Meet the DPVA Staff

Meet the team committed to electing Virginia Democrats up and down the ballot in 2020

Democratic Party of VA
8 min readApr 8, 2020


Andrew Whitley, Executive Director

Andrew has worked on political campaigns all across the Commonwealth, from Blacksburg and Fairfax to Virginia Beach and Richmond. Most recently he led Virginia’s successful coordinated campaign in 2019, Take The Majority, which resulted in flipping both the House and Senate for the first time in nearly two decades, and managed successful campaigns for Delegate Chris Hurst, the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada, Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, but before that worked across the country for Hillary Clinton, beginning in the Iowa caucuses and ending in Philadelphia. A proud graduate of Virginia Tech, born and raised in Southwest Virginia, he started his career working for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2011.

How Andrew is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

Frequent walks outside (abiding by social distancing rules), Law and Order marathons, and the fact that liquor stores are essential businesses.

Brenner Tobe, Deputy Executive Director & CTO

Brenner has been working to help elect Virginia Democrats for the past 20 years. Having served as the State IT Advisor for the DNC, Brenner came to Virginia in 2001 to implement one of the first statewide online voter files in the country for Mark Warner’s campaign for Governor. Since then, he has continued to bring new, innovative and technological tools to help our candidates meet the changing demands of today’s campaigns. Brenner lives in Richmond with his wife Kelly, and daughters Caroline, Isabelle, and Annika.

How Brenner is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

“I’ve gotten out my portable cement mixer. Who knows what I’ll do with that!”

Shyam Raman, Political Director

Shyam joined the DPVA in June 2015. Shyam’s political career has taken him from Iowa to Nebraska to his new home here in Virginia. He’s a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals and Tottenham Hotspur fan and enjoys cooking, watching soccer, playing golf, and playing with his dogs Charlotte and Artoo. Fun fact, he met Charlotte and his girlfriend Julie at the dog park. The dogs take all the credit for their meeting.

How Shyam is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

He’s working on mastering the art of running conference calls while walking two dogs during this time of social distancing

Elise Vess, Chief Operations Officer

Elise joined the DPVA in December 2017. A native Virginian, Elise began her political career as an Intern for Obama’s reelection campaign on the William and Mary campus. After she graduated in 2013, Elise was a Field Organizer for Terry McAuliffe in her hometown of Chesapeake. She continued to work for progressive candidates, but most recently served as an EMT. Outside of work Elise can be found at the public library, playing with her dog Miss Liddy, or enjoying a friendly game of Scrabble with her wife, Jennifer Glass

How Elise is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

Prioritizing self-care and taking her dog, Ms. Liddy, for walks every morning

Nick Scott, Digital Director

Originally from Milwaukee, Nick got his start in politics taking a semester off of college so he could work as an Organizer for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He moved to the Commonwealth in late 2017 and started as an Intern at the DPVA in January 2018 before joining the staff full-time as a member of the Finance team during the 2018 and 2019 cycles. Nick spends his time cheering for Arsenal Football Club and is always on the hunt for his new favorite band.

How Nick is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

He’s been watching old episodes of The West Wing, listening to Jason Isbell and the Hamilton soundtrack, and playing Zoom trivia with friends and family

Grant Fox, Communications Director

Grant previously worked as the Communications Director on Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s campaign, flipping a Congressional district that voted for Trump by over 15 points. Most recently, he worked on the highly competitive Queens District Attorney’s race in New York City. Grant graduated from Tufts University and got his start on the Virginia Coordinated Campaign in 2017, working as a field organizer in Prince William County. A Maryland native, he spends his free time biking and honing his skills in the kitchen to one day work at Bon Appetit.

How Grant is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

He’s been baking a lot of bread

Khalid Naji, Deputy Political Director

Khalid joined the DPVA in August 2019 and has been working in politics since graduating from VCU in 2017. He got his start in politics by joining a Congressional Primary race in Virginia as a Field Organizer and then went to work during the 2018 midterms in Pennsylvania. Outside of work, Khalid can be found reading about history, playing with his dog Snow, and watching Liverpool Football Club.

