Truman Democracy Fellows

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Inaugurated in 2013, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation’s Democracy Fellows program is for Truman Scholars interested in pursuing electoral politics. Sessions will be led by senior figures with experience in electoral politics, primarily Truman Scholars but others as well. 
Participants help to decide topics covered, but some subjects discussed include the following: 

  • 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 
  • balancing personal life with public office 

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 actively planning to pursue electoral politics, and (3) become better prepared to succeed in the electoral arena. 
The class of fellows will be small — limited to 15-20 Truman Scholars — and sessions will be off-the-record to encourage candor and an open exchange of ideas. The program is for Truman Scholars of all ages and political stripes. 

Speakers for the inaugural Democracy Fellows Program in 2013 included:  

  • Stacey Abrams (MS, 94), House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly 
  • Jules Bailey (OR, 00), Oregon State Representative 
  • Chris Coons (DE, 83), U.S. Senator for Delaware 
  • Ted Deutch (PA, 86), Member of Congress from Florida 
  • Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Senator for North Dakota 
  • Dayne Walling (MI, 95), Mayor of Flint, MI 

To apply for the 2021 Democracy Fellows Program, please submit your resume, along with answers to the following three questions: 
1. How do your professional experiences so far shape your interest in electoral politics? 
2. What professional path do you hope to forge in relation to campaigns and elections?  
3. What are three questions you would like to see addressed as part of the program? 

Answers to the questions can be brief, and your answers to all three questions combined should not exceed two pages. Please send your application materials to Ellen Dunlavey, Truman Foundation Program Manager, at by 8am EDT on Monday, August 9th, 2021. 

The fourth class of Democracy Fellows, which met in Washington, D.C. in November 2019 is listed below.

Kourtney Bettinger (KS 06) is a public health-minded pediatrician who works in urban Kansas City, KS, as an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. After graduating from Kansas State University with a BA in Modern Languages, she participated in Summer Institute, worked odd jobs, traveled, and improved her Spanish skills before entering medical school. She graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2013, earning a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health along the way. Kourtney completed pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and Denver’s county hospital before returning home to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband and two young children. Throughout her training and as an attending physician, Kourtney has prioritized caring and advocating for immigrants and other underserved populations. She now primarily works in the newborn nursery where she also teaches residents and medical students. Kourtney’s top public health interest is newborn wellbeing, and she is the chairperson-elect for the Kansas Perinatal Quality Collaborative in addition to her involvement in other state maternal and child health initiatives. 


Angela Clements (NE 01) is the Principal Attorney and Founder of Clements Employment Law.  Angela’s firm has offices in Santa Rosa, CA and in San Francisco, CA.  Angela also works part-time as a consulting attorney for the ACLU Northern California.  Angela is a Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star.  Angela graduated from the University of California Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law, where she received academic distinction for coursework in labor and employment law. Prior to starting her own firm, Angela was Senior Counsel at a major Bay Area Law firm.  Angela also previously served as Counsel to the Berkeley Law Center on Health, Economic & Family Security. In this role, Angela developed model legislation for national paid family leave.  While in law school, Angela was as a law clerk in the City Attorney's Office of the City and County of San Francisco.  Prior to law school, Angela was a Congressional lobbyist for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Originally from the Great Plains, Angela maintains a deep love of the outdoors and wild, open space. When she is not practicing law, you can find her camping with her wife and two daughters, usually somewhere in beautiful Sonoma County. 


Andi Dahmer (KY 18) is the first Harry S. Truman Scholar from Western Kentucky University. She graduated summa cum laude in 2019 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in economics, international affairs, Spanish, and Asian religions & cultures. While at WKU, Andi served as the 2017-2018 Student Body President and Student Regent and studied abroad in nine countries across six continents. Some of her most notable programs include a Critical Language Scholarship to China, participation in the Taiwan-United States Ambassador Alliance Summer Program, and English teaching in Alicante, Spain. Andi has also co-authored eleven English-language news publications, two Chinese-language publications, one book chapter, and a journal article detailing her international research. During summer 2019, Andi served as a congressional intern in the D.C. office of John Yarmuth (KY-03), her favorite congressman. Andi currently works as an Americorps Vista for Community Engagement with the Kentucky-based nonprofit, Family Scholar House. This organization provides housing and resources for single parents allowing them to attain higher education and ultimately break the cycle of poverty. In her spare time, Andi volunteers with the Kentucky Democratic Party and Louisville Girls Leadership. She aspires to a career in Kentucky politics working to mitigate inequality and promote economic opportunity in the Commonwealth. 


