Shannon M. Garrett, Co-Founder and Board Chair – Holland, MI
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, Co-Founder and Board Member – Atlanta, GA
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, Co-Founder and Board Member – Duluth, MN
Liz Johnson is a co-founder and board member at VoteRunLead, a national organization that supports the aspirations of women who want to transform our country and democracy through their participation as leaders. As a former Director of Community and Operations at VRL and Director of Rural Programs at The White House Project, Liz has worked with countless women leaders to inspire, inform and equip them to pursue positions of influence and elective office. A leader in the design and implementation of training programs for rural women, Liz trains women in agriculture, natural resources and food systems with Plate to Politics, a program of the Women Food and Agriculture Network. Her work is characterized by an asset-based approach. She is a member of the board of the Hmong American Farmers Association and First Witness Child Advocacy Center and serves on her city’s Urban Forest Commission. She is a past recipient of the Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award. Liz lives in Duluth, Minnesota next to the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Pakou Hang, Co-Founder and Board Member – St. Paul, MN
Pakou Hang is a seasoned consultant with expertise in strategic planning, and specializes in civic and voter engagement in New American communities. As a lead trainer and frequent speaker, she has inspired thousands of women and men with her story about her run for office. She has served as the Voter Protection Director for the Minnesota Democratic Party, Deputy Vice President of National Field Operations for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., Minnesota Field Director for America Votes, Deputy Political Director for Senator Paul Wellstone’s 2002 re-election campaign, Campaign Manager for State Senator Mee Moua’s historic 2002 special election, and a community and political organizer with Progressive Minnesota. Over the last 13 years, through her immigrant- and women-owned consulting firm, WGH Holdings, she has completed strategic and logistical planning, civic and voter engagement, training and curriculum development, grant writing, and legislative advocacy with immigrant and economic rights groups and national foundations. Pakou graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters in Political Science specializing in political psychology and from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1999 focusing on international and comparative politics. She has conducted extensive research on voting behavior among New Americans and is well-versed in focus groups and statistical and survey data analysis. In 2007, she contributed two essays to the book: Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy. Pakou is a recipient of the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and received a 2011 Bush Leadership Fellowship. Pakou is the Founder and Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association and a member of the advisory board of the New American Leaders Project.
Jehmu Greene, Board Secretary and Founding Board Member – New York, NY
Jehmu Greene is an evangelist for disenfranchised, vulnerable, and marginalized communities. As owner of JSG Strategies, Jehmu provides advocacy, and media consulting to campaigns, non-profits, corporations and celebrities. She is also a Fox News Contributor, where she provides analysis and opinion. A widely sought-after speaker, Jehmu's commentary has been featured on The Daily Show and all major news networks; online in the Huffington Post; and in print in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and Essence Magazine. Prior to JSG Strategies, Jehmu served as president of the Women's Media Center. As president of Rock The Vote, membership grew from 1,500 to over 1 million. 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 has worked on more than twenty political campaigns at the local, state and national level, and served as an advisor and national surrogate for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and played key roles at both the Center for Policy Alternatives and the Democratic National Committee, where she ran the women’s office. She has been recognized as one of Essence Magazine's 40 Women Under 40 Shaping the World, and received the National Conference for Community and Justice's Community Service Award, American Association of University Women's Women of Distinction Award, and the National Council for Research on Women’s Women Making a Difference Award. Essence Magazine also named Greene one of the 35 Most Beautiful and Remarkable Women in the World.
Stephanie Berger, Treasurer and Founding Board Member - New York, NY
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, Founding Board Member - Lansing, MI
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 serves 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.