Truman Democracy Fellows

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The Truman Democracy Fellows Program consists of a series of workshops led by senior figures with experience in electoral politics, primarily Trumans but others as well. 

Participants help to decide topics that are covered, but some of the subjects discussed include:

  • Working with party leaders
  • Cultivating donors and raising money
  • Navigating election law
  • Assessing local versus federal races
  • Building a campaign apparatus
  • Approaches to media – old and new
  • Running a campaign
  • Attracting allies and building coalitions

The program is designed so that participants: (1) develop knowledge of the key issues and challenges associated with the electoral process, (2) build community among one another — Truman Scholars interested in electoral politics, and (3) become better prepared to succeed in the electoral arena. 

Each class of fellows is small, and sessions are off-the-record to encourage candor and an open exchange of ideas. The program is for Truman Scholars of all ages and political stripes. We typically schedule workshops for early in the day (8-9 am), in order to avoid, wherever possible, conflicts with the workday. 

Address any questions about the program to Dr. Babcock Lumish, Truman Executive Secretary. 

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The 2015 Class of Truman Democracy Fellows has twenty-six participants. Their names and bios are below: 

Dwayne Bensing (AR 06) is a Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section, focusing on the Section's desegregation docket as well as discrimination claims by transgender students.  Prior to joining the DOJ, Dwayne was an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, in Washington D.C.   While with Fried Frank, Dwayne’s work on two asylum matters and representing a transgender client in a federal discrimination case led him to be recognized by the LGBT Bar as one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.”  Originally from Arkansas, Dwayne majored in Political Science and Communication at the University of Arkansas.  After graduating cum laude, he joined Teach for America and taught middle-school Science and Social Studies in inner-city Philadelphia.  After TFA, Dwayne attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he interned with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Committee on House Administration in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Dwayne co-founded the Penn Civil Rights Law Project, published a comment in, and was Symposium Editor for, the Journal of Constitutional Law, and was President of Penn's Lambda Law.  Dwayne lives in the Shaw neighborhood with his partner of over 9 years, Christopher.
Alex Bores (NY 12) is a Deployment Strategist with Palantir Technologies, a software company specializing in data analysis. He helps government organizations (including the USMC and DOJ) find insight in previously unconnected data sets. He spent his SI summer with the Bureau of International Labor Affairs at the Department of State.
Alex graduated from Cornell University as a Merrill Presidential Scholar (top 1% of class). While there, he served on the Board of Trustees, led the debate team’s rise from 212th to 1st in the world, and ran a campaign against worker rights violations in Honduras that caused Nike to pay over $1.7 million in owed pay to laid off workers. He has done outreach, data analysis, and fundraising for a number of local and state-level campaigns, most recently for Mayday.US. 
Alex currently resides in New York City, where he enjoys playing a good game of chess, watching Last Week Tonight, and rooting for the Yankees. He made his (four-second) acting debut in 2004 when he was cast as an extra in a movie because they thought he had 70’s hair…get to know him and he may show you the embarrassing clip.

Adair Boroughs (SC 01) grew up in a double-wide trailer in rural South Carolina and attended Furman University on full scholarship.  After college, she taught high school mathematics at a public high school in South Carolina for a couple years before attending Stanford Law School, where she graduated with distinction.  Following law school, Adair spent six years as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, where she handled complex civil litigation and received a special commendation for her trial work, an outstanding attorney award and outstanding mentor award.  In 2013, Adair moved back home to South Carolina.  Since then she has served as a law clerk to United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel, advising him on a variety of civil and criminal matters.  Adair lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Bryan, and their two small children, Annalia (three years old) and Rory Paige (six months old). 
Alex Coccia (OH 13), from Columbus, Ohio, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. He majored in Africana Studies and Peace Studies.  At Notre Dame, he successfully led a campaign to gain University recognition for a gay-straight alliance student group, and organized efforts to create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ students and their allies.  He was elected student body president in his junior year.  During his term, he helped create a new initiative to reduce sexual violence on campus, offered recommendations to the Board of Trustees for expanding resources for low-income students, and developed a successful awareness campaign for mental health resources on campus.  He conducted thesis research on reconciliation and development in Rwanda, volunteered with a literacy program in South Bend, and was a member of the varsity men’s fencing team, which won the 2011 National Championship. A Truman Scholar, Alex worked this past year as a Truman-Albright Fellow in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  Alex was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and is a candidate for the MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, where he is studying socioeconomic inclusion.
A son of the South, Eric Dailey (AR 10) maintains a personal and professional commitment to public service and educational equity. After becoming a Truman scholar, Eric graduated from Rhodes College with a B.A. in Political Science and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame for academic and community achievement.  He joined Teach for America and began his career as a middle school literacy teacher in the Arkansas Delta. This teaching experience led him to help start two Knowledge Is Power Programs, or KIPP schools as a teacher, assistant principal and assistant school leader: KIPP Victory Academy Elementary School in St. Louis, MO and KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School in Blytheville, AR. Eric holds a M.Ed. in School Leadership from the University of Southern California and a certificate of Public Policy from American University in Washington, D.C. He is currently the principal of Capital City Lighthouse Charter School, an elementary school serving 350 students in North Little Rock, Arkansas. 
April Joy Damian (CA 05) is currently a second year PhD student and NIH-NIMH Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Fellow in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, April Joy was the Associate Director of Sole Train: Boston Runs Together conducting qualitative research and analysis of the program’s efforts to enhance resiliency among high-risk urban youth through a free, non-competitive, school-based mentorship and long-distance running program. April Joy has worked with several reputable governing bodies both domestically and internationally, including as a Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran Health Administration in Washington, DC, and as a Migration Health Intern at the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Switzerland, on policy and programs relating to improving healthcare access and quality for medically underserved populations. April Joy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley in 2006 with a Bachelors of Arts in Ethnic Studies, High Honors, and completed her Masters in Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School in 2012. Her primary research interests focus on mindfulness-based interventions, mental health disparities, and resiliency in low-opportunity settings. April Joy is a 2015 recipient of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Health Services Administration Public Health Traineeship, and is currently working on a evaluation of a mindfulness-based program to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma among mothers whose infants are receiving care in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital in East Baltimore, Maryland. 
Cindy M. Dinh (TX 10) is a native Houstonian. She is in a joint JD/Master in Public Administration program between the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. After graduation in spring 2016, she will serve as a law clerk for the Honorable Gray Miller in the Southern District of Texas. Cindy is interested in the areas of voting rights, implicit bias, and health disparities among immigrant populations. Prior to grad school she worked at the Harris County Clerk’s Office, serving the third-largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, to ensure access for voters with Limited English Proficiency. Since 2009, she has organized legislative advocacy visits for religious clerics and community leaders from Texas to discuss the Vietnam Human Rights Act with Members of Congress and was the youngest and only female panelist at a White House Briefing on Vietnamese American issues in March 2012. She is also the co-inventor of the DoseRight Syringe Clip (, which was recognized at the Clinton Global Initiative in UC San Diego. Cindy enjoys salsa dancing, hiking in the Bay Area, and writing restaurant reviews on Yelp.
