Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors includes a mix of PB participants and experts.
- Silaka Cox – Fund for the City of New York – New York City
- Biola Jeje – Resist Here/Working Families Organization – Washington D.C.
- Giovanni Allegretti – Centre of Social Studies – Coimbra, Portugal
- Shymaine Davis – CPA – Baltimore
- Joanna Duarte Laudon– City of Toronto – Toronto
- Michael Freedman-Schnapp – Forsyth Street – New York City
- Alexandra Flynn – University of Toronto – Toronto
- Evan Graner – Landor – New York City
- Gabriel Hetland – University at Albany -Albany, NY
- Isaac Jabola-Carolus – CUNY Graduate Center – New York City
- Alexander Kolokotronis – Yale University – New Haven, CT
- Aseem Mulji – University of California – Berkeley, CA
- Whitney Quesenbery – Center for Civic Design – New York City
- Richard Raya – City of Oakland – Oakland, CA
- Erin Sanborn – Independent consultant – Taos, New Mexico
- Daniel Schugurensky – University of Arizona – Tempe, Arizona
- Donata Secondo – Democracy Fund – Washington, DC
- Robert Sherman, PhD – Independent consultant – New York City
- Santa Soriano-Vasquez – Director of Governmental Affairs at the Community Service Society of NY – New York City
- Anne Stuhldreher – Financial Justice Project, City and County of San Francisco – San Francisco
- Celina Su – City University of New York – New York City
- Rachel Swaner – Center for Court Innovation – New York City
- Aaron Tanaka – Center for Economic Democracy – Boston
- David Vlahov– Yale University – New Haven/New York City
- Meg Wade – Seattle
Board of Directors
Michael Menser (Chair) – City University of New York – New York City
Menser is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College and Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, and he is the Chair of the Board of The Participatory Budgeting Project. His current research focuses on participatory democracy, urban environmentalism, food sovereignty, and the “solidarity economy.” Menser is an active member of the PSC-CUNY faculty union and has worked with a range of labor, neighborhood and direct action groups including the NYC and World Social Forum, US Solidarity Economy Network, Brooklyn Food Coalition and the Participatory Budgeting 45th District Committee in NYC.
Vishal Gujadhur (Treasurer) – Gates Foundation –Washington D.C.
Vishal is a Senior Program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has been a Director in Standard Chartered Bank’s public sector client coverage group, which works with entities such as Ministries of Finance, central banks, and sovereign wealth funds. Prior to that, Vishal worked in Liberia as an advisor to the Finance Minister, as an economist at U.S. Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, and at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He holds a Masters in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has a strong interest in public financial management both in the US and abroad.
Alina Chatterjee (Board Secretary) – Scadding Court Community Centre – Toronto
Alina is Senior Director of Redevelopment and Innovations at Scadding Court Community Centre in Toronto. She has extensive experience in the community sector with a strong background in equity work, fundraising and program development. Some of her past work includes senior management positions with United Way Toronto and York Region, Toronto Community Housing, the City of Toronto, and she also served as Executive Assistant to City Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam. While at Toronto Community Housing, Alina managed the housing authority’s participatory budgeting process, the first housing process in North America. With a BA from the University of Toronto in international relations, she has been a volunteer member of several non-profit Boards, from Social Planning Toronto, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians to Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Alina currently sits on the Board of Drum Arts Canada in addition to PBP.
Silaka Cox – Fund for the City of New York – New York City
Silaka is a Program Associate at the Fund for the City of New York, and the recipient of the Linda Pitts Youth Development Award. She previously served as the Chief Operations Officer at the Rockaway Youth Task Force (RYTF). She joined RYTF in 2011 as a junior in high school in order to become more engaged and active in her community. In 2014, she was appointed as the youngest member of Community Board 14, and currently sits on the Transportation and Youth Services/Education committee. Silaka first become involved with PB in the first year of PBNYC in Council District 32. She has consistently stood up for PB in the Rockaways and beyond, working to ensure that youth and low-income communities of color are at the forefront. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs at Baruch College.
