Washington, DC – Today, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced that she has appointed the members of the DNC’s Democratic Victory Task Force, an initiative that Wasserman Schultz announced in the days after the 2014 Midterm Election. The appointed members of the Democratic Victory Task Force are Naomi Aberly, Governor Steve Beshear (KY), Donna Brazile, Maria Cardona, Marc Elias, Teddy Goff, Maneesh Goyal, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio, Lee Saunders and Eric Schmidt.
The Democratic Victory Task Force will conduct a thorough review and assessment of key components of the Democratic Party’s – and related organizations - role in recent elections and identify places where the Party can strengthen and improve operations to better serve candidates and constituents in future elections. It will cast a wide net that will examine a range of issues that ultimately will produce recommendations on steps both the national and state parties must take to improve their performance including, but not limited to, future midterm elections.
“We are proud to announce the members of the Democratic Victory Task Force, and are eager to work with them to build on what we’ve done that works, identify and prioritize challenges and ultimately improve our party’s performance in future elections,” said Wasserman Schultz. “This diverse group of Democratic Party officials, strategists and advocates will each bring with them expertise from their fields to collaborate on a holistic review of the Party’s past performance and present actionable areas for improvement moving forward.”
Task Force members will solicit input from a wide array of stake holders - from activists to outside experts to Party Leadership that will guide the assessment and its findings.
Preliminary findings of the Democratic Victory Task Force will be presented at the DNC’s Winter Meeting in February 2015. The task force will produce final recommendations by mid-2015.
Donna Brazile, a DNC Vice Chair and Task Force Member said, “We all have a lot to learn from what we’ve done in the past - both successes and shortcomings. As a member of the Task Force and a Democrat I applaud Chair Wasserman Schultz and the DNC for launching this initiative. Our goal is to help strengthen the Party as a whole and provide a blueprint for State Parties, candidates, activists, supporters and other decision makers as we move forward. We’re excited to get to work.”
See below for Task Force members and bios:
Naomi Aberly is a political activist and civic volunteer who focuses her efforts on Women’s Health. She has been deeply involved in progressive politics, policymaking and fundraising at the state and federal levels for the past fifteen years.
She is currently a Vice Chair of the DNC’s National Finance Committee, an Advisory Board Co-Chair of Organizing for Action and most recently served as a Co-Chair of Wendy Davis’ campaign for Governor of Texas.
She joined the Obama for America National Finance Committee in early 2007 and continued as a National Finance Committee member for the 2012 election. She has been a substantial fundraiser for Senate and House campaigns nationwide since 2004.
Naomi serves on the boards of both the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF). She is Vice Chair of the PPFA board and co-chairs the Development Council of both PPFA and PPAF. She also chairs the Planned Parenthood Federal PAC and created the PPAF Victory Circle.
She was elected a life board member of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, having served that organization as development committee chair, Board Chair and Chair of its recent $20 million capital campaign. She also served on the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Action Fund board.
She is a former board chair of Annie’s List in Texas. She is a member of the Planned Parenthood Leadership Council, the Women Donors Network, and the EMILY’s List Majority Council. She is also an active supporter of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Center for American Progress and the Texas Organizing Project.
In addition to her political work, Naomi has also served as a board member of the Dallas Museum of Art, KERA Public Media for North Texas and The Center for Progressive Policy Priorities.
She shares her work with her husband, Larry Lebowitz, and her two teenage sons.
Governor Steve Beshear has propelled Kentucky forward through intense and targeted efforts to create and protect jobs, expand access to health care, and enhance K-12 education, during his two terms in office. Under his leadership, the state’s Democratic Party has kept nearly all the state constitutional offices Democratic and has protected the single remaining Democratic state legislative chamber in the South.
Shortly after he took office in 2007, Kentucky faced the worst economic recession in nearly a century. Gov. Beshear streamlined state government operations through a combination of cuts and efficiencies, which shrank the state workforce to its smallest size in more than 40 years. He’s balanced the state budget 14 times, cutting more than $1.6 billion while still protecting the state’s critical investments in education, public protection and job creation.
Gov. Beshear rejuvenated the state’s economic development toolkit in 2009, which has led to nearly $10 billion in private investment and more than 55,000 new or retained jobs. This year, Kentucky’s jobless rate has dropped at a record-setting pace and is now below pre-recession levels.
Gov. Beshear emerged as a national leader on health care as states implemented the Affordable Care Act. Kentucky’s health benefit exchange, known as kynect, was hailed as a national model for its smooth operation and easy interface for users looking for affordable health coverage. Since the first open enrollment last fall, more than 521,000 Kentuckians (more than 1 in 10) have enrolled in affordable health care through kynect.
Kentucky leads the nation in education reform. Under the Governor’s guidance, Kentucky was the first to adopt Common Core and the second to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. Graduation rates are improving, and Kentucky students are better prepared for college and careers than ever before.
