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Meet the Team

Staff

Ian Bassin

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Ian served as Associate White House Counsel from 2009-2011. In addition to counseling the President and senior White House staff on administrative and constitutional law, his responsibilities included ensuring that White House and executive branch officials complied with the laws, rules and norms that protect the fundamentally democratic nature of our government. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal and President of the American Constitution Society.

Justin Florence

Co-Founder and Legal Director

Justin most recently served as counsel in Ropes & Gray’s business & securities litigation practice group, where his practice focused on appellate and Supreme Court matters. He has represented clients in the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, as well as at the trial level. He has previously served in the Office of the White House Counsel as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President. Justin also worked for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as Senior Counsel on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sarah Armstrong

Operations Associate

Before joining Protect Democracy, Sarah served as a Naval Intelligence Officer in Norfolk, Virginia. While in the Navy, she had an array of assignments in operations, training, organization and reconnaissance, including posts at the Pentagon and the State Department. She received her B.S. in political science and English from the United States Naval Academy, graduating with honors.

Jonathan Arone

Impact Associate/Paralegal

Jonathan most recently was a Litigation Fellow at Stris & Maher LLP, where he worked on Supreme Court matters and complex civil cases. His prior experience includes work in federal and local government. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Chicago.

Aaron Baird

Communications

Before joining Protect Democracy, Aaron was Associate Director for Branded Content at Quartz, where he advised Fortune 100 companies on the strategy and production of digitally native media campaigns. Previously, Aaron served as senior policy adviser to Rep. Adam Schiff. He holds a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

Jamila Benkato

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Jamila served as a law clerk to the Honorable David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. During law school, Jamila worked for the ACLU of Southern California’s Immigrants’ Rights and National Security Projects, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Irvine, magna cum laude and with Pro Bono High Honors.

Ben Berwick

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, he worked for 6.5 years in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – spending most of the time as a Trial Attorney with the Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch. In that capacity, Ben defended against challenges to federal statutes and actions of the Executive Branch. He litigated cases involving a variety of statutes and agencies, including as the lead attorney in cases challenging the Department of Education’s and DOJ’s interpretation of Title IX as prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.

Cameron Bills

Impact Associate/Paralegal

Cameron recently graduated from Columbia University with a background in education and criminal justice.

Alexandra Chandler

Policy Advocate

Alexandra has previously served as a career national security leader, in the political arena, and in issue advocacy. Alexandra worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence from 2004-16, where she led the Intelligence Community analytic effort to disrupt arms smuggling and the proliferation of WMD by sea. She also served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she developed policies to prevent the politicization of intelligence analysis. In 2018, she made history as the first openly transgender candidate for Congress from Massachusetts, and has served as a public advocate for transgender equality, community healthcare, and in the Voter Choice Massachusetts movement to adopt ranked choice voting in Massachusetts’s elections. She graduated from Brown University with an A.B. in International Relations, and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

Soren Dayton

Policy Advocate

Soren was most recently a senior vice president at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Prior to that, Soren worked for communications and digital agencies, Senator John McCain’s campaign for President, Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI), and a rule of law development NGO in India. Soren also worked with a number of Republican electoral and party-political campaigns, including for the U.S. Senate and for Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is on the board of advisors of Tech Congress and was a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. Soren received his A.B. from The University of Chicago.

Chris Deaton

Communications

Chris is a communications advisor and writer and editor, most recently as deputy online editor of The Weekly Standard. He previously worked as a legislative aide and communications aide on Capitol Hill. He graduated with a B.A. in economics from Butler University and an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.

Corey Dukes

Policy Advocate

Before joining Protect Democracy, Corey served in leadership positions in both the policy and campaign arenas. Most recently, he served as a senior campaign advisor to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Prior to that, he served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Deputy Campaign Manager of her 2012 re-election campaign. Corey has also served as a state director for Hillary for America and as a grassroots campaigns and media consultant, with a focus on communities of color in “battleground” states.

Deana El-Mallawany

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Deana served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts, where she spent four years leading investigations and civil enforcement actions in the areas of healthcare fraud, consumer protection, and civil rights. She previously represented clients in complex commercial litigation and appeals at Bingham McCutchen LLP. After law school, Deana served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jon O. Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Robert P. Patterson, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Deana was also a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Cairo, Egypt.

