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Our Staff

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Kate Bass joined Project Vote in 2014 and leads the Nonprofit Partners Initiative, working to support nonprofit service provider organizations like community centers and food banks in offering assistance with voter registration to their communities. Before coming to Project Vote, Kate organized voter registration drives in Vermont and Colorado, focusing on high school and college students, as well as predominantly Spanish-speaking and Latino communities. She speaks Spanish, French, and Haitian Kreyol and holds a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology, magna cum laude, from Middlebury College, where she also studied at La Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico and Sciences Po in France.

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Sarah Brannon leads Project Vote’s effort to ensure that all states comply with Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires that states offer voter registration opportunities to clients and applicants of public assistance programs. Ms. Brannon started her legal career as a law clerk in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She has more than 10 years of litigation experience, including trial and appellate work in areas of civil rights and civil liberties. Ms. Brannon has also worked for non-profit organizations handling election administration issues, including student voting, voter list maintenance practices, and resource allocation. Ms. Brannon is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland and obtained a J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law in 1999. Ms. Brannon is authorized to practice only in Maryland; her practice in DC is limited to cases in federal court.

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As Project Vote’s Deputy Director, Ms. Busefink's responsibilities include the general management of external relationships with state and local organizations, leading program planning, and facilitating coordination among the programs, as well as the development and execution of field activities across Project Vote’s many program areas. Over the past several cycles, Ms. Busefink has participated in the successful fight against legislation that creates barriers to voting, including photo ID efforts in Missouri. She also works to develop Project Vote's voter participation and voter registration field programs, utilizing new and exciting technology for Get-Out-the-Vote efforts.

Ms. Busefink came to Project Vote as its national voter registration director in June 2006, when she assumed responsibility for Project Vote’s 2006 voter registration program. She ran field operations for Project Vote's 2008 voter registration program, which collected 1.1 million applications. She came to Project Vote with four years of grassroots organizing experience, including managing the North Florida field program of the successful 2004 Florida Minimum Wage Campaign. Ms. Busefink graduated from Florida State University in 2003 with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Alex Ferguson joined Project Vote in August 2014 to work as a data manager for Project Vote’s 2014 midterm election voter registration experiment. Alex is partially responsible for ensuring quality control of Project Vote’s voter registration data, as well as organizing, managing, and analyzing the data he receives from field offices. Before coming to Project Vote, Alex worked at TargetSmart, creating and managing standardized election results files. Alex also previously worked as an intern for Coalition for Queens, helping to craft and advocate for better tech policy in New York state. Alex holds a B.S. in Business and Political Economy as well as a minor in Social Entrepreneurship from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

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Colline Ferrier joined Project Vote in 2013 and works in the Public Agency Voter Registration Program in which she conducts surveys and research to support the efforts of the program. Ms. Ferrier came to Project Vote with previous litigation, policy and legislative experience and is passionate about election administration issues. Ms. Ferrier earned her Master of Arts in Public Administration and Policy Studies, cum laude, from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Anthropology/Sociology, magna cum laude, from Elmira College.

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Catherine Flanagan is Senior Election Counsel with the Public Agency Registration Program, working through litigation and advocacy to ensure compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 across the country. Ms. Flanagan brings to Project Vote a decade of public service in the government and private sectors. Most recently, she founded and managed a program providing pro bono legal representation for indigent survivors of domestic violence in the District of Columbia. She also served as a trial and appellate attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment Division, and advised the Assistant Attorney General on policy and legislative matters. Ms. Flanagan formerly represented the Maryland Department of the Environment and was a litigator in private practice. She earned a BA, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD and a MA in English from the University of Virginia. She is a contributing editor of the Washington Independent Review of Books. Ms. Flanagan is authorized to practice law in the District of Columbia and in Maryland.  

