Meet the DFA Training Team
DFA is proud to have a cadre of top campaign professionals from across the country. These individuals have worked on some of the most exciting and award-winning campaigns and races from president on down. Combined with our industry-leading curriculum, our trainers will give you the skills and education you need to win and create real change.
Matthew "Mudcat" Arnold
Matthew "Mudcat" Arnold was the campaign manager for the CREDO SuperPAC. Mudcat is a veteran of over a dozen campaigns for state and federal office, and is a national field trainer for Democracy for America. He's run campaigns for progressive champions like Lloyd Doggett and was the field director for Mary Jo Kilroy and Darcy Burner. Mudcat has designed sophisticated voter outreach operations for MoveOn.org and the Sierra Club, and in 2009, he helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He's originally from Booneville, Mississippi.
John Rowley began his career in radio and television. As a media consultant, his strategies and commercials have helped more than 500 Democratic candidates in 46 states, from president to governor to city council. This includes electing 20 members of Congress. Rowley appears on MSNBC, CNN, and FOX as a political commentator. Rowley's firm, Fletcher Rowley, has won 30 Pollie Awards and their political commercials have been featured on NPR, PBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. Their work has been covered by the New York Times, Politico, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.
Mary Ricklesis the communications director for Netroots Nation, which hosts the country's largest annual gathering of the progressive community. She helped spearhead the organization's expansion into international programming with the first Netroots UK and Netroots Sweden. Mary has a unique background in both traditional and new media, having worked as a reporter and with media agencies, non-profits and corporate companies on projects ranging from brand development to community outreach. She previously was communications director for Democracy for America, where she still serves as a national trainer. Mary serves on the board of directors for Democratic GAIN and was named one of New Leaders Council’s Top 40 Under 40 Emerging Leaders. She grew up in Alabama and now lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys singing and cheering on the Giants.
With more than a decade of experience in both candidate and political non-profit fundraising, Aubrey is an expert at executing political finance plans, coaching candidates, state and federal fundraising compliance, and managing finance staff. She has a wealth of knowledge about targeting and soliciting potential donors, methods and means for maximizing contributions, as well as how to avoid common mistakes and misconceptions about fundraising.
Aubrey has worked on dozens of local, state, and federal races throughout the country as well as several political issue campaigns. She served previously as Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania, led the campaigns of State Senator Daylin Leach, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and Bryan Lentz’s top-targeted campaign for Congress. Aubrey, a Philadelphia native, is currently the finance director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and serves on the national faculty for the Center for Progressive Leadership, The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics and the New Leaders Council.
Matt managed his first campaign at the age of 19 while a student at the University of Iowa and has never stopped organizing. At 32, he is a nationally known progressive organizer with experience in field, fundraising, training and online organizing for numerous campaigns and organizations including the DNC, MoveOn.org, Russ Feingold, Jon Tester, Annette Taddeo, No on 1 Protect Maine Equality, Ilya Sheyman for Congress, Rebuild the Dream and Credo SuperPAC.
From 2007 through 2011 he worked at Democracy for America, as the national training director & field director, organizing 87 trainings in 37 states and mobilizing DFA's million-plus members to elect progressives at all levels of office.
Matt is proudly serving his second term as a Board Member at Democratic GAIN, the premier organization for connecting talented people to campaigns and organizations in need of staff.
Andy Szekeres is the President and former Managing Partner of 3PG Consulting. In April 2012, Szekeres became the Development Director of YouthBiz, a Colorado-based organization that advances the social and economic prosperity of at-risk youth through a focus on entrepreneurship, education and community leadership. Prior to founding 3PG Consulting, Szekeres was a state-wide field director in Wisconsin for Kerry-Edwards and served as the finance director for Congressman Jared Polis, Jay Fawcett for Congress and Referendum I for Domestic Partnerships. Szekeres also worked as the finance director for the No on 1 Protect Maine Equality Campaign, the largest ballot initiative in the State’s history.
Andy has been recognized for his fundraising expertise by Aristotle International as the only person to be named to the Campaign Dream Team in both 2010 and 2011, and named by CoBiz Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Young Professionals in Colorado in 2011. He has contributed to and been interviewed for publications across the globe including USA Today, Washington Post, The Times – London, AP and Reuters. He has help elect progressives up and down the ballot to office and helped to raise over $22 million for their campaigns.
A campaign veteran before he finished college, Ellery has experience at every level and in every region; from City Hall to the halls of Congress, from New York to California.
At the DCCC in 2006, he oversaw media campaigns for some of the toughest races in the nation and helped bring a Democratic majority to Congress for the first time since 1994. In 2008, Ellery managed the U.S. Senate campaign of a little-known former legislator in Georgia, turning it into one of the most improbable and competitive races of recent years.
Known to many as a direct mail and campaign consultant (combining hard-nosed strategy with a strong creative eye and the ability to work from home in gym clothes), Ellery most recently moonlighted in ad-making. And in 2012 he had a hand in victorious U.S. Senate races in Indiana, Wisconsin and Montana; in addition to knocking off five incumbent Republican congressmen.
Though he's worked everywhere and is fluent in everything, "y'all"-s and "yes, ma'am"-s betray him as a Tennessee native.