Farbod Faraji

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Farbod was a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest & Constitutional Law, where he worked on a range of impact litigation cases in the areas of racial justice, immigration, and national security. Farbod previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Jacqueline Nguyen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Honorable Kimba Wood of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He has also worked at the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Bay Area Legal Aid. Farbod received his J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Rachel Goodman

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Rachel Goodman spent nearly eight years as a staff attorney with the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU. There, she focused on economic justice issues, particularly on discrimination in housing and lending, and on technology-driven discrimination. She led successful efforts to force Facebook to disallow racial discrimination in its advertising services and litigated cases addressing discrimination in the subprime mortgage securitization system, racial profiling in air travel, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Rachel served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joseph A. Greenaway, III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Fellow.

Rachel Homer

Counsel

Rachel most recently served as an attorney in the Department of Justice on the Civil Division’s Appellate Staff. Before joining DOJ, she served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Judge John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Previously, she has worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, implementing Obamacare in Medicare, as well as on national political campaigns. During law school, Rachel worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee and for Gupta Wessler, a public-interest law firm. Rachel received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Aditi Juneja

Communications

Before joining Protect Democracy, Aditi Juneja was an Excelsior Service Fellow with New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Fair and Equitable Housing Office. Previously, Aditi co-founded and led the Resistance Manual and OurStates.org. She created and hosts her own podcast focused on radically inclusive self-care called Self Care Sundays. She was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy in 2018. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Connecticut College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Cameron Kistler

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Cameron was an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He has served as a clerk to the Honorable Edith Brown Clement of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Honorable Lance Africk of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

John Langford

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, John was a Clinical Lecturer in Law, Associate Research Scholar, and the Floyd Abrams Fellow and Staff Attorney for the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School. He previously clerked for the Honorable Robin S. Rosenbaum on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and worked as a litigation associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. John received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Becca Leviss

Partnerships

Becca recently graduated from Tufts University, where she received her B.A. in sociology with a focus on data analysis and interpretation. As a participant, organizer and researcher, she has explored the intersection of politics and non-profit work, especially as they relate to youth activism and civic engagement.

Stephanie Llanes

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Stephanie was a Bertha Justice Legal Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). In that capacity, Stephanie worked on litigation that focused on racial and economic justice and government misconduct. During law school, Stephanie worked as a research assistant at the Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society; an Ella Baker legal intern at CCR; a clerk for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.; and an intern at the ACLU of Washington. She received her J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law, B.A. from Emory University, and A.A. from Gainesville State College (now The University of North Georgia).

Jessica Marsden

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Jess was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she launched the Veterans Legal Assistance Project. She has also served as a clerk to the Honorable Susan L. Carney of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Paulina Montañez-Montes

Communications

Paulina has spent nearly a decade serving as an advisor and operative in both local and federal government and on campaigns. She was most recently Senior Digital Strategist at a boutique digital firm where she led email programs for a number of successful high-profile Congressional races. She also previously served in Secretary Penny Pritzker’s office at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she created and advised on excellent internal briefing systems for Secretary Pritzker and Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews. Paulina earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego and her master’s degree from the George Washington University.

Yascha Mounk

Senior Adviser

Yascha is an academic whose work concentrates on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy. His latest book, The People vs Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is In Danger and How To Save It charts the rise of authoritarian populists around the world, and suggests what citizens and civil society organizations can do to stand up for democracy. Yascha is also an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University, the host of The Good Fight podcast, a columnist at Slate, and a frequent contributor to publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Foreign Affairs.

Genevieve Nadeau

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Genevieve spent more than seven years in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in various leadership roles, including as Chief of the Civil Rights Division and State Enforcement Counsel. She was responsible for leading a team charged with enforcing a wide range of state and federal civil rights laws and for litigating a variety of affirmative impact cases in state and federal court, as well as other initiatives. Genevieve also served in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and spent several years at private law firms, including Paul Hastings LLP, representing clients in employment litigation and related matters. She received her J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Erica Newland

Counsel

Erica most recently served as an Attorney Adviser at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice (DoJ).  Before joining DoJ, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Democracy & Technology.  During law school, Erica worked for the National Security Division at DoJ and the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Erica received her J.D. from Yale Law School.

John Paredes

Counsel

John previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Susan L. Carney of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Lorna G. Schofield of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before his clerkships, he worked for nearly four years as a litigation associate at WilmerHale, where he represented companies and pro bono clients at the trial and appellate levels. John holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Yale University.

