Meet the Team
A Philadelphia area-native, Gidjunis is a business owner and former political reporter. In 2005, Gidjunis started JPG Photography, and worked as a photojournalist, documenting special events, breaking news, and creating images for Fortune 500 companies. His studio, JPG Photography, comprises 10 staff and additional seasonal labor. The studio has been named among the best in the country, earning dozens of awards. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he attended The George Washington University where he studied journalism and political science. In 2001, he began his journalism career for newspapers along the East Coast, including serving as a the Maryland correspondent for USA Today. He most recently served at The Courier-Post in New Jersey where he covered Camden City Schools and the education beat for more than two years. He is an American Baptist, with 10 years at Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA, where he serves as a youth group and young adult leader. When not using his camera, Gidjunis, 29, spends time with his wife, Rebecca, their two dogs, Guster and Trudy, and serves as international host parent to Mario, an El Salvadoran college student.
Laura Kleiner is the Vice Chair of the Staunton Democratic Committee, the President of Young Democrats of Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro, and has been the Faith Caucus Chair of the Virginia Young Democrats. She received her BA from Mary Baldwin College in Political Science with minors in Peacemaking Conflict Resolution and Studio Art. Laura was an intern for the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, partnering with the History Channel to make a documentary on the Jim Crow Laws in Staunton. She was a legislative intern at the Senate of Virginia, an intern for the Deeds for Governor Campaign, an intern for Organizing for America. She has worked on an environmental issues campaign, the Field Director for a State Delegate Race and as the Field Director of a Virginia Congressional Campaign. She is a member of the Carpenters Interfaith Society and attended the Interfaith Youth Corps White House training. Laura has always stood up for religious freedom and for faith and values, in 2011 she ran for the House of Delegates in Virginia’s 20th district because the Republican holding the seat introduced legislation that infringed on the separation of church and state.
Stefanie Sass is a recent graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Following graduation last May, she moved to Florida to serve as a Field Organizer on the Obama Campaign and has returned to the D.C. area. Right now, she is interning in the House Judiciary Committee and with her Congressman. She has been involved in the faith outreach movement since her involvement in a teen Jewish Youth Group, B’nai Brith Youth Organization.
Salim Alchurbaji is an International Program Specialist at the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) of the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Commerce. Mr. Alchurbaji handles programs in the Middle East, primarily Iraq.
Salim serves as the Assistant Director and Volunteer Coordinator for the Muslim Caucus of the Arlington Young Democrats, which promotes minority community civic participation. Salim also worked in cultural diplomacy programs between the U.S. and Middle East, which involved the participation of the White House and U.S. Department of State. Salim has interned for the U.S. Global Leadership coalition in Washington D.C., where he advocated for congressional support for a more robust international aid budget, and for Michigan State Senator Glenn Anderson in Lansing, Michigan, where his responsibilities included advocating for higher education funding.
Salim received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus on the Middle East from the University of Michigan. His areas of interest include international relations and development, as well as public policy. He is fluent in Arabic.
Jessica Anacker currently serves as the caucus Chair for both the Labor and Faith of the Texas Young Democrats. In additionally is an officer in the Veteran and Disabilities Caucus’ of the Texas Young Democrats. Jessica went to Rocky Mountain College on her local church Scholarship. While there, she serviced as Student Representative to the Church Relations of the College’s Board of Trustees. She worked as a community organizer with ACORN, where she created coalitions with unions, clubs, small businesses, churches and non-profits. Jessica has worked on numerous Democratic campaigns across the nation for candidates of different faiths ranging from Christian Quaker, Baptist, and Catholic to Methodist, Muslim, and Jewish. She also has worked on numbers ballot and issues campaigns from living wage, clean air, stopping content theft to human and civil rights. Jessica is active in her home Methodist Church in Arlington, TX in which she attends Bible study Thursday evenings when she is not out working on a campaign out of state.
Maria was born in Texas, raised in Mexico and has lived in Virginia since 1993. She attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College as an International Relations major and graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Education and an Elementary Education Teaching License. As a staff member at Liberty University, she became the staff sponsor for the College Democrats at Liberty University in 2008. Where she embraced what it means to be a Christian and a Democrat. In 2009, she founded Lynchburg United Young Democrats, a city-county chapter, as a reaction to Liberty University barring the College Democrats at Liberty University from campus. She has served as President since its founding. She has served many positions in Young Democrats of America, including serving as Women’s Caucus Chair. She has actively volunteered on many political campaigns and held leadership positions on these campaigns. In the spring, she served on a City Council committee and successfully won the reelection maintaining a Democratic City Council. Immediately, she began working on the OFA Presidential Campaign and was giving 80+ volunteer hours a week. She is a Democrat because of her faith and has a passion and drive to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves and stand up for what she believes in.
