Meet the Team
Democracy for America staff and interns put their talents and skills to work each and every day to make the Democratic Party more progressive and move our country forward.
Charles started as a volunteer leader of a local Democracy for America group in Miami. In July of 2006, he joined DFA staff in Burlington Vermont as Political Director, where he led powerful issue campaigns and game changing endorsements taking on Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate Democrats. In January of 2012, Charles became the Executive Director of Progressive Congress, now called the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, working directly with leaders in Congress on an inside-outside strategy collaborating with progressive movement groups, unions, and policy think tanks.
Charles rejoined DFA as Executive Director in August of 2013. Under his leadership DFA took on issues like the fight against income inequity, campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter, strategies like expanding the voting electorate by focusing on the New American Majority of people of color and progressive white voters, and endorsements like Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign for President. In January of 2019, Charles was promoted to DFA’s Chair in a multiracial co-leadership collaboration with CEO Yvette Simpson to focus on fundraising, collaboration, and progressive power building for members, leaders and electeds nationwide.
Before DFA, Charles spent over a decade grassroots organizing and directing statewide campaigns in 17 states for direct democracy initiatives and referendums working with the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Americans for Medical Rights, and others in fights ranging from funding early childhood development and protecting civil liberties to defending collective bargaining rights and raising the minimum wage. Charles currently lives on the west coast and is married to platinum recording artist Alejandra Lorenzo of the 80’s dance group Expose.
Chief Executive Officer
Yvette is a lawyer, MBA, and former Cincinnati City Council President Pro Tempore. She served as the Federal Electoral Manager for Democracy for America during the second half of 2018 helping to flip control of the US House with historic victories electing the most progressive and diverse coalition of candidates in America’s history. In January 2019, Yvette became the first woman to serve as a Chief Executive Officer at DFA as well as the first woman of color in executive leadership.
Yvette grew up in public housing in Cincinnati and was raised by her grandmother. She was the first in her family to graduate college, earning her BA in Political Science, a BS in Communications from Miami University, her JD from the University of Cincinnati, and her MBA from Xavier University in Ohio. Yvette's passion for service started in 2008 when she served as a member of the Ohio Voter Protection Team as a Legal Observer. She later served on the Steering Committee for the Women's Fund, which researched barriers to women in public service. Since that time, she has volunteered and supported local and state campaigns, serving as the Vice Chair of the State Central Committee for the Ohio Democratic Party.
Yvette was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 2011 and re-elected in 2013 for a four-year term. She served as President Pro Tem from 2013-2017. In 2017 she ran for Mayor of Cincinnati and earned the full support and endorsement of DFA members across the country. She made history as the first Black woman in Cincinnati's 200-year history to win a Mayoral primary but came up just short of victory in the general election despite winning 15 of 26 wards.
Active in her local community, Yvette has served on several boards and committees, including the YWCA, Urban League, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, and the UC Law Legal Access Program, among others. Yvette brings her experience, passion, advocacy, and commitment to changing the world to her role at DFA and advance the voices and power of progressives in our democracy nationwide.
Kristina started her career at DFA as Governor Dean’s Executive Assistant and helped raise over one million dollars for progressive candidates and causes. Before joining DFA, she served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Democratic Party. Kristina spent a year coordinating youth outreach for President Obama’s New Hampshire Primary campaign and went on to aid get-out-the-vote efforts in six subsequent primary states.
She comes to DFA with nearly a decade of professional experience in Democratic politics, fundraising and strategic planning.
Kristina graduated magna cum laude from Bradley University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies.
Prior to joining DFA, Neil was the Press Secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Communications Director for Ann McLane Kuster's 2010 campaign in New Hampshire's Second Congressional District. He has also served in the Obama administration as the Director of New Media at the U.S. Department of Commerce, ran social media projects for MoveOn.org, and managed new media for Barack Obama's primary campaigns in South Carolina & Ohio. Neil graduated from George Washington University and studied politics and philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford.
Mondale has been a part of more than 25 campaigns including local, state, federal, international, and advocacy. He is at his core a community organizer, with a track record of succeeding when and where most others see no light, this is a skill he honed as the middle of thirteen (13) children.
Before joining DFA, Mondale was the Executive Director of Conyers Institute of Public Policy, an organization that seeks to ensure equitable governance and inter-social treatment for persons of African descent, in countries where they are a minority population. Mondale also managed National Park Service contracts for the C Institute. Mondale is also a political columnist for two publications; an online magazine (The Village Celebration), where he is also a political contributor to magazine's weekly syndicated radio show, and a statewide newspaper (Arkansas Talks). He lectures on the "Culture and History of Black Politics" throughout the world.
Mondale graduated from Livingstone College, a Historically Black College and University (Salisbury, NC), with a BS in Political Science, and a concentration in African and Latin American Politics. In a perfect world, where equity was the norm, Mondale would spend his days building pallet furniture from ideas off of Pinterest.
Jay joined DFA in 2009 with a background in student organizing and electoral work. As a DFA Field Organizer, Jay arranged Campaign Academies across the country and helped develop the new Action Summit program. In addition to training, he worked directly to support DFA endorsed issue campaigns and candidates. Now as Political Director, Jay works with DFA members across the country to bring positive change to their communities.