How Khalid is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

He’s been reading a lot and hopes daily that Liverpool Football Club return to his television quickly.

Alyssa Pooler, Voter Protection & Expansion Director

The costume is gerrymandering, folks

Alyssa joined DPVA in October 2019 after graduating from law school in May. She decided to work on the voter protection side of election law when the Supreme Court decided the Ohio voter purge case and Justice Kennedy retired while she was interning at Demos during the summer of 2018. Alyssa interned in the Civic Engagement and Voter Protection Department at the DNC during the 2018 Midterm Elections and spent her last semester in law school as a law clerk in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Originally from Philadelphia, Alyssa is a Philadelphia Eagles fan and goes to indoor cycling and boxing classes to take out her frustration caused by voter suppression.

How Alyssa is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

She started spending time on her porch in the morning to drink coffee and listen to podcasts not about the news. She highly recommends Dolly Parton’s America and Boomtown.

Carson Brown, Press Secretary

Carson Leigh Brown was most recently the Marketing & Partnerships Manager at The New Republic. She moved over to this position from the editorial team, where she had first been a fact-checker and then the assistant managing editor. Her words appear in Pacific Standard and, where she was an editorial intern before graduating from Medill at Northwestern University. She grew up in Richmond, Va., lived for a few years in Brooklyn, and is happy to be home.

How Carson is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

She’s making endless amounts of quiche, re-watching Killing Eve, and maintaining a daily yoga practice.

Katie O’Grady, Data Director

Katie grew up in Wisconsin and was drawn into politics during the 2011 attempted recall of Governor Walker. As Quality Control Director for a political consulting firm, she worked on ballot initiatives, voter registration drives, and getting out the vote for Democrats across the country. After moving to Virginia in 2015, she managed a Virginia Senate campaign and went on to work as a legislative aide in both the Senate and the House of Delegates. She has been at the DPVA since the summer of 2018.

How Katie is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

She is studying for online classes and rewatching all of Brooklyn 99

Justin Jones, Chief Development Officer

Justin joined the DPVA after serving as the Communications Director for the Abigail Spanberger for Congress campaign which flipped a seat that no Democrat had won in 50 years. A California native, Justin began his political career working on state and local races in San Francisco. He is a former Legislative Staffer to a San Francisco Supervisor and founder of the United Democratic Club, one of the largest Democratic clubs in San Francisco. Beyond politics, he is a huge history buff and has an avowed green thumb. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Henrico with their rambunctious dog, Teddy Duke.

How Justin is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

Spending more time with his dog, Teddy.

Ja’Scotta Jefferson, Voter Protection Coordinator

Ja’Scotta Jefferson is a May graduate from Virginia State University. She began her political career as an intern for Congressman A. Donald McEachin of the 4th District. Most recently, she was as a Field Organizer for Take the majority 2019; more specifically she helped get out the votes for Delegate Danica Roem’s re-election and Delegate John Bell for State Senate who flipped the seat. Ja’Scotta truly takes pleasure giving back to the community and helping others. During her free time she enjoys traveling, dancing Bachata, working out, and learning new languages.

How Ja’Scotta is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

She’s been practicing yoga and meditation.

Colleen Grady, Deputy Development Director

Colleen joined the DPVA in December of 2019 after serving as Finance Director for Del. Debra Rodman’s State Senate campaign, the highest raising Senate race of the 2019 cycle. Colleen began her political career after graduating from the College of William and Mary in 2018 with a degree in public policy. She moved to Dallas to serve as Deputy Finance Director for Rep. Colin Allred, defeating a 22 year Republican incumbent. In her free time she enjoys playing rugby and cheering on the Richmond Squirrels.

How Colleen is staying sane during this COVID-19 Pandemic

She’s staying sane by video chatting with friends from past campaigns and trying to sneak her dog into work conference calls.



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