Announcing the 2021 Staff Academy Cohort | TrainDems

On December 18, 2020, the National Democratic Training Committee welcomed 214 future Democratic campaign leaders into its 2021 Staff Academy Cohort. This comes after receiving over 2,400 applications from campaign staff hopefuls across the country. 

Our newest cohort members start their first week focusing on orientation and getting acclimated. During this time, the NDTC community celebrates the start of a journey to launch the political careers of the new cohort. 

Staff Academy is an intensive 10-week program designed to recruit, train, and connect applicants to paid opportunities in Democratic politics across the country.

Supporting Campaign Staff Hopefuls

After the 2018 election cycle, NDTC asked a critical question,

“What more can we do to help Democrats win?”


While there are endless answers, training campaign staff for free stood out. 

Candidates struggle to find qualified staffers. To address this need, NDTC’s Staff Academy recruits and trains the next generation of campaign staffers. Additionally, it prioritizes the expansion of opportunities for people of color, women, transgender and non-binary individuals in the Democratic ecosphere. 

Prioritizing Equity In Training 

Campaign leaders and staff should be representative of Democratic voters. Many potential staffers are prevented from gaining entry-level experience on campaigns or pigeon-holed into field organizer positions cycle after cycle. This disproportionately affects women, people of color, trans and non-binary people. These community leaders should be at the forefront of electoral work. Staff Academy is a resource, which sharpens their leadership skills, teaches campaign strategy, and broadens their political networks.

While intentional about recruiting women, people of color, trans and non-binary people, people of all backgrounds and identities make up Staff Academy. People have multiple identities and different experiences bring richness to the community. NDTC looks for cohort members who are committed to learning from others. These members eagerly want to grow their allyship of those who hold different experiences than their own.

In 2021, NDTC aims to graduate 150 new political staffers in the career paths of campaign communications, digital, and fundraising. 

Achieving as a Staff Academy Graduate

In 2019, 86% of graduates in our inaugural cohort secured political jobs. Despite the impact of COVID-19, 40 graduates from the 2020 cohort acquired political jobs. In 2021, our goal is for 70% of this year’s graduates to secure paid employment on a campaign or politically adjacent work.

We are incredibly proud of our graduates and their many professional accomplishments! To name a few, graduates assumed roles such as: 

  • Digital Advertising Associate for a consulting firm
  • Deputy Finance Director for a congressional race
  • Communications Assistant for a congressional race
  • Campaign Manager for a state legislature race

The list goes on. Staff Academy graduates are doing the much-needed work in Democratic politics. They ignite the change progressives hope to see in the Democratic party and in electoral politics throughout the country.

If you are interested in learning more about our alumni, check out the Staff Academy Alumni Spotlight series on our blog: 

Kathleen Kirkpatrick, 2019 Digital Graduate
Akash Kaza, 2020 Communications Graduate
Samreena Farooqui, 2019 Digital Graduate
Tarunika Anand, 2020 Communications Graduate
Peter Nouhan, 2019 Digital Graduate
Yazan Hanouneh, 2020 Fundraising Graduate
Alaina Hardie, 2020 Digital Graduate

2021 Staff Academy Cohort At-A-Glance

The 2021 Staff Academy Cohort represents people from different backgrounds, and regions. Here is a quick breakdown of this year’s cohort:

  • 63% people of color with the largest representation from Black or African American people and Latinx or Hispanic people
  • 66% women, with women of color making up 40% of the cohort
  • 8% trans or non-binary
  • 15% age 36 and older 
  • 22% emerging leaders between the ages of 18 and 22.
  • 37% LGBTQ+ community
  • 26% immigrant or first-generation American
  • 25% current or former member of a labor union
  • Cohort members represent 36 out of 50 states with the most representation from Florida, California, and Texas.

Winning Curriculum and Training

Cohort members engage in one of three skills tracks: communications, digital, and fundraising. Additionally, all cohort members receive management and leadership training. Trainees learn to create an inclusive team culture through an understanding of identity, oppression, and privilege. Furthermore, they learn how to manage time and priorities effectively to accomplish goals and avoid burnout.

Below are a few skills cohort members acquire over the duration of the program.