Kate Davis lives in Wichita, KS, where she works as a freelance political consultant and lobbyist. She is the National Committeewoman for the Kansas Young Democrats and President of the Sedgwick County Young Democrats. After living in Georgia, Boston, and New York CIty, Kate came to Wichita to serve two terms in the AmeriCorps National Service program — first in construction with Habitat for Humanity, then with homeless services with Wichita’s Inter-Faith Ministries. She serves on the leadership team of a small emergent worship service that meets in a coffee shop. She is passionate about the ways that faith and policy can work together to end poverty and injustice.
Benjamin Dixon has served the faith-based community in various capacities for over sixteen years. This work included the fine-arts ministry, church administration, and the pastorate. He is a licensed and ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church. Benjamin also serves the community through political action as the State Chairman of the Democratic Faith-Based Ministerial Caucus. The purpose of this caucus is to be a faith-voice in the Democratic Party and a Democratic voice in faith-based communities. During the 2012 election, the DFBMC mobilized churches across the state to combat voter suppression by voting early in their “Pews to the Polls”campaign.
Benjamin holds a BS Degree in Economics, a M.A. degree in Political Science, and is currently a doctoral candidate for the International Development, PhD. He is an Algebra and Geometry teacher for high risk and minority students in Duval County Public Schools. Benjamin was blessed to find and marry his wife, Jada Rauls-Dixon, in 2009. They are the proud parents of Benjamin Paul Dixon, II and Elisabeth Neomi Dixon.
Driven by compassion and a desire for a more equitable world, Seth is highly passionate about advancing the lives of society’s most vulnerable citizens. To this end, his focus is on efforts in urban and community development, affordable housing, poverty alleviation, and the utilization of the political system to achieve these aims. Understanding that without broad support these goals will not be achieved, he is committed to advancing these objectives through strategic communications and public engagement.
Seth completed his undergraduate studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, and received his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Drexel University also in Philadelphia. His career has been spent supporting individuals living with substance abuse and mental illness challenges and helping to create and sustain pathways to wellness and self-sufficiency for chronically homeless and formerly institutionalized individuals. His commitment to social justice is deeply rooted in the Christian faith in which he was raised and continues to guide him.
Seth is proudly married, active in community organizations, and maintains a deep and abiding love for seafood, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the great outdoors.
A native of New Orleans, LA, Sheena Foster is a well regarded social activist and social entrepreneur in her community. Prior to launching her own business in 2012, She spent nearly seven years working in the labor movement as an organizer, researcher and contract negotiator for international unions. She has worked on labor related and humanitarian projects in the U.S., South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia with focuses on child labor, laws/enforcement, global labor policies, international development and human rights.
Sheena has facilitated a number trainings for College Dems and YDA on campus and community organizing since her involvement in 2000 and have attended Democratic National Conventions in Boston and Denver.
She devotes countless hours to New York Cares and her local Girls Scouts as a Troop leader. She is an alum of Southern University and Cornell ILR Labor programs, a Council of Urban Professionals Fellow program alumni, United Nations Association Worldview Institute alum, member of Women Without Borders, the New York Women’s Foundation Circle of Sisters Committee, the National Council for Research on Women as an Emerging Leader, the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, an alumnae of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale and since 2011, currently an elected NY Democratic County Committee member in the 68th Assembly District in Harlem where she resides. She is active with the Young Adult Ministry at the Greater Allen Cathedral A.M.E in Queens. NY.
Atticus Francken, IL
A student at Normal Community High School, Atticus has been a leader in environmental advocacy for many years. He serves as Governor Pat Quinn’s Executive Appointment to the Youth Development Council, as well as the National Committee Chairman for the High School Democrats of America. As an Eagle Scout and Boys Nation Selectee, Atticus has been active in youth leadership for a long time. Atticus also serves as the Illinois State Director for Future Civic Leaders, and has interned in the United States House of Representatives for a total of two years. Atticus serves on the Youth Advisory Council for DoSomething.org, and serves on the Board of Directors for Students for Science. Atticus is partial owner of a youth centered consulting firm, and has been staff for elections for local, state, and federal elections. Atticus is the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Illinois, and serves on the national finance committee. He is also a member of his county party’s executive committee. Atticus is a blogger for the Huffington Post, and also works with the International Student Strategy Center. Recently, Atticus has been involved with the National Youth Association as a leader on political activism and policy as a member of the Policy Council, as well as National Fundraising Director. He currently is the Executive Director of NYA-PAC, their political action committee.
