Emerge America Staff

Andrea Dew Steele, President and Founder

Andrea Dew Steele is the President and Founder of Emerge America and the Co-Founder of our first affiliate, Emerge California. She is a passionate advocate for increasing the number of women in elected office at every level and is motivated by a life-long commitment to progressive politics and change.

Struck by the incredible lack of women holding elected office at the local level in San Francisco, Andrea co-founded Emerge California in 2002 to lead the fight to get more women elected to office in Northern California. Andrea worked tirelessly to develop a top notch training program and in 2005 she founded Emerge America to replicate the model in all 50 states. Emerge currently has training programs in 22 states across the country with plans to expand in the future.

While starting Emerge, Andrea served for 8+ years as Political and Philanthropic Advisor to Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of Esprit Clothing and Democratic activist and philanthropist. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Andrea worked for many years in Washington D.C. as a policy analyst on Capitol Hill and fundraiser for Democratic candidates and committees. Andrea holds a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University and a M.A. in International History from the London School of Economics. 

Andrea is very active in the Democratic Party and regularly lends her expertise to women candidates for local, state and national offices. She also regularly blogs about politics at the Huffington Post and has appeared on national and local television and radio, including MSNBC and Al Jazeera America to discuss politics, campaigns and current events.

Allison Abney, Communications Director

As Communications Director for Emerge America, Allison sets and executes the organization's national communications strategy and promotes staff and state affiliates to the press, public and other message influencers. Having worked in the press and legislative shops of two Democratic congresswomen and served as communications director on the campaigns of several women candidates for local office, Allison understands the unique challenges women face in politics and has developed a deep commitment to seeing more women elected to office at all levels of government. Before joining Emerge America, Allison served as media relations director for IR+Media, a PR firm that specializes in diversity and inclusion. She served as press secretary for the chairman of the DC Council and as the communications lead for several political campaigns and a community development non-profit. Allison also managed all of the press interactions for Small Business Majority, a large, national non-profit organization, handling all media interactions at both at state and national levels, building relationships with reporters, pitching and placing news stories, securing interviews for staff and the CEO and ensuring media coverage of their target issues. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in journalism and holds two masters degrees from the University of Denver in Conflict Resolution and International and Intercultural Communication. 

 Allison can be reached via email at allison@emergeamerica.org.
Alisha Woodward Burleson, Operations Director

Alisha Woodward Burleson came to Emerge America in March 2010 and is currently Emerge America's Operations Director where she manages all of the operations, vendor relations and human resource matters for the national organization. Alisha started her political career as the Training Assistant for EMILY's List during the 2008 election cycle. While at EMILY''s List she helped manage their job bank and coordinated their endorsement logistics for 284 candidates in the Political Opportunity Program (POP) which helps pro-choice Democratic women run for and win state and local office. Before coming to Emerge, she was on the finance team for a U.S. Senate campaign where she managed the call time and low dollar fundraising program. Alisha graduated from the University of San Diego in 2002 with a B.A in Political Science and has a deep seated passion for politics and getting more women elected to all levels of office. She lives in Martinez with her husband, two young daughters, and crazy yellow lab/border collie mix. 

Alisha can be reached via email at alisha@emergeamerica.org.

A'shanti Gholar, Political Director

A’shanti F. Gholar is the Political Director for Emerge America, the only organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and empowering Democratic women to run for public office. For 15 years, A’shanti has been a grassroots organizer and activist for women, communities of color, and progressive causes. She has experience in building coalitions, program development, and community and political engagement. Prior to coming to Emerge America, A’shanti served as the National Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Director of African American Engagement for the Democratic National Committee. A’shanti has also served as the Manager of National Partnerships for United Way Worldwide, as a political appointee in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and as the Director of Public Engagement for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte, NC.

A native Nevadan, A’shanti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s of Science Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with an emphasis on leadership development and women in leadership. A’shanti was featured as a political influencer in CQ Roll Call Magazine, named a top woman of color in policy by Walker’s Legacy, and appears on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin as a political commentator.

A'shanti can be reached via email at ashanti@emergeamerica.org.

Jamie Maniscalco, Finance Director

Jamie Lynn Maniscalco is the Finance Director for Emerge America and a fierce feminist dedicated to electing democratic women. Jamie began her political career as a Field Organizer for President Obama’s 2012 campaign in North Carolina and served the Presidential Inaugural Committee for the National Day of Service. Her path in political fundraising began at Organizing for Action. Through her time at OFA, Jamie was approached to join Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign as Call Time Manager and was promoted to D.C. Finance Director during her time with the campaign.

In 2014 Jamie worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the Mid-Atlantic Region where she raised PAC & individual dollars. In 2015, Jamie joined Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Leadership PAC, Common Good VA, where she advised & raised money for seven state senate races. She was an integral part of the small team that raised over $18 million dollars for state senate races in Virginia. Most recently, Jamie was the Finance Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia during the 2016 election where she raised $1.7 million, making VA the only self-funded democratic state party that year.

Jamie is a native of Long Island, New York, spent a lot of time in North Carolina, and now resides in Washington, DC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from East Carolina University. Jamie is a member of the Women’s Information Network (WIN) in DC and a recipient of the WIN Young Women of Achievement Award in Politics and Campaigns.

