NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop - Speakers & Guests

Presentation1.pngOn April 29th and 30th, 2017, we will host the inaugural NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop in partnership with Veterans Campaign and Civic Hall. We will provide nonpartisan training for approximately 40 veterans and spouses from NYC and around the country to teach them the fundamentals of running for elected office.

CLICK HERE to help individual participants of our workshop as they "crowdraise" their tuition costs!

We've brought in a number of highly accomplished speakers, presenters, panelists, and distinguished visitors with diverse political and professional backgrounds to provide the highest quality training to our weekend participants:

Todd Beeton

beeton.jpgTodd Beeton is a digital strategy consultant living in New York City, specializing in social media and digital storytelling. During the 2008 election, Todd blogged about the presidential election as a front page blogger and editor for, a national progressive political site. For the last several years, Todd was proud to serve as digital director for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, building the Senator's social media presence from scratch and directing the digital content and strategy for both her campaign and Senate office.

Council Member Joe Borelli

borelli.jpgJoe Borelli was elected to serve the constituents of the 51st Council District in a special election held on November 3, 2015. His district includes the South Shore of Staten Island. Joe previously represented his South Shore constituents in the New York State Assembly. He was the ranking minority member of the Assembly Cities Committee, and he also served on the Health, the Housing, the Transportation, the Mental Health, Banks, Education, and Energy Committees. He was a staunch advocate against energy cost increases, and the common core curriculum. Prior to his career as an elected official, Joe served as Chief of Staff to Councilman Vincent Ignizio since 2007, formerly serving in the same role for Ignizio in the state Assembly since 2005. Dedicated to improving the quality of life on Staten Island, Joe was successful in coordinating the development of several Park and Rides here on Staten Island, securing funds to outfit nearly every classroom on the South Shore with a Smartboard and has worked with the Parks Department on the renovation and construction of several parks on Staten Island. Active in his community, Joe has been involved in the Staten Island Growth Management Task Force, the West Shore Light Rail Task Force, the Brookfield Landfill Citizens Advisory Committee, and helped spearhead the formation of the South Shore Local Development Corporation. He was also instrumental in the successful fight to eradicate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from public school buildings. Throughout his career in state and city government, Joe has proven himself to be a leader in the movement to reduce taxes, tolls, and fees in New York City. Joe is a native Staten Islander and lives in the Annadale section of Staten Island with his wife, Rachel, their newborn son, Joseph, and his English Bulldog, Luna. He holds a B.A. from Marist College and an M.A. from the College of Staten Island, where he is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science.

brown.jpgHannah Brown

Hannah Brown is the Director of Marketing at ActBlue, where she helps campaigns and organizations make the most of ActBlue's tools, oversees ActBlue's own fundraising program, and helps spread the word about the power of small-dollar donors. She has trained candidates, digital staff, and organizers at the New Organizing Institute, Kairos, and Veteran's Campaign, among others.

Jessica Carrano

carrano.jpgA ten-year veteran of New York politics, Jess started her career with the Working Families Party where she ran successful field programs for City Council Member Brad Lander and State Senator Joe Addabbo. Building on her strong grassroots background, Jess became the Long Island Political Director, then ran WFP’s statewide field operations and electoral program, supporting hundreds of progressive candidates across New York. After leaving the WFP, Jess worked on a number of issue advocacy campaigns, bringing her organizing skills to the Share Better Coalition in their campaign to protect affordable housing; and to the Democratic Party’s efforts to raise the minimum wage and provide paid family leave for all New Yorkers. Jess’s field and organizing expertise most recently led her to run the largest Field Program in New York State Senate history on behalf of now-Senator Todd Kaminsky, in his record-breaking and successful Special Election. Born in Brooklyn and raised on New Jersey Coast Guard bases, Jess is deeply passionate about the New York Giants, action movies, and electing women to office.

Maria Cruz Lee

cruz_lee.jpgMaria is a digital organizer who develops strategies to support immigrant leaders and organizations. She was the New York State Digital Director and Digital Coalitions Desk focused on Millennials at Hillary for America during the 2016 general election. Before that, she was part of the leadership team at Define American, a national organization focused on immigrants. Though Maria’s public service career started at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs during the Bloomberg administration, her career started in corporate media, working at Fox News Channel, Viacom, a Wall Street staffing firm and an international ad agency. She is currently the scheduler to the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray.

