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Leigh Bradley

Office Manager

Leigh holds a BSW from Indiana University and an MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been with the organization since 1996. | 919-908-7910

Juliana Deitch

Volunteer & Logistics Associate

Juliana first became involved in social justice work in college, which sparked her passion for political activism and advancing equality. One of her first jobs was working in Raleigh as a Deputy Field Organizer at Organizing for America, where she learned firsthand the importance of voter engagement and education. She has worked in various advocacy roles in several educational institutions, as an AmeriCorps VISTA for United Way of the Bay Area, and at an educational nonprofit that serves low income, first-generation students in San Francisco. She has a BA in English from North Carolina State University. | 919-908-7914

Cheryl Carter Ellis

Organizing Director

Cheryl is a proud alumna of the University of Virginia. As Organizing Director, she trains and leads Democracy NC’s Organizing Team and develops and oversees implementation of our organizing, base building, and voter engagement work. Since moving to NC in 1986, Cheryl has worked in both the private and public sectors. Through her work in the public school system and human services for over 20 years, she saw the plight of those who were disenfranchised and many times forgotten and dedicated her career to standing for and with the least of these. In 2008, Cheryl was re-energized to engage politically in the health care reform movement because of her son’s personal experience of being denied coverage. She moved through the ranks of Organizing for America (now Action), starting as a volunteer and moving up to the position of State Coordinator. In that role, Cheryl led staff and volunteers across North Carolina into a new era for OFA as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working on multiple issues including health care, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, climate change, women’s rights, minimum wage and Medicaid expansion. Cheryl has also served as a volunteer peer counselor for The Women’s Center in Raleigh, a member and leader of Southern Wake Concerned Citizens and member of the NC Association of Educators. | 919-908-7931

Alissa Ellis

Advocacy Director

Alissa focuses on advancing pro-democracy initiatives across the state utilizing research, policy analysis, and advocacy. Before joining Democracy NC, she was the Regional Immigrants’ Rights Strategist at the ACLU of North Carolina, working to disrupt the deportation pipeline in the Southeast. Prior to her work at the ACLU, Alissa served as the deputy director at two different organizations, focusing on advancing social justice causes across North Carolina. Alissa obtained her B.A. in Political Science and her J.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill. Outside of work, she serves on the board of two local non-profits: the Carolina Abortion Fund and Action for Community. She lives in Durham with her son and her rowdy dog.

Sunny Frothingham

Senior Researcher

Sunny is responsible for generating quantitative analysis and advocacy materials that advance Democracy North Carolina’s mission. Sunny was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina and attended Duke University, where she majored in public policy and women’s studies. She has held research and advocacy roles in a variety of issue-based campaigns ranging from family economic policy to gun violence prevention, labor, and LGBTQ rights. Before joining Democracy NC, Sunny was the senior researcher for women’s economic policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. | 919-908-7941

Caroline Fry

Voter Protection Project Manager

Before coming to Democracy NC, Caroline served as the Outreach Director (and previously the Elections Advocate) at Colorado Common Cause. During this time, she organized thousands of activists around the state to strengthen voting laws, expose the problem of money in politics, and pass statewide net neutrality protections. She also managed the Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection program, which assists thousands of Coloradans with registering to vote and casting a ballot every year. Caroline hails from Brevard, a small town in the mountains of western North Carolina. She graduated from UNC Asheville in 2009, and then received her MA from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver. | 919-908-7918

Desmera Gatewood

Voter Outreach Coordinator

Desmera Gatewood has spent the majority of her adult life organizing and advocating for equitable policies and practices. A Durham native and a graduate of North Carolina Central University, Desmera’s Southern roots inform her passion for engaging both rural and urban communities in political advocacy. Desmera graduated from American University in 2019 with a Master of Science in Organization Development.  As Voter Outreach Coordinator, she seeks to merge her experience as a political organizer and her knowledge of change theory to further Democracy NC’s mission to help North Carolina achieve meaningful pro-democracy reform. | 919-908-7919

Lamar Gibson

Director of Development

Lamar Gibson is responsible for securing the individual, foundation, and corporate support that helps support Democracy NC’s day-to-day operations and ensure long term financial stability. He is a Greensboro, North Carolina native. | 919-908-7912

