Renee Brereton has spent her career working for social and economic justice through faith-based community organizations. Currently the Lead Organizer for the Gamaliel Foundation’s Prince George County affiliate in Maryland, Ms. Brereton is engaged in building a power based organization in a predominately African American county addressing economic/social issues including public safety, housing foreclosures, and inferior schools. Previously she coordinated the national health care campaign for the Gamaliel Foundation. Ms. Brereton’s more than twenty-five years’ experience in the nonprofit world include over 19 years at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, where she was the grants coordinator at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program, and provided leadership around a number of public policy issues important to low-income, immigrant, and underserved communities. Ms. Brereton also brings to Project Vote a passion for, and knowledge of, voter engagement issues, having worked with a number of local, state, and national campaigns. Ms. Brereton lives in Washington, D.C.
Leigh-Anne Cole is a Regional Director with USPIRG and has worked for the organization for 13 years. In that time, Ms. Cole built entirely new Student PIRG programs at campuses in Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, and Massachusetts that generate over $400,000 annually to support year-round campus organizing. Since 2008, Ms. Cole has managed the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project, the largest non-partisan student voter mobilization effort in the country. Ms. Cole played a key role in achieving our voter registration, get-out-the-vote, and election protection goals on more than 200 campuses in 24 states. By combining old-fashioned pavement pounding with text messaging and online voter registration to reach the increasingly wired world of the young voter, the New Voters Project has helped to register hundreds of thousands of young people and over one million get-out-the-vote contacts in the days leading up to the election. Ms. Cole graduated from Fordham University in 2002.
Christina Greer is an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University-Lincoln Center campus. Her research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, quantitative methods, and public opinion. Professor Greer is currently conducting research on the history of African Americans and the executive office in the U.S. Her research interests also include crime and public policy in urban centers. Prof. Greer’s previous work has compared criminal activity and political responses in Boston and Baltimore. She is currently working on a book manuscript, Shared Visions, Different Dreams: Black Ethnic Identity, Participation, and Policy. Prof. Greer received her B. A. from Tufts University, and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.
Margaret Groarke is an Associate Professor of Government at Manhattan College in the Bronx, New York, where she also directs the college’s Peace Studies program. She earned her BA at Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges, and her PhD at the City University of New York. She is co-author, with Frances Fox Piven and Lorraine Minnite, of Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters. She teaches American politics, especially electoral politics, and European politics. She is an active member of the board of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which has engaged in broad-based, membership driven, social justice community organizing in the Northwest Bronx for the last 35 years. She worked as a community organizer for the Coalition in the late 1980s, primarily working on tenant organizing and issues regarding the development of vacant land. Margaret Groarke is also an active member, and current co-chair of, the Peace and Justice Studies Association, a North American organization devoted to bringing together academics, K-12 educators and activists to engage in research and advocacy for a more just, more peaceful world.
Craig Kaplan has been practicing law for more than three decades, and since 2006 has been counsel to Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard,Krinsky, & Lieberman, P.C., where he represents not-for-profit organizations and specializes in the area of wills, trusts and estates. Mr. Kaplan brings to Project Vote a long history of working to expand the voter franchise, including serving as Counsel to the Voter Protection Project of America’s Families United, where he was in the leadership of national voter registration efforts. Mr. Kaplan has taught at New York University and Queens College, served as a member of the faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and has served on the board of directors of many not-for-profit organizations and foundations. In 1974, Mr. Kaplan joined the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society; in 1978 he was elected president of the Association of Legal Attorneys of the City of New York (“ALAA”), and was instrumental in effectuating the affiliation of the Union into the professional division of the UAW. A 1969 graduate of Boston University, Mr. Kaplan holds a Masters Degree in political science from the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research (1971) and a law degree from the New York University School of Law.