Jay graduated with a BA from Oberlin College. Outside of the office he enjoys playing with his dog, reading and live music.
Karli Wallace Thompson
Karli jumped into political organizing with both feet in early 2008, when what started as a volunteer opportunity supporting Barack Obama in the Minnesota Super Tuesday primary quickly turned into a full time (and then some) position doing field work for OFA in the critical state of Ohio. Since then, she has organized around a wide variety of progressive candidates and issues in a number of Midwestern states. She is most proud of the work she has done in her home state of Wisconsin - first, working for former Sen. Russ Feingold; then organizing protests, petitioning and recall campaign activities for SEIU, MoveOn PAC and DFA in the wake of the passage of Scott Walker's union-busting legislation.
When she's not busy organizing you can find her outside hiking, poking around the farmers' market, cooking up something delicious, or watching her beloved Green Bay Packers, of which she is one of many owners.
Senior Development Associate
Ben joined the development team at Democracy for America in 2012. He began his career in fundraising in Oregon for numerous groups such as the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, the Human Rights Campaign, Sierra Club, and Save Our Wild Salmon. After 2 years, he moved back to Burlington, VT and worked with TrueMajority.org as an Operations and Special Projects Manager for 5 years.
Ben graduated from the University of Vermont in 2003 with a degree in Environmental Studies and focused his thesis research on land conservation in a remote area of Costa Rica.
When he's not working, he devotes himself to his other passion -- photography.
Dee Pha is a proud daughter of Hmong refugees. She began organizing as a student through the Midwest Asian American Students Union where her work revolved around building the racial consciousness of Asian American youth. Dee has also taken an active role as a member of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Washington DC chapter to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. Prior to DFA, she worked at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund which is dedicated to supporting AAPI students in higher education.
Dee is an alumna of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where she studied Strategic Communications, History and Asian American Studies. In her free time, she is most likely out and about checking out trendy spots around town or in her room binge watching a show on Netflix.
Web Development Director
Prior to DFA, Miles ran a one-man web design and development shop building online tools and websites for progressive organizations and candidates including the Courage Campaign, the California Labor Federation, and the Daily Kos.
With a degree in Fine Art, Miles developed one of the first paint systems for a PC, Time Arts Lumena. He went on to become Senior Software Architect at Macromedia for the multimedia authoring system, Director. His earliest gig was as the first programmer for the platform that became America On-Line.
Miles served as president of his local DFA chapter, and is a member of both his state and county Democratic central committees.
Senior Web Developer
Aaron joined DFA staff after interning with the web development team in 2013. As a human rights activist, Aaron believes in empowering communities through grassroots activism and open source technology.
Previously a mechanic by trade, Aaron's interests include vintage motorcycle restoration and independent radio.
Emma joined DFA in 2011, becoming our fantastically organized Operations Manager. Emma first became active in politics in 2003, when she canvassed for Governor Howard Dean during his presidential campaign.
Emma spent a year in Germany before attending the University of Mary Washington, where she double-majored in Political Science and German, and then received a Master’s Degree at University College London in the U.K.
She enjoys traveling, the changing of the seasons, baking, crazy dance moves, playing with dogs, and (despite her better judgment) reality TV.
Veronica joined the DFA team in 2012. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2002 with a degree in Business Administration and went on to earn her CPA license in 2007.
When she’s not immersed in numbers, Veronica enjoys hiking, biking, golfing, and any other outdoor activity.
Jim campaigned extensively for his brother Howard Dean from his first campaign for Lt. Governor of Vermont to his last campaign as Governor. Starting in 2002, Jim joined the early team for Governor Dean’s campaign for President and was responsible for a variety of campaign functions including fundraising, political organizing and resource support of several Dean for America state organizations.
After helping DFA successfully elect Howard to Chair the Democratic National Committee in 2005, Jim took over as Chair of Democracy for America where he was the key spokesperson and fundraiser, bringing DFA’s mission to all 50 states and keeping our member’s work and candidates in the national spotlight.
At the end of 2018, Jim passed the torch of leadership to the team of Charles Chamberlain (Chair) and Yvette Simpson (CEO); becoming a Special Advisor to DFA where he continues to use his vast experience and knowledge of our work and the progressive movement to help guide DFA moving forward.
Founder, Former Special Advisor
Governor Howard Dean
Governor Howard Dean founded Democracy for America in 2004 to empower the grassroots movement his supporters built for his campaign for President and continue the fight for a Democratic Party that focused on supporting progressive candidates and issues in all 50 states.
After DFA’s successful people-powered campaign to elect Governor Dean to lead the Democratic National Committee, Governor Dean stepped down from DFA and appointed his brother Jim Dean. From 2005 to 2009, Governor Dean spearheaded the DNC’s 50 State Strategy to support the base of the Democratic Party, helping Democrats up to flip control of both houses in Congress in 2006 and win the White House in 2008.
Upon leaving the DNC in early 2009, Gov. Dean returned to DFA as a Special Adviser where he lead the campaigns for the Affordable Care Act, a Public Healthcare Option, and, in 2013, launched DFA’s “Purple to Blue” campaign to flip control of targeted governorships and state legislatures nationwide. In December of 2016, Governor Dean retired from his Special Advisor role and is no longer involved in the strategic direction of DFA.