Kristy Parker

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Kristy spent 15 years in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, most recently as a Deputy Chief, where she supervised and prosecuted federal criminal civil rights violations, including uses of excessive force by law enforcement officers, hate crimes, violence against reproductive health care providers, and human trafficking offenses. She also worked for 4 years in the DOJ’s Civil Division. Kristy has a D.Phil in Modern History from the University of Oxford and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Sonya Petri

Impact Associate/Paralegal

Sonya has over a decade of experience working in criminal defense and justice policy, most recently as a paralegal with the Federal Public Defender Office in Boston. She has contributed to local, national, and international research projects with the Harvard Kennedy School and earned her graduate degree from the London School of Economics.

Angelo Pis-Dudot

Impact Associate/Paralegal

Angelo was most recently an analyst and knowledge management consultant at Kobre & Kim LLP, where he worked on cross-border disputes and investigations. His prior experience includes work with NGOs focused on human rights and democracy issues, particularly in Latin America. He holds a B.A. in History from Yale University.

Ariela Rosenberg

Policy and Communications Associate

Ariela received her masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she studied conflict resolution, human security, and democratization. She has experience in the think tank, NGO, and governmental spaces. Prior to Fletcher, she worked in the private sector on U.S. fiscal policy and energy and industrials policy. She received her B.A. in intellectual history and English literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

Larry Schwartztol

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Larry was Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, a research and advocacy center focused on criminal justice reform. Larry spent nearly eight years as an attorney with the ACLU, where he litigated cases involving race discrimination, economic justice, police practices, educational equity, and a wide array of national security issues. Before that, Larry was a Liman Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Ahmed Shaaban

Partnerships

Ahmed recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in political science. He has conducted research on democratization, democratic consolidation, electoral system design, and mechanisms for promoting peace and political equality in ethnically divided and post-conflict societies.

Nanya Springer

Communications

Nanya most recently worked as Vice President of Programs at the Center for Political Accountability where she guided S&P 500 companies to adopt transparency & accountability policies and practices for corporate electoral spending. She is the co-creator of TrackYourCompany.org, the first political spending database of its kind. Previously, she served as Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy. She holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Anne Tindall

Counsel

Anne most recently served as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation and Oversight at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, representing the agency in federal court and before Congress and other oversight bodies. Prior to joining the Consumer Bureau, she spent nearly a decade in private practice, conducting internal investigations and representing companies and pro bono clients in district court and appellate litigation. Anne also served as Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce during the passage of landmark healthcare, financial reform, and environmental litigation. Anne served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephanie K. Seymour of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Chris Vaeth

Policy Advocate

Before joining Protect Democracy, Chris Vaeth was part of the team that opened and built the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and he led the CFPB’s Office of Community Affairs. Prior to the CFPB, Chris worked across the nonprofit sector for racial, economic, and social justice. He is also the founder of the How to Help news blog and host of a podcast featuring interviews with people working to protect American multiracial democracy. Chris is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Divinity School.

Justin Vail

Policy Advocate

Justin has previously served in each of the three branches of the federal government, including as the Deputy Director of Private Sector Engagement at the White House, as a Policy Aide to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Rodney W. Sippel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and the Honorable James F. Holderman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He has also worked on several advocacy and electoral campaigns at the national, state, and local level. He received his B.A. from Truman State University and his J.D. from Washington University School of Law.

Brittany Williams

Counsel

Prior to joining Protect Democracy, Brittany Williams served in the Office of the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor, enforcing federal worker safety, minimum wage, and overtime requirements. Before joining DOL, she served as an Assistant Attorney General through the Honors Fellowship Program in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and clerked on the Massachusetts Appeals Court for Justice Scott L. Kafker. Brittany received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Beau Wright

Director of Operations

Before joining Protect Democracy, Beau served 5.5 years in numerous capacities in the White House, most recently as Senior Deputy Director of Operations and Director for Finance. In addition to his work at Protect Democracy, Beau currently serves as an at-large member of city council in Lynchburg, VA, his hometown. He received his undergraduate degree in history and government from the College of William & Mary.