Bob Master is the Director of Legislative/Political and Mobilization Activities for District One of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 140,000 workers in New York, New Jersey and New England. He began his career at CWA in 1986 and has played a central role in convening the coalition of unions, community organizations, and progressive activists that founded the New York State Working Families Party in June, 1998. Bob has served as one of the statewide co chairs of the Party since its founding. In New Jersey, he helped to found the New Jersey Fairness Alliance, a coalition that led the fight for passage of the so-called “millionaires tax” in 2003 and 2004. From 2005 until 2013, he served as a leader of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a coalition of unions and community organizations that organizes in support of progressive electoral candidates and a progressive legislative agenda in the Garden State. Bob also serves as a board member of Project Vote, Citizen Action of New York, and ALIGN/Jobs with Justice (Alliance for a Greater New York).
Frances Fox Piven
France Fox Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center, CUNY. Professor Piven’s work reflects a preoccupation with the uses of political science to promote democratic reform. Piven is a scholar-citizen, equally at home in the university and in the world of politics. Her Regulating the Poor, co-authored with Richard Cloward, is a landmark historical and theoretical analysis of the role of welfare policy in the economic and political control of the poor and working class. First published in 1972 and updated in 1993, it is widely acknowledged as a social science classic. She also co-authored Poor Peoples’ Movements (1977) which analyzes the political dynamics through which insurgent social movements sometimes compel significant policy reforms. Piven and Cloward’s The New Class War (1982, updated 1985), The Mean Season (1987), and The Breaking of the American Social Compact (1997) traced the historical and political underpinnings of the contemporary attack on social and regulatory policy. In Why Americans Don’t Vote (1988; updated as Why Americans Still Don’t Votein 2000) they analyzed the role of electoral laws and practices in disenfranchising large numbers of working class and poor citizens, and the impact of disenfranchisement on party development. And in 1992, Piven edited Labor Parties in Postindustrial Societies. More recently, in The War at Home, Piven examines the domestic causes and consequences of the foreign wars launched by the Bush administration. Since then, Piven has authored Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America, and, with Lorraine Minnite and Margaret Groarke, Keeping Down the Black Vote.
Gustavo Rivera is the State Senator of the 33rd District in the New York State Senate, which extends from the Northwest Bronx to areas of the East Bronx. Since he took office in 2011, Senator Rivera has been dedicated to making sure that the families of the 33rd Senate District have a voice in Albany. In January 2013, Senator Rivera was named the ranking member of the New York Senate’s Health Committee. Previously, he served as the ranking member of the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. Before becoming a State Senator, he worked as a community organizer for several local and state candidates, including Fernando Ferrer’s 2001 campaign for New York City Mayor. In early 2008, SEIU hired Mr. Rivera to manage their activities on behalf of Barack Obama in several crucial primary states. Mr. Rivera was then tapped by Senator Obama to serve as his Constituency Director in the crucial swing state of Florida. Senator Rivera has also taught political science at Hunter College and Pace University.
Helen Schaub is the New York State Policy and Legislative Director for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest and fastest growing health care union in the U.S. Since 2004, Helen has helped to lead the Union’s effort to raise standards for home care workers through legislative advocacy, community outreach, collective bargaining, and worker organizing. In 2011, this culminated in a new state law setting minimum compensation for workers on Medicaid cases downstate, close to doubling compensation for 70,000 low-wage New Yorkers. As a leader in the Union’s Political Action Department, she is also very involved in mobilizing union members to participate in electoral politics. Prior to joining 1199, Helen spent 14 years organizing community members for quality schools, decent affordable housing and healthy neighborhoods through the Bronx-based community groups Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and Mothers on the Move as well as the statewide advocacy group, Tenants & Neighbors. She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens with her partner Reena Karani.
Michael Slater is the executive director of Project Vote. Find more about Mr. Slater’s professional experience here.
An Atlanta native, Emery Wright carries two decades of experience in community organizing, movement building, leadership development, and political education, working primarily across the southern United States. Prior to working at Project South, Emery co-founded and directed a Black youth organization called The Nia Project, which organized in Boston, coastal South Carolina, and Atlanta. He co-founded and co-facilitated a weekly Black Studies course at South Bay Prison, and he has developed learning and leadership exchanges between grassroots organizers in the U.S., the greater Caribbean, and East Africa. Emery joined the Project South staff in 2004 and was part of a successful leadership transition to co-Director beginning in 2007. Emery also serves on the board of WRFG, a 35-year old community radio station in Atlanta, the US Human Rights Network, and the Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger.