Our main office is in Brooklyn, and we also have an office in Oakland, CA. See full bios at the bottom of the page.
- Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director | Oakland
email@example.com - @shari_davis1
- Josh Lerner, Co-Executive Director | Brooklyn
firstname.lastname@example.org – @joshalerner
- Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director | Brooklyn
- Ginny Browne, Senior Manager of Network Building | Oakland
- Melissa Appleton, Project Manager | Brooklyn
- Francesco Tena, Project Manager | Brooklyn
- Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager | Brooklyn email@example.com
- Elizabeth Crews, Development Manager | Brooklyn
- Bitsy Bentley, Product Manager, myPB.community | Brooklyn
- Antonnet Johnson, (Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow), Participation Design Strategist | Brooklyn
- Ashley Brennan, Program & Communications Coordinator | Oakland
- Susan Kalaz, Development & Program Associate | Brooklyn
- Loren Peabody, Research Fellow | Madison, WI
Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director
Shari oversees PBP's advocacy work, technical assistance, and operations. 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.
Josh Lerner, Co-Executive Director
Josh is co-founder and co-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
Jennifer is a nationally-recognized expert at building interdisciplinary coalitions and initiatives that effect equitable community development. She is a 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. At PBP, she leads organization-wide strategic planning to ensure our programs and internal operations reflect the qualities that make participatory budgeting uniquely effective: empowerment, transparency, and radical inclusion. Jennifer brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit management, grassroots advocacy, and community-grounded research. As a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and as Planning Director at Transportation Alternatives, she advanced the field of active design through innovations in community outreach and data-driven infrastructure investment, including engagement with low-income communities of color. She holds Master of Public Health and MS Urban Planning degrees from Columbia University, and double-majored in neuroscience and music at Amherst College. Jennifer resides with her husband and daughter in Stamford, CT, where she serves as an appointed member of the city planning board and is active in her local church.
Ginny Browne, Senior Manager of Network Building
Ginny manages PBP’s demand-building program to expand the number of PB processes across North America . 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 (Vallejo, CA), and the first PB process in the U.S. to distribute Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Urban Development (Oakland, CA). She has managed a multi-year grant from the California Endowment to support PB education and several pilot processes in “Building Healthy Communities” sites across the state. 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
Melissa manages the implementation of PB projects and innovations on the East Coast. With over eight years of experience supporting group and inter-personal dialogue as a facilitator, mediator, and trainer at the largest community mediation organization in the US (New York Peace Institute), she brings a passion for collective decision-making to participatory budgeting. Melissa is happy to be supporting group deliberation with diverse communities more locally after doing conflict resolution work internationally in Timor-Leste, Kosovo, and Israel. She received a graduate degree in Peace Education from Columbia University and, though a proud Vancouver native, has called New York City home for over 11 years.
Francesco Tena, Project Manager
Francesco guides and grows PB across the U.S. and Canada. He started his career as a teenager in City Hall, surrounded by adults who actually listened. Since then, Francesco has been dedicated to addressing youth employment disparities, developing meaningful civic engagement in local government, and empowering people to take control of their future (and their budgets). Prior to joining PBP, Francesco worked in youth development for 10 years. At the Boston Public Health Commission, he supported programming designed to diversify the pool of health professionals in Boston. Francesco then went on to lead youth civic engagement for the City of Boston as the Manager of the Mayor’s Youth Council. In this capacity, he oversaw the first three cycles of Youth Lead the Change, the nation’s first youth exclusive PB process and winner of the 2016 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. Francesco is also a tech enthusiast and wannabe chess master.
Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager
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 it's 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.
Elizabeth Crews, Development Manager
Elizabeth manages PBP’s institutional fundraising. 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 class room to the board of education.
Bitsy Bentley, Product Manager myPB.community
Bitsy crafts meaningful data experiences that facilitate well-informed decisions. She supports PBP's mission with the design and development of a Community Data Hub that makes data on community needs and public spending accessible to non-profits, advocates, and residents of communities using participatory budgeting processes. Bitsy comes to PBP after a decade in the market research industry where she was recognized as a leader in audience-focused data communication. She is thrilled to leverage her experience with data visualization and research communication strategy to building a more equitable democracy. When not occupied with her work as a data practitioner she is an artist and climate activist that creates genetically diverse, resilient ecosystems using indigenous farming and plant breeding techniques.
Antonnet Johnson (Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow), Participation Design Strategist
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.
Ashley Brennan, Program & Communications Coordinator
Ashley transforms public school systems so that they empower students with real power over the real money that impacts their lives. She strengthens local civic engagement efforts across North America by supporting a Network of civic leaders and co-coordinating convenings to connect government officials, researchers, young people, and community leaders. To elevate this work, and the work of her team, Ashley manages PBP’s communications and curates how we tell our stories. She is a graduate of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, where she synthesized the first formal evaluation of youth PB in Romania as her honors thesis using interdisciplinary training in psychology and human rights—and with a focus on ways to apply social science research towards social change. In-between reshaping democracy and hiking across Northern California, find her leading group fitness classes; she thrives in communities that challenge each other to be stronger in all definitions of the word, together.
Susan Kalaz, Development & Program Associate
Susan drives PBP’s work to grow a powerful base of individual supporters. She hosts relationship-building events and creates campaigns to engage PB enthusiasts. Susan joins PBP after over five years of student organizing at the City University of New York (CUNY), where she received her BA and continues to be an active community member. As a member of the Student Organization for Democratic Alternatives (SODA) at CUNY Queens College, she worked to institute a student-led PB process. Susan is also one of the founding members of PB-CUNY, a coalition of the PB processes on four different CUNY campuses that fosters the current PB processes and spreads PB throughout the CUNY system. When not strategizing on how to empower her various communities, Susan can be found tweaking her baking recipes in hopes of creating the perfect vegan brownies.
Loren Peabody, Research Fellow
Loren contributes research to the PB Participation Lab in collaboration with external researchers and PBP staff in order to develop better understandings of the impacts of PB on individuals, communities, and democracy. At the same time he is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the Sociology Department. There he researches the potentials and limits that progressive governments face when attempting to forge more equitable economic development strategies; his master’s thesis examined Brazilian development policies under Worker’s Party administrations and his dissertation is turning to progressive U.S. cities. Loren is also highly dedicated to undergraduate teaching and has taught courses introducing students to sociology, international studies, American society, urban sociology, and demography at UW Madison and CUNY campuses. Before entering academia, Loren was a carpenter and he continues to greatly enjoy building furniture in his spare time.