Staff Bios

Justine Sarver

Executive Director

Justine Sarver started fighting for progressive causes long before the start of her professional career. Before joining BISC, she spent several years working for the election and transition team of President Obama. 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. 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.

Justine was intensely involved with ballot-initiative campaigns in California, beginning in 1996. While director of organizing at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California – the country’s largest ACLU affiliate – she led her second battle against parental notification in California, defeating Proposition 85 with a broad-based coalition. Sarver served for five years at Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California as vice president and political director. In that role, she led the first successful campaign against parental notification (Proposition 73). Before that, Justine was the political director of the San Diego Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

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. Justine assumed the role of Executive Director of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center in April 2010.

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 daughter 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.”

Ansley Tuten

Development Coordinator

Ansley Tuten is BISC’s Development Coordinator. A Georgia native, Ansley has been working in progressive politics for close to a decade. She is a graduate of two SEC schools- the University of Georgia (BA, 2010) and the University of Florida (MA, 2015) and has a hard time understanding what all the fuss is about with Big 10 football. Ansley has an extensive collection of Pinterest boards and is super excited for the new Star Wars movie!

Cristina Uribe

California State Director

Cristina Uribe, a veteran political strategist and manager, serves as the BISC California State Director. In that role, Cristina works to strengthen progressive ballot-measure collaboration in California.

Prior to joining BISC, Cristina served as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director and Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at the National Education Association (NEA).

Cristina has nearly 20 years of experience in every aspect of the civic engagement field. Prior to joining NEA in 2009, Cristina spent over a decade working at senior management levels for some of the most successful organizations and political campaigns – from Defend Oregon to EMILY’s List to the AFL-CIO. Throughout that decade she oversaw the passage of an innovative living wage ordinance and groundbreaking children’s health initiative, led successful campaigns to defeat regressive ballot initiatives, and expanded the pipeline of women running for local, state and federal office.

Cristina lives in Oakland, CA and is a proud Bay Area native and avid A’s fan. When not working, she can be found running Lake Merritt or at the Coliseum rooting on her beloved green and gold.

Dana Laurent

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Dana Laurent heads up BISC’s Victory 2020 program—a group of over 30 state and national leaders who are creating a coordinated multi-cycle, multi-state strategy to move progressive ballot measures. In addition, Dana also leads BISC’s innovative research efforts on ballot measures and works to cultivate new tactics and technologies that will enhance organizing efforts in the states on ballot measures.

Prior to joining BISC, Dana served as the Executive Director of Win/Win—Washington’s backbone organization and hub for the progressive and labor community. As a former Political Director for Planned Parenthood in Alaska, Washington and Idaho, 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 even worked for the International Olympic Committee.

Dana is based in Seattle, Washington, and serves on the board of One America Votes, Washington’s largest immigrant and refugee rights organization, and FUSE, Washington’s Progress Now affiliate.

When Dana is not working with the progressive community to move a national ballot measure strategy, you can usually find her reading obscure French literature, making bread, playing her banjo or listening to records (yes, actual records).

Julia Cusick

Communications Coordinator

Julia is the Communications Coordinator 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.
 
In her spare time Julia enjoys traveling (especially in Latin America), cooking (and eating) and exploring the DMV.

Kellie Dupree

Director of Programs and Communications

Kellie Dupree is the Director of Programs and Communications at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, working in the DC office and managing the overall day-to-day programs and communications work.  Prior to 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/Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  Kellie has made a career of advocating for a variety of progressive causes having also worked for USAID, Organizing for America, Unity ‘09 and EMILY’s List. She is also proud to be a trainer for Wellstone Action.

Born in Louisiana and raised in Northern Virginia, Kellie’s 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. 

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.

Kevin Seymore

Staff Assistant

Kevin Seymore is the Staff Assistant at BISC, working out of the Washington DC office. In this role he provides support to the staff by carrying out many of the administrative and logistics-driven tasks.

A small town Tennessee native, Kevin holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in English and another in Political Science, from the University of Tennessee (Go VOLS!). He is committed to causes that promote social mobility and civility specifically surrounding the African American population.

The late New-York based political strategist Bill Lynch, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Georgia House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, and political analyst Donna Brazile are Kevin’s career inspirations. Like them, he wants to pursue a career championing progressive causes through sound policy, effective campaign strategies, and advocating to preserve the essence of democracy.

Kevin also prides himself on being singer Brandy’s biggest fan, and his spare time is dedicated to listening to her music or reading the latest news about her. He also enjoys writing pieces about the current political landscape, studying race relations, and volunteering in various capacities that help under-served communities.

Liz Miyashiro

Special Assistant to the Executive Director

Liz Miyashiro is the Special Assistant to the Executive Director. Liz supports the Executive Director with scheduling and project management.

Prior to joining BISC, Liz has worked for various non-profits, including Working America AFL-CIO, Clean Water Action and the Center for Global Policy Solutions. Liz has expertise in building administrative infrastructure, office management, and event planning. Most recently she worked as a consultant to manage logistics for a large-scale policy convening on Capitol Hill.
Liz is deeply committed to advancing social and economic justice. She resides in Baltimore, MD with her family.

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

Political and Research Coordinator

Marsha Donat is BISC’s Political and Research Coordinator, focusing on BISC’s Proactive ballot initiative work. In this role, Marsha supports our in-state partners' proactive campaigns.

Before joining the DC office, Marsha was the Grassroots Manager for the Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund in San Francisco, CA, where she implemented strategic field campaigns that helped 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 and is adjusting to the concept of seasons.