Mariko Davidson – Microsoft – San Francisco
Mariko builds cross sector city initiatives to leverage technology for the public good with Microsoft’s Technology and Corporate Responsibility team. For the past 11 years she’s worked with cities, specializing in governance, data policy, and transportation. Prior to Microsoft, Mariko started the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Open Data Initiative. She also served in the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Previously, she worked in the international diplomacy sector with cities and civic leaders across the Asia Pacific at the East-West Center. She holds a Master in City Planning from MIT.
Biola Jeje – Washington, DC
Biola is currently at the American Postal Workers Union doing social media and communications. Biola was previously the Statewide Coordinator of New York Students Rising, a statewide network of students dedicated to defending public higher education in New York State. A graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in Political Science, she got involved in Participatory Budgeting in New York City during its first cycle in September 2011, as an intern for Council Member Brad Lander in the 39th Council District.
Joey Lake – ZEISS – Vallejo, CA
Joey is a Senior HR Business Partner for medical technologies at ZEISS in Dublin, CA. He chaired the PB Vallejo Steering Committee in its initial years representing Better Vallejo, a civil and civic non-profit. As chair, Joey helped design the PB process, spoke on behalf of the Steering Committee to the media, guided the idea generating assemblies, facilitated two budget delegate committees, and staffed expos and voting locations throughout the city. He has acted as an ambassador for PB at conferences, in the Bay Area, and elsewhere. Joey chairs the personnel committee for PBP, having served as a Sr. HR Business Partner for over 15 years for both public and private companies within urban and environmental planning, architecture and engineering, and medical technology industries. Joey is a certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) and has a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola University New Orleans and an MBA from San Francisco State University.
Joe Moore – City of Chicago Alderman – Chicago
Alderman Joe Moore is a member of Chicago City Council. Since 1991 he has represented the city’s 49th Ward, which includes the Rogers Park neighborhood. He has been named the “Most Valuable Local Official” in the country by The Nation magazine, in recognition for his successful sponsorship of a resolution against the war in Iraq, measures requiring living wages for employees of big box retail stores, and environmental restrictions on Chicago’s coal-fired power plants. Starting in 2009, he launched the first participatory budgeting process in the US, inviting residents of his ward to directly decide how to spend his $1.3 million discretionary budget.
Christopher Wilson – The Bement School – Deerfield, MA
Christopher is Head of School at The Bement School, a K-9 day and boarding school in Deerfield. He believes that participatory budgeting can foster parental and student engagement, while helping parents and students advance their education and skills. He was previously head of Esperanza Academy, an independent, tuition-free middle school for underserved girls in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In an effort to increase parental school involvement (typically low among the school’s almost 90% Latino population), he created a parents’ Participatory Budgeting Committee to identify and select educational opportunities for Academy parents. Christopher also worked as the principal of Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, a tuition-free middle school for low-income boys. While at Saint Ignatius, he was named one of Baltimore’s most effective urban educators by researchers at Baltimore’s Loyola University. Christopher is a graduate of the University of Maryland Honors Program and Stanford University.
Nikita Airen – Citigroup – New York, NY
Nikita is the Head of the Operations & Technology Risk Management (OTRM) Business Office at Citi. Her responsibilities include planning, budgeting, executing, tracking and reporting Key initiatives across the organization. Her team is responsible for establishing best practices and ensuring compliance with relevant standards and policies, along with driving the communications and Voice of the Employee strategies across the function. Nikita joined Citi in June 2000 as an Associate in the Business Training Program. Since then, she has held various positions helping implement global strategic initiatives for the company. Nikita is a graduate of SUNY Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and is a certified Project Manager (PMP). She’s an active volunteer for several internal organizations at Citi and the New York Women’s Bond Club.
Giovanni Allegretti – Centre of Social Studies at the University of Coimbra – Coimbra, Portugal
Giovanni is an architect, planner and and senior researcher at the Centre of Social Studies, at the University of Coimbra. Since 1997, his main research topics are Participatory Budgets and citizens’ participation to urban planning, issues on which he published several articles, essays and books in different languages, served as a consultant for projects of the Council of Europe, the World Bank, UN-Habitat, and United Cities and Local Governments. He teaches at Coimbra’s School of Economics, co-directing the interdisciplinary Ph.D. “Democracy in the XXI century” and coordinating the PEOPLES’ Observatory on Participation, Innovation and Local Powers. For 2014-2019 he has been appointed by the Italian Parliament as co-chair of the Independent Authority for the Guarantee and Promotion of Participation of the Tuscany Region, which includes the management of an annual fund to promote participatory culture at the local level. He coordinates the international Project “EMPATIA: Enabling Multichannel Participation Through ICT Adaptations,” which has developed a comprehensive tech platform for PB, funded by the European Commission.
