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Over the years Organizing Empowerment trainers have worked with groups in 27 states on how to plan and implement a successful relational organizing program.  We have worked with large multi-state national committees with hundreds of staff, to small two-person teams organizing a few zip codes.  

In July of 2019, Organizing Empowerment acquired and updated the Relational Organizing tool MyRVP.  Since rebranded as the Empower app, and flush with with additional communications tools built into the app, this new partnership will allow Organizing Empowerment grantees the ability to document and grow their reach into a community at a whole new level.

But we also recognize that software isn’t enough.

Through almost 10 years of implementing relational organizing, we have learned that there is a sizable gap in organizing knowledge and the way that it is trained and implemented.  Over the years, the organizing movement has begun to focus on big data and micro-targeting at the expense of organizing, at times insisting that we only need to communicate to a narrow pool of the electorate.  In recent years this has left millions out of our organizing programs because they didn’t fit the targeted model. Relational organizing provides a way to expand the reach back out into communities, who have been left behind and are often hard to reach.

Organizing Empowerment works to get us back to the foundational roots of organizing. We have assisted relational organizing in rural districts, urban and suburban districts, communities of color, and in multiple languages.

Most importantly, Organizing Empowerment works with leaders already engaged in targeted communities. Relational organizing is about building real power and a movement that is sustainable beyond the next election, with organizers who will continue to work to ensure their communities thrive.  

Empowering organizers. Building communities. One relationship at a time.

 

Our Advisory Council, Board Members and Senior Advisors

Amanda Brink * Valeria Cerda * Christian Foust * John Grabel * Arkesia Jackson * Saru Jayaraman * Jasmine Nears-Biesenger * Bubba Scott Nunnery * Mike Pfohl * Robert Reynolds * Keisha Robinson * Nate Schwantes * Elizabeth Trevino * Phyllis Watts, PhD * Rhonda Willette

Amanda L. Brink   Fund Manager  Amanda Brink is a transplanted Missourian, who first became involved in Barack Obama's presidential bid in August 2007, and her work for the campaign consisted of grassroots mobilization in the states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.  She considers herself a jack of all trades, but an excel girl at heart. Amanda served as the Democratic Part of Wisconsin’s Operations and Compliance Director from 2010 to January of 2016. Immediately following the DPW, Amanda joined the logistics team for the 2016 Democratic National Convention Team in Philadelphia. Amanda returned to Wisconsin as the GOTV Director for the 2016 Coordinated Campaign, then managed Tony Evers in his re-election for State Superintendent, Tim Burns for Wisconsin Supreme Court and Raj Shukla for Mayor. She became involved in OEP through her work at MyRVP where she helps groups tap into communities and map their reach.  She enjoys spending time her husband, Derek, and their two malteses, Truman and Malcolm.

Amanda L. Brink

Fund Manager

Amanda Brink is a transplanted Missourian, who first became involved in Barack Obama's presidential bid in August 2007, and her work for the campaign consisted of grassroots mobilization in the states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

She considers herself a jack of all trades, but an excel girl at heart. Amanda served as the Democratic Part of Wisconsin’s Operations and Compliance Director from 2010 to January of 2016. Immediately following the DPW, Amanda joined the logistics team for the 2016 Democratic National Convention Team in Philadelphia. Amanda returned to Wisconsin as the GOTV Director for the 2016 Coordinated Campaign, then managed Tony Evers in his re-election for State Superintendent, Tim Burns for Wisconsin Supreme Court and Raj Shukla for Mayor. She became involved in OEP through her work at MyRVP where she helps groups tap into communities and map their reach.

She enjoys spending time her husband, Derek, and their two malteses, Truman and Malcolm.

Valeria Cerda   Board Member  Valeria Cerda is the Data and Field Manager at Wisconsin Voices. Valeria’s main role is to head the Relational Voter Program (RVP), to provide training and technical support for the VAN and the Wisconsin Voter App. Valeria is excited about creating and implementing the Relational Voter Program with and for our participating partners and about developing women and POC into well-seasoned organizers that would prepare them for roles as organizers in Wisconsin’s progressive organizing community. Valeria has a strong background in community organizing on Milwaukee’s South Side around immigration, labor rights and neighborhood development.

