leadership

Democracy Spring is led by its Interim National Coordinating Committee (INCC), a national leadership body charged with stewarding the DNA, directing national staff, and determining national strategic priorities and campaigns.

Teri Brezner Teri Brezner (right) is a member of the INCC at Democracy Spring and has played an active role since September 2016 in co-facilitating local trainings and supporting the Dec. 19 and inauguration national actions.  Based in Washington, DC area for the last 11 years, Teri has worked to train local leaders and  communities on social justice issues and social change movements in both the US and abroad. Teri is a first generation Guyanese-Canadian and became a naturalized US citizen in 2012. Teri joined the movement to end voter suppression and money in politics in 2016 after witnessing the role corruption and corporate money played in trying to silence the grassroots movement during the presidential election and the ongoing injustices of police brutality and mass incarceration of black and brown folks. She is fighting for a future with representative democracy, sustainable livelihoods and racial justice.

Teri Brezner

Teri Brezner (right) is a member of the INCC at Democracy Spring and has played an active role since September 2016 in co-facilitating local trainings and supporting the Dec. 19 and inauguration national actions.  Based in Washington, DC area for the last 11 years, Teri has worked to train local leaders and  communities on social justice issues and social change movements in both the US and abroad. Teri is a first generation Guyanese-Canadian and became a naturalized US citizen in 2012. Teri joined the movement to end voter suppression and money in politics in 2016 after witnessing the role corruption and corporate money played in trying to silence the grassroots movement during the presidential election and the ongoing injustices of police brutality and mass incarceration of black and brown folks. She is fighting for a future with representative democracy, sustainable livelihoods and racial justice.

Lola Ellis Lola Ellis, current member of the Interim National Coordinating Committee for Democracy Spring. First generation Mexican American born and raised in Stockton, CA. Mother to a teenage daughter, inspired by the 99Rise March For Democracy in the Summer of 2014, she volunteered as a team leader for 99Rise in Sacramento, then served on the NCC of 99Rise and volunteered for and participated in the Democracy Spring coalition action of 2016.

Lola Ellis

Lola Ellis, current member of the Interim National Coordinating Committee for Democracy Spring. First generation Mexican American born and raised in Stockton, CA. Mother to a teenage daughter, inspired by the 99Rise March For Democracy in the Summer of 2014, she volunteered as a team leader for 99Rise in Sacramento, then served on the NCC of 99Rise and volunteered for and participated in the Democracy Spring coalition action of 2016.

Kyle King Currently living in Philadelphia, PA, Kyle works as a child life specialist on a pediatric burn and intensive care unit to meet the psychosocial needs of hospitalized children and their families. She holds a master’s degree in applied developmental psychology and is a Certified Grief Support Specialist, Returned Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Volunteer, and verified cat enthusiast. Kyle began organizing with 99Rise in 2013 and joined the Democracy Spring INCC following the 140-mile march and mass sit-in campaign of 2016. She is motivated to fight systemic corruption because of its toxic impact on healthcare, the environment, and the children she serves.

Kyle King

Currently living in Philadelphia, PA, Kyle works as a child life specialist on a pediatric burn and intensive care unit to meet the psychosocial needs of hospitalized children and their families. She holds a master’s degree in applied developmental psychology and is a Certified Grief Support Specialist, Returned Peace Corps and AmeriCorps Volunteer, and verified cat enthusiast. Kyle began organizing with 99Rise in 2013 and joined the Democracy Spring INCC following the 140-mile march and mass sit-in campaign of 2016. She is motivated to fight systemic corruption because of its toxic impact on healthcare, the environment, and the children she serves.

 
Tania Maduro Tania is from Groton, CT and serves on the INCC. Tired of living in a system that taught her to say no to drugs, but not her uncle; tired of seeing her mom go through foreclosure even though she worked 40+ hrs a week, and tired of endless doctors appointments that did nothing but treat the issue and never tried to solve the problem.  She was inspired by and joined the mass mobilization in April 2016 and joined Democracy Spring because she belives and knows that when big money is out and voting rights are protected for all, the people's voices, our voices will be heard and followed. New to organizing, she has been committed to crafting her skills, listening and learning from those who have come before her and satisfying her deep hunger for knowledge by attending trainings in organizing theories, management skills, relational work and more to come.

Tania Maduro

Tania is from Groton, CT and serves on the INCC. Tired of living in a system that taught her to say no to drugs, but not her uncle; tired of seeing her mom go through foreclosure even though she worked 40+ hrs a week, and tired of endless doctors appointments that did nothing but treat the issue and never tried to solve the problem.  She was inspired by and joined the mass mobilization in April 2016 and joined Democracy Spring because she belives and knows that when big money is out and voting rights are protected for all, the people's voices, our voices will be heard and followed. New to organizing, she has been committed to crafting her skills, listening and learning from those who have come before her and satisfying her deep hunger for knowledge by attending trainings in organizing theories, management skills, relational work and more to come.

