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John Anzalone
Democatic Pollster Read More ...
Laverne Y. Berry
Voting Rights Activist; Television Producer, Media Professional and Business Affairs Executive Read More ...
Inside American Politics - Fall 2017
John Anzalone
Democatic Pollster

John Anzalone has over twenty-five years of polling experience and has polled for the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama (2008 and 2012) and Hillary Clinton (2016). Anzalone has helped elect U.S. Senators, Governors and dozens of members of Congress. In 2018, he helped elect gubernatorial candidates in Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer) and Nevada (Steve Sisolak). In 2016, Anzalone polled for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the fight against the state’s anti-LGBT laws and also polls for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. During the 2018 midterms, Anzalone’s firm has flipped five congressional seats and four independent expenditure races across the country. In the last two decades, Anzalone has helped beat more incumbent Republicans and take back more Republican seats than any other polling firm in the nation. ALG Polling works regularly with the DSCC, DGA, and DCCC, as well as with the Human Rights Campaign, Emily’s List, the AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood. Prior to his polling career, Anzalone was a campaign operative and was one of the first staffers in Iowa for Joe Biden for President in 1987. He also worked for democratic strategists James Carville in U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s 1988 campaign. He began his political career as an aide to David Wilhelm (who later became DNC Chairman) at Citizens for Tax Justice and the AFL-CIO, and then went on to manage campaigns in five states. The son of two union members, Anzalone grew up in St. Joseph, Michigan and graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is married and has four children and lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

Laverne Y. Berry
Voting Rights Activist; Television Producer, Media Professional and Business Affairs Executive

Laverne Berry is an entertainment and media business affairs attorney representing independent film and television producers, directors, production companies, distribution companies, authors and media companies. Drawing on eighteen years as a television producer and distribution executive before becoming a lawyer, Laverne understands both the business and legal sides of the media marketplace. She acted as Executive Producer for Perfectly Normal For Me (produced by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger) and The Silent Truth. She was the Co-Executive Producer for Emmy-nominated Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, and The Lady in Question is Charles Busch. Laverne also has been involved in Alternative Dispute Resolution for 20 years. She is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Dispute Panel, American Arbitration Association (AAA) Commercial Arbitration Panel and Mediation Panel. Laverne has been named a New York Metro Area Super Lawyer for five years, including for 2016, by Thompson Reuters and was included in the New York Metro Super Lawyers supplement to The New York Times newspaper, The Top Women Attorneys in New York, 2014- 2016.

Jonathan Capehart
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and member of The Washington Post editorial board

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog and hosts the “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor, who regularly serves as a substitute anchor, and was the host of “America on the Line,” a news and national call-in show from WNYC New York Public Radio. Capehart is a regular moderator of panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. He has also moderated sessions at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum and for the Connecticut Forum. Between his column, podcast, panel moderating and substitute hosting, Capehart has interviewed important political leaders and cultural icons. Among them include, Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin. Capehart has also interviewed actor Mark Hamill, actress Sonia Braga, jazz greats Wynton Marsalis and Nancy Wilson, Academy Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz, dancer and choreographer Savion Glover and Bravo television’s Andy Cohen. In September 2014, the Advocate magazine ranked Capehart 9th out of 50 of the most influential LGBT people in media. In December 2014, Mediaite named him one of the “Top 9 Rising Stars of Cable News.” Equality Forum made him a 2018 LGBT History Month Icon in October. In May 2018, the publisher of the Washington Post awarded him an “Outstanding Contribution Award” for his opinion writing and “Cape Up” podcast interviews. Capehart was deputy editorial page editor of the New York Daily News from 2002 to 2004, and served on that paper’s editorial board from 1993 to 2000. In 1999, his 16-month editorial campaign to save the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem earned him and the board the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. Capehart left the Daily News in July 2000 to become the national affairs columnist at Bloomberg News, and took a leave from this position in February 2001 to serve as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his first successful campaign for New York City mayor.