Jamie can be reached at jamie@emergeamerica.org

Laila Mohib, Expansion Director

Over the last decade, Laila has worked with elected officials, candidates, and organizations to develop skills in training, messaging, polling and outreach.  Laila was the Director of Women's Engagement and the Democratic Women's Alliance at the DNC during the 2016 election cycles. During the 2014 cycle she held the role as the Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander Outreach also at the DNC. She has previously been the Director of Policy and Program Director at APAICS, the philanthropic arm of the Congressional and Pacific Islander Members of Congress. 

She has previously worked with the Communication Workers of America’s campaigns and spent two election cycles with EMILY’s List in the Political Department. She also worked in Congress, in Candidate Recruitment at Progressive Majority, and with the Democratic National Committee’s Office of Independent Expenditures.

Laila received her undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence College and holds a Masters in Arts in Art History, Connoisseurship and the History of the Art Market from Christie’s Education. Laila is the loving Aunt to Nina and Chris and a devoted fan of the Mets, the Jets, and pie.

Laila can be reached at laila@emergeamerica.org.

Jill Barkley, Affiliate Director

After completing her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Jill Barkley relocated from her native home of Michigan to Maine in 2004. She quickly became involved in local and statewide politics, with a focus on issues that impact the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community.

While gaining experience in the non-profit sector advocating for victims of domestic violence and their children, Barkley went on to pursue a Master's of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Barkley's work experience in communications, development, public policy, training and advocacy led her to pursue a position at the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence in Augusta, Maine, where she focused on public policy, education and awareness. While there, Barkley spearheaded an initiative to engage University of Maine athletes in raising awareness about dating violence.

Following her time at the Coalition, Barkley worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine as a lobbyist after successfully organizing Republicans United for Marriage for the Yes on One campaign. The successful ballot initiative granted the freedom to marry to every Maine couple in 2012.

Active in her community, she is a former Chair of the Portland Democratic City Committee, and Co-Founder of Pride Portland!. She has been honored twice as Portland's Best Activist by the Portland Phoenix, and honored with leadership awards from the League of Young Voters and Equality Maine.

Before joining the team at Emerge America, Barkley served as the Executive Director of Emerge Maine and is a graduate of the Class of 2009. 

Jill can be reached via email at jill@emergeamerica.org.

Judy Pineda Neufeld, Senior Advisor

Judy Pineda Neufeld began her tenure as Senior Advisor in November 2014, and is an alumna of the Emerge Massachusetts Class of 2009. Prior to her current role, Judy served as the Executive Director of Emerge Massachusetts for three years and Vice President of Emerge America for a year and a half. As Executive Director, Judy increased the size and diversity of the program members in the Emerge Massachusetts’s classes and successfully designed and implemented a pilot candidate training bootcamp program in May 2012. Before starting as the Executive Director of Emerge Massachusetts, she was the Manager of Recruitment and Community Partnerships at Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, the largest and oldest mentoring organization in Greater Boston exclusively serving girls.  While at Big Sister, Judy managed all volunteer and child recruitment for the agency, developed a Diversity Council to recruit more women of color, and created a thriving Alumnae Association. Judy Neufeld worked on numerous political campaigns during her time in Massachusetts. She is the former Co-President for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women and chaired their Political Action Committee in 2010. Judy graduated from Tufts University.

Judy can be reached via email at judy@emergeamerica.org.

Camille Vinogradov, Project Coordinator

Camille Vinogradov is a project coordinator with Emerge America. She worked with Hillary for America and the North Carolina Democratic Party as an organizer in the 2016 general election cycle, increasing Durham County’s Democratic voter turnout to higher levels than 2008 and 2012. Following the 2016 general election, she worked on the North Carolina recount for current governor Roy Cooper. She has interned at the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in Atlanta, where she worked in the fundraising department, the US Department of State, where she worked on climate change policy, and at the Breakthrough Collaborative, a nonprofit that focuses on preparing low-income students to attend four year colleges. Camille graduated magna cum laude from Emory University in May 2016 with dual degrees in International Studies and French Literature. She wrote a thesis on European far-right parties, and received high honors. She is passionate about environmental issues, education reform, and providing support and services for refugees.

Camille can be reached via email at camille@emergeamerica.org

Rachel Feder, Project Coordinator

Rachel Feder is a project coordinator with Emerge America. Rachel spent her early years living on the east coast, but still considers herself to be a Bay Area native. She graduated from UC Berkeley in May of 2017 with a degree in English with honors. At UC Berkeley, she wrote her honors thesis on the literature of Kurt Vonnegut and the intersection of science fiction and satire. Rachel served two terms as a member of the Senior Editorial Board of the Daily Californian, UC Berkeley's independent and student-run newspaper, as well as two terms as the editor of the paper's blog, the Clog. She spent the summer during the 2016 election cycle as a Communications Intern at the Democratic National Committee, where she worked in the press shop to help distribute the party's message, write weekly newsletters, facilitate press coverage, and compile clips. Rachel wants to continue to spread Democratic values through writing and communicating, and she believes strongly in the role that women will play in securing Democratic majorities from the Statehouse to the House.

Rachel can be reached at rachel@emergeamerica.org.

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