Our Board

Ron Barber, Board Member

Congressman Ron Barber represented Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District from 2011-2014 – a diverse swath of historic Southeastern Arizona that includes communities as disparate as Tucson, where cutting-edge technology is being developed, and Tombstone, where the echoes of the Gunfight at the OK Corral live on. Rep. Barber served on the Committee on Homeland Security and the House Armed Services Committee. Additionally, Rep. Barber was on the Committee on Small Business and the Bipartisan Working Group. Before becoming a member of Congress, Barber had a 32-year career with the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Arizona Department of Economic Security, eventually serving as its director. Rep. Barber and his wife also ran a small business in Tucson for 22 years.

In 2007, Barber was appointed Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ district director. In that capacity, Barber helped Southern Arizona families who experienced problems with the federal government. He was appointed to Rep. Giffords’ seat after she resigned to focus on her recovery from an attempted assassination.

Jessica Vanden Berg, Board Member

Jessica is an Ambassador for the New Leaders Council, a member of the American Council on Germany, and a partner with the Truman National Security Project. Ms. Vanden Berg is a founder of Maverick Strategy and Mail and has worked both domestically and abroad advising corporate clients, political and advocacy campaigns, as well as independent expenditures on strategic communications, grassroots and grass tops outreach, management, targeting, planning and budgeting. In addition to this work, she worked for the ONE Campaign as the Democratic campaign manager for the ONE Vote ’08 Presidential Initiative. The campaign used technology, press and grassroots support to push the presidential candidate to support real measure in dealing with global poverty and health. She managed staff throughout the country and was able to persuade the candidates to guarantee real commitments to saving lives.

Ms. Vanden Berg has worked with various clients including General Wesley Clark, Free the Slaves, Pickens Plan and VoteVets.org. She has worked for and with many Democratic campaigns and has also served as Senior Advisor to Senator Jim Webb and as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Chief of Staff. Jessica is from Pella, Iowa and graduated with a degree in Political Science from Central College.

Christopher Massicotte, Board Member

Chris Massicotte has been passionate about providing Democratic campaigns and progressive causes with the most effective and innovative technology for years. Prior to his current role as DSPolitical’s chief operating officer, Massicotte served as vice president of sales and marketing at NGP VAN Inc., the largest political technology company serving Democratic candidates and their progressive allies.

Massicotte has also worked on a variety of Democratic campaigns, serving for a time as finance director to Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). He is also an outspoken supporter of LGBT equality and works closely with a number of organizations including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, where he is currently Eastern Caucus Chair. Massicotte is a graduate of Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and The University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in government administration.

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Board Member

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky heads up the Social Policy and Politics team at Third Way, where she tackles hot-button issues like marriage for gay couples, immigration, abortion, religious liberty, guns, crime, and education, as well as overseeing all of the organization’s public opinion research. She spends her days helping policymakers and advocates to better understand the complexities of how moderate Americans approach topics that are so often perceived politically as black and white. In this capacity, Lanae spearheaded Third Way’s Commitment Campaign, which mobilized moderate Americans to support marriage for gay couples. Lanae also serves as a member of President Obama’s third Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Before joining Third Way in 2008, Lanae was Legislative Counsel at Alliance for Justice, where she investigated the backgrounds of federal judicial nominees on civil and human rights and advocated for progressive policies on issues from detention and interrogation policy to equal pay. Before that, she worked at both the Legal Rights Center and the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She earned her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota and her Bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College. Originally from the beautiful Land of 10,000 Lakes (which actually has significantly more than 10,000 lakes), Lanae now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife. She has played violin since the first grade and is the principal second violinist in Washington’s Capital City Symphony.

Simone L. Ward, Board Member

Simone L. Ward is Executive Director of the Women Effect Fund (WEF) and the Women Effect Action Fund (WEFAF) fighting for economic justice. She most recently served as the Florida State Director for Hillary for America, the largest battleground in the country. Prior to the campaign she served as the National Political Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

With a strong commitment to electing female candidates, she has served in senior leadership roles for 3 U.S. Senate candidates including Campaign Manager for the historic re-election of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving female member of Congress and first female chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Ward, a four-term veteran of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the former acting National Constituency Director and Director of Women’s Outreach, having served as the African American outreach director, and previously serving at the Women’s Leadership Forum. She also served as the Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) because she believes in the reproductive justice for all men and women.

In 2007, Ms. Ward worked as a Senior Regional Political staffer at EMILY’s List. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Higher Heights for America, Democratic/Global GAIN, and End Citizens United. Ms. Ward has served as a guest lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown, Trinity and American Universities. She was raised in Kansas City, Missouri and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Addisu Demissie, Board Member

Addisu Demissie is a Founding Principal of 50+1 Strategies with over a decade’s worth of professional experience in politics, with expertise in campaign management and strategy, political communications, and grassroots field operations. He has led campaigns at the national, state, and local level for electoral, nonprofit, and corporate clients.

Addisu’s first love is developing and implementing sophisticated organizing campaigns. He served in statewide field management roles for John Kerry for President in 2004; Hillary Clinton for President in the 2007 and 2008 presidential primaries; and as the Get Out The Vote Director for President Obama in the battleground state of Ohio in the 2008 general election campaign.

Following President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Addisu was selected as the first National Political Director for Organizing for America. Later that year, the Washington Post named him one of the “Ten Young Black Aides To Watch” in the Obama Administration. At OFA, Demissie played a key role in mobilizing and coordinating grassroots support for the passage of the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, federal student loan reform, and the Affordable Care Act.

In the years since, Addisu served as Senior Advisor to now-Assemblymember David Chiu’s 2011 mayoral campaign; as the general consultant for several California municipal, initiative, and independent expenditure campaigns during the 2012 campaign cycle, and as Campaign Manager for Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) successful special election campaign in 2013.

Most recently, as the National Voter Outreach and Mobilization Director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, Addisu oversaw the development of organizing programs for Democratic base communities and state operations for 37 states.

Demissie is a graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School, and a member of the state Bar of California. In his spare time, he likes to run in the California sun and watch sports of any and every kind, especially his hometown Atlanta Braves and adopted hometown Golden State Warriors. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife Jill.

Bill Smith, Board Member

Bill is a seasoned political operative who has built his career on advancing significant public policy initiatives and winning elections. He has two decades of experience in campaign management, message research and development, communications strategy, and media production.

As the national political director at Gill Action, Bill’s guidance and advice helped win nearly 200 successful state elections across the country. During his five-year tenure, Bill led the development of innovative strategies to pass, block, and protect key policy outcomes. He also counseled a network of donors that invested nearly $15 million into targeted campaigns.

Bill has worked extensively as a general consultant, providing critical counsel to Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, governors, state legislators, and political organizations from across the country.

In addition to his work with elected officials, Bill has worked with Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, life insurance companies, and property and casualty insurance companies. He has led teams of the nation’s premier pollsters, media consultants, and campaign operatives on both sides of the aisle. He currently advises philanthropists, foundations, and donor collaboratives on a wide range of policy objectives, as well as national nonprofit organizations seeking to advance progressive policies at the
state and federal levels.

A member of the American Association of Political Consultants, Bill has run successful independent expenditure campaigns that have received both Campaigns & Elections and Pollie awards.

A native of Alabama, Bill resides in Washington, D.C.