Tomas began organizing in 2010 after the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070). He began working with Promise Arizona, a non-profit organization that fights and works within the Latino and immigrant community. In 2010, Tomas was instrumental in helping the organization successfully register over 13,000 voters. During the 2012 elections, as deputy field director for Promise Arizona in Action, Tomas helped lead PAZ in Action to register more than 34,000 new voters, working alongside partners UNITE Here and the Adios Arpaio campaign in an effort to elect a new Maricopa County Sheriff. The voter registration total is the highest total ever in Arizona. Tomas Robles is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, a participant of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute fellowship and a graduate of Arizona State University.
Selene Hofer-Shall is the managing partner of Theseus Advisors, LLC. After years working as a crisis counselor for adolescents with behavioral and psychiatric disorders, Selene got involved in local politics in Burlington, VT, volunteering on local city council and state house races. She joined the Operations Team of Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign in 2003, helping to compile the largest FEC reports in Presidential Campaign History. Selene was one of the founding staffers of Democracy for America, working as Operations Director and assistant to the Finance Director. Since leaving DFA, Selene has worked on dozens of successful campaigns from city council to United States Congress, breaking fundraising records in numerous districts. Selene has a passion for grassroots fundraising, and believes that fear of fundraising should never prevent a qualified candidate from running for office. Selene specializes in financial compliance, campaign operations and event planning.
Jay Parmley has spent 12 years as working in state Democratic party organizations and is currently a partner at Indigo Strategies, a full service progressive communications and strategy firm. In 2001, at the age of 30, Parmley was elected Chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He served two terms in the full time position and did not seek reelection in 2005. At the time of his election he was the nation’s youngest chairman of a State Democratic Party. During his chairmanship he also served Oklahoma Democrats in the dual role as Executive Director. Jay has also served as the Executive Director of the North Carolina and South Carolina Democratic Parties. From 2005-2008, Parmley worked for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), first in Mississippi before moving to South Carolina as part of DNC Chair Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. From 1999-2001, he served as President of the Young Democrats of America. Parmley is a former member of the DNC Executive Committee. He was appointed by DNC Chair Howard Dean as an At-Large member of the DNC and a member of the DNC Budget and Finance Committee and served from 2005-2009. Jay is originally from Wyandotte, Oklahoma.
Helen Strain is a native Floridian who has worked in progressive politics for over 30 years.
With Planned Parenthood of North Florida as the VP of External Affairs and the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood’s Field organizer, Helen developed and implemented public policy and advocacy programs, organized community and statewide coalitions. Lobbied on the local, state and national levels as well as developing 501 C3 and C4 electoral campaigns throughout Florida. In her work as a Campaign Manager and Consultant she was the House Victory 2000 Regional Manager for North Central Florida, the Campaign Manager for the only non-incumbent State Senate race to win- Dave Aronberg, Field Director for Janet Reno for Governor’s campaign, Campaign Manager for Lois Frankel for West Palm Beach Mayor, and Field Manager for the Angela Alioto for San Francisco Mayor.
As the Program Manager for The Clinton Group, Inc she developed 100’s of candidate/issue phone programs throughout the US and a Presidential race in South America.
Helen has served as Vice Chair of Florida Democratic Party, a DNC member, a Chair and State Committeewoman of Alachua County Democratic Party, a board member of PP of North Central Florida, North Florida Aides Network, SPARC Domestic Violence Network, Children’s Miracle Network, and Human Rights Council of North Florida.
Over her career, Kendra-Sue Derby has fought for progressive causes and candidates in campaigns, non-profits and political committees. She focuses her work on management, administrative and field activities. Most recently, Kendra-Sue was the Deputy Political Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. While Kendra-Sue was there the committee defied all expectations by picking up two additional Senate seats and winning all of Kendra-Sue’s races. In recent years she was the Obama Senior State Advisor for New Mexico and Senior Consultant to the Jon Tester for Senate and Montana Democratic Party. She also worked at Alliance for Justice from 2001 through 2006 as the Director of Field Operations. She trained thousands of activists and campaign employees when she worked for The Ron Brown - Paul Tully Institute for Political Action and as an independent contractor Kendra-Sue has worked on campaigns of all sizes, ranging from City Council to Presidential, including the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns.
John serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Nonprofit Sales for NGP VAN, and has been working with technology and communications for years. He has a passion for progressive politics, new media, and marketing. John also founded and manages the MaleFeminists.com blog that strives to be a strong ally in the broader fight for equality. Previously working as New Media Communications Manager for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), John is a Democracy for America (DFA) trainer and has often served as a speaker for conferences and panels and emceed numerous events.
Victoria is a seasoned campaigner, getting her feet wet at New York University where she actively organized students to support Adjunct professor unionizing efforts. She since savored her social justice appetite on a variety of NGO’s including; student organizing, domestic violence work, and immigrant rights work. She nationally organized with United Students Against Sweatshops before her electoral debut in NM ’08, where she successfully swapped her county blue and began her sometimes contemptuous relationship with national electoral work. She has since worked with the DNC in Los Angeles via Organizing for America, and recently was successful in saving a competitive Congressional seat as the NM1 Field Director. Victoria also trains with Wellstone Action, Campus Camp and dubs as a yoga teacher.