Jared English (MI 03) is a graduate of Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to Judge Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. During law school, Jared worked for the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation (CCMR), a non-partisan think tank that is dedicated to promoting regulatory reforms that increase capital market competitiveness and promoting financial stability. In the middle of his second year at Harvard, he left law school to become a policy analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). While there, he helped start the fledgling agency and worked on mortgage market reforms. While in law school, Jared interned with the Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Treasury and a Washington, D.C. law firm where he currently works. Jared graduated from Michigan State University with B.A.’s in International Relations and Finance and attended the London School of Economics on a Marshall Scholarship where he graduated with his Masters of Science and PhD.
Caleb Gayle (OK 10) is currently a program officer at the George Kaiser Family Foundation where he supports and manages the early intervention portfolio. In particular, Caleb is leading the design and development of a system of care for families with young children. Additionally, Caleb has designed and replicated evidence-based programs in Tulsa. Caleb also serves as a Technical Adviser to INADEM, Mexico's version of the Small Business Administration. There, he has introduced policy interventions for female entrepreneurs that have included the establishment of women business training centers, partnerships with Banamex to create alternative financial products for small business owners, and the creation of elaborate experimental design schema in partnership with the Central Bank of Mexico and the World Bank. Ranked as OU's #2 male graduate, Caleb received a degree in International Studies with honors and high distinction. A Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, Caleb received his master's from the University of Oxford. Caleb now serves on the boards of the Tulsa Area Salvation Army, the Day Center for the Homeless, and UmRio, but what he enjoys most is coaching football for academically and behaviorally underperforming 1st & 2nd grade students.
Anthony Hernandez (MN 11) is an elementary school teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He currently teaches third grade and serves as a school board member at Global Academy, a K-8 International Baccalaureate charter school, which is consistently ranked as one of Minnesota’s highest performing low-income schools. Prior to Global, he taught first and second grade at KIPP DC Lead Academy where he trained through the Capital Teaching Residency. In DC he taught in a predominantly African American community and in Minnesota teaches in a predominantly Somali and East African school. This will be his fourth year teaching.
He strongly believes in elevating the teaching profession through building a stronger voice for teachers within the policy making process. An active member of Educators 4 Excellence, a national teacher led advocacy organization, he co-wrote during the fall of 2014 a policy paper on teacher diversity, met with state legislators in Saint Paul, and has written several opinion pieces in the Twin Cities about teacher diversity, equity, and licensure. In the spring of 2015 he was asked to serve on the Minnesota Department of Education’s Steering Committee on Teacher Equity, a federally mandated planning group.
He plans to stay teaching within the classroom over the next several years and then considering a larger role as a principal, policy maker, or school board member. 
Anthony is a 2012 graduate from Harvard College.
Brandon Hersey (MS 13) is currently completing a Truman-Albright fellowship with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Department of Health and Human Services. His work focuses on a diverse portfolio of TANF and Job Training and Employment policy issues. In 2014 Brandon graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi Honors College. A native of the great state of Mississippi, Brandon has worked closely with several government and non-profits entities within the city of Hattiesburg, serving on the board of directors for organizations such as DREAM of Hattiesburg, an anti-drug and alcohol prevention agency, among many others. Upon completion of the Truman-Albright fellowship, Brandon plans to attend graduate school to seek a degree in public policy. 
Kevin Higgins (NV 80) grew up in Sparks, Nevada, and attended Willamette University and Georgetown University Law Center. He returned to Nevada after school and spent 16 years at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office prosecuting everything from DUI’s to death penalty cases. He tried cases and appeared in most of the district courts statewide as well as the Nevada Supreme Court, the United States District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Judge Higgins was appointed to the county bench in 2003, retained in 2004 and re-elected in 2010. Kevin is a frequent presenter at judicial education conferences and has taught at the National Judicial College. He serves as the Chairman of the San Francisco Selection Panel and was presented the Joseph Stevens Award in 2001. Kevin lives in Sparks with his wife, Tammy, a nationally recognized teacher, and three teenage drivers.
Akbar Hossain (PA 12) completed his BA in Government at Franklin and Marshall College, graduating magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Currently, Akbar is a JD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a Toll Public Interest Scholar. Akbar is interested in refugee and asylum policies, revitalizing low-income communities, and developing opportunities for disadvantaged youth. He has previously interned for the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, and served as a Truman-Albright Fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For the past year, Akbar served as the Communications and Development Officer for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, working on fundraising, developing community relationships, and programming. Akbar serves on the Young Friends Steering Committee for KIPP Philadelphia Schools and is an active member of Norristown Men of Excellence.
