One of FairVote’s greatest strengths is its dedicated and talented staff. The national office currently has 18 staff members, typically supported by both long-term and short-term volunteers and consultants.
Rob Richie has been the executive director of FairVote since co-founding the organization in 1992. He has played a key role in advancing, winning, and implementing electoral reforms at the local and state levels. Rob has been involved in implementing ranked choice voting in more than a dozen cities, cumulative voting in numerous Voting Rights Act cases, the National Popular Vote plan in 11 states, and promoting voter access proposals like voter preregistration and a lower voting age.
He is a frequent media source and has been a guest on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and NBC. Rob's writings have appeared in every major national publication as well as in nine books, including as co-author of Every Vote Equal, about Electoral College reform, and Whose Votes Count, about fair representation voting. He has addressed conventions of the American Political Science Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Secretaries of State, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. He serves on the Haverford College Corporation, and he and his wife Cynthia Terrell have three children.
Cynthia Richie Terrell is a founder of Representation2020 and FairVote and has served as a board member of several charitable organizations and Quaker institutions including the American Friends Service Committee and Sandy Spring Friends School. Terrell has worked in the area of voting system reform in this country and abroad, traveling in 1993 to New Zealand to support that country's successful referendum to adopt a proportional voting system.
Previously, Terrell worked extensively on political campaigns, working as campaign manager and field director for campaigns for the U.S. President, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, for governor and for state and city-wide initiative efforts, including a state equal rights amendment and a city campaign for fair representation voting.
Terrell has been published in the Washington Post, The Nation, and The Christian Science Monitor and has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. She has three children and is active in the Quaker community and in civic affairs. She graduated with a B.A. in political science from Swarthmore College in 1986.
Nathan Nicholson is FairVote's Director of Development. His work focuses on strengthening FairVote's internal capacity to serve as a leading institutional voice for innovative electoral systems reform. He is a 2012 graduate of Cornell University. Prior to joining FairVote, Nathan worked at a law firm in Ithaca, NY and worked on campaigns for U.S. Congress and the New York State legislature.
Drew Spencer provides legal counsel and direction on legislative initiatives. He also serves as deputy director at FairVote. While at FairVote, Drew has had a supervisory role and also contributed to work around ranked choice voting, primary elections, election administration, and the Voting Rights Act. In 2013, he co-authored a law review article with executive director Rob Richie arguing for the use of ranked choice voting in legislative elections to expand minority voting rights. In his role as staff attorney, he helped draft FairVote's amicus curiae briefs in the voting rights cases, Jauregui v. City of Palmdale and Montes v. City of Yakima.
Drew earned a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2006, and a J.D. from the James E. Rogers College of Law in 2012. He is licensed to practice law in Arizona, where he has also published articles on public financing of elections in the Arizona Law Review and Arizona Attorney Magazine.
Chris Hughes focuses on ranked choice voting at the local and state levels, with an eye towards national implementation. He has studied and worked on voting rights, electoral reform, and civil rights, working for structural reforms to electoral systems and litigation to enforce voting and other civil rights.
Chris graduated with a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Miami in May 2012 and received his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2015. He interned at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and the ACLU Voting Rights Project while in law school. Chris also served as an Executive Articles Editor on NYU's Annual Survey of American Law and represented two refugee clients through the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) while in law school.
Michelle C. Whittaker focuses on strategic messaging, constituency engagement, social media interaction, website development, and audio/visual resource development. Michelle joined the FairVote staff in April 2015. Prior to joining FairVote, Michelle served as the Communications and New Media Director for the General Board of Church and Society, an international public policy program agency of The United Methodist Church, where she won several awards for visual design and communications projects.
Her experience extends into corporate finance as a technical writer and interface design specialist for Towers Watson, a financial consulting firm. She studied graphic and web design at The Art Institute Online and The Art Institute of Washington. Outside of her work at FairVote, Michelle enjoys sports, art, music and food with her husband, Doogie, and daughter, London.
Communications and Outreach Specialist
Austin Plier coordinates the development and implementation of FairVote’s overall communications strategy. In his outreach role, Austin works to advance FairVote’s reforms by developing advocacy strategies for policymakers and stakeholders, while organizing community support at the local level. Before coming to FairVote, Austin spent a semester in Durban, South Africa, studying the nation’s social and political transformation through the lens of youth political participation. In 2013, he was a fellow with Organizing for Action. Originally from Wisconsin, Austin graduated from St. Norbert College in 2014 with a B.A. in political science and economics.