Valeria Cerda

Board Member

Valeria Cerda is the Data and Field Manager at Wisconsin Voices. Valeria’s main role is to head the Relational Voter Program (RVP), to provide training and technical support for the VAN and the Wisconsin Voter App. Valeria is excited about creating and implementing the Relational Voter Program with and for our participating partners and about developing women and POC into well-seasoned organizers that would prepare them for roles as organizers in Wisconsin’s progressive organizing community. Valeria has a strong background in community organizing on Milwaukee’s South Side around immigration, labor rights and neighborhood development.


Christian Foust   Advisory Council  Christian Foust is Director of Client Training and Client Services at MyRVPList where he focuses on the development of trainings, programs, plans and consulting around relational organizing. Before joining the team at PF Data, Christian had spent the previous 4 years as a deputy field director at We are Wisconsin and For Our Future-Wisconsin working on the development and integration of relational organizing as a tool to broaden the electorate. He also spent several years as a labor representative and organizer at SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. He holds degrees in Political Science and History from the University of Minnesota. When he's not obsessing about organizing, he’s obsessing about music.

Christian Foust

Advisory Council

Christian Foust is Director of Client Training and Client Services at MyRVPList where he focuses on the development of trainings, programs, plans and consulting around relational organizing. Before joining the team at PF Data, Christian had spent the previous 4 years as a deputy field director at We are Wisconsin and For Our Future-Wisconsin working on the development and integration of relational organizing as a tool to broaden the electorate. He also spent several years as a labor representative and organizer at SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. He holds degrees in Political Science and History from the University of Minnesota. When he's not obsessing about organizing, he’s obsessing about music.

John Grabel   Advisory Council  John Grabel is a Political Action Representative for AFSCME International, and also serves as the Wisconsin State Director for For Our Future (FOF). Prior to FOF, John served as the Executive Director of We Are Wisconsin, which first implemented the Relational Voter Program (RVP) in Wisconsin during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. In 2016 John and his team brought RVP to FOF, where, along with the Analyst Institute, they ran a test of the program’s ability to increase voter turnout

John Grabel

Advisory Council

John Grabel is a Political Action Representative for AFSCME International, and also serves as the Wisconsin State Director for For Our Future (FOF). Prior to FOF, John served as the Executive Director of We Are Wisconsin, which first implemented the Relational Voter Program (RVP) in Wisconsin during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. In 2016 John and his team brought RVP to FOF, where, along with the Analyst Institute, they ran a test of the program’s ability to increase voter turnout

Arkesia Jackson   Advisory Council  Arkesia Jackson is known for her creative and strategic thinking skills and her ability to achieve goals by thinking outside the box..  Born and raised in Milwaukee, Arkesia became actively involved with her community working for Obama/Organizing for America in 2011. This was the first opportunity that she was able to inform people about different policies and how those policies would affect them.  In 2014 Arkesia started her non-profit, Mothers with Sons, out of simple frustration with the changes she saw in the community. Mothers with Sons was created to engage and empower mothers that have concerns about the world perspective of their sons. This organization welcomed and encouraged the mothers to become active with creating change within their communities.  This was the other catalyst of Arkesia’s activism that led Arkesia to join the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County and eventually seek the role of Vice Chair, which she won in her first election.  Always the avid learner, Arkesia embarked on a journey to sharpen her abilities in community organizing by attending and participating in several trainings. She graduated from Milwaukee Dem Team (2015), Vote Run Lead (2015), the Advanced Democratic Leader Institute (2015), Emerge (2016) and Black Campaign College (2017).  Her past work experience includes managing a successful political campaign for Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, working for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County as a legislative assistant.  Arkesia is currently working as the Program Director at Black Leaders Organizing for Communities where she help build a strong team that creates impactful programs. Arkesia enjoys politics and has a passion for empowering people to use their voice to create a new narrative for their community.

Arkesia Jackson

Advisory Council

Arkesia Jackson is known for her creative and strategic thinking skills and her ability to achieve goals by thinking outside the box..

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Arkesia became actively involved with her community working for Obama/Organizing for America in 2011. This was the first opportunity that she was able to inform people about different policies and how those policies would affect them.

In 2014 Arkesia started her non-profit, Mothers with Sons, out of simple frustration with the changes she saw in the community. Mothers with Sons was created to engage and empower mothers that have concerns about the world perspective of their sons. This organization welcomed and encouraged the mothers to become active with creating change within their communities.

This was the other catalyst of Arkesia’s activism that led Arkesia to join the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County and eventually seek the role of Vice Chair, which she won in her first election.