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As Director of Development, Jennifer Jacquot-DeVries leads Project Vote's development department, and is responsible for cultivating and stewarding relationships with supporting foundations and individual donors. Ms. Jacquot-DeVries manages grant application and reporting deadlines, writes and oversees the production of fundraising materials, conducts prospect research, and maintains the organization’s recently refined donor database and filing systems. Ms. Jacquot-DeVries also works to facilitate positive relationships with supporting foundations and individual donors, assisting in scheduling and coordination of meetings and events where necessary. She is also the organization’s Minnesota representative for State Voices. Prior to joining Project Vote full-time in November 2009, Ms. Jacquot-DeVries was a fundraising consultant to Project Vote during the historic 2008 election year. She previously worked for Minneapolis Public Schools and has volunteered with the Foundation for Immigrant Resources and Education (FIRE) and AmeriCorps. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University in May 2008.

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Michelle Kanter Cohen joined Project Vote in 2012 as an Election Counsel, focusing on the areas of election administration and voter enfranchisement. Ms. Kanter Cohen’s work includes litigation, advocacy, and research to identify and lower barriers to voter registration and voting by historically underrepresented Americans. She is the author of several policy briefs regarding issues in election administration. Ms. Kanter Cohen previously litigated matters in federal court at a large law firm in Washington, DC. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.  A judicial intern for the late Judge Reginald C. Lindsay of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Ms. Kanter Cohen earned her JD, magna cum laude, from Boston College Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, cum laude, from Yale University.

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Erin Ferns Lee is the Communications Manager at Project Vote. Since August 2006, Ms. Lee has helped shape Project Vote’s current methods of communicating important election administration issues and Project Vote’s work. Ms. Lee has authored several memos and briefs assessing election legislation and voting policy. In particular, she leads Project Vote’s Election Legislation project, a bill-tracking service that covers a range of voting rights issues on federal and state levels. She is the author of Project Vote’s Legislative Threats and Opportunities reports, a regular series of memos summarizing harmful and beneficial legislation proposed around the country. Ms. Lee manages Project Vote's online communications, serves as managing editor and lead writer on Voting Matters blog, and produces the monthly newsletter Strengthening Democracy. Prior to joining Project Vote’s staff, Ms. Lee graduated with honors from the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. Ms. Lee is based in California.

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Marissa Liebling joined Project Vote in 2015 to serve as Legislative Director. She leads the organization’s policy work on both the federal and state levels. In this role, she focuses on increasing and improving access to voter registration through advocacy, public education, and providing support to local stakeholders, organizers, and allies. Previously, Marissa worked in Illinois, where she led a diverse coalition of organizations that successfully fought for affirmative voting rights reforms. She also worked on statewide voter protection programs and civil rights litigation. Marissa earned her J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law and her B.A. from The George Washington University. She is licensed to practice to law in Illinois.

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Michael McDunnah joined Project Vote in 2008, and oversees all aspects of the organization's communications efforts and strategy, including managing media relations, overseeing online communications, and serving as chief editor on all publications. His prior experience includes nearly ten years of fundraising and communications work for nonprofits, including serving as the Development & Communications Director for Rainbow House, a Chicago domestic violence agency, and over five years at IFF, the Midwest’s largest nonprofit CDFI, where he helped secure foundation, corporate, and government grants and program-related investments. A graduate of the Johnston Center for Integrated Studies at the University of Redlands, Mr. McDunnah resides in Chicago, IL.

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Brian Mellor is Project Vote’s General Counsel and manages Project Vote’s litigation staff. He has worked with Project Vote since 2005 litigating cases, administering voter participation programs, and providing corporate advice and services. Mr. Mellor helped develop and implement Project Vote’s voter registration drives in 2005, 2006, and 2007-2008. In that role, he wrote the quality control manual, oversaw the national quality control program, and prepared material used to defend the efforts from reprehensible attacks by partisan organizations and the media. As co-counsel, Mr. Mellor has litigated cases that that overturned onerous restrictions on voter registration drives. He has also successfully challenged other statutory or regulatory obstacles to voter participation. He has also co-counseled cases enforcing Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act that requires states to offer voter registration opportunities to public assistance clients. Prior to working with Project Vote, Mr. Mellor was a local field director on a voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaign in Florida, worked with a labor union and housing advocacy organization, and worked as a community organizer in a number of communities across the country. Mr. Mellor holds a B.A. from Williams College and a J.D. from Boston University. Mr. Mellor is authorized to practice only in Massachusetts; his practice in DC is limited to cases in federal court.

