Staff

Local Progress is a project of the Center for Popular Democracy, a high-impact national organization that builds organizing power to transform the local and state policy landscape through deep, long-term partnerships with leading community-based organizing groups, innovative and insightful research, and strategic partnerships. In addition to the staff listed below, an array of staff at the Center for Popular Democracy provide policy, communications, research, recruitment, campaign, and other operational support. The Center for Popular Democracy is responsible for day-to-day operations, policy coordination, and membership engagement. For more information about our 501 c(4) partner, Local Progress Action please visit www.localprogressaction.org.

Danielle Adams

Southern Regional Coordinator

Danielle Adams comes to CPD from the Institute for Southern Studies, a public interest media, research and education center aimed at drawing attention to the national importance of the South. She is also a current local elected official serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in Durham, North Carolina. She received the Outstanding District Supervisor of the Year award from the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in 2012 and in 2014 was selected as a fellow to the Young Climate Leaders Network.

Currently she serves as an ambassador to Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet program, and is a member of the Young Elected Officials Network. She received her BA in political science with a minor in music from North Carolina Central University and studied Environmental Politics and Policy Analysis at Appalachian State University.

Ady Barkan

Strategic Advisor

Ady helped launch Local Progress and served as co-director until February 2018. He is currently the co-director of Fed Up, an initiative also housed at CPD. Before joining CPD, Ady was a law clerk to the Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York. Prior to that he was a Liman Fellow with Make the Road New York, where he represented low-wage workers seeking to recover unpaid wages, engage in collective action, and obtain safe and dignified working conditions. He helped design and draft policy proposals to enhance the quality of low-wage jobs in New York City including the right to paid sick days, regulation of major retailers, and unionization of the car wash industry. He graduated from Yale Law School and Columbia College, cum laude.

Tarsi Dunlop

Policy and Program Manager

Tarsi joined the Local Progress team in early 2015 and currently serves as the Policy and Program Manager for the network. In this role, she oversees the growth and expansion of the organization’s policy briefs and member resources, as well as supports the development of program content. Tarsi’s priority focus areas include public education, voting rights and democracy, the 2020 Census, and affordable housing. 

Prior to joining Local Progress, she served as Program and Operations Manager at the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of national education associations committed to strengthening public education for all students. Tarsi also worked at the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network. 

Tarsi received a BA in Political Science from Middlebury College. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at Georgetown University, where she also earned a Certificate in Executive Nonprofit Management in 2014. She grew up in Western Massachusetts and currently resides in Arlington, VA.

Silvia Fabela

Campaigns Director

Silvia serves as the Campaigns Director at Local Progress, with responsibilities that include designing programming to support member engagement and education on a wide array of issues critical to local governance and leadership development. She leads the organization’s overall strategy on areas that include economic justice, immigrant protections, police reform, and affordable housing, in collaboration with CPD’s campaigns teams. 

Prior to joining the Local Progress team, Silvia worked at United Food & Commercial Workers union on a campaign to hold Walmart accountable to its employees and to raise standards in the retail industry more broadly. There, her focus was on coalition building and mass mobilization of grassroots activists. In her time on the campaign, Silvia mobilized grassroots activists to support the historic Black Friday strikes of 2012 and won a change in Walmart’s pregnancy policy for women workers. She also has extensive experience with leadership development and popular education from her time at the AFL-CIO. Silvia’s electoral field experience includes mass member mobilization in the 2008 and 2016 presidential races in Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as several House races.

Silvia is a Monmouth College alumni, proud Latina immigrant who lives in Washington, DC by way of Illinois.

Mercedes Fulbright

Texas State Coordinator

Mercedes is the Texas State Coordinator for Local Progress. She works closely with community organizations  and LPTX members to bring about transformative change locally throughout Texas. She led the establishment of the second state chapter in the Local Progress network. Through her efforts with Center for Popular Democracy Texas affiliates and grassroots partners, the city of Dallas beat statewide preemption and passed paid sick leave for over 300,000 residents. 

Mercedes is an experienced and respected voice on political strategy, racial justice advocacy, effective progressive leadership training, and grassroots organizing. She serves as a C4 National board member with BYP100, a member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people. She is also a strategist with the Electoral Justice Project, a national table with the Movement for Black Lives (Black Lives Matter), centering electoral politics and organizing tactics for Black communities. 

Mercedes received her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and her BA in Political Science from the University of North Texas.   

Sarah Johnson

Director

Sarah is the Director of Local Progress. Prior to joining CPD, Sarah served as the Managing Director at Working Families where she also ran an electoral and candidate recruitment program that doubled the size of the New York City Progressive Caucus. Sarah got her start as a political organizer for SEIU 32BJ. Sarah is a graduate of Williams College and Pratt Institute, where she received a Masters in Urban Planning.

Ivan Luevanos-Elms

Organizing Director

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 Center for Popular Democracy 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 CPD, Ivan served as Director of the Community Engagement Division of the New York City Council. In his 4 years at the Council, Ivan directly worked 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.

Francesca Menes

Florida State Coordinator

As the Florida State Coordinator, Francesca actively recruits and works to strengthen the engagement of our membership throughout the state of Florida. She develops policy programming and trainings to support members. Grounded in the principles of collaborative governance, Francesca fosters relationships between community groups, organizations, and Local Progress Florida members, intentionally centering individuals who historically have been excluded or marginalized to establish an authentic partnership towards developing a shared strategy and vision.

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 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.

Chad Radock

New York State Coordinator

Chad is the State Coordinator for Local Progress New York, the first state chapter in the network. He works closely with partner organizations throughout the New York to bring progressive policy solutions with our local elected officials. Throughout his time with Local Progress, Chad has helped to lead Local Progress NY’s participation in coalitions that protected the state’s renters, modernized election laws, and secure 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 has worked on the staff of numerous local, state, and federal electoral campaigns, and he has worked as an organizer within the progressive movement for nearly a decade.

Ari Schwartz

Program and Communications Manager

As the Program and Communications Manager for Local Progress, Ari works to deepen the engagement, leadership, and coordination of Local Progress members on a wide range of issues including economic justice, immigrant rights, police reform, and affordable housing. He leads the organization’s work on economic justice, equitable development, and corporate accountability, as well as its internal and public-facing communications. 

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.