Our innovative voter registration, mobilization, and turnout programs, and the research that undergirds them, require a team of experts.
Katie Whelan* is the Acting Executive Director for the Voter Participation Center. She has over 30 years of experience working in public policy and political campaigns, and has provided strategic counsel to clients in corporate and political affairs, designing and implementing electoral and fundraising campaign plans. She served as the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) where she effectively managed a team and budget to support the election/re-election of Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Her work with the DGA has given her vast experience providing strategic insight for elections and campaigns to governors and gubernatorial candidates in all 50 states including former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger where she served as Senior Advisor working out of his Washington, DC office.
Currently, Katie serves as an Of Counsel Senior Advisor to the Dewey Square Group, a leading public affairs firm that specializes in public policy, communications and political campaigns with an expertise in multicultural and grassroots outreach.
Ms. Whelan graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in international relations. She speaks fluent French and serves on the Advisory Board of the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships at the College of William and Mary which is a U.S. State Department sponsored program and was established in honor of Mrs. Harriman, the late U.S. Ambassador to France. She was a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics where she led a weekly seminar on state and federal elections titled “From the State House to the White House.”
Will Yates is the Managing Director of Analytics at VPC, where he prepares data for mailings and evaluates experiments. In a past life he was a Detroit-based rock musician, and continues to write and record music solo and with bands when he has the time. He graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan, and he holds a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Lionel Dripps is the Managing Director for Program and Digital at the Voter Participation Center, and is responsible for developing and executing the programs that make sure the New American Majority has a voice in American politics. Lionel comes to VPC from the Pivot Group, a leading direct mail consulting firm. As a Vice President at Pivot, Lionel managed national, statewide, and targeted congressional district mail campaigns for some of the major progressive institutions. Lionel also implemented innovative experimental programs, and has presented at an Analyst Institute retreat. Previously, Lionel served as Caucus Director for the Colorado Senate Democrats and as an itinerant campaign manager and field staffer across the country.
Gail Leftwich Kitch serves as Executive Vice President, Communication and Finance for The Voter Participation Center. She brings years of experience, both as a practicing lawyer and as a successful manager and board member of non-profit organizations active in civic engagement. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of By the People, an initiative founded by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions that uses public television to encourage and support informed non-contentious citizen dialogue around policy issues. Mrs. Kitch was President of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the national membership organization of the state affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities, following service as Director of Cambridge Forum, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a former chair of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and was a Radcliffe College Public Policy Fellow in the late 90s. Among other activities, Gail currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Conference on Citizenship. She has a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.
Jacques Page now serves as the Director of Finance & Administration at the Voter Participation Center. Mr. Page has over 20 years of experience working in finance and accounting, and has worked exclusively in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. Prior to joining VPC, Jacques served as the Director of Accounting Operations for the Aspen Institute, the Vice President of Finance for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC and as Chief Financial Officer for the Pennsylvania SPCA in Philadelphia. Mr. Page holds a B.S. in Accounting from Hampton University, as well an MBA and a Masters of Accountancy from the University of Louisville.
Galen Deiz is a Data Analyst at the Voter Participation Center, where he prepares mailing data, analyzes experiments, and generates reports. Originally from the west coast, he misses fresh guacamole. Galen is a native of Oregon and graduated from Pomona College with a BA in Philosophy. He lives in Washington, DC.
Arianna Kandell serves as Assistant Development Manager, where she coordinates fundraising and helps manage grants. She comes to the Voter Participation Center with a background in international development and political campaigns, having worked in the UK, Haiti and Israel. This last cycle, she did campaign finance for two Congressional campaigns that took her to Upstate New York and Detroit area Michigan. Prior to that, she was part of writing the Global Strategy for Maternal, Newborn and Adolescent Health, interned in UK Parliament and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, did research at a legal non-profit in Port-au-Prince, and spent seven years working for author Dave Eggers. In her spare time, she enjoys playing music, diving into a good book, and exploring Washington DC’s many neighborhoods with an engaging podcast in her ears. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and studied abroad at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Jorge Mendoza is a Data Analyst at the VPC, where he prepares data and analyzes experiments with the Analytics team. Jorge studied political behavior and methodology as a graduate student at Florida State University, where he earned his M.S. from the Department of Political Science. Jorge also holds a B.S. with honors in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and an M.A. in Political Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook. In his spare time, Jorge enjoys cooking, playing soccer, and karaoke.
Elizabeth Mekonnen serves as Accounting Manager for The Voter Participation Center, where she manages the day-to-day accounting functions and assists the Director of Finance with financial reporting, annual budget and audits. Ms. Mekonnen has more than 15 years’ experience with prominent non-profit organizations in Washington, DC, where she has held various senior accounting management positions.
Prior to joining VPC, she served with the American Society for Public Administration, the National Academy of Public Administration, the National Parks Conservation Association and the American Chemistry Council. Ms. Mekonnen earned a degree in Business Administration, with a Major in Accounting, from the University of the District of Columbia.
Beth Ver Steeg serves as Program Associate with the Voter Participation Center where she supervises production of mail creatives including contributing to design and coordinating the proofing process while overseeing the mail inquiries program. She has previously work for VPC as a Program Assistant during the last few months of the 2016 election cycle and is thrilled to be rejoining the staff.
She comes from Rochester, NY where she attended Nazareth College and earned B.A.s in Political Science and Legal Studies. Washington D.C. has become her home after work including internships with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s office and canvassing with NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Adam Schwartz serves as the Executive Assistant to the President of the Voter Participation Center. Adam was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he became politically active while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, through his involvement in various campaigns and organizations. In addition to his campaign experience, Adam interned in Wisconsin State Senator Lena C. Taylor’s office, and most recently was the Climate Policy Program Intern at the Institute for Policy Studies and served as Communications Intern in U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s office before finding his home at VPC. He holds a B.A. in International Studies, minors in Environmental Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies, and spent a semester improving his Spanish fluency and studying abroad in Santiago, Chile.