Frankie Dakin (TN 13) serves as appointed Public Outreach Liaison for Shelby County, Tennessee. He was appointed to that role by Mayor Lee Harris in September 2018. As Public Outreach Liaison, he manages special projects and is responsible for implementing strategies to ensure feedback is received from citizens, community groups, elected officials, and other agencies to support specific initiatives. Prior to his appointment, Frankie served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Political Director for Lee Harris’ successful mayoral campaign. While pursuing his degree at Rhodes College, he successfully ran for Alderman in his hometown of Millington, TN. He served two terms at which time he was the youngest elected official in the state of Tennessee, and the youngest elected official in the history of the City of Millington. Frankie graduated from Rhodes College in 2014 with a degree in Political Economy and Public Policy. He is a staunch advocate for youth as Vice President of Tennessee Young Democrats, an advisor to the Memphis Youth Union and Board Chair for Let’s Innovate through Education (LITE), a non-profit that seeks to equip African-American and Latinx students with 21st-century skills to close the racial wealth gap. He’s also a proud dog dad. 


Teresa Danso-Danquah (VA 14) currently works at Disability:IN, the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Teresa serves as the NextGen Initiatives Manager, where she leads three career development programs for college students and recent graduates with disabilities. Before coming to Disability:IN, Teresa worked as a Field Organizer for Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign in Georgia, where she recruited, trained, and managed a team of over 200 volunteers and helped flip several state House seats in Gwinnett County. In addition to the Abrams campaign, Teresa served as deputy campaign manager of a State House race in Georgia. Prior to these campaigns, Teresa worked for three years at Capital One, where she was part of the Human Resources Rotation program, a development program for future leaders in HR. At Capital One, Teresa gained experience in HR Operations, Talent Acquisition, Compensation, and Diversity and Inclusion. Teresa also served as the national Communications Lead of CapAbilities—Capital One's disability business resource group. When not at work, Teresa is a member on the YWCA National Capital Area's Young Women's Leadership Council, where she empowers women and young girls in D.C. through economic and professional development resources. Teresa graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and a minor in Spanish. 


Alfred Delena (NM 15) is a Public Health Analyst in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). Among his duties, Alfred staffs the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. The Committee is a federally chartered independent citizens’ panel comprised of 21 members whose expertise cover a wide range of areas in the delivery, financing, research, and administration of health and human services in rural areas. Prior to joining FORHP, Alfred interned at the Emerson Collective, a social impact organization and served as an assistant Track and Field coach with the Zuni High School Thunderbirds. In 2016, he graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a minor in education with honors. Alfred is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Zuni and grew up on the Zuni Indian Reservation in western New Mexico. 


Jared Duval (VT 04) serves as Executive Director of the Energy Action Network (EAN), which works to achieve Vermont’s renewable energy and climate commitments in ways that create a more just, thriving, and sustainable future for Vermonters. Previously, Jared served as Vermont’s Economic Development Director, where he directed statewide support for working lands and green economy businesses. Part of the ninth generation of his family to call Vermont home, Jared grew up in the Upper Connecticut River Valley. He now lives in the state capital, Montpelier, with his wife, Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, and their five-year old son, Liam. Before returning to Vermont in 2014, Jared was a Fellow with the think tank Demos. His first book, Next Generation Democracy: What the Open Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics, and Change, was published by Bloomsbury in 2010. He also previously served as the National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition, the national student chapter of the Sierra Club and the largest student-run environmental organization in America. Jared holds a Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University and an MPhil degree from the University of Cambridge. He received the Harry S. Truman scholarship in 2004, while a student at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.  


Joshua Engel (NE 92) is a partner at Engel & Martin, LLC. He began his career as a prosecutor in 2001 by serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In 2002, he moved to Ohio and took a position as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Warren County, Ohio. In Warren County, he handled some of the office’s most challenging and high-profile cases and led the office’s appellate division. In 2007, his work as a prosecutor was recognized by a Meritorious Service Award from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. From 2007 to 2010, Joshua served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Joshua started his legal career at Choate, Hall & Stewart, a large Boston law firm known for more than a century as the home of some the nation’s most accomplished litigators. Joshua is a frequent lecturer and author on cutting-edge civil rights issues and his work on a number of recent high-profile school sexual assault litigation matters has attracted national media attention. He was served on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Domestic Violence Advisory Committee and as an ex officio Member of the Rules Commission. Joshua has served as a Fellow with the Ohio State Bar Foundation. In 1992, he was honored as a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship for Public Service. Joshua is a 1995 graduate, cum laude, of Harvard University Law School. He received his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Joshua is married and lives with his two children, his collie, two family cats, and his kids’ various other pets. He is active in the community and officiates swim meets. 


