Staff

Our main office is in Brooklyn, and we also have an office in Oakland, CA. See full bios at the bottom of the page.

Boards
Shari

Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director
Oakland

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

Josh Lerner, Co-Executive Director
Brooklyn

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

Hadassah

Hadassah Damien, Director of Data and Technology
Brooklyn

Hadassah Damien develops and designs digital and analog technologies that are human-centered, accessible, and grow communities. As a technologist with nine years experience building within grassroots movements, and a community organizer for over a dozen years, she intersects functionality with agility, practicality, and the democratic politics of open-source cultures in her work. At PBP, Hadassah develops and manages Participation Lab projects, works with other civic technologists to better the ecosystem of digital PB tools, and builds interfaces to deliver data to humans. Hadassah Damien is also a multimedia artist, LGBTQ community art curator, and economic justice writer. Before joining PBP, she was a worker-owner at Openflows Community Technology. She holds a MA in American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center, and a HBA in English & Semiotics from the University of Toronto. She blogs at femmetech.org, tweets @hadassahdamien, and absolutely wants to hear about your relevant ideas and tech projects. When not hacking for a more equitable world, she can be found on her bicycle.

Jen

Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director
Brooklyn

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

Ginny Browne, Senior Manager of Network Building
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

Melissa Appleton, Project Manager
Brooklyn

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

Francesco Tena, Project Manager
Oakland

Francesco guides and grows PB on the West Coast. 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.

Lize

Lize Mogel, Development and Design Strategist
Brooklyn

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.

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Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager
Brooklyn

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

Elizabeth Crews, Development Manager
Brooklyn

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

Bitsy Bentley, Product Manager myPB.community
Brooklyn

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.

Ashley

Ashley Brennan, Program & Communications Coordinator
Oakland

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.

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Susan Kalaz, Development & Program Associate
Brooklyn

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.

Jake

Jake Carlson, Research Fellow
Brooklyn

Jake supports PBP’s efforts to build shared research and evaluation tools across North America. He is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has already completed his Master’s Degree. Previously, he was the transportation equity coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and the New York State Transportation Equity Alliance. He helps coordinate the Research Committee for the Right to the City Alliance, and is a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 3220. His research is on urban transformation, and how communities can pursue development without displacement. Jake’s work has been focused on what happens when people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.