Marti Brown – City of Arvin – Arvin, CA
Marti’s passion for building healthier communities and better government has led her to a life of public service. For more than 15 years, she has served the citizens of Berkeley, Sacramento, Vallejo and now Arvin, California in helping to develop and implement public policy best practices in local government, including urban planning and redevelopment. Currently, Marti is the Community Development Director of the City of Arvin, CA. She manages the day-to-day operations and administration of the Planning, Building Inspection, Code Enforcement, Maintenance and Infrastructure, and Parks and Recreation Divisions. From December 2009 to January 2014, Marti served on the Vallejo City Council, during and after municipal bankruptcy. During her tenure, she spearheaded bringing Participatory Budgeting (PB) to the City of Vallejo for the first city-wide PB process in North America. She holds a MBA, MA in Geography and a BA in Environmental Studies. When not working, traveling or enjoying a spa day, Marti lives in Frazier Park, CA.
Shymaine Davis, CPA – Baltimore, MD
Shymaine brings over 20 years of financial management experience dedicated to the government and nonprofit environment. She served as an adjunct professor with Baltimore City Community College and Howard Community College throughout her accounting career. Then she recognized her passion of educating youth on career and job readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. As an advocate of community schools, she works with Harford Business Center, which collaborates with community organizations to support youth with workforce development, job placement, training support, monitoring and evaluation. Shymaine is the Treasurer for the Woodholme Elementary School PTA, member on Neighborhood United, Treasurer for Friendly Loving Organization (FLO) and member of Cristata Cares. She first got involved with PBP as part of the Planning Committee for PB in Baltimore.
Karen Dolan – Institute for Policy Studies – Washington D.C.
Karen is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where she has worked since 1996. She holds an M.A. With Highest Distinction in Philosophy and Social Policy from the American University in Washington DC. At IPS she directs the Cities for Progress and Cities for Peaceprojects, which link community-led organizations with policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels. Her work focuses on local democracy/empowerment, peace, anti-poverty and economic equality. She helped pilot participatory budgeting in Chicago’s 49th Ward, the first municipal participatory budgeting process in the US. She is currently collaborating with NY-Times Best-Selling Author Barbara Ehrenreich to tell the stories of the millions of Americans affected by the Great Recession. Karen regularly appears in print and broadcast media, and some of her publications include: Battered By Storm: How The Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It; Our Communities are Not for Sale; Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of War in Iraq, Unleash Democracy in Mandate for Change, and Foreign Policy Goes Local. She also serves on the boards of The Backbone Campaign, The Liberty Tree Foundation, and the Jobs With Justice Worker Rights Board.
Joanna Duarte Laudon – City of Toronto – Toronto
Joanna is a Senior Policy and Research Officer at the City of Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto who completed her Master’s degree at York University in urban planning. She has researched and facilitated public participation programs in Venezuela and her hometown of Toronto. In 2009 and 2010 she co-facilitated two participatory evaluations of Toronto Community Housing’s PB process, working with a team of public housing tenants and staff to research and improve the process. Joanna has also worked with community organizations such as Barrio Nuevo, Manifesto Community Projects, and the Hispanic Development Council.
Michael Freedman-Schnapp – Forsyth Street – New York City
Michael is a Vice President at Forsyth Street, a financial advisory firm. He works in all of the firm’s practice areas, with particular emphasis on advising clients in the areas of impact investment, community development, and clean energy finance. Prior to Forsyth, Michael served the New York City Council for five years, most recently as the Director of the Policy & Innovation Division. In this position, he directed the expansion of Participatory Budgeting to over half of New York City, the compilation of the Council’s platform to combat climate change, and the drafting of landmark legislation reforming the Council’s rules to make the body more democratic, effective, and transparent. Prior to that, he served as Director of Policy of the Office of Council Member Brad Lander, where among other efforts, he helped plan and launch what became the largest Participatory Budgeting process in North America. Michael is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where he teaches a course on Participatory Policymaking. Michael holds a Master of Urban Planning from the NYU Wagner School and a B.A. in Archaeology from the University of Virginia.