Matthew Gayer (MO 11) serves as the Co-Executive Director of the Catalogue for Philanthropy, a DC-based nonprofit focused on building the awareness and capacity of local nonprofits in the region. He works with 400+ local, small nonprofits to connect them with supporters and provide professional development to their teams. He is passionate about the role nonprofits play in the community, and about building their capacity to grow their impact. He believes in the power of community and that the Catalogue is positioned to play a unique role in strengthening local ties and building up nonprofit changemakers. Before joining CFP, Matt worked in healthcare consulting at The Advisory Board Company. He is a Truman Scholar, who has experience in several nonprofit settings, largely in civic engagement and public health prior to the Catalogue. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a focus on nonprofit management from Syracuse University, and a B.A. in Public Policy and Political Science from Southern Methodist University. Matt loves all things DC and enjoys exploring the hidden gems the city has to offer. 


André Gonzales (NM 19) has been involved in local and state politics throughout his young academic career. In 2016, Gonzales was elected as an At-Large Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and worked on behalf of New Mexicans to ensure young and other underrepresented voices were included in the process. André also assisted in helping to flip New Mexico's second congressional district in 2018 and helped to secure a Democratic trifecta in New Mexico's Roundhouse. Currently, André is finishing his Political Communication degree at The George Washington University and is a Staff Assistant for U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. 


Danielle Gonzales (NM 00) s the Managing Director for the Education & Society Program at the Aspen Institute. The Program works to inform, influence, and inspire education leaders across policy and practice to improve Pre-k-12 education, especially for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. In this role, she leads efforts to convene senior education leaders at all levels of education to tackle the most vexing issues in education, to develop and foster partnerships with a diverse range of education leaders, and to write and develop publications and resources associated with professional learning; social, emotional, and academic development; and educational equity. Prior to this, Danielle was a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working to advance the Foundation’s K-12 strategy in key states and developing the Foundation’s strategy for engaging faith communities in education reform. Danielle has over 15 years of experience in education philanthropy, policy and advocacy in both pre-k and K-12 education and at both the state and national level. She began her career teaching fourth grade in Brownsville, TX.  


Renae Griggs (FL 00) is a life-long disrupter of the status quo for the good of the public, beginning her professional career in South Florida law enforcement at the age of twenty-one as one of the youngest women to challenge the resistance to welcoming female officers onto the frontlines of serving and protecting the public in that region. During her time of distinctive service, she became the first woman to rise to the level of lead homicide detective in her department, the first woman on the agency’s elite SWAT team, and the second woman in the state of Florida to become certified as a SWAT officer upon successfully completing a rigorous military-style training program. During the thirty-plus years since then Renae has continued to leave her mark as an award-winning social entrepreneur dragging long standing hidden issues in policing and across the criminal justice spectrum into the spotlight of the public square, and providing practical, proactive and progressive leadership to both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. As a woman of faith and a member of the LGTBQ+ community, Renae is an open and outspoken advocate for inclusivity in the church-at-large and holds space at the intersection of faith and justice. 


Kate Groesbeck (NV 18) is a proud Nevadan, and she graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a BS in Business Management in May. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on the federal legalization of marijuana. During her last year at the university, she served as the Chief Justice of the student government. She is interested in politics and has interned at the Nevada State Senate as well as the U.S. House of Representatives. She is passionate about the judiciary and worked at the National Judicial College for two and a half years during undergrad. She plans to pursue a Juris Doctor and one day run for office. Kate's three favorite things are dogs, donuts, and democracy. 


David Laszcs (LA 17) enlisted in the Marines as a Rifleman at age 17. Deploying in 2011, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom following the Arab Spring, inspired his fascination with economic development, governance and sustainability. After serving with some of the hardest working Marines, his unit demobilized, and David began working for a member of Congress at the regional office within his district. He learned firsthand how federal and local policies could work together to improve the wellbeing of Americans. After being promoted to Sergeant, he received an appointment to the Naval Academy, where he completed a Bachelor’s in Quantitative Economics and commissioned as an officer in the Marines. Following commissioning, he worked at the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House as a Staff Economist. David is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. After Harvard, he will rejoin the fleet Marine force. David hopes to elevate those who come from a background not too unlike his own. After active duty, he hopes to continue in public service with knowledge of effective crisis response, belief in prosperity through economic development and experience of leadership meant to empower those facing adversity. 