Mitch Davis

davis.jpgA veteran of 50 years in broadcast news, Mitch Davis has been a radio newscaster, a TV News producer, and now a radio news executive. He has covered every President from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump – and worked on every Presidential inauguration since Jimmy Carter’s. He has produced live TV News broadcasts from around the world – including the 30th, and 40th anniversaries of D-Day from Omaha Beach… live coverage from the burnt-out U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia – and from the Great Wall of China with President Reagan. Here at home, while working at ABC News he wrote and produced for many well-known news anchors, including Peter Jennings, Howard K Smith, Harry Reasoner, Barbara Walters, and Ted Koppel. He joined Fox News in 1997, and was the producer in charge in the control room for live coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the impeachment of President Clinton, and many other events. In 2003 Fox News named him as the first head of the Fox News Radio Network. When he started, Fox News Radio had 40 affiliated radio stations. Today, it has well over 1,000. And in 2015, he founded Fox News Headlines 24/7, the only national all-news radio station, on SiriusXM channel.

Loren Dealy Mahler

dealy_mahler.jpgDealy Mahler Strategies, LLC is led by Loren Dealy Mahler, a seasoned strategic leader with high-level government and private sector experience. From the White House to corporate America, she’s helped mission-driven organizations and companies achieve their objectives through strategic planning, communications and public affairs campaigns across a range of security issues. Loren has advised top government officials in her roles with the National Security Council at the White House, the Department of Defense, and on Capitol Hill; and helped senior executives from Fortune 500 companies and national nonprofits grow and protect their organizations.

Rob Diamond

diamond.pngRobert Diamond is a Managing Director at Tishman Speyer, overseeing public affairs for the global real estate firm. He previously served as a Special Assistant to President Obama and was the Administration’s Director of Private Sector Engagement. From 2013-2015 Rob was the Downstate Director for Intergovernmental Affairs for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo.  During the 2012 election cycle he was the NY State Director for the Obama campaign and National Military and Veteran Families Vote Director. He served for many years on the DNC’s Veterans and Military Families Coalition, among a variety of other political roles. Rob began his career as a Naval Officer, completing foreign deployments and serving as an aide and liaison for legislative affairs. He holds a BS in political science from the United States Naval Academy.

Eric Friedman

friedman.pngEric Friedman is Assistant Executive Director for Public Affairs with the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB), which administers New York City’s groundbreaking small-donor matching funds program. He is responsible for overseeing the agency’s communications, voter engagement, media relations, policy research, and legislative outreach. He also leads the team that created NYC Votes Contribute, an online contribution platform made available to all city candidates. Mr. Friedman has served the CFB in a series of roles since 2006. Prior to joining the CFB, Mr. Friedman served as Press Secretary for U.S. Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT), a national leader on government ethics and campaign finance reform during his time in Congress. Mr. Friedman also managed communications for Congressman Shays’ re-election campaigns, and worked on several campaigns for state and local office. Mr. Friedman began his career as a journalist, reporting on politics and government for a weekly newspaper in southwestern Connecticut. He is a graduate of Tufts University and the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Phoebe Gavin

gavin.jpgPhoebe Gavin is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor for ThinkProgress. Previously, she worked as a Curator for She has also worked in community organizing in New York City. Phoebe is an Army veteran who served in Iraq for 15 months. Phoebe graduated from LIM College in New York City, in 2013 with a B.B.S. in management. During her time at LIM, she volunteered with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organizing veterans.

Ken Goldstein

goldstein_ken.jpgKen Goldstein is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and Faculty Director of the USF in DC program. He also teaches in USF's Masters' Program in Public Affairs, which focuses on the skills needed to run a modern political campaign. Before joining the University of San Francisco, Goldstein was a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he won the University of Wisconsin's Kellet Award for his career research accomplishments and the Chancellor's Award for excellence in teaching. Goldstein is one of the country's premier experts on the use and impact of political advertising. He has authored or co-authored four books, and scores of refereed journal articles and book chapters. These publications on political advertising, voter turnout, survey methodology, presidential elections, Israeli politics, and news coverage have appeared in top line political science journals and major university presses as well as in refereed law and medical journals. Goldstein combines his academic training with an ear for real politics and strategy as well as an impressive set of contacts and extensive professional experience in a variety of media, corporate, and political settings. He served as president of Kantar Media CMAG—a non-partisan Washington DC based political consulting firm that provides media intelligence and is the source of record on political advertising for campaigns, trade associations, and the news media. In 2012, Kantar Media CMAG clients included the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns. Goldstein has also consulted for the ABC News elections unit as a member of their election night decision team. He has worked on network election night coverage in every U.S. federal election since 1988. He was co-founder and co-director of the Big Ten Battleground Poll—a three-wave study of political attitudes and voting patterns in each of the eight Midwest states that comprise the Big Ten as well as a national survey. More generally, Goldstein's reputation for unbiased and non-partisan analysis has made him a favorite source for politicians and the news media alike. He has appeared numerous times on Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC and CNN, and is a frequent contributor on National Public Radio. He is also quoted extensively in the country's top newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Goldstein also hosted a weekly interview show, "Office Hours" that was broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Amber Greene

