Shari Davis, Executive Director
Melissa Appleton, Senior Project Manager
Elizabeth Crews, Director, Democracy Beyond Elections
Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager
Kristania De Leon, Network Building Manager
Kim Izar, Development Manager
Antonnet Johnson, Participation Design Strategist
Julia Sillen, Operations Coordinator
Ingrid Haftel, Manager, Democracy Beyond Elections
Rahel Mekdim Teka, Communications Manager
Kayla Knight, Program Associate
Shari Davis, Executive Director

Shari Davis, Executive Director
Oakland | shari@participatorybudgeting.org | @shari_davis1

Shari is the Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project . She joined PBP staff after nearly 15 years of service and leadership in local government. As Director of Youth Engagement and Employment for the City of Boston she launched Youth Lead the Change, the first youth participatory budgeting process in the US, which won the US Conference of Mayors’ City Livability Award. Shari first got involved in city government in high school, serving as the Citywide Neighborhood Safety Coordinator on the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council and working at the Mayor’s Youthline. Shari is a graduate of Boston University’s Sargent College for Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and holds a master’s degree in anatomy and physiology.

Melissa Appleton, Senior Project Manager

Melissa Appleton, Program Director
Brooklyn | melissa@participatorybudgeting.org

Melissa oversees training and consulting for PB processes across the U.S. and Canada, and heads the Participation Lab, which develops tools and resources to support PB advocacy and implementation. She has led major advocacy efforts around PB and civic engagement, including helping establish the NYC Civic Engagement Commission, the first body of its kind approved by voters in North America. Melissa has trained hundreds of volunteers, civic leaders, elected officials, educators, and city staff on PB implementation in cities and schools. She brings a passion for collective decision-making to PB, with a Masters degree in Peace Education from Columbia University and over eight years of experience supporting group and interpersonal dialogue at the largest community mediation organization in the US, New York Peace Institute. Melissa is a proud Canadian and worked internationally in Israel, Kosovo, and East Timor before settling in NYC. Outside of the office, you can find her at the ceramics studio, biking to the beach, and grocery shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop.

Elizabeth Crews, Director, Democracy Beyond Elections

Elizabeth Crews, Director, Democracy Beyond Elections
Brooklyn | elizabeth@participatorybudgeting.org

Elizabeth leads Democracy Beyond Elections, PBP’s national collaborative campaign. Elizabeth brings over 10 years in nonprofit management, research, and fundraising. She started her own consulting firm, Mockingbird Strategies, where she has consulted political parties, candidates, nonprofits, and foundations on political organizing, advocacy campaigns, and community outreach strategies. Most recently, she founded and led UnifiEd, a public education advocacy organization in Chattanooga, TN focused on improving public education by expanding public participation in the school system, from the classroom to the board of education.

Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager

Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Director
Brooklyn | kristina@participatorybugeting.org

Kristina ensures the smooth running and continuous improvement of PBP's operational and financial activities, providing the infrastructure necessary to make our programmatic work successful. Prior to joining PBP, Kristina worked for an environmentally focused nonprofit in Washington, DC where she managed the organization's separation from a fiscal sponsor to become its own 501c3 entity. During this experience, she gained valuable insight on how to create systems and processes that work not only for the organization, but for the team members as well. Kristina is looking forward to creating new—and enhancing current—internal controls to steward PBP to the next level organizationally.

Kristania_DeLeon

Kristania De Leon, Director of Partnerships and Strategy
Oakland | kristania@participatorybudgeting.org

Kristania manages PBP's network building and advocacy to increase the demand, visibility and impact of PB efforts across North America. She brings over a decade of non-profit experience having worked with domestic and international teams committed to improving human rights, social determinants of health, justice, equity and diversity. Her work has focused on public policy and advocacy, community-driven programming and engagement, cross-sector capacity building, networked movement building, and social justice. She obtained her BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and her MA in Social Innovation from the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice.