Ron Christie
Republican Political Analyst, NYU DC faculty

Ron Christie is Founder and CEO of Christie Strategies LLC, a full-service communications and issues management firm in Washington, D.C. Christie is also the author of three books. His most recent title, Blackwards: How Black Leadership is Returning America to the Days of Separate But Equal, was published in September 2012. Christie was Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics for the Fall 2011 term at Harvard University. Christie served as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Assistant to Vice President Cheney from 2001-2004. Christie presently serves as a part time lecturer at NYU Washington D.C.. He is teaching a course on the American Presidency for the Fall 2017 Semester. Additionally, Christie was recently appointed as a member of the NYU John Brademas Center Advisory Board Council.

Rob Collins
Republican Political Strategist and Partner in S-3 Public Affairs

Rob Collins is a veteran strategist and partner at S-3 Public Affairs. In the Spring of 2017, the Trump Administration asked Collins to ‘quarterback’ the successful bipartisan nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. In that role, Collins worked directly with West Wing senior staff, the Office of the Vice President, the White House Counsel, the Department of Justice, the White House Office of Legislative Policy, Legislative Affairs, the Inter-governmental Office, the White House Public Liaison Office, and the White House Communications Office. Additionally, Collins worked closely with Senate Leadership, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, the Senate Judiciary Committee, over 20 outside advocacy groups, and Judge Gorsuch’s team. Prior to S-3, Collins was the Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a $125 million, 80-person organization responsible for electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate. During his tenure at the NRSC he helped reelect 12 incumbents and elect 12 new Republicans. These pickups were a part of a historic 9-seat gain for the Republicans, the largest GOP-gain in over 35 years. Before taking over at the NRSC, Collins was a partner at Purple Strategies, a bipartisan consulting firm. He also ran the American Action Network (AAN), which raised over $30 million for advocacy in 5 Senate races and 35 House districts that helped the Republicans retake the House of Representatives in 2010. While at AAN, he created the Hispanic Leadership Network co-chaired by Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Before starting the Network, Collins spent 7 years as Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Collins has been chosen by Roll Call Newspaper as a member of the ‘Fab 50 Staffers in DC’ 4-times, twice he has been selected to be on the ‘Power 100’ by Washingtonian Magazine and Recently Fortune Magazine cited him as the ‘Top Strategist’ for Republicans in 2016.

Anne de Mare
Documentary Filmmaker

Anne de Mare is an Emmy-Award winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been supported by MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, Independent Television Service, Chicken & Egg Pictures, POV/American Documentary Inc., The Fledgling Fund, BRITDOCS/Bertha Foundation, ArtsEngine and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others. De Mare’s most recent feature The Homestretch (Independent Lens, 2015) was a co-production with Chicago’s legendary Kartemquin Films and received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting - Long Form. Anne is a fierce believer in the power of story to affect change and worked on that film’s extensive impact campaign for over two years, personally speaking at 58 events in 23 cities and engaging everyone from senior Federal policy officials to local housing authorities to at-risk youth and high school audiences. Her first feature, Asparagus! Stalking the American Life, explored the relationship between asparagus farmers in rural western Michigan and the changing global economy. That film was winner of the W.K. Kellogg Good Food Film Award as well as Audience Choice and Best Documentary awards at film festivals across the country. She and producer Elizabeth Hemmerdinger worked closely with historian Michael Nash and NYU Bobst Libraries to create an extensive filmed archive of personal histories of women who had worked in munitions factories during World War II, accessible online as The Real Rosie The Riveter Project. De Mare was Co-Producer on the upcoming PBS documentary Deej, which will air on America ReFramed in the fall of 2017. Together with her long-time film partner Kirsten Kelly, she is currently in development for a feature documentary exploring the cycle of male violence against women, and, together with producer Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, de Mare and Kelly are in production for The Girl With The Rivet Gun, a dynamic animated documentary project based on personal histories of real-life Rosie the Riveters.