greene.pngAmber Greene is a policy adviser and communications strategist with expertise in issue advocacy campaigns and government affairs. She is currently Vice President of Community Engagement and Risk Communications for Ogilvy Public Relations and Influence in New York. Prior to joining Ogilvy, Amber served for over two years as the Director of Policy for New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, where she developed a robust policy and legislative platform centered on womens equity, and social and economic justice initiatives grounded in research, management and negotiation, and strategic partnerships. Prior to joining the Public Advocate, Amber was an Adviser and Director of Policy for former City Comptroller Bill Thompson’s New York City mayoral campaign, served as a Consultant with GMMB--‐a leading Washington, D.C. based communications and political consulting firm, and spent six years working for the New York City Office of Emergency Management as an agency Spokesperson and Director of the city's emergency preparedness campaign–Ready New York. Amber began her public service career working for former NYS Assemblyman Richard Brodsky where she focused on public authority reform issues. Amber is a graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz and received a master's degree in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Ravi Gupta

gupta.jpgRavi Gupta is the Co-Founder of The Arena. He is also the Founder and former CEO of RePublic Schools, a network of charter schools in the South. RePublic’s two flagship schools are the first and only two charter schools in Tennessee to rank in the top five percent of all public schools for growth and absolute performance. Ravi previously served as Special Assistant and Speechwriter to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He also spent two years working on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign joining then-Senator Obama’s exploratory committee and working through the primary and general elections. He ran fundraising and voter turnout operations in more than a half dozen states during the primary election and served as assistant to Chief Strategist David Axelrod during the general election. Ravi received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Binghamton University, where he was named a Truman Scholar and was awarded the University Medal, the school’s highest honor. In 2012, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List.

Pete Hegseth

hegseth.jpegPete Hegseth is the author of the highly-acclaimed new book—IN THE ARENA—as well as a FOX NEWS CHANNEL contributor, appearing regularly as a correspondent and guest co-host for the network's morning show, FOX & FRIENDS. He also appears frequently on THE KELLY FILE, OUTNUMBERED, AMERICA'S NEWSROOM, and HAPPENING NOW. Pete is also a frequent contributor on and National Review Online. Pete is an Army veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was also a guard at Guantanamo Bay. He holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, Captain Hegseth deployed to Afghanistan with the Minnesota Army National Guard where he was the senior counterinsurgency instructor at the Counterinsurgency Training Center in Kabul. Before that, First Lieutenant Hegseth deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division for their 2005-2006 tour, serving as an Infantry Platoon Leader in Baghdad in 2005, and as a Civil-Military Operations officer in Samarra in 2006. A year before that, Second Lieutenant Hegseth served in Guantanamo Bay (JTF-GTMO) with his New Jersey Army National Guard unit from 2004-2005. Pete was recently promoted to the rank of Major, and is currently in the Individual Ready Reserve. Pete is the former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America (2012-2015), where he built the largest conservative veterans advocacy organization in America and led the charge for real reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Before that, Pete was the Executive Director of Vets for Freedom (2007-2010), leading the “ground truth” charge for success on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a member of the National Rifle Association. Pete graduated from Princeton University in 2003 with an undergraduate degree in Politics. While at Princeton, Pete was also a member of the varsity basketball team, an Army ROTC cadet, and the publisher of the campus conservative publication—The Princeton Tory. A decade later, Pete completed a Masters in Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, graduating in 2013. Pete and his wife Samantha live in Minnesota and have three young sons—Gunner, Boone, and Rex.  They attend Eagle Brook Church and proudly send their kids to Liberty Classical Academy.

