December 06, 2019

New Leaders Council is extremely proud of the many individuals in the #NLCFamily who stepped up and ran for office and for those who volunteered their precious time and energy to support progressives. Today, the New Leaders Council community is celebrating eighteen outstanding victories across the country. Take a look at their stories...

Alex Askew (NLC Virginia)

Virginia House of Delegates

Alex Askew was born in Virginia Beach and raised by his mother, a public school teacher. He came up through the Virginia Beach public education system, including Tallwood High School, before attending Hampton University. After graduating, Alex worked for nearly seven election cycles on a variety of local, state-wide, and national campaigns and projects.

David Bander (NLC New Jersey)

Plainsboro, NJ City Council

David Bander has been a Member of Township Committee since 2013. He is a liaison to Department of Public Works and Council of Community Associations. He is a former member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Development Review Committee. He earned his B.A. in Government from the University of Virginia and  J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. David is married to Heather Taylor and has a son, Hadden.

Matthew Blake (NLC Des Moines)

Urbandale, IA City Council

A South Dakota native, Matthew Blake moved to Des Moines to attend law school at Drake University Law School. Matthew works in government relations for LeadingAge Iowa of Urbandale, where he advocates for older Iowans and aging services providers throughout the state. His wife Alaina is an optometrist with an office in Waukee. They share their Urbandale home with dogs Gus and Henry.

Aharon Brown (NLC SW Ohio)

Forest Park, OH City Council

Aharon Brown is bringing a new vision to Forest Park. This new vision happens by creating community connection, sustainable community development, and empowering economic development.

Ian Cain (NLC Boston)

Quincy MA Council

Ian is a fourth generation resident of Quincy, MA. His roots go back to when his family first moved to the city from Ireland. Home for them was on Myrtle Street. A proud graduate of Wollaston Elementary and Central Middle Schools, and an alumnus of the Quincy Recreation Staff, it is Ian’s honor to work for the community that has given him so much.

Kalyn Cody (NLC Des Moines)

Des Moines School Board

Kalyn Cody was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Kalyn earned a bachelor's degree from Luther College in 2005 and a master's degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013. Kalyn has been affiliated with the New Leaders Council of Des Moines as a co-chair of finance.

Paige Cognetti (NLC Philadelphia)

Scranton, Mayor

Paige Cognetti previously served as a director on the Scranton School Board, overseeing a $160M budget and helping navigate the district's dual crises of financial distress and public mistrust. Paige serves on the board of multiple local nonprofit organizations and economic development committees, and manages projects for her husband’s business, Caravia Fresh Foods.

Sergio Granados (NLC New Jersey)

Union County, NJ Freeholder

Freeholder Sergio Granados, a native of Elizabeth, was re-elected to his second term in 2016. In 2013, he became the youngest Freeholder ever elected to the board & youngest Democratic Freeholder elected in New Jersey . As Chairman of the Board in 2018, Granados announced “Moving UNION COUNTY Forward” initiatives to promote advocacy and equality, volunteerism, public safety, and the environment.

Matt Hughes (NLC North Carolina)

Hillsborough Town Commissioner

Matt Hughes has been involved in public service, Democratic politics, and progressive causes for over a decade. Matt was raised in Hillsborough, attended Orange County Public Schools, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Carolina Covenant Scholar. He currently works with the Forward Cities, a non-profit focused on developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, and recently graduated with a Master of Public Administration from UNC’s School of Government.

Abbie Kamin (NLC Houston)

Houston City Council

Abbie Kamin is a civil rights lawyer and neighborhood advocate who carries a copy of the Constitution in her purse and Robert’s Rules of Order in her car. Abbie’s drive to improve the world around her was baked in at a young age. Growing up, dinner table conversations with her family were dominated by passionate debates about politics, poverty and injustice.

Linda Mason (NLC Silicon Valley)

San Bruno, CA City Council

Born in San Francisco, the Mission district was Linda Mason's early childhood home prior to moving to South San Francisco where she spent her youth.  As an adult she has lived in Millbrae, Oakland and Madrid (Spain) before settling down to have a family in San Bruno.  The experience of living in different cities brings different perspectives, new ideas and exponential possibilities.  These experiences have also made it easy to identify San Bruno’s strength: its community.

Jason McSheene (NLC New Jersey)

Hamilton Township, NJ Board of Education

Jason McSheene had the luck to receive a wonderful K-12 public education that helped him earn his PhD in biomedical sciences. He is a scientist, a father, and “nerd enabler." Jason believes we all learn differently and each person’s path to their ideal education is different.

Bill Moen (NLC New Jersey)

New Jersey General Assembly

Bill Moen served as an elected member of the Camden County Board of Freeholders, serving the over-500,000 residents of the county. He was first elected in November 2015 as one of the youngest freeholders in the State of New Jersey, and was re-elected in November 2018. During his tenure on the Freeholder Board, he dedicated his time to modernizing county government and tackling issues of importance to the community, such as student loan relief.