Todd Harris
Republican Strategist and Partner, Something Else Strategies

Todd Harris is one of the nation’s preeminent media and communications strategists. Roll Call dubbed him “A spinner extraordinaire in the world of political communication,” while Buzzfeed wrote his media work belongs in the “Political Advertising Hall of Fame.” Todd served as senior strategist and media consultant for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign for president. He has produced award-winning media for leading Republican candidates and causes, and served as a senior strategist for a who’s who of GOP officials including Senator Joni Ernst, Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has advised some of the nation’s largest corporations, political committees and trade associations including Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Calpine Energy, Magnolia Pictures, the RNC, NRCC, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and many others. He is a sought-after media source, appearing regularly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and many others, and is a regular guest on several political news programs on MSNBC, FOX News and CNN. Harris is a California native. He lives with his wife and two daughters in McLean, VA.

Elizabeth Hemmerdinger
Filmmaker; Founder and CEO, Providence Productions

Capture The Flag is the brainchild of Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, who learned about Laverne Berry’s volunteer voter protection efforts while working in partnership with her on the upcoming documentary Perfectly Normal For Me (a recipient of Latino Public Television’s 2016 Public Media Content Fund). Elizabeth is the Producer of Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was named one of the five essential documentaries of 2013 by the Tribeca Institute. She is also Associate Producer on The Homestretch (Emmy Award, Independent Lens, 2015) and the Executive Producer of The Real Rosie The Riveter Project (NYU Bobst Libraries). Elizabeth is a Board member of PEN America and The Hunter College Foundation. Elizabeth is also an accomplished playwright and screenwriter; she wrote and produced the short narrative film Good Sister, starring Jessica Hecht and Grant Shaud, which premiered in 2013 at the Boston International Film Festival and has screened in festivals across the country. Additional current projects in film include Perfectly Normal For Me and The Girl With The Rivet Gun (both as producer) and in musical theater: We Can Do It! (librettist). Her published plays include Squall, Road Rage and Pissed Sister (Playscripts, Inc.).

Elise Jordan
MSNBC Political Analyst and Writer

Elise Jordan is a columnist for TIME magazine and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Throughout the 2016 election, she worked with the British polling firm Lord Ashcroft Polls conducting voter research and focus groups in battleground states. Previously, Jordan was a policy advisor on Senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. During the Bush administration, Elise worked in the White House Office of Presidential Speechwriting and at the State Department as speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In 2007, she joined the National Security Council, where she was a director for communications focusing on the administration’s Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan policies. While at the White House, Elise worked for extended periods at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad and for the Commanding General’s Strategic Advisory Group at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was born and raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Yale University.

Steve McMahon
Democratic Strategist and Co-founder of Purple Strategies

Steve McMahon is an attorney and co-founder of Purple Strategies, LLC, a firm that applies politically-inspired solutions to corporate reputation and business challenges. He’s advised Senators, Governors, CEOs and presidential candidates on political and communications strategies for over thirty years. McMahon began his professional career working on the Senate and political staff of Senator Edward M.Kennedy, where he served as Assistant Press Secretary and later, as Deputy Director of Kennedy’s PAC, the Fund for a Democratic Majority. McMahon began working as a political strategist and media consultant in 1987, and has worked on dozens of Senate, Gubernatorial and Mayoral campaigns across the country. McMahon worked in the U.S. presidential campaigns of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, served as senior political strategist and media consultant for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and produced the advertising in support of then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 presidential campaign. He has also produced issue advertising for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). On the international front, McMahon and his partners worked as strategic advisors or campaign consultants on successful presidential campaigns in Nicaragua for Violetto Chamarro and in Greece for Andreas Papandreaou. For the past decade, McMahon’s principal focus has been on providing comprehensive reputation, brand image, crisis, and issue advocacy campaigns to companies and industries operating in challenging environments. Their clients have included many of the best-known brands in the world, including McDonald’s, BP and Coca-Cola. He and his colleagues have also handled numerous and initiative and referenda campaigns on a wide range of subjects and helped develop litigation communication strategies for companies engaged in significant class action and government-initiated litigation. Steve McMahon appears often as a political commentator on television network and cable stations, and appears regularly as a Democratic Strategist on MSNBC and other political programming. Steve is married to Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. The couple has four daughters.

