Allison Leach, co-chair, oversees the operational units of 159 Georgia Together board of directors. Leach is dedicating 100 percent of her time to political advocacy through organization like 159 Georgia Together and the Human Rights Campaign. “I joined the resistance because I benefit from a system that excludes others, and if I do not seek to change it, then I am complicit. As the richest nation in the world, we should be ashamed not to educate our children, provide shelter to our poor, and care for our sick.” Her early career was spent working for a Fortune 100 company, where she developed skills in sales, management, training and teamwork. Leach holds B.A. in communications and media studies, as well as a M.S. in global development and technology from Arizona State University. Her research focused on examining how female presidential candidates are framed by the U.S. media to determine if it varies from other international agencies. Her goal was to examine why there have been some female leaders elected as head of state in some countries but not others. Leach and her wife, Julie, moved to Atlanta in 2012 and are passionate about being in the heart of the progressive movement to effect for needed change in Georgia.
Patrick Thompson, co-chair, and a clean energy entrepreneur, who champions causes for those people and things which don’t often have representation. He holds a B.S. in biology and psychology from Mary Washington College and holds a computer science degree, and studied entrepreneurism at Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as earned an MBA in sustainability from Green Mountain College in Vermont, the top school in the country for sustainability,He received Environmental Leadership Award for improving Smart Grid and is trained in Solar PV and hot water, EVs, LEED AP, Energy Management, as well as being a lighting efficiency professional. Thompson recognizes the dilemma of our time as those with the most learn sustainability and travel to the margins passing it on to growing economies as a best practice.
Marvin Lim, civil rights attorney and board member, is a product of DeKalb County public schools. Lim joined the progressive movement because, as a kid, he took class field trips to Stone Mountain and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and today feels strongly the center is a better representative of the best of Georgia's past, present and future than the other. He earned his B.A. from Emory University, graduating magna cum laude, and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Benjamin N. Cardozo Prize for moot court. He works in the field of gun violence prevention litigation and advocacy with a number of organizations. Formerly, he served as the legislative counsel for the ACLU of Georgia, lobbying the Georgia General Assembly on religious liberty, equality, privacy, and criminal justice, and as Gruber Fellow at the national office of the ACLU, where he worked on the issue of religious liberty from both a U.S. and transnational perspective, the latter through a project spearheaded by the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations. Lim was a defendant-intervenor in Georgia v. Holder, a case regarding Georgia voter proof of citizenship law.
Deborah Miness Westbrooke, board secretary from Savannah, is a retired urban planner whose career coincided with the rise and evolution of the smart growth movement in urban planning, which emphasizes environmental protection, sustainable urban development, preservation of affordable housing, and meaningful civic involvement in community planning. Westbrooke helped chronicle this growing movement as research coordinator of the Lincoln Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she conducted research on emerging growth management programs nationwide. Later she worked at the state, local and regional levels as a planner to implement such programs at the state and local levels. In Georgia, she administered the state's Growth Strategies Program for local governments and led the Blueprints for Successful Communities program as a vice president of the Georgia Conservancy. From 2007 to 2013, Westbrooke served as executive director of the Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which promoted sustainable growth and conservation through peer-reviewed recognition programs. A lifelong progressive, Westbrooke has come out of retirement to join the grassroots resistance to protect the democratic values being threatened by the Republican political agenda.
Jill Vogin, CPA and treasurer, maintains the books and prepares the budget for 159 Georgia Together. She holds a B.S. in accounting from the University of Florida and started her career in Fort Lauderdale, working for a “Big Eight” accounting firm. Vogin then spent 13 years in various auditing and accounting roles within the Knight-Ridder Newspapers organization. While raising her two boys, she worked part time as a tax accountant and took on many volunteer roles in her community in Pennsylvania. A move to Atlanta eight years ago resulted in a new marriage and baby. She is a CFO in a virtual office environment which gives her the flexibility to be there for her family as well as engage in political activism. “I woke up on Nov. 8,” Vogin said. “Prior to then, I didn’t even know who my local, state or national representatives were. It was pathetic.” She has committed herself to working on promoting progressive issues whenever she can which includes educating herself by attending as many civic events as possible. “I am thrilled that I can donate my accounting skills to this organization and make a difference. My children’s future depends on our successes today.”