J. Sailor Jones

Campaigns Director

A native of rural Eastern North Carolina, Sailor Jones received an undergraduate degree from the UNC-Chapel Hill and a law degree from North Carolina Central University. Honors include the ACLU of NC’s Sharon Thompson Award for Courageous Pursuit of Equal Rights for LGBTQ North Carolinians, the Blueprint NC Trailblazer Award, Qnotes Carolinas Statewide LGBT Leader of the Year Award, Equality Federation Awards for fundraising and media coverage, and the LGBT Center of Raleigh’s Community Impact Award. Prior to joining Democracy NC, Sailor worked with a variety of North Carolina social justice organizations, including Equality NC, League of Women Voters of NC, NARAL Pro Choice NC, and NC AIDS Action Network. | 919-260-5906

Adrienne Kelly

Operations Director

Adrienne entered the non-profit sector after working for IBM and Hewlett-Packard companies, and then owning a telecommunications business for two decades. Prior to her current position, she was Chief Operations Officer for a non-profit organization in the education industry. She has volunteered in numerous capacities for Wake County public schools and is a strong advocate for public education.

Active in grassroots organizations, Adrienne has been a defender of voter education and advocacy, women’s rights and other issues that impact disenfranchised populations. She has been recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Raleigh Chamber, YWCA Academy of Women, Wesleyan University and others for her leadership, advocacy and community service.

In her role as Operations Director at Democracy North Carolina, Adrienne is charged with streamlining operations and leading the effective administration of the organization in support of its mission.

Adrienne has a BA from Wesleyan University (CT) and an MBA from Harvard University (MA). | 919-908-7932

Kamaria Lawrence

Regional Managing Organizer, Western Piedmont

Kamaria Lawrence grew up in the Charlotte Metro area and lived there the majority of her life only leaving for Undergraduate School at The University of NC at Greensboro and doing her Graduate studies at Clark Atlanta University. Registering her first voter at the age of six, voter rights have long been a major part of her life. She comes to Democracy NC after a seven year career in electoral politics beginning with Organizing for America. Kamaria has organized for political and issue campaigns in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. She is a member of her church’s Social Justice Ministry introducing noteworthy community programming on the electoral process and voter rights. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. serving as the Mid Atlantic Region’s Co Chairman for the Connection Committee which works with Voter Rights and Education. In her free time she loves to travel and spend time with family. | 704-763-9490

Tomas Lopez

Executive Director

Tomas Lopez became Democracy North Carolina’s Executive Director in January 2018. Previously, he was Counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a non-partisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the nation’s systems of democracy and justice. As a voting rights attorney there, he litigated against restrictive voting laws in federal court and partnered with advocates to advance and defend election reforms at the state level. He has also commented on voting rights and election law issues in local and national media.

Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Tomas was a fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, where he was part of efforts that successfully challenged anti-immigrant legislation in Alabama. He also previously served as the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program Fellow at the University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law, where he co-authored a report on the impact of Arizona’s immigration law on young people. Tomas is a graduate of Duke University and Yale Law School. | 919-908-7942

Amanda Matson

Engagement Evaluation Specialist

Amanda began her time at Democracy NC as a fellow in the fall of 2014, joining staff in 2016. Her background is in using community-based research to advocate around social justice issues. Her work previous to joining the Democracy NC team was using digital storytelling to advocate with women experiencing homelessness for greater access to transportation resources. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Mount Union (in Ohio) and her graduate work in Community Psychology at NC State University. Amanda currently uses her background in research and digital advocacy to work at the intersection of the communications and research teams at Democracy NC. | 919-908-7920

Manuel "Manny" Mejia

Regional Managing Organizer, Southeast

Manuel has been an advocate for democratic values, human rights, the environment, and for his rural community since his early years in college. He worked with local community partners to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and helped organize a diverse group of individuals to attend the 2017 People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. Before joining Democracy NC, Manuel worked as a social worker for his county’s Department of Social Services, helping families to succeed and thrive. Through coalitions, he has worked to revitalize rural communities with farm-to-kitchen initiatives as well. He also interned at Global Action to Prevent War, a United Nations based non-profit organization in New York City, dedicated to preventing global conflict and human rights abuses. Manuel is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a degree in Political Science. | 910-316-2341

Taylor Moss

Digital Associate

Taylor is responsible for innovating Democracy North Carolina’s communication techniques and publicizing the organization’s campaign work, and based in the Charlotte office. In 2018, she also helped run Democracy NC’s Election Protection program. Before joining Democracy NC, she was an Organizer and Organizing Director for North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, working to develop students into activists and leaders by campaigning on increasing the youth vote, public health, the environment, and student debt. Taylor attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where she studied Global Health & Environment and Hispanic Studies. | 919-908-7920