  • Developing a campaign communications plan and content calendar
  • Crafting an effective message and tailoring it for different audiences
  • Creating a stump speech and writing in a candidate’s voice


  • Developing a digital campaign plan and digital content calendar
  • Writing and sending emails using NGP 8
  • Crafting effective, targeted social media content and posts


  • Developing a campaign fundraising plan
  • Making hard donation asks
  • Creating call sheets, including researching donors and identifying prospective donors

Growing with NDTC by Your Side 

Staff Academy is a community of people who invest in each other. NDTC is fully committed to supporting cohort members in their learning, in meeting program expectations, and searching for a paid campaign position upon graduation.

This support includes:

  • 1-1 support and regular communication from an NDTC program associate
  • Weekly Q&A sessions with industry experts for coaching and questions about coursework
  • A strong, collaborative, and inclusive learning environment with ongoing feedback to support cohort members’ growth
  • Job search support and networking opportunities with NDTC partners

The 2021 Staff Academy Cohort has a bright future. We are grateful for these select Democrats who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. If you or someone you know is interested in applying to this program in the future, join our waitlist. We’ll stay in touch and keep you updated as a new member of our NDTC community. 




2021 NDTC Staff Academy Cohort

We welcome the next generation of campaign leaders.

Name Track City, State
Aldair Campos Communications Gaithersburg, MD
Alejandro Urbina-Bernal Communications Phoenix, AZ
Alex Pittaro Communications Marina, CA
Alexandra Huff Communications Nashville, TN
Angelo Jaramillo Communications Rochester, MN
Ariana Bray Communications Seattle, WA
Arielle Monroe Communications Kansas City, KS
Ashley Jackson Communications Philadelphia, PA
Barbara Gaskins Communications Washington, NC
Becca Brack Communications Millersburg, MI
Brenda Cruz Communications Austin, TX
Caroline Riordan Communications Chicago, IL
Carrie Kisicki Communications Highland Park, IL
Chanel Cassanello Communications Las Vegas, NV
Craig Barnes Jr Communications Wilson, NC
Crystal Baptiste Communications Atlanta, GA
Damon Drew Communications Toledo, OH
Debora Aberastury Communications Saint Peters, MO
Elizabeth Cunniff Communications Mount Prospect, IL
Emily Michael Communications Gilbert, AZ
Eric Lipka Communications Jacksonville, FL
Gabi Francisco-Bogert Communications Miami, FL
Graciela Garcia Communications La Feria, TX
Haazim Amirali Communications Porter Ranch, CA
Harry van Dyke Communications Tariffville, CT
Iman Serbones Communications San Antonio, TX
Indira Galvez Communications Los Alamitos, CA
Isabella Fuentes Communications Gurnee, IL
Isabella Rodriguez Communications Greer, SC
Jalynn Lassic Communications Grand Rapids, MI
Janiel Santos Communications Chicago, IL
Jeffrey Wilcox Communications Tempe, AZ
Jennifer Oresti Communications Saint Clair Shores, MI
Jermatic Chambers Communications Indian Trail, NC
Joel Melgar Communications Culver City, CA
Joshua Rodriguez Communications Danbury, CT
Julie Hilberg Communications Poteet, TX
Justin Bethea Communications Naples, FL
Justin Marcoviche-Garnett Communications Chicago, IL
Kaleab Brook Communications Las Vegas, NV
Karina Gonzalez Rosales Communications San Diego, CA
Katherine Jeanes Communications Kannapolis, NC
Ken Nakazawa Communications Asheville, NC
Kiia Owens Communications Cane Ridge, TN
Kimberly Manriquez Communications El Monte, CA
Kimmie Sowell Communications Griffin, GA
Lexi Thompson Communications Phoenix, AZ
