Bridge Alliance Leaders Council

Experienced Champions of Democratic Reform

Turning Ideas into Action

  1. Joan Blades
    Living Room Conversions
    Joan Blades is a co-founder of an open source effort to rebuild respectful civil discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. She is also a co-founder of - and She is a Great Work Cultures champion and co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011 and The Motherhood Manifesto, which won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007.
  2. Ted Celeste
    National Institute for Civil Discourse
    Former State Representative Ted Celeste is Director of State Programs for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization that works to reduce political dysfunction and incivility in our political system. Mr. Celeste leads Next Generation, a project of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. His goal is to inspire and support state legislators who want to promote greater understanding and better decision-making.
  3. Dana Chisnell
    Center for Civic Design
    Dana Chisnell is co-director of the Center for Civic Design. She has previously conducted research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the use of language in instructions on ballots (with Ginny Redish), and work on standards and testing for poll worker documentation for the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). She is also an expert in plain language and usability for older adults, including ground-breaking work at AARP that was the basis for several requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
  4. Jeff Clements
    American Promise
    Jeff Clements is President of American Promise. He has practiced law for three decades in public service and private practice, and is the author of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money & Global Corporations. He is also the founder of Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides sustainable financing to businesses in the local agriculture economy.
  5. Zaneeta Daver
    ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge
    Zaneeta Daver is president of the All In Campus Democracy Challenge. Previously, she served in various roles at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. She worked directly with college students at Ramapo College, Baruch College, Rutgers University, the University of Miami, and the University of Maryland College Park.
  6. Brad Fitch
    Congressional Management Foundation
    Brad Fitch is president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. He left Congress in 2001 to work for the Congressional Management Foundation. As Deputy Director of CMF, he served as a management consultant for Members of Congress, offering confidential guidance, conducting staff training programs, and writing publications on enhancing the performance of individual congressional offices and the institution. He served as editor of Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide for the 108th Congress and 109th Congress editions. In 2005 Fitch managed CMF’s Communicating with Congress project, and co-authored the report, How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy.
  7. John Gable

    John Gable is founder and CEO of AllSides. His writings have been published by The Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post and The Cook Political Report. John was the PM Team Lead for Netscape Navigator, the iconic web browser, and previous to that had a career in politics, working for three US Senators (each served as Senate Majority Leaders), one President, and a national political party.

    Under John, AllSides has patented technology that rates bias, identifies different perspectives on the same topic and enables civil dialog with the goal of freeing individuals and society from filter bubbles and crippling polarization, replacing that with mutual respect and critical thinking.