My name is Charles C. Harper and I am a proud father, a faithful member of Koinonia Baptist Church, a lifelong resident of the Cherry Hill Community, and a dedicated community leader throughout Baltimore City. My personal interest in human and community development was cultivated at an early age by mentors I met while attending Partners In Progress youth program. Mentors such as Bridget Austin Smith, Dr. Tyrone Powers, and Dr. Andre Bundley inspired me in spite of the cultural and social challenges that surrounded me. Besides rich youth development, the program provided me with clear examples and expectations of what it means to be a responsible productive citizen. Over the years, through diverse volunteer and work experiences, I have collected a network of like-minded peers and mentors and a set of unique skills and talents which he adds to my passion for human and community development. I made a notable name for myself in the political scene in Baltimore, Maryland at a very young age. I am currently an employee of Baltimore City Government where I work as the assistant to Councilman Reisinger. I am the Vice President of Baltimore City Chapter of Young Democrats of Maryland and I am an active member of the Baltimore City Youth Commission, where I diligently serve as the Youth Commissioner for the Tenth District and the Chairman of the Youth Violence Prevention Committee. In addition, I currently sit on several board of directors including the Cherry Hill Development Corporation. I am also a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity Inc. and a student at Sojourner-Douglass College where I am finishing my bachelors in Urban planning and Community Development. In addition, I serve as the Director of the Youth and Young Adults Ministry at Koinonia Baptist Church. My education, talents and passion have set me on a trajectory to accomplish amazing things in the City of Baltimore.
Paul Lovelis was born and raised in Pima County, AZ. At an early age, Paul felt great compassion for all of God’s people. He started volunteering in high school as a member of the Metropolitan Education Commission representing youth from the Youth Advisory Council/Tucson Teen Congress. In college, Paul co-developed the Regional College Access Center in 2006 to help youth prepare for college. He is currently the Chair of the Community Prevention Coalition as well as the President of the Pima County Young Democrats. Paul currently works for Pima County Indigent Defense Services under the collaborative efforts of Robert J. Hirsh, Lori Lefferts and Isabel Garcia. Paul is always interested in serving the people of God however the path is laid before him.
Christina Mills, CA Christina is a native of Pasadena, CA and attended University of Southern California, where she earned a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She has now made Midtown Atlanta home, where is currently Executive Vice President of the Young Democrats of Atlanta. Having understood her call to ministry in 2009, she now attends Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, where she is pursuing a M.Div. with an emphasis in Church Leadership and Administration. Christina serves as a student minister at Warren Memorial United Methodist Church.
Amanda Pizzuti is a lifelong New York City resident who has been active in electoral politics since Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2006 re-election campaign. She went on to serve as a fundraising and grassroots outreach intern on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, based in the New York office, and organized trips to New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Later that year she became Scheduler and Deputy Finance Director for Kristen McElroy’s State Senate campaign in Nassau County. Since then, she has been a political fundraising and compliance consultant for various candidates including New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and former Assemblyman Jonathan Bing. Amanda founded the Brooklyn Young Democrats in 2010 and served as their President until 2013. Additionally, she has served as National Committeewoman, Fundraising Committee Co-Chair, and the Chair of the Council of Presidents for the New York State Young Democrats and is currently the Northeast Regional Finance Representative for the Young Democrats of America. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science from Fordham College at Lincoln Center and a master’s degree in Elections and Campaign Management also from Fordham University in New York. She currently lives in Brooklyn, where she serves on the board of Brooklyn Democrats for Change and is an active lector and youth minister in her parish, Our Lady of Grace.
Abhishek Raman is the Campus Engagement Manager at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) where he develops new campus partnerships, implements campus engagements, and conducts strategic outreach to institutions in the U.S. higher education network. He joined IFYC in 2009, serving initially as the International Partnerships Associate, coordinating IFYC’s Interfaith Leaders for Social Action program in India. Abhishek graduated from Clark University in Worcester, MA with a double-major in Government and Sociology where he wrote his senior thesis on religious nationalism and the politics of identity formation in India. He later worked at the Pluralism Project at Harvard University on the Case Study Initiative and the World Religions in Greater Boston web resource portal. His passionate commitment for youth activism, social justice, and interfaith cooperation is highlighted through his involvement with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Difficult Dialogues Initiative. Abhishek is the quintessential political news junkie and spends his free time rooting for the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. You can follow him on Twitter: @Abhishek_Raman
My name is Aysha Seedat and I am currently an undergraduate student studying public policy in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. I’m doing my concentration in education, studying the issues the American public school system is battling with today in hopes of finding new methods to help resolve them in the future. I love photography, politics, rock climbing, and am a proud Young Democrat of America!
Kendra D. Spearman is currently a law school student at Chicago-Kent College of Law. A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Kendra is very active in ministry, her community, and politics. She recently completed her Masters of Public Administration Degree at DePaul University before starting law school. Kendra is a licensed minister in the Baptist Church, and Kendra serves as a mentor and tutor to Chicago Public School students. Kendra has coordinated numerous issue-based campaigns and interned for the campaigns of Democratic leaders. Kendra has served all over the world advocating for human rights and social justice, most recently in West Africa with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice. Kendra’s passion is in civil rights, education policy, and community development. Kendra was born and raised in Memphis, TN.
Robert Taber, a native of Delaware, is the chair of LDS Democrats of America, an organization for Mormon Democrats. He previously directed the 2012 Mormons for Obama campaign. In the latter capacity, he spoke on a DNC Faith panel on caring for the poor & needy at the 2012 national convention. He’s currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American history at the University of Florida, where he’s writing a dissertation on economic mobility and social networks in colonial Haiti. He and his wife Sarah, a plant geneticist, live in north central Florida with their daughter.