Alexandra Flynn – University of Toronto – Toronto
Alex is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto (Scarborough) where she teaches and researches in the areas of property law and urban governance. Her current project focuses on the role of communities and neighborhoods in city governance. She is also involved in a long-term project examining the relationship between Indigenous and municipal governments in planning decisions. Alex has over ten years of experience as a lawyer and senior policy official, most recently at the City of Toronto where she focused on intergovernmental relations. Prior to that, she represented First Nations on land use, contract, transactional and treaty issues. Alex is also a fierce advocate of access to justice and broadening civic engagement, including broadening the use of participatory budgeting. When not working, you can find her hiking, cycling and camping with her family, including two young sons.
Evan Graner – Landor – New York City
A proud native of North Dakota, Evan Graner is a Director in the Brand Engagement practice at Landor, the world’s leading brand and design consultancy. At Landor, he helps the leaders of major companies devise strategic plans for applying their brand in leading their business strategy and then activating that strategy with employees; participatory budgeting is quite similar, simply replace business leaders with city leaders and employees with residents. Additionally, Evan’s has had the joy of seeing the country’s mayors in action via past work in Global Public Affairs at Citi, including work with their sponsorship of the US Conference of Mayors. He also votes in his participatory budgeting process as a resident of New York City’s third district (the west side of Manhattan from TriBeCa to Hell’s Kitchen). Evan joined the Advisory Board in 2016 because he believes that now – more than ever – it is paramount for residents to make their voices heard so that there can be transparency and accountability in the distribution and use of public money.
Jez Hall – PB Partners – Lancaster, UK
Jez is a member of PB Partners, and he was a long-time associate of the UK based PB Unit.He has worked on promoting Participatory Budgeting (PB) in England, Scotland and Wales since August 2000. As well as his work establishing the PB Unit, supporting the early English pilots and advising local authorities, he is now focusing on a new project of PB with children and young people as a way to develop citizenship skills and create new opportunities for personal empowerment. Jez was previously employed by Lancaster University Management School as a social enterprise business analyst. Between 2005 and 2007 he was a non-executive director of Central Manchester Primary Care Trust, with oversight of community engagement and children services. Jez also spent 10 years working for a community architecture charity advising community groups on project development, community organizing and community led regeneration. In 2009 he established Shared Future CIC, a not for profit company specializing in supporting Social Enterprise.
Sandy Heierbacher – National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation – Boston
Sandy is the director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), which brings together people and groups across the US who actively practice, promote and study inclusive, high quality conversations. Sandy has consulted for such organizations as the Corporation for National Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Kettering Foundation in the areas of intergroup dialogue, public participation and deliberative democracy. Sandy has an M.A. in International Management from SIT Graduate Institute.
Gabriel Hetland – University at Albany – Albany, NY
Gabriel is assistant professor of Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies and Sociology (by courtesy) at University at Albany, SUNY. He completed his PhD in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation examined participatory budgeting in Venezuela and Bolivia, looking at the similarities and differences in how PB is implemented in municipalities run by Left and Right parties. He has also conducted research on PB in Vallejo, CA, and is a member of the Research Advisory Board for PB Vallejo. Gabriel has written about PB, social movements, and politics in Latin America and the US for The Nation, NACLA, CounterPunch, Dollars and Sense, and ZNET and his work appears in several edited volumes on Latin America, social movements, and the Occupy movement.
Isaac Jabola-Carolus – City University of New York – New York City
Isaac is a PhD student at the City University of New York. From 2012 to 2014, he served as a PBP Project Assistant, supporting PB processes in New York City and Boston. Prior to joining PBP, he worked with the New York Hotel Trades Council and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center. A graduate of Brown University with a degree in Development Studies, he has also researched and written about participatory democracy in social movements.