Mitra Jalali Nelson (NLC Twin Cities)

St. Paul, MN City Council

In 2018, Mitra Jalali Nelson ran for City Council to be a new progressive voice for the future of the City. She was resoundingly elected by over 5,600 people to be the next City Council member from Ward 4. She became the first renter voice on the current Council in a city where over half the population is renting, its youngest member, and a fresh new perspective during a time of great change and opportunity for Saint Paul.

Jared Nicholson (NLC New York City)

Lynn, MA School Committee

Jared Nicholson was elected to the Lynn School Committee in 2015 and is running for reelection. He is a law professor at Northeastern University, where he works with and studies small businesses, in support of community growth. Jared and his wife are expecting their first baby this fall.

Victoria Pacheco (NLC New Jersey)

Keyport, NJ City Council

Victoria Pacheco has been a Councilwoman for the Borough of Keyport since 2016.  She is currently a Staff Associate at the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the faculty union at Rutgers University.  Prior to coming to the AAUP-AFT in 2017, she worked for many years at the Directors Guild of America and before that with SAG-AFTRA.   She was also a part owner and managing editor of JCDowntown Magazine. In an earlier lifetime she interned for Congressman Frank Pallone.  

Crystal Pruitt (NLC New Jersey)

Franklin, NJ City Council

Born and raised in Franklin, and a proud Franklin High School graduate, Crystal Pruitt is currently employed as Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker of the 16th Legislative District. She has quickly become the go-to person on Council to liaison between Council and the State as evidenced by her ability to arrange for a face-to-face meeting with members of the governing bodies of Franklin Township, South Brunswick, and representatives of the Governor’s office to discuss the stopping of compressor station 206.

Monica Taylor (NLC Philadelphia)

Delaware County, PA Council

Monica Taylor is committed to creating protections for hardworking families, including equal pay and a livable wage, affordable child care, and paid family leave. Monica is known as a tireless worker, who is committed to improving the local economy, investing in public schools, and fighting for the middle class. Monica is ready to bring logic, compassion, and reason to policy making in the county, ensuring that an evidence-based approach is used to tackle problems.

Isaiah Thomas (NLC Philadelphia)

Philadelphia City Council

Isaiah Thomas is a dedicated public servant from northwest Philadelphia. He has committed his life to building a brighter future for all of Philadelphia. Isaiah has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors. He has served as an educator and Associate Dean of Students; mentors high school students as the school’s Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach; and volunteers for organizations that advocate for communities of color, including the Mayor’s Commission on African American Men and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia.

Victoria Watlington (NLC North Carolina)

Charlotte, NC City Council

Victoria Watlington currently sits on the City of Charlotte Civil Service Board, as well as the City of Charlotte Business Advisory Committee and the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition Board. A graduate of all four City of Charlotte academy programs, she brings an understanding of the needs of her community and the systems within which it is governed. Victoria understands that solving complex issues requires working across departments and agencies, and she is committed to working collaboratively with public and private partners.

Gregory D. Young (NLC Capital District NY)

Fulton County Supervisor

Born and raised Gloversville, NY, Dr. Gregory Young is passionate about creating a more engaged, sustainable community. He is currently serving his third term on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors. Young is the executive director of the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corporation and co-coordinator of Elected Officials to Protect New York. 

Girmay Zahilay (NLC New York City)

King County, WA Council

Girmay Zahilay ran for King County Council, D2, in 2019 because he believes in the promise of all residents from youth to senior citizens. He believes the county government must take a leadership role in building affordable housing, fixing the criminal justice system, promoting environmental justice, and providing reliable access to transportation. 

New Leaders Council also extends our congratulations and encouragement to those who are facing upcoming runoff elections. Check out their stories...

Abbie Kamin (NLC Houston)

Houston City Council

Abbie Kamin is a civil rights attorney and neighborhood advocate who carries a copy of the Constitution in her purse and Robert’s Rules of Order in her car.  She’s a true believer in the courage, grit, and grace of everyday Houstonians – from the line of volunteers wrapped around the George R. Brown Convention Center after Hurricane Harvey, to her mother, whose stubborn determination to help Romanian orphans led her to found a charity that has helped children in ten countries around the world.

Isabel Longoria (NLC Houston)

Houston City Council

Isabe Longoria is proud to have served on the City of Houston’s Planning Commission, an appointed-board tasked with creating sustainable growth and development across Houston. Chosen as a fellow of New Leaders Council Houston in 2016 and elected as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors in 2018, Isabel has also strived to mentor Houston’s future leaders, providing them with the skills and networks to affect positive change for their communities.

Robert McKnight (NLC Louisiana)

Louisiana State Representative

Robert McKnight, a native New Orleanian, is a staff attorney at the Orleans Public Defenders office. Robert decided at age 8 that he wanted to be a lawyer and drew interest from Charles Hamilton Houston’s quote, “a lawyer is either a social engineer, or he’s a parasite on society.” Prior to joining the Orleans Public Defenders, Robert held legal externships at the United States House of Representatives for a Louisiana Congressman, the Texas State Senate, the Louisiana State Senate and the Louisiana Attorney’s General’s office.