President and CEO, NAACP
The NAACP, led by President & CEO Derrick Johnson, is the home of grassroots activism for civil rights and social justice with more than 2,200 units across the nation powered by well over 2 million activists. The NAACP legacy is long, its work consistent: to build Black political, social, and economic power to end racial injustice.
Founder, Groundwork Project
Groundwork Project, founded by Joe Kennedy, invests in community organizers, advocates, and activists working year-round in places traditionally under-resourced, excluded, and ignored. GWP invests in hyperlocal efforts that build sustainable political infrastructure, engage and educate voters, and build power for the underrepresented and disenfranchised.
Senior Advisor, The Organizing Accelerator
The effort will be led by Tracey Lewis, a senior advisor to Groundwork Project, in partnership with the Groundwork and NAACP teams. Tracey is a career organizer who started out as a volunteer and has worked on issue advocacy and electoral campaigns at every level, including five presidential races and has organized in seventeen different states across the country, from New Hampshire to South Dakota to Mississippi.
Programming and Partnership Advisor
Ian Karby is the owner and founder of Karby Connections, a consulting firm focused on health and wellness programming, community education, curriculum development, mentorship and project management for public health initiatives. Ian is a trained Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer and health educator. Ian’s passion for guiding others to meet their long-term health and wellness goals led him to graduate school where he received a doctorate of physical therapy and increased his knowledge and understanding of the resilience of the human body, mind and spirit. In medical health clinics, Ian found his passion was rooted in building relationships, educating his patients and clients, advocating for their individual wellbeing and connecting them to resources within their own communities to support their wellness journey. In 2021, Ian expanded his business to not only work with individuals but to provide groups and organizations with health and wellness programming, curriculum development, project management, and growing collaborative partnerships. Now, broader community connection lies in the heart of Ian’s mission as he connects health and wellness providers, healers, and educators to each other and with diverse communities in order to defeat misinformation and help grow an educated and healthy public.
Fellows Cohort Advisor
Douglas is the Chief Operations Officer of The Davis System, LLC. She is a 2018 graduate of Salem State University with a B.S in Business Administration as a Katzman’s Entrepreneurship Scholar. Since graduating, she has served in a variety of capacities for several elected officials such as Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and State Representative Liz Miranda. Douglas has also spent some time at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Emerge Massachusetts.
Fellows Cohort Coordinator
Nguyen is the Junior Partner of The Davis System, LLC. She is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a B.A. in political science and economics. She has worked on a number of campaigns, including Joe Kennedy’s, as well as offices in the State House and U.S. House of Representatives.
Anthony Davis Jr
Advanced Organizing Skills Advisor & Mentor
Davis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Davis System, LLC. He is a 2016 graduate of Morehouse College, with a B.A in English. He was initiated into the Pi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc in the Spring of 2014. Since graduating, Davis has served as a political strategist and organizer with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and with a number of political campaigns. He has had the privilege of working for a number of well-respected politicians, including Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Doug Jones; Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congressman Joe Kennedy, Mayor Michelle Wu, Candidate Ben Jealous and Candidate Mike Espy.
Mary Lou Akai Ferguson
Advanced Organizing Skills Advisor & Mentor
An Atlanta-based progressive organizer & strategist, Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson has a passion for movement building, mobilization, and organizational development. Formerly the campaign manager and Chief of Staff for Boston’s first elected woman and first elected mayor of color, Michelle Wu, she has also teamed up with labor unions, nonprofits, governments, political campaigns, and advocacy groups across the country to advise and train candidates, staff, and organizations fighting for systemic change. She served as Elizabeth Warren’s Midwest Organizing Director and AAPI Outreach Director during Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign and is currently working with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) on the largest active single unit organizing campaign in the country, supporting Delta Flight Attendants in their union organizing drive. Prior to organizing, Mary Lou taught high school algebra. Most recently, the National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs (NAAPPPA) named Mary Lou a 2022 top 40 AAPI political operatives and public affairs professionals under 40, she received a Powerful IDEA (Impact on Democracy, Elections, and Advocacy) award as Best Campaign Manager of 2021, and her work has been featured in the Boston Globe.
Communications & Digital Organizer Advisor & Trainer
Anneshia Hardy (she/her), a native of Montgomery, is a scholar-activist, social impact venturist, and brand strategist with a passion for communications, research, community engagement, and tackling social issues. Much of her research and community activity is influenced by the intersection of culture, media, and public opinion. She currently serves as the Executive Director for Alabama Values(501c3) and Alabama Values Progress (501c4), civic and advocacy communication hubs providing messaging, research, and digital strategies for Alabama’s pro-democracy movement. In addition, she is also the co-founder of Blackyard LLC, an organization working to inform, inspire, and equip social change agents and organizations in their efforts to make an impact in marginalized communities. Anneshia has over a decade of professional experience in providing strategic marketing communications, branding, and audience research/engagement solutions in nonprofit and for profit spaces. Her educational background is in marketing research, strategic communications, and public policy. In addition to her practical experience, she also brings a theoretical lens to her work, previously providing classroom instruction in the areas of mass media, media ethics, and strategic communications. Anneshia has a passion for developing culturally-relevant content that ignites discourse and closes the knowledge gap around social issues. She holds the philosophy that narratives, content, and messaging is essential to building equitable power structures, increasing civic engagement, and igniting mobilization.
