Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director
Josh Lerner, Co-Executive Director
Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director
Melissa Appleton, Senior Project Manager
Elizabeth Crews, Development Manager
Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager
KristaniaDeLeon
Antonnet Johnson, Participation Design Strategist
KIM_31
Mike Fine, Policy Research Intern
Loren Peabody, Research Fellow

Shari Davis, Co-Executive Director

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

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 Lerner, Co-Executive Director
Brooklyn | josh@participatorybudgeting.org | @joshalerner

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 Godzeno, Senior Director, Partnerships & Strategy
Brooklyn | jennifer@participatorybudgeting.org

Jennifer is a nationally-recognized expert at building interdisciplinary coalitions and initiatives that affect 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 family in Stamford, CT, where she serves as an appointed member of the city planning board and is active in her local church.

 

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, Development Manager

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

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 classroom to the board of education.

 

Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager

Kristina Banks, Finance & Operations Manager
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, Network Building Manager
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.

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

Rahel is a community organizer, facilitator, and Black queer immigrant feminist writer based in Oakland, CA. She is passionate about building power from the margins, story-telling, and Ethiopian food. As a member and former NYC Organizing Chair of BYP100 she strives to bring a Black Queer Feminist lens to all aspects of her life. In her spare time find Rahel watching movies, reading, and exploring new cities, bars, and restaurants. If you ever need to buy her favor, books written by Black women and tequila based cocktails are the way. Don’t worry, she’ll drop hints.

 

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.

 

KIM_31

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.

 

Mike Fine, Policy Research Intern

Mike Fine, Policy Research Intern
New Jersey | michael@participatorybudgeting.org

Michael helps support PBP's network building projects, specifically focusing on expanding participatory budgeting in New Jersey. A New Jersey native, Michael is excited to bring the revolutionary power of PB to his home state and see how citizens improve their communities. Michael is a graduate of Rutgers University New Brunswick with a BA in Political Science and Sociology, and was very active in promoting political engagement in high school students through organizing Model United Nations and Model Congress conferences at the University. Outside of work, Michael enjoys tabletop and video games, as well as cooking and baking.

 

Loren Peabody, Research Fellow

Loren Peabody, Research Fellow
Madison | loren@participatorybudgeting.org

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 Workers’ 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.