Always the avid learner, Arkesia embarked on a journey to sharpen her abilities in community organizing by attending and participating in several trainings. She graduated from Milwaukee Dem Team (2015), Vote Run Lead (2015), the Advanced Democratic Leader Institute (2015), Emerge (2016) and Black Campaign College (2017).

Her past work experience includes managing a successful political campaign for Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, working for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County as a legislative assistant.

Arkesia is currently working as the Program Director at Black Leaders Organizing for Communities where she help build a strong team that creates impactful programs. Arkesia enjoys politics and has a passion for empowering people to use their voice to create a new narrative for their community.


Saru Jayaraman   Advisory Council  Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 30,000 worker members, 770 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, was 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year” and New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She was listed in CNN’s “Top10 Visionary Women” and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, and has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her most recent book is Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016). She attended the Golden Globes in January 2018 with Amy Poehler as part of the Times Up action to address sexual harassment. In 2019, she was named the San Francisco Chronicle Visionary of the Year.

Saru Jayaraman

Advisory Council

Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 30,000 worker members, 770 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, was 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year” and New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She was listed in CNN’s “Top10 Visionary Women” and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, and has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her most recent book is Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016). She attended the Golden Globes in January 2018 with Amy Poehler as part of the Times Up action to address sexual harassment. In 2019, she was named the San Francisco Chronicle Visionary of the Year.

Jasmine Nears-Biesenger   Advisory Council  Jasmine is the state director for America Votes in Wisconsin where she brings table partners together to strategically implement and coordinate campaigns. Prior to America Votes, she ran advocacy campaigns with Everytown For Gun Safety. Jasmine has an MPA from NYU and has taken a polar plunge in Antarctica.

Jasmine Nears-Biesenger

Advisory Council

Jasmine is the state director for America Votes in Wisconsin where she brings table partners together to strategically implement and coordinate campaigns. Prior to America Votes, she ran advocacy campaigns with Everytown For Gun Safety. Jasmine has an MPA from NYU and has taken a polar plunge in Antarctica.



“Bubba” Scott Nunnery   Board Member  As the National Political Director for America Votes, Bubba works to coordinate political investments and design strategies for collaboration at all levels of the ballot for 60+ national partner groups who invest millions of dollars towards their collective goal of persuading and mobilizing voters and winning key elections across the country.  Bubba received a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Northern Colorado and an M.S.W. from California State University, Long Beach and very much considers himself a lifelong social worker.  Outside of work he enjoys playing guitar, hunting of all kinds and untangling fishing lines for his two daughters.

“Bubba” Scott Nunnery

Board Member

As the National Political Director for America Votes, Bubba works to coordinate political investments and design strategies for collaboration at all levels of the ballot for 60+ national partner groups who invest millions of dollars towards their collective goal of persuading and mobilizing voters and winning key elections across the country.

Bubba received a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Northern Colorado and an M.S.W. from California State University, Long Beach and very much considers himself a lifelong social worker.

Outside of work he enjoys playing guitar, hunting of all kinds and untangling fishing lines for his two daughters.


Mike Pfohl   Empower App, MyRVP & PF Data  Mike is a field organizer turned software designer. In addition to founding the political software firm PF Data over a decade ago, Mike has worked inside state government, on a myriad of political campaigns, and has worked with America Votes Wisconsin in various capacities since 2011. Mike became involved in the birth of the Relational Organizing movement during the 2011 Wisconsin recalls where he designed the myRVPlist.com software tool to manage relational voting programs.

Mike Pfohl

Empower App, MyRVP & PF Data

Mike is a field organizer turned software designer. In addition to founding the political software firm PF Data over a decade ago, Mike has worked inside state government, on a myriad of political campaigns, and has worked with America Votes Wisconsin in various capacities since 2011. Mike became involved in the birth of the Relational Organizing movement during the 2011 Wisconsin recalls where he designed the myRVPlist.com software tool to manage relational voting programs.


Robert Reynolds   Advisory Council  Robert is a behavioral scientist whose passion is designing researched-based programs that help people get their friends to vote. In 2018, he trained dozens of campaigns and got tens of thousands of voters to take the ‘vote tripling’ pledge. Previously, he worked at ideas42 where he designed behavioral innovations and ran randomized controlled trials. During this time, he also volunteered as an independent GOTV program designer to a dozen progressive campaigns.  Robert holds a BS from Loyola Marymount University and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School where he worked under experts in behavioral science and voter turnout. He grew up in rural Montana and now lives in Washington, DC.