Wellness Advisor & Trainer
Dr. Valerie Rucker-Bussie earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2018. Dr. Val became a Board Certified Neurologic Specialist in 2020 and primarily treats vestibular disorders, post stroke, brain injury, and Parkinson’s Disease. Most recently, she began treating pelvic floor dysfunction such as incontinence, prolapse, diastasis recti, and pelvic pain. She also has training in treating chronic pain as a part of an integrative medical team of physicians, psychologists, and therapists. Professionally, Dr. Val co-led the Health Equity and Anti-Racism Team through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) DC Chapter. Dr. Val has been honored with professional awards such as APTA Centennial Scholar 2021 and the APTA Emerging Leader Award 2022. She is currently an adjunct faculty at The George Washington University where she teaches about fundamentals of physical therapy, teaching and learning skills, and health equity and population health. Dr. Val is a 200-hr certified yoga instructor, Reiki II practitioner, and dancer. She currently treats both at a private-practice in Washington, DC and through her personal business, Priority One Wellness, LLC. At P.O.W., she treats patients with a holistic-based approach to treatment by incorporating Eastern and Western healing tools of PT, Reiki, and yoga for preventative and expansive healing. She believes in the power of healing touch and enjoys helping people find their joy and freedom in movement. Website: priorityonewellness.net
Data & Technology Advisor & Trainer
Amanda Coulombe is a leader in the political technology and campaigns space, using her unique experience to help align new technology and organizing best practices to achieve efficient, effective, and equitable campaigns. She most recently served as President and CEO of NGP VAN, where she spent 14 years building foundational tools for Democrats and progressive mission-aligned organizations, while also working with national and international clients to improve and develop the platform. Amanda knows data and technology empower and amplify the efforts of volunteers and staff on the ground. She has also spent more than 15 years working in organizing and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operations on local, state, and national campaigns; this includes serving as the Statewide GOTV Director for both Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Ed Markey, and most recently for Governor Maura Healey and the Massachusetts Democratic Coordinated Campaign in her home state of Massachusetts.
Ebenezer Abolarin is Rep. David Wilkerson’s Chief of Staff. He is a native of Mableton, GA. He is a first generation African American who received his Bachelor’s in Political Science at the University of West Georgia. Ebenezer got his first start in politics in the Georgia House Democratic Caucus under Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and since then has worked across the South in grassroots organizing. Some of his political highlights include: Warnock for Georgia Senatorial campaign, Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential primary campaign in South Carolina, Kennedy for Massachusetts Senatorial Campaign, Walt Maddox Gubernatorial race in Alabama, and Doug Jones’ 2017 Alabama Special Senate campaign. He has a passion for working families with the issues they face and a loving desire for a unified Africa!
Julie Koskey is the Coordinator of Clinical Education at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a community teaching hospital in the Mass General Brigham system. Julie oversees a thriving student program while maintaining a clinical practice in Acute Care physical therapy. Julie serves as the Co-Chair of the hospital’s Ethics committee. In addition to her clinical work, Julie has a faculty appointment at the MGH Institute of Health Professions as an Adjunct Instructor. Julie was awarded the Outstanding Clinical Educator Award in 2016 and numerous hospital awards for her work in critical care and education. She is a seasoned mentor for students and staff with expertise in independent study design and implementation. Julie has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Simmons University and a combined BS/MS in Physical Therapy from Boston University. She lives in Arlington, MA with her wife and two children.
National Development Advisor, The Organizing Accelerator; Senior Advisor, Groundwork Project
Julia provides political fundraising strategy to candidates and elected officials who are building districtwide, statewide, and nationwide reputations as they seek to become the next generation of inspiring and dedicated public servants. Julia has experience advising and leading fundraising teams for nonprofits, political committees, several members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, as well as U.S. Senate and House campaigns across the country. In 2012, Julia directed record-breaking fundraising efforts for Congressman Joe Kennedy III campaign for Congress, and continued to envision and execute Rep. Kennedy’s fundraising strategy through five election cycles. Julia also served as a part of the fundraising team for Forward Majority, an organization focused on flipping state legislatures in states with Republican trifectas, with the goal of dismantling the systematic disenfranchisement of Democrats through gerrymandering and voter suppression. Julia is passionate about leveling the playing field to enable women to run for and win elected office. She helped spearhead the creation of a powerful political giving group in Massachusetts, which supports women candidates and elected officials, and educates women donors on the importance and impact of their political giving.
Charles V. Taylor Jr. is executive director of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and principal at Peyton Strategies, a political data firm in Mississippi, which specializes in data collection and management. Taylor provides consulting services for nonprofits and progressive candidates from federal to local districts. With a background in community organizing, political direction and canvassing, he possesses a unique perspective, intuitive insight and sound judgment of political analytics. Taylor served as a state organizer in 2012 for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP “This is My Vote” campaign, which registered more than 29,000 Black voters in the state. He was a field director and campaign coordinator for the Better Schools, Better Jobs ballot initiative to fully fund education, also known as Initiative 42. Taylor is also a member of Freedom Side, a national collective of social justice community organizers. He consults as a data manager for One Voice Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to build a progressive civic infrastructure in the American South. He also serves as the Southern Organizing Advisor to Groundwork Project, founded by Former Congressman Joe Kennedy.