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Vanessa M. Perez joined Project Vote’s Public Agency Registration Program as Senior Public Policy Analyst in July 2013. Her expertise is in American politics. Vanessa holds a B.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.

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Angelica Reynolds brings to Project Vote more than 16 years of financial experience working with non-profit organizations, the federal government, defense contracting, and Big 4 Accounting firms. Ms. Reynolds has a varied background of finance and accounting that includes regulatory information, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and financial analysis. She has defined, developed, and implemented many new finance systems for non-profit organizations and corporations. Ms. Reynolds also has had extensive experience working with U.S. Aid, World Bank, and Department of Navy-funded projects around the world.

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Brian Roberts is Project Vote's new Chief Information Officer. He works on making Project Vote's work more efficient and effective through technology, and helps work through technical issues as they come up in Project Vote's policy and litigation work. Prior to Project Vote, Brian worked as the data person for the Association of American Law Schools, and before that, he was a Senior Data Analyst at the Democratic National Committee. Brian has a Bachelor’s degree with majors in math and computer science from Indiana University, and a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law.

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Michelle Rupp serves as Election Counsel and Assistant General Counsel. As Election Counsel, she works to ensure that public assistance agencies across the country comply with their obligations under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. As Assistant General Counsel, she assists Project Vote's General Counsel in non-election-related matters as needed. Ms. Rupp joined Project Vote upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011. While in law school, she served as Editor in Chief of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal and was Vice President of the school's Election Law Society. She also interned with Project Vote, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Human Rights First, the Center for Applied Legal Studies, and AARP. Ms. Rupp holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and History from Arizona State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Ms. Rupp is authorized to practice only in Virginia; her practice in DC is limited to cases in federal court.

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Niyati Shah works as Election Counsel to Project Vote. As Election Counsel, Ms. Shah litigates and advocates for compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 across the country. Previously, Ms. Shah worked for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs litigating against deceptive and misleading trade practices and at Legal Services of Northwest Jersey as a family, consumer, and housing law attorney. She is a graduate of Rutgers University School of Law – Camden and obtained her undergraduate degree from American University. Ms. Shah is licensed to practice law only in New York and New Jersey; her practice in DC is limited to cases in federal court. 

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Michael Slater came to Project Vote in 2004 with more than a decade’s experience in community, labor and faith-based organizing. As Deputy Director, Mr. Slater helped build Project Vote's Election Administration program, and led successful efforts to overturn restrictive voter registration laws in seven states, including the landmark Project Vote v. Blackwell case. Mr. Slater was promoted to Executive Director in 2008, and in the months leading up to the historic 2008 election supervised one of the largest and most successful voter registration efforts in the nation’s history. In the past two years Mr. Slater has overseen the dramatic growth of Project Vote’s Election Administration, Litigation, and Research programs, transforming the organization into one of the nation’s leading voting rights and advocacy organizations. Under his guidance, the Public Agency Voter Registration Project has taken a nationwide leadership role in enforcing the National Voter Registration Act, including major litigation victories in Ohio and Missouri to ensure those states are registering their low-income public assistance clients. Through the expanded Research Department, Mr. Slater has conceived and overseen the writing and release of dozens of policy papers and reports, including Representational Bias in the 2008 Electorate and The NVRA at Fifteen: A Report to Congress. Mr. Slater has contributed to the passage of positive election legislation in several states, authored or edited numerous articles and publications on election policy, and is frequently called upon to testify on election issues.

Nakea West, Co-Director of Development

Nakea West joined Project Vote in 2013 as the Director of Individual Giving to advance the organization’s individual and online fundraising strategies. Prior to joining Project Vote, Ms. West was the Manager of Special Gifts for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an organization that promotes and protects civil and human rights on behalf of a coalition of more than 200 national organizations. In that capacity, Ms. West was responsible for leading major gift cultivation and solicitation, and for special event management. She began her career at The Leadership Conference as the inaugural Carol H. Pitchersky Development Fellow. Ms. West received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

 

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