Ian Bridgeforth’s passion in politics was sparked at Georgia College & State University during an internship with former Rep. John Barrow. After graduating with a degree in mass communication, he went on to work at the award-winning agency Cookerly PR in Atlanta. Prior to entrepreneurship, Bridgeforth worked in the nonprofit industry and local politics in New York City. Raised in August, he was inspired to create Georgia Shift when he moved back to Georgia and saw a significant disconnect between political campaigns and young voters. Bridgeforth saw a need to invest in young people to make change in the state. “Georgia has one of the largest populations of young people in the entire country. We have the fourth largest public university system in the country, and a majority of students in that system are young people, ages 18 to 24. You also have to factor in community colleges, private colleges, and non-college youth,” he said. “There is a real opportunity to engage young people and uplift their voice, but it wasn't happening in a consistent, comprehensive way.” Bridgeforth is a 2015 alumnus of the New Leaders Council (Augusta Chapter), a 2016 graduate of the GALEO Institute of Leadership, and a fall 2016 graduate of Georgia Forward's Young Gamechanger program. He is pursuing his M.A. in design management from the Savannah College of Art & Design.
Hannah Kraar, fundraising and communications board member, is a Metro Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.A. in International Affairs. Originally hoping to focus on foreign policy, she pivoted to her own backyard once awakening to the issues at home. Hannah has a passion for criminal justice reform and in her free time writes to incarcerated workers in hopes of organizing for fair wages in prisons. She also has experience with immigration and has traveled to Tijuana to work with refugees in the migrant caravan. Her work with refugees has lead to her latest focus, climate change adaptation and preparedness for the impending immigration crisis. Hannah is an experienced fundraiser and has worked directly with over 15 Democratic campaigns in Georgia, raising over $1.3 million.
Dr. Dhaval Patel is an immigrant and ICU doctor. He has lived in two countries and everyday interacts with people of different stripes. Though his experiences, Patel has learned human beings wake up every day and pursue the same goals: food, money, freedom, equality, good health, internal peace and love. “Somehow, we have moved away from what unites us towards what divides us. 2017, a year unlike any in recent history, has been a test to that ideology. I am hoping to do my part in providing the humanity a better shot at a better future-one where we have more in common than not. I consider it my prerogative to provide voice to those who don’t have one or are not being heard. I will leave you with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.’ We can do this. Together.”
Anne Isenhower, communications board member, is an award-winning national media relations consultant with extensive experience planning and implementing successful strategic communications campaigns for global corporate, professional services, nonprofit, consumer and health-care organizations. She provides media relations and crisis communications counsel and support leading to placements in national, international, Georgia and Atlanta media outlets for clients. Isenhower provides media training and media pitching training to organizations and PR agencies. She was previously the senior vice president of media relations at Golin New York, national director of media relations for the American Cancer Society and vice president and global coordinator of the agency's corporate brand media relations program for FleishmanHillard in New York and Atlanta. A longtime liberal with an extensive nonprofit background, Isenhower wants to make the world a better place for her young son and for everyone.
Ryan Shindler, bylaw analysis and youth outreach board member, holds a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Political Science from Elon University. A Georgia native, Ryan is proud to dedicate his free time to the rights of all Georgians. He has a passion for economic freedom, drug reform, and he devotes time to writing for and working with the Arc Georgia to advocate for the needs of people with disabilities. He also has experience in politics and volunteering in a City Council Campaign and serving in student government both in college and graduate school. His work with the Reform Georgia has led to his latest focus - decriminalization, immediate expungement, and reparations for the prosecution of nonviolent drug crimes. When he's not busy with advocacy work, you can find Ryan singing his jazzy, effervescent bass in his barbershop quartet - and in all waking hours of the day - much to the delight (and sometimes dismay) of his family.