  8. Seamus Kraft
    Open Gov Foundation
    Seamus Kraft is founder of the OpenGov Foundation. Since 2013, he has built The OpenGov Foundation into a dedicated four-person team producing cutting-edge civic software used by elected officials and citizens in governments across the US. Seamus is also a co-creator of the Free Law Founders, a coalition of leaders from New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC working to open the processes and information of government to access and innovation for all. Prior to creating The OpenGov Foundation, Seamus served as Digital Director and Press Secretary for The US House Oversight Committee, where he built one the most successful digital communications operations in government from the ground up.
  9. Liz Joyner
    Village Square
    Liz Joyner is Executive Director and Co-founder of Village Square. The Village Square was named by retired U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe as one of eight organizations to support if you're concerned about the deepening partisan divide, the Village Square is dedicated to reviving civic connections across divisions inside American communities. Liz was nominated by Leadership Tallahassee as Leader of the Year in 2010, named by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of "25 Women You Need to Know" in 2015, by the Girls Scouts as a "Woman of Distinction" in 2016 and was honored by United Church Women as a Woman of Peace.
  10. Steve Lakis
    State Legislative Leaders Foundation
    Stephen Lakis is president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. Stephen joined SLLF in 1972 just after it was established, and for the following decade honed his political skills by working directly with state legislative leaders across the country on a series of legislative reform studies. In 1981, the Board of Directors appointed him President and Chief Executive Officer. During his tenure the SLLF has grown into the preeminent nonpartisan legislative leadership organization in the country.
  11. Josh Lerner
    Participatory Budgeting Project
    Josh Lerner is the co-founder and executive director of the Participatory Budgeting Project. He has over 15 years of experience developing, researching, and working with leading community engagement programs across North America, Latin America, and Europe. His work on participatory budgeting has been recognized by The White House as a model for open government, and by the Brown Democracy Medal as the best practical innovation advancing democracy around the world.
  12. Julie Mashack
    Julie Mashack is a Director of Global Networks & Programs for the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at 92nd Street Y. As part of 92Y’s innovation team, she oversees several distributed initiatives that bring 92Y programs to new audiences and engage communities around the world. As a former public radio and television producer, she created content for both PBS and NPR and contributed to Michael Moore's Academy Award nominated documentary Sicko and the WNET original film, Sacred.
  13. Travis Moore
    Travis Moore is founder and director of TechCongress. He was the Legislative Director for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the former Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who had jurisdiction over wide-ranging matters of technology policymaking. Travis has launched a number of programs to build human capital and improve technological capacity inside and outside of Congress.
  14. Dan Newman
    Daniel Newman is President and Co-Founder of Maplight. He was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2010 for his work at MapLight. Prior to co-founding MapLight, he founded Say I Can, a speech recognition software firm, and he is the author of three books on speech recognition software.
  15. Steven Olikara
    Millennial Action Project
    Steven Olikara is Founding President of the Millennial Action Project (MAP), a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to activating millennial policymakers to overcome partisan gridlock. In this role, he organized the nation’s first and only bipartisan caucus for young members of Congress, the Future Caucus, and has grown MAP into the largest nonpartisan organization of millennial policymakers in the U.S. Steven’s leadership in this movement has led to pioneering achievements on entrepreneurship, education, the environment, and other key issues affecting millennials in America.
  16. John Opdycke
    Open Primaries
    John Opdycke is President of Open Primaries. Opdycke began his career as a fundraiser and researcher for the Rainbow Lobby. In 1992, he joined Dr. Lenora Fulani's independent campaign for president as a regional fundraising director, and in 1994 assisted Dr. Fulani in her campaign against Mario Cuomo in the New York Democratic Party gubernatorial primary. That same year, he participated in the founding of the New York State Independence Party, a state affiliate of the National Reform Party. In 1998, became the director of development of, and between 1999 and 2014, developed a 50-state fundraising base and expanded's fundraising from $50,000 to $1 million annually.
  17. Nick Penniman
    Issue One
    Nick Penniman is President and CEO of Issue One. He also was the founder and executive director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund; founder and CEO of the American News Project; Washington director of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy; publisher of The Washington Monthly magazine; executive editor of; associate editor of the American Prospect; director of the Alliance for Democracy; editor of the Lincoln Journal; and associate editor of the Missouri Historical Society. In 2016, he coauthored Nation on the Take. Published by Bloomsbury Press, it received praise from a politically diverse group.
  18. John Pudner
    Take Back Our Republic
    John Pudner is Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic. John jump-started the campaign of Dave Brat, who would ultimately unseat U.S. Majority Leader Eric Cantor in one of the most unprecedented upsets in political history. Later in the general election of the same year, he helped defeat a 32-year incumbent state senator in Alabama’s general election. He has managed campaigns for almost three decades winning 13 of 17 races in Virginia in 1990s.
  19. Rob Richie
    Rob Richie has been the executive director of FairVote since co-founding the organization in 1992. He has played a key role in advancing, winning, and implementing electoral reforms at the local and state levels. Rob has been involved in implementing ranked choice voting in more than a dozen cities, cumulative voting in numerous Voting Rights Act cases, the National Popular Vote plan in 11 states, and promoting voter access proposals like voter preregistration and a lower voting age.
  20. Josh Silver
    Josh Silver is director of Represent.Us. He is a veteran election and media reform executive. He was the campaign manager for the successful 1998 Arizona Clean Elections ballot initiative, and is the cofounder and former CEO of Free Press, a leading media and technology reform advocacy organization. He has been published widely on democracy, media, telecommunications, campaign finance and a range of other public policy issues. Silver has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal [3] and featured in outlets including the New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor,, C-SPAN, and NPR.
  21. Sterling Speirn
    National Conference on Citizenship
    Sterling Speirn is the CEO of the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) . He was appointed Chief Executive Officer by the Board of Directors in November 2017. He is the immediate past President and CEO of the Peninsula Community Foundation now the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (PCF, 1992-2005), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF, 2006-2013), and the Stupski Foundation (2015). Before his career in community, private and family foundations, Mr. Speirn got started in corporate philanthropy leading the Community Grants program at Apple Computer (1986-1990).
  22. Robin Teater
    Healthy Democracy
    Robin Teater is Executive Director of Healthy Democracy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that elevates the voice of citizens and improves political discourse for the benefit of all voters. Before joining Healthy Democracy, Robin served for 14 years as executive director of the American Leadership Forum (ALF) of Oregon, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that joins and strengthens diverse leaders to work more effectively together in service to the public good. Robin’s previous experience spans over three decades in nonprofit administration. She served as executive director of WorldTeach, an international NGO based at the Kennedy School of Government’s Center for International Development at Harvard University. She worked seven years with the New York–based American Field Service (AFS), where she last served as National Director of Volunteer Development.
  23. Ashley Trim
    Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership
    Ashley Trim is Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, where she writes and speaks about public engagement and transparency issues for local and online news organizations, Davenport Institute trainings, and national conferences. She also serves as Senior Editor of the Davenport Institute’s public engagement blogs; coordinates the institute’s grant programs, training seminars, and events; and oversees various research and engagement projects. She has worked in public policy at the local, state and national level, for both governments and non-profit organizations, including as communications specialist for the City of Lancaster, CA.
  24. Nick Troiano
    Unite America
    Nick Troiano is Executive Director of Unite America, which aims to bridge the growing partisan divide in government by strategically electing Centrist, independent candidates. Nick has spent the last decade involved in various political reform efforts, including running the most competitive campaign for U.S. Congress as a citizen funded, independent candidate during the 2014 election cycle. He previously served in various strategic, communications, and outreach roles on the founding teams of Americans Elect, The Can Kicks Back, and’s Change Politics.
  25. Clarissa Unger
    Young Invincibles
    Clarissa Unger is Civic Engagement Director for Young Invincibles. In this capacity, she leads the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition, which promotes nonpartisan civic engagement on college campuses. She also serves as the Director of Partnerships for the organization’s consulting arm, YI Advisors, where she leads strategy on how clients can best reach, engage and support young adults. Prior to joining YI, Clarissa served as the Development Coordinator for the Robert. J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas where she helped to promote civic engagement on campus.
  26. Peter Weichlein
    United States Association of Former Members of Congress
    Peter M. Weichlein has served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) since 2003. FMC celebrates bipartisanship and a collaborative approach to legislating, reconnects citizens with its representative governments, is an advocate on behalf of a better functioning Article 1 branch, and actively engages former Members in civic education. In addition, FMC offers current Members the opportunity to exchange best practices with colleagues overseas via The Congressional Study Groups – three independent, bipartisan legislative exchanges between current Members of Congress and their counterparts abroad.
  27. Dan Xie
    Student PIRGs
    Dan Xie is Political Director for the Student PIRGs. Before coming in to her current role, Dan (pronounced Dawn) was the NJPIRG Students Organizing Director and the Assistant Organizing Director for CALPIRG Students. She worked with students and organizers to stop student loan interest rates from doubling, to teach 30,000 kids about energy efficiency, and to pass more than 50 plastic bag bans in cities and counties across the state of California. She also oversaw eight campuses in Southern California to successfully defeat Proposition 23, the dirty oil proposition.