Edward Peters

Regional Managing Organizer, Western

Edward grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and moved to Western NC in 2015 to attend UNC-Asheville. While a college student, Edward led efforts on campus to register students and educate voters about elections. He helped to create and lead the ACLU chapter at UNCA, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, police accountability, and voting rights. He also worked in the outdoor retail industry, where he collaborated on a successful nationwide campaign to win better conditions for workers. He started volunteering with Democracy NC in 2016 as a Poll Monitor, and would later graduate from our Democracy Summer internship program. Edward continued working as an Assistant Organizer for two years based in Asheville, and now he’s taken over the region! In his free time, he enjoys camping, hiking, or just spending time in nature. | 828-419-0546

Monique Richards

Research Associate

Monique Richards is a North Carolina native, receiving her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She majored in Communication Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Legal Studies. She began her time at Democracy North Carolina as a Summer 2019 fellow. Currently, she operates as our Research Associate. She is responsible for pushing along projects that inform the organization’s advocacy work and overall goals. | 919-908-7911

May Ross

Regional Managing Organizer, Northeast

May was born and raised in Harlem, New York. As a child, May’s mother instilled in her a strong sense of community, and the value of organizing. She worked in business for many years, making a name for herself, but decided to leave Corporate America in order to serve her community. With rising racial tensions and poverty levels, May moved to North Carolina to work pro bono in the PITT County public schools, Salvation Army, PITT County Court, Girl Scouts, Greenville Housing Authority, Homeless Shelters, and much more. May found Democracy NC in 2016, as “the perfect combination of passion & non-partisanship”. She started as a Volunteer, then became an Assistant Organizer in 2017. | (252) 508-9774

Rachel Simon

Development Associate

Rachel’s career in Development budded from a part time job as a Phonathon caller in college at Brandeis University. When she graduated, she was promoted to Phonathon Manager, and was able to travel across the country and visit many University programs. She then became the Development and Membership Associate for the Triangle based non-profit, American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. Rachel is also passionate about animal rights issues and fosters dogs as a hobby with the Independent Animal Rescue here in Durham. | 919-908-7915

Shelby Sugierski

Voter Protection Project Coordinator

Shelby is a non-profit leader who has dedicated her career to galvanizing the alliance between environmental and social justice efforts to help create a truly sustainable world. At Democracy NC, she is responsible for recruiting, training, and placing Vote Protector volunteers for the 2020 General Election (so if you are interested in protecting voters, please email her!). Previously, Shelby has worked in marketing at a solar company and in program management for a non-profit that innovatively combines youth and workforce development and climate resilience. She has her B.A. in Public Policy and Economics from UNC Chapel Hill. She spends her time with her wonderful boyfriend and two energetic pups.

Linda Sutton

Regional Managing Organizer, Central Piedmont

Linda has been active in the Winston-Salem community since the early 70’s, working as a union organizer and Special Voter Registration Commissioner. She co-founded the Winston-Salem Voting Rights Coalition, a grassroots organization of non-profit, nonpartisan community groups that has registered thousands of voters and engaged them in electoral reforms such as early voting, same day registration and campaign finance reform. She has received numerous local, state and national awards for her civic engagement work. Linda is based in Winston-Salem and also works in Forsyth, Guilford, Davie and surrounding counties. | 336-870-2168

Marques Thompson

Regional Managing Organizer, East

Marques was raised in Eastern North Carolina and has been volunteering to serve the community from his youth onward. Volunteering, advocating, organizing, and serving on issues as diverse as religion, education, workers rights, social justice and civil rights, Marques has ties with organizations and leaders throughout the region. | 252-508-9575

Tyler Walker

Executive Coordinator

Tyler came to Democracy NC as the Executive Coordinator after being one of the most influential interns in the 2019 class of Democracy Summer. His current role was created to expand our Executive Director’s capacity. He has also founded a non-profit called The Education to Occupation Pipeline (E.T.O.P.), to engage youth with educational support from their community, businesses, and higher education institutions that could lead them to economic opportunities with living wages. During college, worked as a Democracy Matters Campus Leader and was responsible for starting a chapter on campus and building coalitions of student activists. Tyler graduated from North Carolina Central University with a BA in Political Science. |

Adrianne Williams

Regional Managing Organizer, Greater Wake

Adrianne born and raised in Sutherlin, VA – a close-knit community outside of the town South Boston, where she was taught the importance of her community. She graduated from North Carolina Central University with a degree in political science, where she was a McNair scholar. During the McNair program, she engaged in intense research around voter suppression against African Americans. She is now conducting research focusing on black, rural communities in conjunction with politics, economic development, farming, and land loss. Adrianne enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and playing basketball. | 919-638-7735