Alexander Kolokotronis — Yale University – New Haven, CT
Alexander is a PhD student in political science at Yale University, where he is an active member of UNITE-HERE Local 33, the union of graduate employees. His research focuses on participatory democracy and workers’ self-management. He is the Founder and Board Director of Student Organization for Democratic Alternatives (SODA). With SODA he has coordinated or assisted in the implementation of four PB processes at City University of New York. As Student Coordinator of NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives and Worker Cooperative Development Assistant at Make the Road New York (MRNY), he advocated for passage and subsequent enhancement of the Worker Cooperative Development Initiative (WCBDI) and aided in the development of worker cooperatives.
Rachel Laforest – Retail Action Project – New York City
Rachel directs the Retail Action Project, a member-based organization with the mission of building worker power, elevating industry standards, and promoting family-sustaining jobs. She was previously the Executive Director of the Right to the City Alliance, and she spent eight years working with progressive labor, directing the Organizing and Public Policy departments of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 and Actors Equity Association (AEA). Rachel organized and led multiple mobilizations of thousands of TWU members to City Hall and the state government; conducted extensive research and designed education and training in public policy for union members and officers; and was a lead coordinator for TWU during the 2005 New York City transit strike, after which the union leadership was jailed. Prior to her career with TWU and AEA, Rachel served as Lead Organizer/Co-Campaign Director for Jobs with Justice/ New York, building community-labor solidarity and joint action and co-coordinating the campaign that won an increase of $2 per hour in the minimum wage for New York State. Rachel holds a BA from Hunter College/CUNY in Political Science (Black & Puerto Rican Studies) and Education. She has served on the Steering Committee for Participatory Budgeting in New York City.
Steve Larosiliere – Stoked – Chicago
In 2005, Steve founded Stoked, a mentoring organization with the purpose of promoting personal development, academic achievement, and healthy living to underserved youth through action sports culture. Prior to founding Stoked, Steve worked at Mentoring USA as a mentor recruiter where he advocated for foster care youth by presenting the benefits of mentoring to corporations and government officials. He holds a BA in History from Stony Brook University and an MPA from Baruch College School of Public Affairs.
Matt Leighninger – Public Agenda – Hamilton, ON
Matt is Director of Public Engagement at Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues and work together to find solutions. Public Agenda coordinates local research and evaluation for Participatory Budgeting in North America. Before joining Public Agenda Matt served as the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC), an alliance of the major organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement. Matt is a Senior Associate for Everyday Democracy, and serves on the boards of E-Democracy.Org, the National School Public Relations Association, and The Democracy Imperative.
Aseem Mulji – University of California – Berkeley, CA
Aseem is a law student at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped to implement the first citywide participatory budgeting process in Vallejo, California and, from 2014 to 2016, served as PBP’s Data & Technology Manager. While at PBP, Aseem helped to launch the Participation Lab and worked with public institutions to integrate technology thoughtfully and responsibly in PB processes. He looks forward to using legal expertise in service of participatory democracy and social justice.
Tiago Peixoto – World Bank Institute – Washington, DC
Tiago is currently an open government specialist with the ICT4Gov program of the World Bank Institute (WBI)’s Open Governance cluster. Prior to joining the Bank, Tiago managed projects and worked as an advisor and consultant for various organizations in the field of participation and technology, such as the European Commission, OECD, the United Nations, and the Brazilian and UK Governments. He is also a research coordinator of the Electronic Democracy Centre, a joint venture of the European University Institute, the University of Zurich and the Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford. Tiago is one of the leading experts on online and digital engagement in PB.
Whitney Quesenbery – Center for Civic Design – New York City
Whitney is co-director of the Center for Civic Design, the home of the Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent and the Anywhere Ballot. She and the CCD team work to create a better voter journey from inviting more people to be voters through automatic registration, election guides that help them be informed voters, better ballots (including usability testing ballots for PB in New York), and modern voting systems. She has worked with election departments from Connecticut to California helping them make elections easier, more usable, and more accessible. Her work in civic design began with her appointment to the EAC Federal advisory committee writing the first usability requirements for voting systems. Whitney brings her expertise in UX research, accessibility and plain language, and a passion for understanding the story behind the data to her work. She is the author of three book about user experience: A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experience, Storytelling in User Experience, andGlobal UX: Design and Research in a Connected World. Whitney and co-director Dana Chisnell teach a ground-breaking course in Election Design at the University of Minnesota.
