Board of Directors
Jehmu Greene, Board Chair & Founding Board Member – Austin, TX
Jehmu Greene is an evangelist for social good, an award-winning media and advocacy strategist, proud Texan and recent candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Heading into her eighth year as a Fox News Political Analyst, Jehmu unapologetically defends progressive values and policies on the network. She co-founded Define American with Jose Antonio Vargas, an initiative that uses media and culture to elevate the immigration reform conversation and is a founding board member of VoteRunLead. She previously served as president of WakaWaka, a global social enterprise working to bring solar power to people living without access to electricity; president of Rock the Vote, where under her leadership membership grew from 1,500 to over 1 million and young voter turnout had the highest increase ever recorded in between two presidential elections; president of the Women’s Media Center where she designed the Name It, Change It campaign to fight sexism against women candidates and trained progressive women to amplify their voices in the media; director of women’s outreach and Southern political director at the Democratic National Committee; National Director of Project Vote and Executive Director of Texas Young Democrats. She has worked on over twenty political campaigns at the local, state and national level and served as an advisor and national surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Jehmu was appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She splits her time between New York City, Austin, and Twitter: @jehmu.
Shannon M. Garrett is the Founder and President of SMG Strategies. Operating under a personal mission statement of “Honor. Empower. Amplify.,” Shannon is a nationally recognized trainer, strategist, civic engagement consultant and leadership coach. Shannon’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion in civic life has introduced her to communities throughout the United States, where she has worked alongside thousands of candidates, elected officials, social activists and civic-minded organizations. Her consulting firm, SMG Strategies, combines over 20 years of electoral, legislative and legal experience with humor, mindfulness and a no-nonsense approach to building a more active and diverse democracy. Her leadership trainings and coaching services are known for breaking down fears about living a publicly political life and helping individuals embrace their civic ambitions. Shannon is also co-founder and board chair of VoteRunLead, a national tech nonprofit unleashing the power of women as leaders in democracy. Through both SMG Strategies and VoteRunLead, Shannon intentionally and directly addresses the impact of intersectionality on political leadership in order to welcome more individuals into the civic space and strengthen our democracy and civic institutions. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys running – the on-foot exercise kind – and coaches her niece’s Girls on the Run team, helping to foster the next generation of strong women. She is also an elected precinct delegate and the 2010 Precinct Delegate Honoree for the Michigan Second Congregational District, former chair of the City of Holland’s Human Relations Commission, and sits on the Leadership Committee of Michigan Voice. Shannon is a graduate of Alma College and the University of Minnesota Law School.
Rhonda Briggins, J.D. dedicates her life to public service through her role as a community advocate, political strategist, and servant leader. She serves on various boards of directors such as the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, VoteRunLead, DeKalb Workforce Development, and DeKalb Housing Authority Advisory Committee. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and she is the Regional Social Action Coordinator for the Southern Region which includes Alabama, Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. She is also a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and is the Georgia Legislative Chair. Leadership development is a great passion of hers. She has developed, marketed and implemented numerous workshops for elected officials, corporate offices, non-profit organizations, businesses and schools in this area. Her expertise and understanding of politics and political trends makes a valuable resource to many elected officials, company executives, and employees interested in enhancing their skills. She is often sought after as a keynote speaker and workshop leader. To date, she has taught and trained thousands in the areas of political strategy, communications, public involvement fundraising, and base building. Rhonda brings over a decade of experience in advocacy and public policy. She is currently the Senior Director of External Affairs for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). She oversees Community Relations and Government Affairs (federal, state and local) for the Authority. Over the last two years, she has worked with the Georgia General Assembly to pass major transportation legislations for the state of Georgia and MARTA amounting in over $1billion dollars for the agencies. She has a Juris Doctor from Jones School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Law and Society from Georgia State University. She resides in Tucker, Georgia with her son, Kai.