Elie Jacobs

jacobs.jpgElie Jacobs is a seasoned political and corporate strategist and an independent public affairs and strategic communications consultant based in New York City. With an emphasis on message development, media training, media relations and crisis communications he helps corporations, non-profits and high-profile individuals tell their stories and successfully overcome some of their most challenging situations. Elie is also a sought after advisor for candidates and elected officials. Prior to branching out on his own, Elie worked for some of the leading public affairs and strategic communications consultancies in the world, including: Brunswick Group; Public Strategies, Inc.; Sloane & Company; the Glover Park Group; and Kivvit. Elie has experience working on  multifaceted  public  affairs  campaigns, communications programs for complex mergers & acquisitions and IPOs, fast-moving crises and other demanding situations. He also has years of experience acting as an on-the-record spokesman for clients. Elie began his communications career as a press aide in the post-presidential office of President Bill Clinton, handling Clinton's briefing materials and working with the news media. After spending a year in Israel after high school, he graduated from Rutgers University with a dual degree in History and Hebraic Studies. Elie is a partner in the Truman National Security Project. He was a co-founder of JNFuture (the young leadership of the Jewish National Fund), and a past Carnegie New Leader. He is the co-editor of Covenantal Imperatives: Essays by Walter S. Wurzburger on Jewish Law, Thought and Community (Urim 2008) and is on the advisory board of No One Left Behind. Elie is also a Duco Expert. 

Council Member Corey Johnson

johnson.jpgCorey Johnson represents District 3 in the New York City Council. The district includes the West Village, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Flatiron, part of the Upper West Side, Columbus Circle, Times Square, the Theater District, the Garment District, the High Line, Hudson River Park, the Javits Center, Penn Station, Moynihan Station, Madison Square Garden and the Whitney Museum. Since being elected to office in 2013 with 86% of the vote, Corey has earned a reputation as a tenacious advocate for his constituents and a prolific legislator at City Hall. He has passed more legislation than nearly any other Council Member, focusing on safeguarding tenant rights, enhancing public health, safeguarding the welfare of animals, and more. Whether it’s by addressing discrimination against transgender New Yorkers or by confronting substandard healthcare delivery at Rikers Island, these laws have made a real difference in people’s lives.

Seth Lynn

lynn.jpgSeth Lynn serves as the executive director of Veterans Campaign. Seth graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2002, and served for six years as an active duty Marine Corps officer, during which time he deployed to Okinawa, Kuwait, and Iraq. After leaving active duty, Seth earned a Master’s in Public Affairs at Princeton. During this time, Seth founded Veterans Campaign with the help of several of his schoolmates. Seth has written several articles on the military, veterans, and politics, and authored the final chapter in the 2012 L.A. Times bestseller, In the Shadow of Greatness. Seth was named one of the HillVets 100 -- a list of the 100 most influential and impactful veterans, Service Members, and those that supported them in 2014. In 2013, Diplomatic Courier magazine chose Seth as one of the “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders.” In addition to his work at Veterans Campaign, Seth teaches Civil-Military Relations & Politics. Seth continues to serve as a Major in the Marine Corps Reserve. 

Simone Lightfoot

lightfoot.pngSimone Lightfoot currently serves as the Director of Urban Initiatives for the National Wildlife Federation. She is also a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a Trustee to the Ann Arbor Board of Education, a member of the EPA’s Great Lakes Advisory Board, Former Director of the Michigan NAACP, and longtime activist, organizer, and policy expert. As an award winning small business owner, Simone learned first hand the challenges and benefits associated with budgets, deficits, and customer service. Lightfoot was named to the national staff of the NAACP as the Michigan state director before eventually assuming regional voting rights and mass mobilization responsibilities. She was the campaign manager for the first directly elected African American mayor of Cincinnati before going on to serve in the administration. Lightfoot was also named director of public policy and elections coordinator with Wayne County, Michigan before returning to the NAACP to assume responsibility for environmental and energy policy and alliances. Currently, Lightfoot serves as a trustee on the Ann Arbor Board of Education.

Liam McCabe

mccabe.jpgBorn and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Liam McCabe lives in and remains committed to the community. Liam’s commitment to public service began with his first job working for local small business owner and Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, in his store on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. McCabe began by volunteering, initially for State Senator Marty Golden, which led to his first job in public service working on Herman Badillo’s 2001 mayoral campaign. McCabe went on to work for Governor Pataki, John Faso, City Councilman Eric Ulrich, congressional candidates and representatives, including current Congressman Dan Donovan. In addition to his career in public service, McCabe is CEO of Brooklyn-based consulting firm Steeplechase Strategies and actively involved in local community building activities and organizations. He regularly participates in the Hope Walk to raise awareness for the homeless in New York City and in 2001, founded the Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run in honor of his late father, a homeless veteran. The annual McCabe Run raises funds for non-profit organizations, including Samaritan Village that assist homeless veterans and veterans with PTSD. McCabe, father to two sons, Rory and Andrew, volunteers with BRAVO and graduated from the NYPD Citizens Police Academy Program. He is an active Freemason and a graduate of St. Francis College. He holds membership with the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus. McCabe announced his candidacy for the City Council seat in the 43rd District on February 2, 2017.