Richard Raya – City of Oakland – Oakland, CA
As Chief of Staff for an Oakland City Councilmember, Richard worked with PBP to help spearhead Oakland’s first-ever participatory budgeting process, the first in the US with federal funds (HUD Community Development Block Grants). He also mediated community benefit negotiations between market-rate housing developers and community activists, resulting in plans for mixed-income buildings, below-market retail space, union labor, local-hire targets, and funds for neighborhood participatory budgeting projects. Before this, Richard served as Executive Director of Youth Radio, and Director of Administrative Services for the Alameda County Public Health Department. Richard grew up in one of California’s largest Section 8 housing complexes. After dropping out of high school, he went to community college, then transferred to U.C. Berkeley. He earned a B.A. in English and a Master’s in Public Policy. He’s accompanied on his journey by his urban-planner wife, five sons, and their rescue dog, a pit bull named Dazzle Rathbone.
Erin Sanborn – Taos, NM
Erin has worked throughout the US to improve communities’ economic resiliency, through the integration of environmental stewardship, social justice and economic development. For 30 years she has provided conflict resolution and organizational development support to help organizations tackle complex problems. She has served as a consultant, leadership coach, project and program manager, conference organizer, trainer, public speaker, facilitator and mediator for the US Environmental Protection Agency, MIT, Intel, the Alliance for Community Care, the Taos Community Foundation, and dozens of other organizations, institutions, and businesses. Erin specializes in the design and management of complex multi-stakeholder (government agencies, nonprofit/NGOs, communities, businesses) collaborative processes focused on the quality of education, transportation, healthcare and sustainable development.
Daniel Schugurensky – Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
Daniel is a professor in the School of Social Transformation and in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. He is particularly interested in the connections between participatory democracy, citizenship education and community engagement. Daniel has helped organize three international conferences on citizenship learning and participatory democracy (Toronto 2003, Toronto 2008, Rosario 2010). He has conducted research on Participatory Budgeting in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Canada, paying special attention to the educational dimension of participatory budgeting. He co-edited the book “Learning citizenship by practicing democracy: International initiatives and perspectives” (Cambridge Scholarly Press, 2010). Other recent publications include “The Tango of Citizenship Learning and Participatory Democracy”, “’This is our school of citizenship’: Informal learning in local democracy”, “’I took a lot of stuff for granted’: Participatory budgeting and the Neighbourhood Support Coalition” (with Elizabeth Pinnington), “Who Learns What in Participatory Democracy? Participatory Budgeting in Rosario, Argentina” (with Josh Lerner), and “Participatory Budgeting in North America: The Case of Guelph, Canada” (with Elizabeth Pinnington and Josh Lerner).
Donata Secondo – Democracy Fund – Washington DC
Donata Secondo is the Manager of Learning and Strategy at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. As part of the Democracy Fund’s Strategy, Impact, and Learning team, she supports the organization in developing impactful systems-based strategies and in fostering an active learning culture for the organization, our grantees, and the broader field. Prior to joining the Democracy Fund in 2015, Donata worked as Program Associate with the Participatory Budgeting Project, where she managed the PBNYC process and helped engage thousands of NYC residents in directly allocating a portion of the city’s budget. Her research and experience working on PB has lead to several publications. Donata has a Masters of Science in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a BA in International Development.
