Staff

Our main office is in New York City, and we also have an office in Oakland (California) and field staff based in Chicago, Madison, and Long Beach. See full bios at the bottom of the page.

 

Bios

Josh Lerner, Executive Director – New York
Josh is 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. He completed a PhD in Politics at the New School for Social Research and a Masters in Planning from the University of Toronto. He is the author of Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics (MIT Press, 2014), Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy? (Cornell University Press, 2014), and over 20 articles. joshlerner.net@joshalerner
Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director – New York
Jennifer guides strategic growth and capacity-building of PBP’s staff and programs. Previously she was Planning Director at NYC non-profit Transportation Alternatives, one of the largest member-based sustainable transportation advocacy organizations in the world. Jennifer originally hails from Seattle, where she began her career as a health equity researcher, examining the links between child obesity rates, income and access to amenities like parks and grocery stores. She studied neuroscience and music at Amherst College, earned joint MPH/MS Urban Planning degrees at Columbia University, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
David Beasley, Communications Director – New York
David BeasleyDavid is responsible for the strategic development and management of PBP’s communications, including our communications support for local PB processes and our broader efforts to build powerful messaging that enables PB to grow dramatically. David creates comprehensive communications strategies that elevate non-profit organizations’ missions and thought leadership. He has trained diverse advocates to be spokespeople for their movements and supported them through print and broadcast media engagements. Previously, he was Public Relations Manager at Safe Horizon, and Communications Manager for Scenarios USA. He has also done pro-bono communications work for Hollaback! and the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, among others. David believes that telling better stories can change culture.

Saran Kaba, Operations Manager – New York
Saran KabaSaran manages PBP’s operations. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs and a BA in International Studies from The City College of New York. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Saran worked as a fundraising and nonprofit management professional for a number of non-profit organizations in New York City, including Equality Now, amfAR, Ubuntu Education Fund and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Saran Kaba co-founded Guinée Espoir (an organization focusing on bettering the lives of youth in Guinea) in 2004 with her twin sister. Born in New York City she spent 7 years of her life in Guinea, Conakry. She earned The Honorable Mention Award for the Baruch College and Merill Lynch Invitational Entrepreneurship Competition for her concept on how to effectively deal with the lack of secondary school education in Guinea. Saran recently co-wrote a bilingual children’s book called: Les Trois Petits Oiseaux. Passionate about photography, she is the owner of Photography by Sasa. Saran also speaks French, Mandinka, and Spanish.
Maria Hadden, Project Manager – Chicago
Maria manages PBP’s projects in the Midwest.  Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Maria started her professional career at an early age working as a mediator and mediation trainer with the Interfaith Center for Peace.  She earned her B.A. in International Peace and Conflict Studies from The Ohio State University before moving to Illinois to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA.  Maria first became involved in PB as a budget delegate during the very first PB cycle in the US in 2009 and was so inspired by the experience that she joined the organization in 2010 as a founding board member.  Maria’s interests in community voice and the role of civil society were the focus on her graduate studies at DePaul University where she earned an M.S. in International Public Service Management.
Ginny Browne, Project Manager – Oakland
Ginny BrowneGinny manages PBP’s West Coast projects. She completed her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA, where she did extensive research on participatory budgeting in North America. With PBP, she coordinated the first city-wide PB process in the US, in Vallejo, CA. Prior to joining PBP, Ginny worked as a community organizer with the grassroots New York organization Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), a researcher with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in the Bay Area, and an AmericorpsVISTA associate with Fifth Avenue Committee, a community development corporation in Brooklyn. She has collaborated with a wide range of agencies and organizations, from LA’s Strategic Actions for a Just Economy to the Federal Transportation Administration, to engage local communities on issues such as workforce development, affordable housing preservation, and transportation equity. Ginny also has a background in community media and has reported news for National Public Radio and the Pacifica Network.
Aseem Mulji, Data & Technology Manager – Oakland
aseemmuljiAseem manages PBP’s data and technology projects. In his time at PBP, Aseem also helped implement the first city-wide PB process in the US, in Vallejo, CA, and he continues to support PB processes in California. His interest in PB came out of prior work editing a publication on civic innovation and citizen engagement. Other past professional experience includes work with the Addison County Planning Commission in Vermont and the Department of Transportation in DC. Aseem is a graduate of Middlebury College where he studied geography, math and French.
Lize Mogel, Development Manager – New York
ashleyLize manages PBP’s grants and institutional giving. She is a grantwriter and development consultant who has been fundraising for cultural and social justice organizations for more than a decade, including for organizations such as the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES). Lize is also an artist and counter-cartographer who works with the intersection of art, geography, and popular education. She is co-editor of the book/map collection “An Atlas of Radical Cartography” and has presented her work internationally.

Madeleine Pape, Research Associate (part-time)Madison, WI

Madeleine supports PBP’s efforts to build common research and evaluation instruments and infrastructure across North America, to enable more robust and impactful research. She is a graduate student in the Sociology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her own work is focused on gender, looking at the ways in which women engage with participatory budgeting, how gender relations influence participatory budgeting processes, and the contribution of participatory budgeting to gender equality.
Solaire Spellen, Program Assistant – Oakland

Solaire supports PBP’s West Coast projects, operations at our Oakland office, and other programmatic work. A NYC native, Solaire previously interned at the New York State Health Foundation where she worked closely with diabetes prevention grant proposals. She is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Solaire believes that when people work together, great things are possible.
Isabel Luciano, Program Assistant – New York
Isabel supports PBP’s East Coast projects and other programmatic work. Before joining PBP, Isabel conducted research in the nonprofit sector to help engage communities and governments in issues such as affordable housing provision and funding for nonprofits. Her diverse experience includes work with Social Planning Toronto, the Ontario Non-profit Network, the Toronto Social Action Coalition, and the City of Toronto. Having completed an undergraduate degree in Political Science, and a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Toronto, Isabel has had a strong interest in participatory processes and public funding.
Jessica Medina, Organizer (part-time) – Long Beach, CA

Jessica supports community outreach and organizing for PB in Long Beach, CA. She is completing a dual Master of Planning and Master of Public Policy degree at USC. Prior to that, she was an AmeriCorps member, coordinating community outreach for Habitat for Humanity – New York City. Jessica also has experience in redevelopment, affordable housing, advocacy, and youth engagement in Los Angeles and Fresno. Her interest in PB started after she heard PBNYC participants talking about their experience during a panel at Left Forum.
Mary Regan, Organizer (part-time) – Cambridge, MA

Mary is a Community Organizer for PB in Cambridge, MA. In the Northeast of the US, and the Southeast of Brazil, she has organized with low income communities to develop leadership skills among constituents, enabling them to achieve the goals they set, including workers’ rights, neighborhood health and safety; and affordable housing. She first heard about PB while working in Brazil and admired the efforts of the Workers Party to open up local government decision making to residents who had only recently been able to vote for President of the country after a military dictatorship that lasted 21 years.