Steven B. Miller
Voting Rights Activist; Lawyer

Steven B. Miller has worked as a volunteer voter protection lawyer in each of the past three presidential elections (2008 in North Carolina, 2012 in Virginia, and 2016 in North Carolina). He is an international business executive based in the U.S. and Europe, with over 25 years of experience developing and managing a broad range of businesses and educational and social justice projects. His key strength is in business development, strategic planning and relationship building, with a successful track record worldwide in establishing creative partnerships involving corporate, governmental, NGO, diplomatic and creative entities in the profit and nonprofit sectors and in mature and developing markets. Most recently, he has served as Senior Vice President, Government and Corporate Relations and Business Development, for the UK-based Study Group, an international education company. Prior to that he spent seven years as a member of the senior management team that ran the Walt Disney Company’s global publishing business with responsibility for strategic planning and business development. He spent ten years before that at Sesame Workshop, the creator of the educational children’s brand Sesame Street where he ran their international division working with producers, broadcasters, educators, NGOs and sponsors to create local versions of the Sesame Street television series around the world, including in South Africa, Egypt, China and Russia. He has also run a consulting business advising clients on a wide range of international projects and partnerships. Key clients have included Project (RED), for which he served as European Representative, the Walt Disney Company, and a wide variety of other American, European and South African media and education companies. Miller was a member of the Board of Cambodian Living Arts, an NGO in Cambodia, from 2012 through 2016 and continues to serve as a member of CLA’s Vision Committee. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts ‘the British Academy Awards’ and has served on the Boards of Lambda Legal Defense and The Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Doug Thornell
Democratic Public Affairs Strategist; Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker

Doug Thornell is a managing director at SKDKnickerbocker, a top public affairs and political consulting firm. Doug is responsible for developing and executing sophisticated communications, crisis management, and earned and paid media campaigns for Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, political committees, non-profits and CEOs. Thornell has over 17 years of experience working in government, politics, corporate communications and media. He was a senior advisor to the Democratic National Committee, the top spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a senior adviser to now Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and a senior aide at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Prior to that, Thornell spent several years as a strategist in the private sector after serving as the traveling press secretary for Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, and the deputy political director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He was also the communications director and speechwriter for the Congressional Black Caucus and a press aide to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. He started his career working on Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign. In 2007, Doug was named a “Politico to Watch” by Politico for his messaging expertise. In 2015, Doug was named a member of the prestigious PR Week 40 under 40 list. He is a frequent political analyst on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News and his opinion pieces can be found in Huffington Post,, Roll Call and The Hill. Thornell serves on the board of Stone Soup Films and the Sidwell Friends School Alumni Association. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government. You can follow him on Twitter at @DThornell.

Ellyn Toscano
Executive Director, New York University Florence and Founder and Director, La Pietra Dialogues

Ellyn Toscano is Executive Director of New York University Florence, a campus of New York University that hosts nearly 1000 students a year. She directs NYU’s Villa La Pietra, a 15th century villa and collection of six thousand objects dating from the Etruscans to the 20th century. She founded and directs La Pietra Dialogues, a year-long series of conferences, exhibitions and talks, and founded and produces The Season, a summer cultural festival that assembles artists, writers, musicians and public intellectuals to produce new work or reinterpretations of classics in the Villa’s expansive Renaissance revival gardens. Before arriving at New York University Florence, Ms. Toscano served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Jose Serrano of New York for two decades, was his chief policy advisor on legislative, political and media concerns and directed his work on the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Toscano also served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years. She has served on the boards of several prominent arts and cultural institutions including the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (as the representative of the Brooklyn Borough President). She currently serves on the Honorary Board of the Museo Marino Marini in Florence, the Advisory Board of the John Brademas Center, New York, the Italian Advisory Council of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Italy, and the Board of Directors of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. A lawyer by training, Ms. Toscano earned an LLM in International Law from New York University School of Law.

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