Robert Sherman, PhD – New York City
Robert F Sherman Ph.D. works as a consultant to foundations and nonprofits in areas of education reform, youth development and leadership, and civic engagement. Recent clients include: Ford Foundation, Social Impact Exchange/Growth Philanthropy Network; Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, Movement Strategy Center, National Afterschool Association; City Year; Movement Strategy Center; Stuart Foundation; New Teacher Center, among others. Until March 2013 he served as Director, Initiative for Social and Emotional Learning at the NoVo Foundation. Prior to NoVo, Sherman served as Executive Director of the Action Center to End World Hunger, a division of Mercy Corps. The Action Center is an innovative, high-tech public and education/museum space that uses the lens of hunger to educate, inspire and mobilize action-taking (from personal to collective/political) against global poverty and hunger. Sherman founded and directed the national Effective Citizenry program at the Surdna Foundation in New York City, where he served for 15 years. The program supported organizations that help young people participate meaningfully in shaping civic and community life. Effective Citizenry funded youth organizing, youth media, policy development, service-learning, volunteering and a range of youth development strategies which promote individual growth, communal decision-making and youth-led social change. Prior to Surdna, Sherman served in New York City government for 8 years: as Executive Director of the Increase the Peace Volunteer Corps, a city-wide, grassroots race relations initiative of the Mayor’s office in New York City; and as Director of the Community Relations Institute, a think tank studying neighborhood-based responses to racial tension housed at the New York City Commission on Human Rights. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, and a BA from Haverford College.
Santa Soriano-Vasquez – Community Service Society – New York City
Santa is the Director of Government Relations at the Community Service Society of New York. She promotes and advances CSS’s legislative agenda and programs at the City, State and Federal levels by drawing attention to initiatives and issues that CSS takes on to systematically address the barriers to economic mobility of low income New Yorkers. She monitors proposed government policies and the annual city and state budget cycle, especially as they relate to funding CSS programs and initiatives. Prior to her current position, Santa worked as a Training/Technical Assistance Specialist for CSS/Center for Benefits and Services where she performed research, wrote publications, and conducted trainings on federal, State, and local government benefits programs. From 2002 to 2005, Santa worked with CSS/Retired and Senior Volunteer Program where she worked on the development of innovative volunteer programs related to disconnected youth, financial literacy and reentry issues to increase the capacity of CBOs through partnerships. Santa holds a Masters in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from City College of New York. She got involved with PB by serving for five years on the PBNYC Steering Committee and Research Board, and has worked as a PB budget delegate for her council district.
Anne Stuhldreher – Financial Justice Project, City and County of San Francisco
Anne is the Director of Financial Justice in the Office of the Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco is the first city in the nation to launch a Financial Justice Project to assess and reform how fines, fees, and financial penalties impact the cities’ most vulnerable residents. Throughout her career, Anne has advanced innovations in local economic empowerment, civic engagement and public interest journalism. In San Francisco, she brought people together to initiate and launch initiatives like: Bank on San Francisco (that spurs banks to create starter accounts for the estimated one in five Americans who don’t have them); the Working Families Credit, and Kindergarten to College. As a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, she helped start the WE Connect Campaign and Bank on California. She also served as a Senior Program Manager for the California Endowment, a statewide health justice philanthropic foundation that has invested in participatory budgeting across California. Formerly, Anne worked at the Ford Foundation, and was the Associate Director of Opportunity Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution in Northern California.
Celina Su – City University of New York – New York City
Celina is an associate professor of political science at the City University of New York and co-founding executive director of the Burmese Refugee Project, which employs participatory models to foster community development among Shan Burmese refugees in northwest Thailand. Her research focuses on civil society and the cultural politics of education and health policy. She has written numerous articles and two books on civic engagement and education policy: Streetwise for Book Smarts: Grassroots Organizing and Education Reform in the Bronx (Cornell University Press, 2009), and, co-authored with Gaston Alonso, Noel Anderson, and Jeanne Theoharis Our Schools Suck: Young People Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education (New York University Press, 2009). She serves on the Steering Committee for PBNYC.
Rachel Swaner – Center for Court Innovation – New York City
Rachel is a principal research associate for the Center for Court Innovation, focusing on youth programming at the Red Hook Community Justice Center. She is also working on a national portrait of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and the evaluation of Defending Childhood, the U.S. Attorney General’s multi-site initiative to address children’s exposure to violence. Prior to joining the Center, she was a research associate at the Harlem Children’s Zone, where she evaluated social, educational, and health programs for children and youth. Ms. Swaner received her B.S. and Master’s of Public Administration from New York University, and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center. She has served as a budget delegate in the 39th District in PBNYC.