Gov. Beshear was overwhelmingly reelected in 2011, defeating his Republican opponent by more than 20 points, and Democrats won six of seven statewide constitutional offices.
By maintaining focus on the issues that affect Kentucky families and by promoting job creation and bipartisanship, the Kentucky Democratic Party has thrived even as national Republican waves have turned much of the South red. In the 2014 elections, Gov. Beshear led state Democrats against multi-million dollar attacks by outside Republican groups. The disciplined messaging and focus on the state’s economy paid off. Democrats maintained control of the state House at a time when Republicans either won seats or won control of state legislatures across the country. Kentucky’s House is the only state legislative chamber in the South that remains under Democratic majority.
Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, a syndicated columnist, and the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee.
Ms. Brazile began her political career at the age of nine when she worked to support the campaign of a city council candidate who promised to build a playground in her neighborhood. Four decades and innumerable state and local campaigns later, she has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she served as presidential campaign manager for former Vice President Al Gore.
Author of the best-selling autobiography Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Ms. Brazile is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. In the media, she serves as a political contributor on CNN; consultant to ABC News; regularly appearing commentator on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos; and frequent contributor to NPR's News and Notes. In print and online, she is a columnist for Roll Call and Ms Magazine.
Washingtonian named Ms. Brazile one of the '100 most powerful women' and Essence named her one of the top 50 women in America. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has bestowed upon her its award for political achievement.
Prior to serving as Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation, Ms. Brazile dedicated herself to strengthening the American democratic process as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute, established in 2001 to help protect and promote the rights of all American citizens to participate in the electoral process. Her passion is encouraging young people to vote, work within the system to strengthen it, and run for public office.
Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco appointed Ms. Brazile, a New Orleans native, a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the guiding agency charged with leading the state’s rebuilding process in the aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes.
Brazile is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, D.C.
Maria Cardona has more than two decades of experience in the government, politics, public relations and community affairs arenas. Recognized among the most influential Latinos in the country, Maria is a Principal at the Dewey Square Group (DSG), the founder of Latinovations, and a CNN/CNN en Español Political Contributor. As the head of DSG’s Public Affairs Practice, she combines public policy, communications, coalition building, constituency outreach, government relations, traditional and new media at this premier national public affairs firm. Prior to signing on exclusively with CNN, Maria was a frequent political commentator on MSNBC, Fox, Univision and Telemundo, appearing as a public policy expert and providing political analysis on all manner of national issues. During the 2008 Democratic primary election, Cardona was senior adviser and spokesperson to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and served on the campaign’s Hispanic outreach team. During the 2008 general election, Cardona was a key surrogate for the Obama for America campaign, a role she revisited in the most recent 2012 presidential election. Previously, Cardona was a senior vice president for the New Democrat Network, and before that, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee. During the Clinton administration, Cardona served as chief spokesperson at the Immigration and Naturalization Service at the U.S. Department of Justice after serving as Press Secretary for the Department of Commerce.
Marc Elias is the chair of the Perkins Coie Political Law practice. His practice focuses on representing public officials, candidates, parties, corporations, tax-exempt organizations and Political Action Committees (PACs) in connection with campaign finance, governmental ethics, lobbying disclosure, and white-collar criminal defense matters. His clients include numerous Fortune 500 corporations, national non-profit organizations, lobbying firms, Am Law 100 law firms, prominent individuals, candidates and campaigns.
Marc is a nationally recognized authority in the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the Ethics in Government Act, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, congressional and executive branch ethics and gift rules, and federal and state pay-to-play laws and rules. He also advises and litigates claims under the Voting Rights Act, Help America Vote Act and National Voter Registration Act.
Teddy Goff is a Founding Partner at Precision Strategies, a communications, digital, and data firm that builds and executes campaigns for candidates, nonprofits, and businesses.
Teddy was the Digital Director for President Obama’s reelection campaign, leading the President's digital strategy and managing the 250-person nationwide team responsible for the campaign's social media, email, web, online advertising, online organizing, front-end and product development, design, and video presences. TIME described his work as "redefining the limits of viral politics."
Under Teddy’s leadership, Obama for America raised more than $690 million over the Internet, registered more than a million voters online, built Facebook and Twitter followings of more than 45 and 33 million people respectively, earned more than 133 million video views, ran more than $100 million in online media, built groundbreaking tools for online fundraising and campaigning, organized hundreds of thousands of volunteers and events through a proprietary organizing platform, and sent the second-most retweeted tweet of all time (thanks, Ellen) and the most liked Facebook post ever.
As a member of the campaign’s leadership, he also played a seminal role in shaping and executing the broader campaign's strategy for communications, fundraising, and organizing. His work has been featured in TIME, Bloomberg Businessweek, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, BuzzFeed, and the New York Times.