Lisa Quattlebaum Communications Philadelphia, PA
Lizzy Ganssle Communications Washington, DC
Maranda Lee Communications Akron, OH
Marissa Rogers Communications Germantown, TN
Mayra Souza Communications Naples, FL
Mokihana Maldonado Communications Ewa Beach, HI
Molly Rose Malaney Communications Pompano Beach, FL
Morgan Pavey Communications Yorktown, VA
Nitesh Arora Communications Virginia Beach, VA
Payal Shah Communications South Grafton, MA
Peter Fair Communications Harrisburg, PA
Rachel Berlowe Binder Communications Chevy Chase, MD
Rowena Collins Communications Santa Barbara, CA
Ryan Barto Communications Toms River, NJ
Samee Lashari Communications Weslaco, TX
Sarah Ruffin Communications Houston, TX
Serena Uy Communications Washington, DC
Sharon Quituisaca Communications Bronx, NY
Taylor Scofield Communications Madison, WI
Thomas Ervin II Communications Mesquite, TX
Tory Ludington Communications New Brunswick, NJ
Tuong “Leo” Vo Communications Westminster, CO
Valerie Thomason Communications Las vegas, NV
Victoria Felder Communications Goose Creek, SC
Vivian Morrison Communications Tucson, AZ
Aaron Facio-Cortes Digital Wesley Chapel, FL
Aleccia Sutton Digital Midway Park, NC
Alex McDermott Digital Lake Worth, FL
Alexys Hewitt Digital New York, NY
Alicia Jerry Digital Ellenwood, GA
Allie Negron Digital Boston, MA
Amanda Pirani Digital Windham, NH
Amy Paschal Digital Monument, CO
Ananya Kalahasti Digital Solon, OH
Angelica Carpio Digital Tucson, AZ
Angelo Ruiz Digital Mililani, HI
Anissa Douglass Digital Chicago, IL
Anjellica Campbell Digital Mesa, AZ
Anne Marie Sherman Digital Brentwood, TN
Ashley Startin Digital Spokane, WA
Ashlyn Pinter Digital Bay City, MI
Briana Lee Digital Minneapolis, MN
Brianna Carmona Digital Madison, WI
Carl Morrison Digital Lansing, MI
Carlos Lua Pineda Digital Gresham, OR
Charity Gardner Digital Tuskegee, AL
Darien Borges Digital Kendall, FL
David Clark Digital Chapel Hill, NC
Dawn Rafal Digital Douglaston, NY
Delaine Frierson Digital Columbia, SC
Diontre Davis Digital Washington, DC
Ellen White Digital Narragansett, RI
Emily Boyer Digital Kalamazoo, MI
Erniko Brown Digital Mount Carmel, SC
Felicia Scalzetti Digital Birmingham, AL
Fred Brown Jr. Digital Columbus, OH
Gabe Ector-Wilson Digital Brooklyn, NY
Gatiosso Traore Digital Madison, WI
Hailey Wise Digital Tampa, FL
Hillary Shah Digital Denton, TX
Jaclyn Norton Digital Waltham, MA
Jade Vasquez Digital Bronx, TX
Jarren Foster Digital Colorado Springs, CO
Jose Salvador Orellana Digital Delano, CA
Juliana Martinez Digital Denver, CO
Kegan Lowe Digital Raleigh, NC
Kelly Oates Digital Maplewood, NJ
Kimberly Gerbert Digital Tallahassee, FL
Kristal Nandi Digital Plant City, FL
Laurel Bush Digital Plano, TX
Lisa Hill Digital San Juan Capistrano, CA
Maggie Miller Digital Brooklyn, NY
Mandy Walters Digital Newport, WA
Mayela Morales Digital Thousand Oaks, CA
McKinsi Martin Digital Collegeville, PA
Megan Hyler Digital Mooresville, NC
Megan Pappalardo Digital Gold Canyon, AZ
Meghann Tilghman Digital Arlington, VA
Michael Herwitz Digital Brooklyn, NY
Mitch Felton Digital Hollywood, FL
Mitch Herr Digital Dayton, OH
Olivia Burke Digital Fayetteville, NC
Palmer Rubin Digital Marietta, GA
Quanisea Moses Digital Effingham, SC
Raena Ramirez Digital Cerritos, CA
Rebecca Alifimoff Digital Storrs Mansfield, CT
Rebecca Duran Digital Tampa, FL
Rim Manaa Digital Sierra Madre, CA
Rudolph Graham Digital Rockville, MD
Samantha Delgado Digital Washington, DC
Shannon Faulise Digital Bloomington, MN
Sophie Poost Digital Johnson City, TN
Tanisha Ward Digital Hampton, GA
Theresa Robinson Digital Seattle, WA
Tiara Polite Digital Port St. Lucie, FL
Victoria Gurrola Verdugo Digital Claremont, CA
Adriyanna Andreus Fundraising Baltimore, MD