Kim Izar, Development Manager

Kim Izar, Development Manager
Oakland | kimberly@participatorybudgeting.org

Kim oversees PBP's funder and donor relationships and is committed to energizing our supporters to build a democracy that works for all. Prior to joining PBP, Kim was the Development Manager for Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), the largest San Francisco community development organization for Latino families providing generational asset building, community leadership, and educational programming. During her time at MEDA, she supported an expansive portfolio of foundation, corporate, and government funders, including the securement of a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Kim also spent time at global nonprofit organizations Kiva.org and Room to Read and is deeply passionate about elevating the voices of POC communities in political, economic, and creative spaces.

Antonnet Johnson, Participation Design Strategist

Antonnet Johnson (Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow), Participation Design Strategist
Brooklyn | antonnet@participatorybudgeting.org

Antonnet develops, tests, and supports implementation of design solutions with the goal of improving PBP's services and processes. Her work facilitates the growth of participatory democracy and advancement of equity, diversity, and inclusion by using design to enhance the ease of use and accessibility of PBP services and processes. To do this, she draws from nearly a decade of experience developing and analyzing the connections among audience, purpose, and contexts of communication. She earned her PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona, where she taught a variety of writing courses, co-founded a Usability and Play Testing Lab, and worked as a Writing Program Administrator for two years. Prior to being named a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and joining PBP, she taught classes in Professional Writing at Purdue University. Outside of work, Antonnet loves traveling, spending time with her partner and their dogs, playing games (computer and tabletop/board), and baking.

Julia Sillen, Operations Coordinator

Julia Sillen, Operations Coordinator
Brooklyn | juliasillen@participatorybudgeting.org

Julia helps manage PBP’s operational and organizational infrastructure to ensure the team has the tools and information they need to increase programmatic capacity and reach. Prior to joining PBP, she was the Studio Manager at Noble Plateware, a production pottery studio in Brooklyn. She previously worked as the Education Program Coordinator at the Horticultural Society of New York, where she developed and implemented public programs for youth focusing on horticultural restoration and urban green infrastructure. Outside of work, Julia enjoys making functional ceramics, cooking elaborate meals, and gardening.

Ingrid Haftel, Manager, Democracy Beyond Elections

Ingrid Haftel, Manager, Democracy Beyond Elections | ingrid@participatorybudgeting.org

Ingrid manages Democracy Beyond Elections, PBP's collaborative campaign to win structural democracy reforms that deepen participatory democracy and civic engagement, beyond and between elections. She is especially excited to work with the PBP team and partners to explore and expand participatory democracy as a tool for equity, inclusion, and justice. Ingrid has been working at the intersection of civic engagement, popular education, and design for nearly ten years. Before joining the Democracy Beyond Elections Team, she oversaw Community Education programs at the Center for Urban Pedagogy and directed cultural organizing campaigns at Peoples Climate Movement. Her other past lives include being a curator at an architecture foundation, a mender and shelver of library books, and a pizza slinger. Ingrid earned her B.A. in English and Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington, and her M.A. in Humanities at the University of Chicago.

Rahel Mekdim Teka, Communications Manager

Rahel Mekdim Teka, Communications Manager |
rahel@participatorybudgeting.org

Rahel is an organizer, facilitator, and writer based in Oakland, CA. She is passionate about building power, storytelling, and Ethiopian food. A member of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), Rahel strives to bring a Black Queer Feminist lens to all aspects of her life. She is the Communications Manager at the Participatory Budgeting Project, a national organization that creates and supports opportunities for communities to decide how public money is spent. In her spare time you can find Rahel watching movies, reading, and exploring new cities. If you ever need to buy her favor, books by Black women authors and tequila based cocktails are the way - don't worry, she'll drop hints.

Kayla Knight, Program Associate

Kayla Knight, Program Associate
kayla@participatorybudgeting.org

Kayla serves as a program associate on PBP’s technical assistance team. She is responsible for supporting the delivery of training, consulting, and capacity building services for government and schools. As a high school student, Kayla helped implement the first youth-led participatory budgeting process in Boston. Since then, Kayla has been dedicated to improving economic development in Black and Brown communities and making government more accessible to immigrants and refugees. Prior to joining PBP, she spent time at nonprofit organizations Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets and Yellow House Kuala Lumpur. Outside of work, you can find Kayla reading, hiking, and learning Spanish.