Robert Lauf (ND 14) is pursuing his master’s in public policy degree at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government while also serving as senior advisor to North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s political campaign. Robert also serves on the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. After graduating from the Kennedy School in May of 2020, Robert will be working as a consultant with McKinsey & Company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to attending graduate school, Robert served as senior policy advisor to Governor Burgum. In this role, he oversaw the development of the administration’s biennial budget, served as liaison between federal government agencies and the governor’s office, and worked to impact legislation and craft policy on a broad policy portfolio that ranged from health and human services to higher education.  Before his time in the governor’s office, Robert worked as political director on Governor Burgum’s successful campaign for governor in 2016. Robert graduated with honors from North Dakota State University, where he was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, served as student body president, and co-founded Great Rides Bike Share, North Dakota’s first community bike share program. 


Clif Luber (MO 13) is a 2014 United States Naval Academy graduate and currently serves as a Supply Officer in the U.S. Navy. At USNA, he majored in Political Science and was active with the Ethics Debate team, Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference, and was a Co-Founder of the Genocide Awareness Program. After graduation, he worked at the White House for the Vice President’s National Security Affairs Office assisting with foreign policy and speechwriting. He has been stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI where he served on a destroyer, hospital ship, and submarine. He currently serves on the Joint Chiefs of Staff J4 Logistics Directorate at the Pentagon.  Clif is a native of Camdenton, Missouri and enjoys supporting all Missouri professional sports, as well as studying military history and business operations. He plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy and a Master’s in Business Administration. 


Maeghan Maloney (ME 92) as a child, lived in the Tall Pines Low Income Housing Project in Lewiston, Maine until her family moved to Turner where she graduated from Leavitt High School in 1989. She received a McCabe scholarship to attend Swarthmore College and a Truman Fellowship to attend Harvard Law School. After graduation, she worked as a prosecutor in Portland, Oregon starting in the trial unit until she was promoted to run the forfeiture unit. Maeghan spent a year in Asia working to stop domestic violence on a Luce Fellowship and then returned home to Maine. In Maine, she worked as an assistant attorney general before being elected to the Maine legislature in 2010. In 2013 Maeghan was elected as the first woman District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties being re-elected in 2014 and 2018. She's been married for 26 years and has two children ages 20 and 13. 


Annie Morrison Smith (MO 05) is the regional Director for Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) in southwest Missouri. Through this work, Annie provides legal counsel and strategic advisement for educator groups on a range of complex local and statewide issues. Recently, her work was instrumental in the successful campaign of a $200 million bond issue in the largest school district in the state. Annie has earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology and English Literature from the University of Missouri and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was a 2005 Truman Scholar and a 2006 Teach for America Corps member. In her spare time, Annie enjoys witty political podcasts, weekends on the lake without cell phone service or WIFI, and the general mayhem of life with two young sons and a large extended network of family and friends. 


Patrick Oathout (TX 13) was born and raised in Houston, Texas and currently lives in Biddeford, Maine. He works as a management consultant at Bain & Company, where he advises companies on strategy and leadership. A Fulbright Scholar, Harry S. Truman Scholar, and Point Scholar, Patrick graduated from Duke University with a double major in philosophy and public policy. Patrick also served as Duke's student body vice president. Outside of Duke, Patrick has interned at the State Department, developed a mobile application for the City of Houston, and worked at refugee resettlement organizations in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Jordan.  


Robert Rodriguez (MO 90) is a native of Missouri and a 1990 Truman Scholar.  Robert graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1992 with a B.A. in Spanish and Political Science.  He then went on to earn a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt in 1994, an M.P.A from New York University in 1999 and a M.S. in Counseling from Texas A & M in 2008 and is currently working on his Ed.D. in Higher Education.  Robert’s dissertation interests include the teachability and learnability of grit, resiliency, learned intelligence and personal interpersonal capacities in college environments. Robert has taught high school, college and has worked for many years as a guidance counselor in under-resourced Title I schools in the Dallas, Texas area.  Prior to being a teacher, Robert worked with the U.S. Department of State and served as a Page in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986-87. Robert is married to Virginia and they are blessed with a daughter, Ariel. A professional opera singer, Ariel is a senior at Tulsa University.   Robert loves traveling, most recently in Cambodia, and has run a plethora of half and full marathons. Robert and Virginia have two MinPin rescues, Fantasia and Charlie.