Aaron Tanaka – Center for Economic Democracy – Boston
Aaron is the Director of the Center for Economic Democracy in Boston, and Co-Chair of the Board of the New Economy Coalition. He worked with PBP as the part-time lead organizer for the first youth participatory budgeting process in the US, in Boston. He was previously the founding Executive Director of the Boston Workers Alliance (2005-2012), where he built a grassroots organization that serves thousands of Boston residents with job search and CORI sealing services. He was co-chair for the Commonwealth CORI Coalition, a statewide network of over 135 labor, youth, community, faith and criminal justice organizations. Aaron has been intimately involved in policy and public program design at both city and state levels, including with the Boston’s CORI Ordinance, the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, and the Renew Boston program. In 2010, the BWA incorporated municipal Participatory Budgeting as an organizational goal, and began a grassroots education campaign to popularize the idea in Roxbury and Dorchester.
Tai Tsao – Meeteor – New York City
Tai is a Change Management Specialist at Meeteor. She is driven to help individuals, teams, and organizations lead changes with lasting impact. At Meeteor, Tai brings the lens of learning, behavioral science and organizational change to help Meeteor customers be more successful when adopting technology and integrating new ways of working. She develops content, programs, and educational materials to support the change adoption process including strategies for incorporating new meeting practices, communicating vision, and evaluating effectiveness. In addition, Tai writes about improving meeting effectiveness and developing high-performance teams. Prior to joining Meeteor, Tai worked as a change management and organizational development consultant in a variety of settings: domestic and abroad, internal and external, business and non-profit organizations. She was also the founder of i-Talent Learning Community, an organization that provides career development and mentoring programs for college students in Taiwan. Tai received her Master’s degree in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Banking from National ChengChi University. When not working and learning to unlock human potential, Tai enjoys exploring cultural activities in New York City as a local tourist.
Erik Olin Wright – University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin
Erik is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His academic work has focused on social stratification, class relations, and egalitarian social, economic, and political systems. Since 1992 he has directed The Real Utopias Project, which explores a wide range of proposals and models for radical social change. His books include Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance(with Archon Fung, Verso, 2003); Envisioning Real Utopias (Verso, 2010); American Society: How It Really Works (with Joel Rogers, W.W. Norton, 2010).
David Vlahov – Yale University – New Haven/New York City
David Vlahov, PhD RN, brings expertise in measuring health and well-being impacts of community-wide interventions. His data has contributed to health policy changes, including when he served on the New York City Board of Health. His study of Participatory Budgeting started during a Visiting Professorship with the Faculty of Medicine, Federal University Midas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He was the Founding President of the International Society for Urban Health, and is currently at the Yale University School of Nursing with a joint appointment in the Yale School of Public Health. He serves as Co-Director of the Culture of Health – Evidence for Action (E4A) – National Program Office for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Meg Wade – Seattle
Meg managed PBP’s operations until May 2015. Before joining staff, she served on the PBP Board of Directors for two years. She first participated in PB during the inaugural year of participatory budgeting in Chicago’s 49th Ward, serving as a co-chair of the transportation committee. A freelance writer, facilitator, and organizer, she has been active in numerous efforts for local democracy and sustainability. She holds both a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago.
Ny Whitaker – Events by Ny – New York City, NY
Ny is a marketing professional specializing in events, cause marketing, corporate sponsorships & strategic partnerships. She has more than a decade of experience managing the marketing departments for several prominent New York based corporations and nonprofit organizations. She serves as President of Events by Ny and teaches at NYU’s School for Continuing and Professional Studies. She has served as a facilitator for Participatory Budgeting in New York City, in Council District 8 in East Harlem.
Sondra Youdelman – New York City
Sondra is an independent consultant who previously served as Executive Director of Community Voices Heard, a member organization of low-income people, predominantly women with experience on welfare, building power in New York City and State to improve the lives of families and communities. Sondra has worked both in the United States and abroad to achieve social and economic justice through organizing. She has over 15 years experience as an organizer and activist with grassroots groups including farm workers, Native Americans, public housing residents, and low-income workers in the United States, and abroad for various populations throughout Latin America and in several African countries. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.