Daniel Loehr (NH 13) is a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar at NYU School of Law and the 2013 Truman Scholar from New Hampshire. Prior to law school Daniel worked as a criminal defense investigator for The Bronx Defenders. While studying Political Science at Middlebury College, Daniel worked with the migrant community in rural Vermont to achieve better access to transportation and traveled to Tunis to write about the Tunisian constitution-writing process for Tunisia Live. Before that, Daniel lived and worked at a house of hospitality for undocumented immigrants in El Paso, TX. Daniel has also been involved with electoral politics in New Hampshire and has interned for Senator Jeanne Shaheen. In his free time, Daniel loves biking, fantasizing about better public transportation in New York City, and dancing. 
Ryan Merola (NY 06) has worked for city, state, and federal elected officials in his home state, and for several mayoral agencies in the City of New York. His interests lie in local electoral politics. Since 2006, he has worked on several campaigns for city and state legislative office and most recently advised and helped manage the transition team for a State Assemblywoman who assumed office in January. Ryan is currently the communications director for a local state senate race in Brooklyn. He has also ghostwritten editorials and speeches for local elected officials for the past three years.
Mike Norton (AR 12) is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with degrees in agricultural economics and poultry science. He was a White House summer intern during the 2013 Summer Institute, focusing on rural and agricultural policy within the Domestic Policy Council, and has since worked for the Delta Regional Authority, a rural development agency focusing on the South, for Congressman David Valadao, and for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Mike is currently pursuing a DPhil in Politics at the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar. He enjoys fitness, reading, exploring outdoor spaces, and photography in his spare time.
Russell Page (NM 12) grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he saw gorgeous landscapes and vibrant culture but also glaring inequities. A graduate of Albuquerque High School, the oldest public high school in the state, Russell is proud of the education he has received. But he is not proud that only 60 percent of his high school classmates earned diplomas.
When he moved out to California to attend Claremont McKenna College, Russell refused to abandon where he came from. After Summer Institute, he stayed in Washington to serve in Senator Tom Udall's office—first as a staff assistant and then as a legislative correspondent. Russell recently transitioned into Senator Martin Heinrich’s office to work as his staff writer—drafting speeches, op-eds, scripts, and other written content.
Russell feels compelled to take what he has learned in higher education and professional experience and put it to use serving the place he calls home. In the long-term future, that may mean working in public interest journalism, formulating policy for local, state or federal government, or possibly running for public office.
Alicia Kolar Prevost (MI 97) is Director of Voter Mobilization at Environmental Defense Fund. She leads EDF's new "Defend Our Future" campaign, which aims to mobilize young voters around climate action. Before joining EDF, Dr. Prevost was Deputy Director of the Climate Action Campaign, which helped secure the first ever carbon pollution standards from power plants, a major step toward fighting global warming. 
Her experience in non-profit and political campaign management also includes work at the Democratic National Committee, two Democratic national conventions and three presidential campaigns. She served in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to Secretary Andrew Cuomo at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has also worked for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Harvard Institute of Politics and American University's Campaign Management Institute. 
Prevost has a PhD in political science from American University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. 
Dara Purvis (CA 02) is an assistant professor at Penn State Law. She is a scholar of family law, contracts, feminist legal theory, and sexuality and the law. Her current work examines gendered impacts of the law and proposes neutralizing reforms, most recently in the context of how the law defines parenthood. Prior to joining Penn State Law, Professor Purvis was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and a visiting fellow at the University of Kent Research Centre for Law, Gender, and Sexuality. A former editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, she clerked for The Hon. Gerard E. Lynch, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and The Hon. Raymond C. Fisher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Originally from Fresno, California, she received her B.A. from the University of Southern California and her M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge. She lives in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania with her husband Jeff Watts and their dachshund mutt Willie.