Before joining the campaign, Teddy served as Associate Vice President for Strategy at Blue State Digital, overseeing BSD's creative team that serviced more than 75 active engagements across the globe.
On President Obama's 2008 campaign, Teddy was responsible for state-level digital campaigns, managing everything from email and social media programs to online organizing strategies in more than 25 battleground states. During the primaries, he helped lead President Obama’s mass email team, developing fundraising, mobilization, and messaging plans for the campaign. Teddy also oversaw the creation and launch of the Obama Administration’s new WhiteHouse.gov website as a member of the Presidential Transition Team.
Teddy lives in Manhattan and is a graduate of Yale University. He has been featured in TIME's list of the "30 people under 30 who are changing the world," Forbes' 30 under 30, Bloomberg Businessweek's list of "The Most Eligible Hires in Techdom," BusinessInsider's list of the top people in online politics, and the AdWeek 50.
Maneesh Goyal is the Founder and President of both marketing agency MKG and Live in the Grey, an initiative and consultancy focused on company culture and professional fulfillment.
MKG, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, is an award-winning experiential event marketing & branding agency serving as a long-term partner to many of the world's top brands including Delta Air Lines, Audi, Google, Heineken, Whole Foods and NBC Universal, while also being firmly committed to creating a one-of-a-kind office culture. Recent accolades include being named to the Crain's New York "50 Fastest Growing Companies" list in 2013 and 2014, and "100 Best Places to Work" list in 2014.
Goyal founded Live in the Grey in 2013 as a movement that challenges the work/life divide and encourages the blend of personal passions with professional pursuits. Since then, Live in the Grey has built a community through live events and online content, working with supporters and partners like lululemon athletica, Warby Parker, Charlie Rose and charity: water. In 2015, Live in the Grey is launching The Grey Certification Program, a tool to identify and highlight exemplary company culture. By contributing to the growing conversation around attraction and retention of talent, Live in the Grey seeks to make an impact on the future of work through organizations.
Goyal holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University & a master’s in Public Health from Yale University. In November 2014, he was appointed by President Obama as a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Goyal lives with his husband, Andrew Wingrove, in New York & Atlanta.
Rick Palacio, 40, is the Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. First elected in 2011, he is currently serving his second term. Palacio also serves as the Western Regional Vice President for the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs and sits on the DNC’s Executive Committee.
Rick is a 6th generation Coloradan who was born and raised in Pueblo. The son of a steel worker and homemaker, Rick's family's roots are in the southern part the state where both of his grandfathers were coal miners.
Before serving in his current role, Palacio worked in a variety of roles in Colorado and national politics. He was the chief aide to the former Colorado House Majority Leader, then served as a Regional Director of the Colorado Democratic Party’s 2006 Coordinated Campaign. Palacio then held multiple roles with U.S. Rep. John Salazar of Colorado's Third Congressional District, including Legislative Assistant and later Deputy Communications Director. From 2008 through 2011 he served as a senior leadership aide in the office of former U.S. House Majority Leader, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, the second highest-ranking Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lee Saunders is the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million members. He was elected at the union’s 40th International Convention in June 2012.
Saunders, the first African American to serve as AFSCME's president, was previously elected secretary-treasurer at the union’s 39th International Convention in July 2010.
Saunders grew up in a union household in Cleveland, Ohio. This inspired him to join the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) when he began working for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services in 1975. His father was a bus driver and a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. His mother was a community organizer and, after raising two sons, returned to college and became a community college professor and a member of the American Association of University Professors.
Saunders began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist. He has served in the capacities of assistant director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services, director of Community Action and deputy director of Organizing and Field Services. Saunders also served as executive assistant to the president of AFSCME and was responsible for managing what is acknowledged to be one of the most effective political and legislative operations in the history of the American labor movement. AFSCME’s clout in fundraising and member mobilization, and its lobbying expertise are unmatched in the ranks of the AFL-CIO and beyond.
Building on ideas generated by local unions, Saunders has championed AFSCME’s Next Wave initiative to encourage and develop the next generation of union leadership. He has also developed and supported programs that foster diversity and promote increased member participation within the union.
He has served as administrator of a number of AFSCME councils and large local unions across the country. For nearly four years, he served as administrator of AFSCME District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, representing 125,000 members. In that capacity, he was successful in restoring the fiscal health, integrity and good name of the council and its 56 affiliated local unions.
Saunders serves as a Vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the labor federation; he also serves as chair of its Political Committee. He is an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, treasurer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, president of Working America, and chairman of the board of Americans United for Change. He also serves on the board of the National Action Network.
He received a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University in 1974, a year after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University. In 2002, the College of New Rochelle awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters.
Eric Schmidt is the Executive Chairman of Google. He joined Google in 2001 and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He served as Google’s Chief Executive Officer from 2001-2011, overseeing the company’s technical and business strategy alongside founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Under his leadership Google dramatically scaled its infrastructure and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a strong culture of innovation.