 


Board Members

Jeff Berman

Board Member

Jeff Berman is a founding partner of Magnet Companies. He previously served as President of Whalerock Industries, a media and technology company based in West Hollywood, and General Manager of Digital Media at the NFL after holding a series of positions at MySpace. Jeff was the independent director on the board of Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce) and has advised companies across a broad range of industries. From 2001-2005, he was Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Jeff has also served as a public defender in the District of Columbia and as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Connecticut College.^

 

Jerry Hauser

Board Member

Jerry is the founding Chief Executive Officer of The Management ​Action​ Center. He was previously at McKinsey & Company, and has played leadership roles in a number of nonprofits. At Teach For America, he served as the second-in-command for seven years. He also served as the CEO of the Advocacy Institute. Before graduating from Yale Law School, where he was active in legal clinics and a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal, Jerry worked as a high school math and history teacher in Compton, California. He is the coauthor of the book Managing to Change the World.^

Emily Loeb

Board Member

Emily helped found Protect Democracy, and is a Partner at the law firm Jenner & Block. She brings an extensive background in federal oversight and internal investigations. Previously, she served as an Associate Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel, where she advised senior White House and Executive Branch Agency officials on responses to congressional and other investigations, risk management issues, and high priority litigation. Before the White House, Emily served in several senior roles in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.*^

Cecilia Muñoz

Board Member

Cecilia is currently Vice President for Policy and Technology at New America, a Washington-based think tank. She served as Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, and earlier as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she oversaw the Obama Administration’s relationships with state and local governments. Before joining the Obama Administration, Cecilia spent 20 years at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. In June 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in recognition of her work on immigration and civil rights. She also serves on the Board of the Kresge Foundation and the US Programs Board of the Open Society Foundations.*

Sabeel Rahman

Board Member

Sabeel is the President of Demos, a think-and-do tank that deploys research, litigation, and campaigns to advance democracy, racial equity, and economic justice. He also teaches administrative law and constitutional law at Brooklyn Law School. His research focuses on questions of economic inequality, economic power, and democratic governance. His first book, Democracy Against Domination (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines these issues in context of the financial regulation debate. Sabeel has also previously served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School (2017-18); a Special Advisor on economic development policy in New York City Hall (2014-15); and as the Design Director for the Gettysburg Project on Civic Engagement (2013-16).*

Ricki Seidman

Board Member

Ricki is senior principal at TSD Communications, counseling corporate and non-profit clients on a wide range of communications and general strategy matters. A veteran of public service, she held several senior White House positions during the Clinton Administration, also serving as Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Department of Justice. In 2009, she assisted the White House in the confirmation of President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Over the course of her career, Ricki also worked for the late Senator Edward Kennedy and was Executive Director of Rock the Vote.*

Ian Bassin

Board Member*^

Justin Florence

Board Member^


 

Advisors

The work of protecting our democracy is one that transcends party and ideology. We are proud to have a diverse array of experts who share our commitment to this mission and have offered their advice on this work. Some engage in specific projects, others at a more general level, and none bear responsibility for — nor even endorse — everything we do, but they believe, as we do, that all Americans must stand together in defense of our democratic institutions.

They include:

Anne Applebaum
Author and Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics
Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Professor of Italian and History, New York University
Sheri Berman
Professor of Political Science, Barnard College, Columbia University
Mona Charen
Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Columnist, and Former Speechwriter to First Lady Nancy Reagan
Linda Chavez
Chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity, Columnist, and Former White House Director of Public Liaison to President Ronald Reagan
John Dean
Former White House Counsel
Matthew Dowd
Author, Political Analyst, and Former Chief Strategist, Bush-Cheney 2004
Mindy Finn
Co-CEO and Founder, Stand Up Republic
Michael Gottlieb
Former Assistant United States Attorney and Associate White House Counsel
Aziz Huq
Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law, The University of Chicago Law School
Marcos Daniel Jiménez
Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
Khizr Khan
Lawyer, Constitutional Rights Advocate and Author
Rachel Kleinfeld
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Steven Levitsky
Professor of Government, Harvard University
John McKay
Former United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington
Evan McMullin
Co-CEO and Founder, Stand Up Republic
Michael Miller
Associate Professor of Political Science, The George Washington University
Brendan Nyhan
Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
Spencer Overton
Professor of Law, The George Washington University School of Law
Thomas Perrelli
Former Associate Attorney General of the United States
Richard Primus
Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
Robert Raben
Former Assistant Attorney General
Jennifer Richeson
Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Kim Lane Scheppele
Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
Timothy Snyder
Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University
Jerry Taylor
President, Niskanen Center 
Donald Verrilli
Former Solicitor General of the United States
Kimberly Wehle
Professor of Law, University of Baltimore and Former Associate Independent Counsel in the Whitewater Investigation
Evan Wolfson
Founder, Freedom to Marry
Daniel Ziblatt
Professor of Government, Harvard University 

The Protect Democracy Project* is a 501(c)(3), United to Protect Democracy^ is a 501(c)(4). Learn more about the difference.

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