Meet The Staff
President & Executive Director
Compliance & Operations Manager
Action Fund Coordinator
Campaign Services Finance Manager
Chief Operating Officer
Vice President for Communications
Deputy Political Director
Deputy Research Director
Legal Policy Advisor
Christopher de Laubenfels
Vice President for the Action Fund
Deputy Action Fund Director
Research & Policy Advisor
Independent Expenditures Research & Polling Director
Deputy Digital Director
National Finance Director
Vice President for Independent Expenditures
Director of State & Local Campaigns
Vice President for Political
State & Local Campaigns Coordinator
Deputy Communications Director
Strategic Partnerships Director
New Hampshire State Director
Vice President for Voting Rights & State Organizing
Board of Directors
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, he served 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, Rep. Barber was appointed Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ seat after she resigned to focus on her recovery from an attempted assassination.
Jessica Vanden Berg
Jessica Vanden Berg
Jessica Vanden Berg 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 her 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 measures 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.
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 currentlyEastern 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 loves working on the hardest and most divisive subjects, and as Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics at Third Way, she does just that, tackling hot-button issues like immigration, abortion, religious liberty, and guns, as well as helping to drive crucial policy conversations like how we can ensure our higher education system is delivering for students.
Previously, Lanae served as a member of President Obama’s third Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She was also 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 was a “real” lawyer at the Legal Rights Center and the Center for Victims of Torture.
Lanae’s commentary has been featured in a variety of news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Politico, The New Yorker, and PBS News Hour. She has also appeared on NPR, Fox News, CSPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, Bloomberg Television, Air America, and Minnesota Public Radio.
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 is now a proud Washingtonian. She has played violin since the first grade and is the principal second violinist in DC’s Capital City Symphony.
Simone L. Ward
Simone L. Ward
Simone L. Ward is currently serving as theBattleground State Director for Hillary forAmerica in Florida. Recently, she served as the first African-American National Political Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). As political director, she was responsible for developing a strategy to defend 10 democratic U.S.Senate seats and win back the majority in the 2016 election cycle. In 2014, Simone served as Campaign Manager for U.S. Senate candidate Natalie Tennant (D-WV), and program consultant for the re-development of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s (CBCI) national BOOT CAMP training program.Ms. Ward currently sits on the board of directors for the Higher Heights for America, Democratic GAIN, and the DNC’s Democratic Women’s Alliance (DWA) advisory council. She has served as a guest lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown, Trinity andAmerican Universities. She is a graduate of the Oklahoma City University and was raised in Kansas City, Missouri.
Bill Smith is a founding partner of Civitas Public Affairs Group. He has over two decades of experience in campaign management, message research and development, strategic planning, and movement building. 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.
Prior to starting Civitas, Bill served as the National Political Director for Gill Action, working across the country to secure marriage equality and other key policy wins by building political power for the LGBT community. He counseled a network of donors that invested nearly $15 million into targeted campaigns supporting the freedom to marry and LGBT equality, including nearly 200 successful elections across the country.
Bill has worked extensively as a general consultant, providing critical counsel to elected officials, political organizations, and social movement organizations. He previously worked as a political operative for Karl Rove + Company and Wilson Grand Communications. He has led teams of the nation’s premier pollsters, media consultants, and campaign operatives on both sides of the aisle.
Bill also serves on the boards of Faith in Public Life Action Fund and the Reconciling Ministries Network. A native of Alabama, Bill resides in Washington, D.C.
Matt Morrison is the executive director of Working America, a three-million-member labor organization mobilizing working people who don’t have the benefit of a union at their jobs. He is a leading political practitioner with experience working in over 500 elections throughout his career. Most recently, Working America has achieved a 76 percent win rate in the 87 competitive elections it has worked in since November 2016.
In his earlier role as Working America’s political director, Morrison led the refinement of the organization’s field and member communications programs through the use of clinical testing and advanced analytics. Under his direction, Working America combines innovative integration of traditional field organizing with analytics to increase targeting accuracy and voter turnout for candidates who support a fair economy for working-class Americans.
Prior to joining Working America, Morrison served on John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign, in the government affairs department of the American Federation of Teachers and on Capitol Hill in the office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
He holds undergraduate and law degrees from Washington University in St. Louis.
A leading Democratic strategist and Political Commentator for CNN, Karen Finney is an independent consultant working with political and corporate clients on crisis communications, branding, public affairs, polling and strategy. She was a Senior Advisor to Stacey Abrams’ Gubernatorial campaign, the Democratic National Committee and AL Media in the 2018 election cycle. Finney served as Senior Advisor for Communications and Political Outreach and Senior Spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
From her experience working in media, national politics, political and communications strategy in both the public and private sectors, Finney brings a unique perspective to her work. She was a political analyst and hosted her own show on MSNBC, “Disrupt with Karen Finney,”. Her experience includes work on four presidential campaigns, both the President and First Lady during the Clinton Administration, and she was the Democratic National Committee’s first African American spokeswoman, helping to lead the DNC’s communications strategy for the “50 State Strategy,” successful 2006 Congressional elections and 2008 presidential campaign. A former Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, Finney current serves as Board Vice Chair for NARAL pro-choice America, Board Chair at Ultraviolet and a co-founder Power Rising. Finney is also a Terker Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Journalism and Public Affairs.
Jason Kander joined the Army after September 11, 2001, rose to the rank of Captain, and served in Afghanistan as a military intelligence officer. Today, he serves as President of Veterans Community Project and is leading the organization’s national expansion.
A former Missouri state legislator and Missouri Secretary of State, he was the first millennial in the nation elected to a statewide office. After over-performing the Democratic presidential ticket by 16 points but narrowly failing to unseat an incumbent Republican Senator in 2016, Jason founded Let America Vote, a national campaign against voter suppression. He served as a teaching fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, worked as a CNN Commentator, and appeared on every major television network.
In 2019, he reemerged with a new role in public service, leading the national expansion of Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Kansas City-based organization founded by combat veterans. VCP’s mission is to fill the gaps in services for all veterans and provide transitional housing to end veteran homelessness. Jason has promised to expand VCP to eight additional cities by 2022 and then to every major city in America.
Jason, who is 38, is a graduate of American University and Georgetown Law School. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Diana, and they live in Kansas City with their son True. In his spare time, Jason enjoys training for irrational physical challenges and coaching his son’s baseball team.