, emergency response, transportation and public health. D’Ana graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History and lives in Chicago.
Program Director (she/her)

Jillia Pessenda

Minnesota Chapter Manager (she/her)
Jillia is the the Minnesota Chapter Manager. 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 Chapter Manager (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

Associate Organizing Director (he/him)
Chad came to Local Progress in 2017. His work has helped to pioneer our state chapter model, incorporating a mix of strong programming, leadership development, and responsiveness to members’ needs and concerns. Going forward, he will be using that experience to create a regional organizing approach to the Northeastern states. As the New York State Chapter Manager, he developed close relationships with partner organizations throughout New York State to bring progressive policy solutions to our local elected officials. In that time, the state chapter was part of several high-interest wins for progressive policy including the landmark 2019 Tenant Protection Act, the modernization of New York’s voting laws, and the commitment of the state to fully fund NY Foundation Education Aid. Chad will still supervise the work in the Empire State. A former elected School Board Member himself, Chad organized his community to oppose a dangerous temporary school option that could have put the health of more than 700 students in jeopardy. Chad also served as a high school U.S. History and World History teacher, was a member of numerous local, state, and federal electoral campaigns, and has organized within the progressive movement in New York State and beyond for over a decade.
Associate Organizing Director (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)

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

Managing Director, Policy & Program (he/him)
Ari oversees the organization’s overall issue program and policy work, including member education, policy development, partnerships, and opportunities for collective action. He leads our team of staff developing policy, programming, and strategy across a wide range of issues. He has served in a number of roles at Local Progress since joining the team in 2017. 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 Brooklyn, NY.
Managing Director, Policy & Program (he/him)

Kara Sheehan

Membership Organizer (she/her)
Kara serves as the Membership Organizer, laying the groundwork and solidifying infrastructure to grow capacity, membership, and organizing in states in which LP does not currently have a chapter. She also supports capacity building in rural and small localities, and in developing proactive and defensive strategies to push back against abusive state preemption, and the building of an organizing strategy in multi-jurisdictional and national policy campaigns. Prior to joining Local Progress, Kara worked for the North Texas Jobs With Justice chapter focusing on building community and labor coalitions that campaigned for strong worker protections. Kara organized in the Texas labor movement for a decade, working for the Texas AFL-CIO and Workers Defense Project, and now resides in Denver, Colorado. She grew up in Missouri and received her undergraduate degree from Saint Louis University.
Membership Organizer (she/her)

Trisa Taro

Managing Director, Communications & Narrative Strategy (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.
Managing Director, Communications & Narrative Strategy (she/her)

Kidist Teferi

HR & Operations Manager
As the HR & Operations Manager, Kidist provides day-to-day HR support to the team. She leads the annual benefits renewal process, onboarding, implementing hiring processes, supporting annual performance evaluations, and overall HR systems. She also supports operations and planning and organizing bi-yearly staff retreats. Prior to joining Local Progress, Kidist worked at Opportunity@Work, a national nonprofit focused on skills-based hiring versus hiring with a 4 year degree requirement to provide opportunity to STARs (those Skilled Through Alternative Routes). Kidist has also worked for several start up nonprofits in the Sexual Assault Prevention sector providing Operational & Programmatic support as well as helping to create systems and processes in the Administrative, HR, and Finance Department as the organizations went through major strategic growth. Originally from Ethiopia, Kidist moved to the US at 7 years old and has called the DMV area home for the last 20+ years. When she’s not at work, Kidist enjoys fitness classes, attempting vegan recipes, and traveling.
HR & Operations Manager

Michael Whitesides

Deputy Communications Director (they/them)
Michael is the Deputy Communications Director at Local Progress. Alongside the entire Communications Team, Michael works to leverage earned media to uplift local elected leaders and local policy wins on a state level and nationwide. Michael has spent the past decade in electoral organizing, working on campaigns in Georgia and New York in both local and federal races in a variety of different capacities. Before joining Local Progress, Michael worked as the Communications Director for New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif, the first Muslim woman ever elected to the New York City Council. At Council Member Hanif’s office, Michael worked to highlight the Council Member’s various legislative victories, like creating the nation’s largest curbside composting program and advocate for a dignified welcome to the unprecedented wave of asylum seekers. A Georgia native, Michael went to school at Boston University, obtaining a Bachelor’s in Political science and English, and then went on to obtain a Master’s in Political Science at New York University. Michael now lives in Brooklyn with their snake Stanley, is an active member in their local Democratic Socialist of America chapter, and enjoys running in their free time.
Deputy Communications Director (they/them)

Work with Us

Interested in becoming part of the LP team? Check out these exciting job opportunities:

✔️ Pennsylvania Coordinator

✔️ Colorado Coordinator

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