Charlie Oliver

oliver.jpgCharlie’s years of experience in the trenches of old media include working in advertising in New York at such media goliaths as BBDO Worldwide and Condé Nast, to producing sitcoms and dramas at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Dreamworks and Oscar-award winning indie production companies, to event management at the Sundance Film Festival. After spending several years in corporate law in document review at global firms (White & Case, Clifford Chance and Wachtel Lipton, to name a few), Charlie segued seamlessly into tech and new media as a web video producer where she co-created and co-produced experimental video projects such as an 8-hour live webathon for the 2008 presidential election and numerous web video series. Soon thereafter, Charlie launched (a site that brought the vast world of tv, web and radio talk shows online to Users in bite-size video snippets of debates and interviews in social media). Served Fresh Media™ (a New York-based company that provides digital media strategy, product development, and branding across platforms including social media, mobile, and live-events) was a natural next step in her creative and media evolution. At Served Fresh Media, Charlie and her team provide digital strategy, senior management advisory, team building and training, strategic partnerships, and product development for startups and brands. Clients Served Fresh Media has worked with include IBM, New York Press Club, Digital Media Wire, Digital Flash, and It’s About Time, among others. In the Fall of 2016, Charlie launched Tech2025, a platform and community for learning about emerging technologies for the general. Through live, interactive events like workshops and experiential tech tours, Tech 2025 offers compelling insights and discussions about emerging technologies that are expected to drastically change our world in the next decade including AI, machine learning, driverless vehicles, IoT, blockchain, VR/AR, drones, 3D printing, and more. Charlie’s philosophy on life is simple: "Be fearless and unapologetic in the fierce pursuit of your goals and be just as passionate about helping people."

Mayor Dennis Pilla

pilla.jpgDennis Pilla is presently serving his fourth term as the Mayor of Port Chester, New York.  He was first elected to public office as Village Trustee in 2006 and as Mayor in 2007.  Dennis also currently serves as First Vice President of the Westchester Municipal Officials Association. Prior to being elected Mayor, Dennis held various positions in corporate finance at PepsiCo, GE, Time Warner & Citigroup and as a business consultant.  He also worked as an emergency ambulance technician serving Port Chester, New Rochelle and White Plains. Dennis earned a Bachelor's degree from Fordham University, where he met his wife Margoth, a Port Chester resident at the time and PCHS graduate.  Dennis and Margoth are married 33 years and have one son, David.  They have lived in Port Chester since 1996 and are parishioners of Corpus Christi Church. Dennis also serves on the boards of the Port Chester / Rye Brook Chamber of Commerce, the Port Chester / Rye Brook Public Library, and Port Chester / Rye Brook Council for Community Services. Dennis is also a member of the Port Chester Kiwanis Club and Knights of Columbus.

Desiree Sanchez

sanchez.jpgDesiree Sanchez is Artistic Director of Aquila Theatre Company. She directed and adapted the recent production of Our Trojan War at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), a collaboration involving U.S. military veterans as writers, actors, and consultants. She also adapted this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing for Aquila’s national tour. Past productions include: Romeo and Juliet, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Philoctetes for the 2015/2016 season; The Tempest and Wuthering Heights for the 2014/2015 season; Twelfth Night and Fahrenheit 451 for the 2013/2014 season; A Female Philoctetes at BAM Fisher's Hillman Studio, The Taming of the Shrew, and Cyrano de Bergerac for the 2012/2013 season; Macbeth and The Importance of Being Earnest for the 2011/2012 season; and Six Characters in Search of an Author for the 2010/2011 season. Other productions include Herakles at BAM in March 2013 and the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece and the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens in July, 2012. She created movement for Aquila's A Very Naughty Greek Play (Aristophanes' Wasps),  Catch-22Julius CaesarThe Iliad: Book One, and The Comedy of Errors; performed in The Iliad: Book One at the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece; and was the lead teaching artist for Aquila's Shakespeare Leaders program in Harlem. Desiree had a twenty-year dancing career including working as a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet where she worked under the direction of numerous directors and choreographers including Francesca Zambello, Mark Lamos, Doug Varone, John Dexter, Franco Zeffirelli, Julie Taymor and Andrei Konchalovsky. Other companies and choreographers she has worked with include the Boston Ballet, Neo Labos Dancetheatre, Donald Byrd/The Group, Sean Curran, Gelsey Kirkland, Bill T. Jones, Heidi Latsky, Eun Me Ahn in Korea, and Robert La Fosse. She performed for the Papermill Playhouse as a featured dancer in the musicals Carousel and The King and I. She has also taught at Long Island University as a visiting associate professor of dance, and has a Certificate of Movement Therapy from The New School. 

Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein

spitzer-rubenstein.jpgMichael Spitzer-Rubenstein is the CEO of ShakingNews, which is working on new ways to cover and explain state politics. Before that, he was a partner at BuzzMaker where he consulted on digital strategy and online fundraising with international leaders, Presidential and Senate campaigns, Members of Congress, national advocacy organizations including the American Jewish Congress, local nonprofits such as La Salle Academy, and businesses. Michael graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor's degree in urban studies.

Council Member Eric Ulrich

ulrich.jpgEric A. Ulrich was born at Jamaica Hospital and raised in the Ozone Park section of Queens. He attended neighborhood public and parochial schools, P.S. 63 (Old South) and the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School respectively. In high school, he contemplated becoming a catholic priest, but after graduating from Cathedral Prep Seminary, Ulrich became active in local civics and discovered that politics could also be a vehicle for social change. Ulrich is the first member of his family to earn a college degree. Thanks in part to the generosity of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, Ulrich studied political science on a full scholarship and graduated from St. Francis College in 2007. It was there that he met the former Yadira Moran of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The two were married on November 20th 2009. On February 24th 2009, Ulrich was elected to the City Council in a non-partisan Special Election. He quickly established a reputation as an honest, outspoken and independent voice at City Hall. Following his re-election in November of 2009, Ulrich implemented an aggressive quality-of-life agenda, targeting graffiti vandalism and illegal dumping on city streets. His legislative record includes six consecutive on-time balanced budgets and several bills, which have brought greater accountability to city government. In 2013, Ulrich was reelected to the City Council to serve the diverse communities of Southwest Queens and was appointed Chairman of the Veterans Committee. During his tenure, Ulrich has held hearings on important issues including veterans homelessness, employment access, mental health issues, and other important topics. Working with his colleagues, he has also been able to secure funding to support critical services for veterans and their families throughout the five boroughs. In 2015, as Chairman of the Committee on Veterans, Councilman Ulrich  was the key driving force behind the legislation that created the city’s new Department of Veterans Services (DVS). Recognizing the need to better serve New York City’s more than 210,000 veterans and their families, DVS – formerly the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs (MOVA) – strives to improve the lives of all veterans and their families, regardless of discharge status.

Phil Walotsky

walotsky.jpgPhil Walotsky is the Founder and President of Copper Strategies, and specializes in reputation development, issues and crisis management, and public and international affairs assignments at the cross section of the private and public sectors. His most recent political campaign experience was overseeing communications for Democratic US Senate candidate Jim Barksdale in Georgia in 2016. He brings a diverse range of experiences and skills to bear for clients, including top-tier media relations, influencer engagement, and government relations. He has served as the day-to-day lead on behalf of client campaigns that have won every major award in public relations in the United States, including PRWeek, SABRE, and Silver Anvil awards. His clients have ranged from Fortune 500 companies, candidates for federal political office, and foreign governments to prominent NGOs, international trade associations, and notable private equity firms. He’s a veteran of global PR agencies including Edelman, Fleishman-Hillard, MWW, and Ruder Finn, and served for two years as the first Director of Communications for KIND Snacks. He holds a B.A. from Washington & Lee University, and is a Political Partner of the Truman National Security Project. 

Matt Zeller

zeller.jpgMatt Zeller is the Co-Founder of No One Left Behind, a Truman National Security Fellow and an adjunct fellow at the American Security Project. He is also the author of Watches Without Time (Just World Books, 2012), which chronicles his experience serving as an embedded combat adviser with the Afghan security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008. He earned a BA in Government from Hamilton College and a MPA and a MA-IR from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University.