Molly promotes constituent engagement through FairVote's online channels. She completed a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut in 2015, earning University Scholar and Honors distinction for her research in judicial politics and judicial campaigning. During her time at UConn, Molly worked to promote women’s political empowerment and encourage young women to run for office by hosting campaign-training and political skills building conferences. Molly ran a successful campaign for public office in her hometown of Somers Connecticut, and recently completed a two year term on the Somers Board of Education. She looks forward to attending law school and using her law degree in public interest or campaign law. In her free time, Molly enjoys re-reading Harry Potter books at random, knitting really poorly made scarves, and going to see all superhero movies that come out in theaters.
Sarah John oversees FairVote research, analysis, and special project studies on electoral reforms. Her interests center on electoral system reforms – such as ranked choice voting and fair representation – with a particular emphasis on historical reform movements in the United States. Originally from Australia, Sarah has a PhD in political science from Flinders University. Her dissertation explored the development of campaign finance regulation in the U.S., Canada and Australia in the 1970s. She has presented papers on her work to many international conferences and has published in the Australian Journal of Political Science and the Australian Journal of Politics and History.
From 2012 to 2014, Sarah taught undergraduate students in American politics and civics at California State University, Fullerton. Into the future, Sarah is interested in developing a wider understanding of reform and political change and looks forward to pursuing those perspectives in her work with FairVote.
Senior Policy Analyst
Originally from Oklahoma City, Andrew graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history. He earned an M.A. in international studies in 2012. His master's thesis, Balance of Power Theory and Mexican Drug Cartels, examined political interactions between Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Andrew focuses on ranked choice voting and international elections. He has contributed research to FairVote's Monopoly Politics and State of Women's Representation reports.
Haley Smith is an expert in democratic theory, and is applying that expertise to our studies of RCV’s impacts on civility and descriptive representation. Haley grew up in Pittsburgh and received her B.A. in Political Science and Economics from St. Mary's College of Maryland. She is currently finishing up her M.A. in Political Science at the University of British Columbia.
Doug Clopp provides leadership on strategic advocacy and outreach initiatives. He joined in May 2015 and brings more than two decades of national and state reform expertise to FairVote. He is the former Director of Strategic Partnership at Common Cause, where he was responsible for developing partnerships with national and state organizations to support Common Cause’s programmatic and campaign goals surrounding campaign finance reform, governmental ethics, and democracy reform.
Prior to joining Common Cause in 2010, Doug served as State Communications Director for Repower Maine, the state affiliate of Al Gore’s national Alliance for Climate Protection, and worked for many years on campaign finance reform and other electoral proposals for the Maine Citizens Leaderships.
Grace Ramsey coordinates outreach to state and national reform efforts. Grace graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in political science. Before coming to FairVote, Grace was a communications intern with University of Minnesota College of Design, as well as a constituent affairs intern at the office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. More recently, Grace was an organizer with FairVote Minnesota, serving as Deputy Field Director for FairVote Minnesota’s 2013 Rank Your Vote campaign. The campaign focused on educating voters, candidates, and the media about ranked choice voting in Minneapolis’ 2013 municipal elections. Through her work at FairVote Minnesota, Grace honed her passion for voter education and community building.
Demarquin Johnson graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2015. He focused his academic research on democratic governance and inclusion. After studying social movements at the University of Amsterdam, Demarquin wrote his honors thesis on the role of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He complemented his studies by interning in the U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Justice, and various policy positions around D.C. On campus, he served as co-captain of the Howard Debate Team and chairman of the Student Advocacy Committee for the Howard University Student Association Senate. In his free time, Demarquin volunteers to combat hunger and illiteracy in the nation's capital.
Elliot Louthen graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. As a political science major, his senior honors thesis researched the backlash effect – a phenomenon where citizens disproportionately impacted by voting restrictions end up voting at higher rates in response. He also organized Washington University’s first TEDx conference and was active as a Civic Scholar with the Gephardt Institute for Civic Engagement.
Professionally, Elliot has a range of experiences in politics and pubic service. He has interned on Capitol Hill for Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, organized for Francis Slay during the 2012 St. Louis mayoral campaign, and worked in the government relations office of the major Missouri hospital system, BJC HealthCare. Elliot is originally from Chicago and an avid sports fan as he supports the Cubs and Blackhawks.
Ethan Fitzgerald is a native New Yorker and graduated from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan in 2015. He has previously held internships at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the NYC Campaign Finance Board. He has also done organizing work with the Fund for the Public Interest and Barack Obama's 2012 campaign. He enjoys pizza, concerts, and the New York Yankees.
Advocacy Intern I grew up on long island, New York and currently study Political Science at the University at Albany. I have a passion for electoral politics and grassroots movements. I worked mobilizing voters for Tony Gallo’s campaign for Mayor of Glen Cove. Although my love is 99% for politics I also love music. I play guitar and piano and my favorite band is Queen. I currently have one year left at Albany and then I hope to go on to graduate school and study grassroots campaigning. After graduate school I would love to work as Campaign Manager.