Kai Newkirk Kai is a co-founder of Democracy Spring and serves as our Mission Director. He grew up in West Virginia. A veteran of the movements for global justice, immigrants rights, worker rights, and universal healthcare, Kai helped launch 99Rise, the parent organization of Democracy Spring, in 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Kai Newkirk

Kai is a co-founder of Democracy Spring and serves as our Mission Director. He grew up in West Virginia. A veteran of the movements for global justice, immigrants rights, worker rights, and universal healthcare, Kai helped launch 99Rise, the parent organization of Democracy Spring, in 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Renaldo Pearson Born and raised in the DC metro area, Renaldo Michael Pearson currently resides in Cambridge, MA where he serves as Senior Advisor to the Faculty Deans & Social Engineer-in-Residence at Harvard University. A proud alumnus of Morehouse College (the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and veteran of the criminal justice reform movement (where, among other roles, he served as the youngest member and spokesperson of the historic 200-member #EndMassIncarceration coalition that pushed the Obama administration to embrace criminal justice reform), he joined the fight to end the corruption of big money in politics and end voter suppression in the spring of 2016 (in order to win real democracy), after facing diminishing returns on the criminal justice reform front (largely due to the big money interests that block the necessary legislative reforms that most Americans actually support).

Renaldo Pearson

Born and raised in the DC metro area, Renaldo Michael Pearson currently resides in Cambridge, MA where he serves as Senior Advisor to the Faculty Deans & Social Engineer-in-Residence at Harvard University. A proud alumnus of Morehouse College (the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and veteran of the criminal justice reform movement (where, among other roles, he served as the youngest member and spokesperson of the historic 200-member #EndMassIncarceration coalition that pushed the Obama administration to embrace criminal justice reform), he joined the fight to end the corruption of big money in politics and end voter suppression in the spring of 2016 (in order to win real democracy), after facing diminishing returns on the criminal justice reform front (largely due to the big money interests that block the necessary legislative reforms that most Americans actually support).

 
Andrea Perez Andrea Perez, member of the INCC for Democracy Spring, she is also a board member at the People’s Progressive Caucus of Miami Dade. Born in Colombia, South America she moved with her family to the country that promised the “American Dream,” a land where they could live, dream and aspire to a better life with no barriers. Later, she realized that that dream has failed not only those who immigrated to this country, but it has equally failed millions of Americans.  She decided to join Democracy Spring and the fight to transform this nation, to fight for equality, take back our democracy and create a government that works for ALL of US.  She first joined during the DNC protests inspired by the march in Washington, she has volunteered since then on multiple actions including the inauguration and launching local trainings in Miami where she resides.   “All of our liberations are connected, because the same oppressor oppresses women, oppresses black & brown, oppresses people across the globe… and that is the 1%”

Andrea Perez

Andrea Perez, member of the INCC for Democracy Spring, she is also a board member at the People’s Progressive Caucus of Miami Dade. Born in Colombia, South America she moved with her family to the country that promised the “American Dream,” a land where they could live, dream and aspire to a better life with no barriers. Later, she realized that that dream has failed not only those who immigrated to this country, but it has equally failed millions of Americans. 
She decided to join Democracy Spring and the fight to transform this nation, to fight for equality, take back our democracy and create a government that works for ALL of US.  She first joined during the DNC protests inspired by the march in Washington, she has volunteered since then on multiple actions including the inauguration and launching local trainings in Miami where she resides.  

“All of our liberations are connected, because the same oppressor oppresses women, oppresses black & brown, oppresses people across the globe… and that is the 1%”

Curt Ries Curt serves as the Deputy Mission Director of Democracy Spring. After returning from the Peace Corps in 2012, he began organizing with 99Rise in 2013 and has helped launch the 140-mile march and 1,300-person strong sit-ins at the US Capitol that was the beginning of Democracy Spring in 2016. Born and raised in northern California, he now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, alongside his partner.

Curt Ries

Curt serves as the Deputy Mission Director of Democracy Spring. After returning from the Peace Corps in 2012, he began organizing with 99Rise in 2013 and has helped launch the 140-mile march and 1,300-person strong sit-ins at the US Capitol that was the beginning of Democracy Spring in 2016. Born and raised in northern California, he now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, alongside his partner.

Justin Jacoby Smith Justin Jacoby Smith was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. After early days in the Austin anti-war movement he moved to Washington, DC and was swept into the burgeoning Occupy DC protests fighting the corrupting influence of lobbying & big money on our politics. After logging time on neighborhood anti-eviction campaigns and labor organizing, he joined with the Democracy Spring April 2016 campaign as a digital staffer & now serves on the INCC.

Justin Jacoby Smith

Justin Jacoby Smith was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. After early days in the Austin anti-war movement he moved to Washington, DC and was swept into the burgeoning Occupy DC protests fighting the corrupting influence of lobbying & big money on our politics. After logging time on neighborhood anti-eviction campaigns and labor organizing, he joined with the Democracy Spring April 2016 campaign as a digital staffer & now serves on the INCC.