Robert Reynolds

Advisory Council

Robert is a behavioral scientist whose passion is designing researched-based programs that help people get their friends to vote. In 2018, he trained dozens of campaigns and got tens of thousands of voters to take the ‘vote tripling’ pledge. Previously, he worked at ideas42 where he designed behavioral innovations and ran randomized controlled trials. During this time, he also volunteered as an independent GOTV program designer to a dozen progressive campaigns.

Robert holds a BS from Loyola Marymount University and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School where he worked under experts in behavioral science and voter turnout. He grew up in rural Montana and now lives in Washington, DC.


Keisha Robinson   Advisory Council  Keisha enjoys reading, researching, and a good basketball game every now and then. She takes great personal satisfaction in her work as an organizer with Black Leaders Organizing Communities, and she looks forward to the road that lies ahead. As an advocate for self-care, she retains her cool composure by setting aside time to get in touch with herself.

Keisha Robinson

Advisory Council

Keisha enjoys reading, researching, and a good basketball game every now and then. She takes great personal satisfaction in her work as an organizer with Black Leaders Organizing Communities, and she looks forward to the road that lies ahead. As an advocate for self-care, she retains her cool composure by setting aside time to get in touch with herself.


Nate Schwantes   Advisory Council  Nate Schwantes has been the Field Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin since 2013 and working on campaigns and advocacy professionally since 2006. He has built a successful permanent organizing team that focuses on power building within existing support bases and expanding “power-with” relationships in communities. Nate has lead PPWI’s effort to bring a ground breaking empathetic and relational approach to advocacy.

Nate Schwantes

Advisory Council

Nate Schwantes has been the Field Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin since 2013 and working on campaigns and advocacy professionally since 2006. He has built a successful permanent organizing team that focuses on power building within existing support bases and expanding “power-with” relationships in communities. Nate has lead PPWI’s effort to bring a ground breaking empathetic and relational approach to advocacy.

Elizabeth Trevino   Board Member

Elizabeth Trevino

Board Member

Phyllis Watts, PhD   Senior Advisor

Phyllis Watts, PhD

Senior Advisor

Rhonda Willette   Advisory Council  Born into a family of activists, Rhonda is a third generation organizer, with over twenty-five years focused on the challenges & issues that impact the lives of women with children. Her primary focus has been working to build grassroots leaders to address and move local policies to strengthen and support neighborhood communities. Rhonda has been boots on the ground educating proactively through the myriad of campaigns for change by voter and civic engagement. She consistently gives voice and raises awareness about the disparities that low-wage working populations face. In her passion and commitment to social justice, her aim is to address the many venues of systematic oppression. Rhonda has managed to engage and empower people into action with the barriers of no personal security (homelessness) and beyond bars of correctional institutions (prisoners). In each opportunity, the goal for her has always been to transfer contacts into a leaders/activists for the individual, and families to strengthen communities. Rhonda has been with 9to5 National Association of Working women since 2008, active in advocacy and policy work for economic justice for women. Wacky skill: Recycled Landscaping...ask and she will gladly share. Loves: The beauty of trees, and being outside enjoying all aspects of nature (bugs included). How do you unwind: Chilling with her companion dogs Monty & Fe-Fe outdoors in all four seasons, sipping natural teas, while listening to the natural sounds of nature on her walks.

Rhonda Willette

Advisory Council

Born into a family of activists, Rhonda is a third generation organizer, with over twenty-five years focused on the challenges & issues that impact the lives of women with children. Her primary focus has been working to build grassroots leaders to address and move local policies to strengthen and support neighborhood communities. Rhonda has been boots on the ground educating proactively through the myriad of campaigns for change by voter and civic engagement. She consistently gives voice and raises awareness about the disparities that low-wage working populations face. In her passion and commitment to social justice, her aim is to address the many venues of systematic oppression. Rhonda has managed to engage and empower people into action with the barriers of no personal security (homelessness) and beyond bars of correctional institutions (prisoners). In each opportunity, the goal for her has always been to transfer contacts into a leaders/activists for the individual, and families to strengthen communities. Rhonda has been with 9to5 National Association of Working women since 2008, active in advocacy and policy work for economic justice for women. Wacky skill: Recycled Landscaping...ask and she will gladly share. Loves: The beauty of trees, and being outside enjoying all aspects of nature (bugs included). How do you unwind: Chilling with her companion dogs Monty & Fe-Fe outdoors in all four seasons, sipping natural teas, while listening to the natural sounds of nature on her walks.