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 Cambridge. See full bios at the bottom of the page.
- Ranata Reeder, Community Engagement Coordinator – Greensboro, NC – firstname.lastname@example.org
|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 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 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 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.
|Melissa Appleton, Project Manager – New York
Melissa manages PBP’s projects on the East Coat. Melissa is passionate about group decision-making and conflict resolution. Prior to joining the PBP team, Melissa was Program Manager at New York Peace Institute, the largest community mediation organization in the United States. She had been involved in conflict resolution work internationally in Timor-Leste, Kosovo, and Israel and has with a graduate degree in Peace Education from Columbia University. Melissa hails from the beautiful Canadian northwest coast and has called the US east coast home for 10 years.
|Aseem Mulji, Data & Technology Manager – Oakland
Aseem 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
Lize 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.
|Pete Ramand, Research Fellow (part-time) – Madison, WI
Pete supports PBP’s efforts to build common research and evaluation instruments and infrastructure across North America, to enable more robust and impactful research. He is a graduate student in the sociology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Pete was involved in coordinating various social movements in Scotland. He was a co-founder and lead organizer of the Radical Independence Campaign, a non-nationalist movement for constitutional change in Scotland that campaigned for the implementation of participatory budgeting and other innovative democratic processes. He is the author of Yes: The Radical Case for Scottish Independence (Pluto Press, 2014) and the co-editor of the collected works of Tom Nairn, Old Nations, Auld Enemies, New Times (Luath, 2014).
|Solaire Spellen, Program Associate – 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 Associate – 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.
|Rossanna Mercedes, Volunteer Coordinator – New York
Rossanna coordinates volunteer recruitment, training, and support for PBP. Prior to PBP, Rossanna was the District Director for the office of New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, where she implemented one of the most successful PB processes in the country. In 2015, she coordinated the office’s get out the vote campaign, turning out over 6,000 voters, far exceeding any other district’s voter turnout. Two-thirds of these votes were cast on Chinese and Spanish language ballots – a testament to an effective organizing strategy and multi-cultural perspective. When there’s time, Rossanna also enjoys acting and performing. She deeply believes in the power of art to reflect, challenge, and transform political life – much like PB!
|Ranata Reeder, Community Engagement Coordinator – Greensboro, NC
Ranata is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Greensboro, North Carolina participatory budgeting (PB) process. Ranata has been an advocate of PB and participatory democracy since she was introduced to the process in 2012. Completing her MA in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ranata contributed to the research and community processes that helped launch PB in Greensboro. Community focused, Ranata served as a research assistant to a community/university partnership permitting food trucks in downtown Greensboro, and secured grant funding to establish a children’s community garden in the Greensboro food desert of Warnersville. Ranata has also published research on women Spanish speakers in the workplace, and the communication patterns of African American women as it relates to heart disease in the south. Ranata has a work background of outreach, communications, and programming spanning the non-profit, government, and private sectors.
|Erica Lindenberg, Project Assistant – Greensboro, NC
Erica is a Project Assistant for PB in Greensboro, NC. She received her B.A. in Psychology with minors in Nonprofit Studies and Spanish from North Carolina State University. During her undergraduate career, she coordinated outreach initiatives with Habitat for Humanity and the Latino Economic Development Center in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the PBP team, Erica worked with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension conducting Fair Housing education across the state. She is particularly interested in the civic engagement of traditionally marginalized communities and is excited to be a part of PB in her hometown!
|Lila Barrett, Development and Operations Assistant – New York
Lila supports development and operations at PBP’s East Coast office. As a Brooklyn native, Lila has grown up around rapid urban transformation and displacement, leading to her interest in urban social justice. She first heard of PB while researching ways to address resident engagement in NYC public housing. Lila received her BA in Urban Studies from the New School, where her focus was racial justice and spatial politics.
|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.