Staff Bios

Justine Sarver

Executive Director

Justine Sarver has more than twenty years of experience working on political campaigns and in building movements that promote social justice. In her seven years at BISC, she has helped incubate campaigns to defeat anti-union and anti-choice ballot measures, as well as lead the nationwide shift to use ballot measures as tools for proactive, progressive change. Thanks to her leadership, progressives now find themselves playing offense in ballot-measure races, far more often then defense. While leading BISC, Sarver partnered with Wellstone Action to create the only ballot-measure training curriculum in the country. She also founded Victory 2020, a national group working toward a cohesive, collaborative ballot measure strategy for progressives.

Justine first became intensely involved with ballot-initiative campaigns in California in 1996. For twelve years Sarver worked on candidate and ballot measure campaigns at the San Diego Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, The ACLU of Northern California, serving as a political organizer, strategist, movement builder and leader. She led two campaigns against California’s parental notification measures, Proposition 73 and 85.

Before joining BISC as the Executive Director in 2010, she worked for President Obama’s election and transition team. As the Southwest Regional Director at the Obama for America campaign headquarters, Sarver oversaw campaign activities for many states including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Maine, Washington and Oregon. Then she served as Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Justine is a proud native of the Detroit area and a graduate of the Ferndale public schools. She received a bachelor’s in history from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she was the captain of the women’s water polo team.

Alison Schwartz

Managing Director

Alison is the Managing Director at BISC, working in our D.C. office and making sure the trains run on time. Prior to coming to BISC, Alison served in the Obama administration in a number of roles, including White House Liaison at DHS and Western Political Director at the White House, covering 14 states west of the Mississippi. Alison has also served in leadership positions on coordinated campaigns, with state parties, and presidential campaigns, as well as issue advocacy organizations and campaigns.

Alison’s passion for progressive politics and grassroots organizing was instilled at a very young age in her home state of Minnesota, accompanying her parents to DFL caucuses and knocking doors for her dad’s school board campaigns.

Alison holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia (MIZ-ZOU!) and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and children on Capitol Hill. When not at BISC, Alison toils in her garden in an effort to someday boast the neighborhood title of “Yard of the Month.”

Dana Laurent

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Dana Laurent serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives, leading BISC's proactive ballot measure work through Victory 2020, a group of over 35 state and national leaders, working to pass proactive ballot measures that increase access and engagement in our democracy and reduce economic inequality-in eleven states over multiple cycles. Dana also leads BISC's innovative research efforts on ballot measures and works to cultivate new tactics and technologies that will enhance organizing efforts on ballot measures.

Dana has directed statewide organizations and coalitions, raised and managed multi-million dollar budgets, and played pivotal roles in many of Washington State's critical candidate elections and ballot measures.

Dana previously served as the Executive Director of Win/Win-Washington's backbone organization for the progressive and labor community. As a former Political Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, Dana managed a tri-state team and led a variety of civic engagement and political campaigns on the state and federal level.

In a former life, Dana was a producer and art director for companies such as Getty Images and Nintendo, and worked for the International Olympic Committee. She currently lives with her husband, and one scaredy cat, in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York.

Jane Norman

Director of Programs

Jane brings over 20 years of experience getting results and leading change to her role as BISC’s Director of Programs.

Most recently, Jane served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. Before joining the Obama Administration, she held leadership roles in organizations working to advance social and economic justice locally, nationally, and globally.

Jane graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a very long time ago and is happy to call Washington, DC home after moves from South Korea, England, and Arkansas.

Julia Cusick

Communications Manager

Julia is the Communications Manager at BISC, where she oversees BISC’s internal and external communications efforts.
Before coming to BISC, Julia helped lead the press outreach around the launch of the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania, first as the Pennsylvania State Lead for Protect Your Care/Know Your Care and then as Enroll America’s Pennsylvania Communications Director. She also worked as an organizer for the 2012 Obama Campaign in her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Julia began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, living and working for two years in the small, rural community of San Joaquin de Abangares, Costa Rica. She holds a master’s degree from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Kellie Dupree

Director of Partnerships and Training

Kellie Dupree is the Director of Partnerships and Training at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center where she provides strategic assistance to national and in-state partners, as well as oversees several programs including training, ballot integrity and communications.

Before coming to BISC, Kellie worked for Planned Parenthood as VP of Public Policy & Communications for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, and before that as the Southern Regional Field Manager for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Kellie has made a career advocating for a variety of progressive causes, having also worked for USAID, the Democratic National Committee, Unity ‘09 and EMILY’s List. She also serves as an adjunct trainer for Wellstone Action.

Kellie graduated from Wake Forest University, where she studied Political Science, German and International Studies. A fan of good food, Kellie is known to plan her days (and her vacations) around what restaurants she wants to try.

Born in Louisiana and raised in Northern Virginia, Kellie is excited to be back in the DC area where her political career started in 5th grade when she acted as Bill Clinton’s campaign manager in her school’s mock presidential election. He won by a landslide.

Mandy Vlasz

Director of Operations & Administration

Mandy serves as BISC’s Director of Operations & Administration. Her primary responsibilities are to manage the organization’s operations – including finance and fundraising, as well as providing strategic assistance to the Executive Director and the Managing Director.

Before joining BISC, Mandy worked in a variety of campaign and political consulting environments, beginning with the 2000 Gore/Lieberman campaign, for which she worked in the finance department of the national headquarters. She has also worked for Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners and on the U.S. Senate campaign of Gery Chico of Illinois in 2004. Most recently, she served as Director of Operations for Media Matters for America.

Mandy is an Illinois native and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Bradley University.  She lives in Alexandria with her husband Jonathan and their two boys James and Sawyer.

Marsha Donat

Proactive Program and Research Manager

Marsha Donat is BISC’s Proactive Program and Research Manager. She works with state and national partners to advance BISC’s national, coordinated proactive ballot measure strategy, the Roadmap to 2020. 

Before joining BISC, Marsha was the Grassroots Manager for the Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund in San Francisco, CA. There, she implemented strategic field campaigns to make California a leader in reproductive health care access.

Marsha graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Sociology. She lives in DC with her partner. They can often be found walking other peoples’ dogs and binge watching 20-year old hit TV shows on Netflix.