Liz Johnson is the Director or Statewide Outreach at FairVote Minnesota where she promotes Ranked Choice Voting, a growing electoral reform movement. Liz is also a co-founder and board member at VoteRunLead, the nation’s largest and most diverse training program for women to run for office and win. For over 15 years, Liz has worked with countless women leaders to inspire, inform and equip them to pursue positions of influence and elective office. Liz was the Director of Rural Programs for The White House Project where she became a leader in the design and implementation of training programs for rural women. As part of her determination to elevate rural women leaders, Liz also trains women in agriculture, natural resources and food systems with Women Food and Agriculture Network through a partnership called Plate to Politics. She is a member of the board of the Hmong American Farmers Association and First Witness Child Advocacy Center. Liz lives in Duluth, Minnesota next to the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Stephanie Berger is a veteran of three presidential campaigns and an expert, teacher and trainer in the field of fundraising and non-profit development. Stephanie laid the groundwork for starting Berger Hirschberg Strategies by working for 16 years as a political fundraiser. She served as the California Finance Director for Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Finance Director for the Democratic National Convention, Finance Director for John Kerry, and Vice President of Development for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Throughout her career, Stephanie has launched successful strategies for high-profile political candidates and advocacy organizations, helping to elect public officials nationwide and elevating public awareness on critical issues, such as education and the environment. Stephanie not only designs and executes powerful fundraising and non-profit strategies, but she leaves her clients with the know-how and the permanent infrastructure required for them to fundraise over the long-term. Stephanie is an adjunct professor at George Washington University for the Semester in Washington Program, serves as a Board Member of Harlem’s IMPACT Repertory Theatre and is the Vice President of the Board of the Woman’s Campaign School at Yale. Stephanie lives in New York, NY.
Dawn Crandall holds leadership positions across nonprofit, political and the private sector. She is the Political Affairs Director for the Home Builders Association of Michigan. Her professional path was led by her passion for the legislative and political arena, starting off as an intern for then Senator Connie Binsfeld, later working for former State Senator Norm Shingle and as the legislative aide to State Representative Bev Hammerstrom. Crandall’s early career covered the Senate Finance Office, the Senate Republican Caucus Services Office as well as the House Republican Campaign Committee. Following Hammerstrom, she accepted the charge from the Home Builders Association of Michigan (HBAM), serving as their Political Affairs Director since 1996. In her current position, Dawn works on candidate endorsements, raising monies for Friends of Housing and, since 2015, has served as the Executive director of Skilled to Build Michigan Foundation, a non-profit whose focus is reaching out to students and returning veterans on the career opportunities in the residential construction. Crandall is the President of the Michigan Excellence in Public Service Series which trains Republican women in the areas of leadership, public policy, media training and campaigns. In her spare time, she also advises members of HBAM on legislative issues they are working on as well as re-election campaigns.
Crystal Patterson is the Government & Politics Outreach Manager with Facebook. As a senior level communications and political professional with extensive experience in strategic communications, including earned and paid media, new media, social networking, rapid response and crisis communications, as well as fundraising and development communications, polling, research and activist engagement, Crystal is uniquely qualified to help guide VoteRunLead’s technology-based training modules and outreach. Prior to her years with Facebook, Crystal was the communications director at the Center for American Progress, the communications director for the U.S. Congress, managing director with Petel & Co., a political consulting firm, and a strategic communications specialist with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from Northwestern University and resides in the Washington, D.C. area.
Vanessa Cooksey has long been a leader promoting responsible community engagement and philanthropy for the private sector, from Cartoon Network to Anheuser-Busch to her current role at Wells Fargo Advisors (WFA). She directs the philanthropy efforts of WFA across the nation and the Wells Fargo Foundation in St. Louis. Their vision is to help communities succeed financially through investments in financial education, healthy aging, arts and culture and workforce development initiatives. Her accomplishments include supporting college savings and planning for low-to-moderate income families, strategic and coordinated crisis relief in Ferguson, Missouri, specialized training and placement of high-potential and senior leaders on nonprofit boards and employee engagement through volunteerism. Her fellowship goal, based on travel to Argentina and Japan, is to create a symposium for leaders to share and learn best practices in preventing elder financial abuse. She is also interested in developing women’s leadership.