Patrick Reimherr (UT 09) currently serves as the Government Relations Director and Senior Advisor to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. In that role, Patrick represents the Mayor in all local, state, and federal affairs. Prior to joining Salt Lake County, Patrick served as a political appointee in the Office of Secretary Thomas Perez at the U.S. Department of Labor. At Labor, he helped manage the economic analysis of major regulations, including the Department’s forthcoming overtime regulations. He also assisted in preparing the Secretary for major economic speeches and events, including the monthly release of the employment report. Patrick has spent time in think tanks, working for both the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for Law and Social Policy. He also served as a legislative fellow in the Office of Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT). 
Rob Sand (IA 05) is a native of Decorah, Iowa, where his first job was catching chickens. Now, he is an Assistant Iowa Attorney General and criminal prosecutor, focusing on white-collar crime and Sexually Violent Predator commitment cases. His cases have been covered on CBS This Morning, MSNBC's Heist, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and papers around Iowa. He attended college at Brown University, where he won a Royce Fellowship for his work studying farmers’ views on conservation issues in Northeast iowa, and the Truman Scholarship. After college he worked on campaigns in Iowa and spent time volunteering in post-Katrina New Orleans. He later turned down Harvard Law to attend the University of Iowa College of Law on a full scholarship, where he was the first student ever to serve both as President of the Iowa Student Bar Association and Editor-in-Chief of a law journal. He enjoys fishing, bowhunting, and playing guitar. He lives with his wife and son in Des Moines. Follow him at @RobSandIA.
Miranda L. Strong (AK 06) is an assistant attorney general for the State of Alaska specializing in child-protection appeals and information governance. She is a lifelong Alaskan except for her time as a Gates Scholar at the University of Washington Law School. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alaska and is a first-generation college graduate. Duke’s Alaska Law Review published her article on the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and Alaska Native subsistence rights. Miranda has professional and familial experience in disability advocacy. She lives in Anchorage with her husband James, a small-business owner, their sons JJ (three) and Cal (one), and her brother Jacob, a college student. She’s a book, coffee, and bike enthusiast. 
Marisa B. Van Saanen (MD 00) is a lawyer at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, D.C.  She is interested in politics and governance at the local (Montgomery County), state (Maryland), and federal level, with a passion for working to help ensure that more people are able to live lives of dignity and opportunity.  After graduating from Wellesley College, Marisa attended the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar.  Marisa then worked at the World Bank, working with religious leaders and institutions on global development and poverty issues.  While at the World Bank, she co-authored the 2007 book, Development and Faith: Where Mind, Heart, and Soul Work Together.  After graduating from the Yale Law School, she clerked on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge David Hamilton, based in Bloomington, Indiana and for Judge Beryl Howell on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She has twice served on the Grants Advisory Group to review grant applications and advise the Montgomery County Council in Maryland on proposals received from the non-profit community.  
Zach Wahls (IA 13) is a graduate of the University of Iowa, an advocate for LGBTQ rights, an Eagle Scout, and the executive director and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America. His testimony about love and family before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee was YouTube's most-watched political video of 2011. He is a Truman Scholar and the author of the national bestselling book My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family. He has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen Show, The Situation Room, and Newshour. He is currently participating in the Truman-Albright Fellows program and lives in Washington, D.C.
Shad White (MS 07) is currently the campaign manager for Gov. Phil Bryant's re-election campaign in Mississippi. He previously worked on campaigns in Mississippi and on the 2012 Romney campaign. He holds a JD from Harvard Law School, an MSc in Economic and Social History from the University of Oxford where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a BA from the University of Mississippi. He once had a pet squirrel, and those were the best three years of his life.
Jeffrey Wright (WI 08) is a DPhil candidate in international relations at Oxford University, where his research focuses on the factors driving formal representation in global governance. He is also a research assistant at Nuffield College to a book project examining why states, firms, and NGOs enter into collective governance arrangements to set transnational voluntary standards. Born and raised in Montello, Wis., Jeffrey earned his BA with Comprehensive Honors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2009, graduating with the top prize in political science. His most formative experience as a Badger came in 2006 when he served as speakers network coordinator for Fair Wisconsin, the statewide campaign to defeat a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, organizing over 500 speaking engagements in a nine-month stretch. Following graduation, Jeffrey joined the staff of the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families in Washington, where he conducted policy analysis for demonstrations and evaluations of our nation’s social safety net programs. Most recently, he served as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, working directly with national and international policymakers to design a new multilateral framework to better regulate the global supply of medicines.