Alexandra Buol-Molina Fundraising Naperville, IL
Alice Kitenza Fundraising The Bronx, NY
Amy Iwanowicz Fundraising New York, NY
Andrea Zeiter Drennan Fundraising St. Louis, MO
Angela Elder Fundraising Alexandria, VA
Arely Chaparro Fundraising Las Vegas, NV
Audrey Rossignol Fundraising Avon, CT
Brendan Power Fundraising Chicago, IL
Candice Crutcher Fundraising Iowa City, IA
Carolina Noguez Fundraising Troy, MI
Cecily Cox Fundraising Dallas, TX
Chartu Lopez-White Fundraising Charlotte, NC
Claudia Shrivastava Fundraising State College, PA
Colten Robertson Fundraising Tuscaloosa, AL
D.J. Myers Fundraising Marietta, GA
Dalit Kluger Fundraising Ann Arbor, MI
Elizabeth Timmons Fundraising Orinda, CA
Emily Hein Fundraising Richmond, VA
Eva Wyner Fundraising Wynnewood, PA
Evan Brandes Fundraising Antioch, IL
Jamie Girvin Fundraising Stephenson, VA
Jason Valandra Fundraising Omaha, NE
Jibrell P Crump Fundraising Houston, TX
Jordan Allen Fundraising Riverview, FL
Joseph Fraley Fundraising Portland, OR
Josh McGill Fundraising Philadelphia, PA
Kaela Landon Fundraising Silver Spring, MD
Katherine Thames Fundraising Jacksonville, FL
Kayla Hackett Fundraising Orlando, FL
Kayla Payne Fundraising Louisville, KY
Kelly Zeilman Fundraising West Simsbury, CT
Lanae Johnson Fundraising Charles Town, WV
Lauren Mohie El-Deen Fundraising Arlington, VA
Leah Jesse Fundraising North Liberty, IA
Lexus Nunez Fundraising Los Angeles, CA
Lisa Gardner Fundraising Piedmont, CA
Luciano Benjamin Fundraising Harrisonburg, VA
Mackenzie Wasilick Fundraising New York, NY
Madeline Carlman Fundraising Wilson, WY
Mark Akpaninyie Fundraising Washington, DC
Matthew Winn Fundraising Los Angeles, CA
Max Kunkel Fundraising Sarasota, FL
Michael Garcel Fundraising Miami, FL
MJ Seaberry Fundraising Jonesboro, GA
Nazbi Chowdhury Fundraising Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Nicholas Machado Fundraising Baltimore, MD
Olamide Adetunji Fundraising Washington, DC
Pia Miller Fundraising Newport News, VA
Rachel Pinto Fundraising Cambridge, MA
Rachel Rush-Marlowe Fundraising Washington, DC
Ramona Morales Fundraising Littleton, CO
Rose Jacobs Fundraising New York, NY
Saula Encarnacion Fundraising Queens Village, NY
Sean Nguyen Fundraising Chapel Hill, NC
Sierra Klein-Kassab Fundraising Ann Arbor, MI
Simon Persico Fundraising Guttenberg, NJ
Suzie Tkach Fundraising Dallas, TX
Talan Tyminski Fundraising Austin, TX
Taylor Aguilera Fundraising Lakeland, FL
Taylor Carmichael Fundraising Athens, GA
Thomas Wallace Fundraising Dunedin, FL
Tyler Hefferon Fundraising New York, NY
Vis Iyer Fundraising Washington, DC
Will Taylor Fundraising Burbank, CA
Yasmeen Metellus Fundraising Pembroke Pines, FL
Zach Denney Fundraising Leavenworth, KS

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Allison Senanayake

Allison is the Staff Academy Operations Manager at NDTC, and she led the operational and logistical efforts for the inaugural Staff Academy cohort through the recruitment, training, and placement phases. She continues to build and scale these efforts in order to expand the NDTC’s Staff Academy’s impact within the political ecosystem. A recent graduate from DePaul University, Allison holds a BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Politics and a minor in Arabic. Prior to NDTC, she was heavily involved in Chicago non-profits as a student organizer spanning community service efforts. She served for four years and was a senior member of the DePaul Community Service Association Executive Board, in which she served as a primary liaison between DePaul University and nonprofits across Chicago. When she is out of the office, Allison visits her family overseas, bakes anything and everything, learns new languages, and roams Montrose Beach.