Mentors

    Dave Fleischer currently runs the LGBT Mentoring Project, a pilot project to help both emerging and established LGBT political leaders improve their performance. He created and ran the premier political training programs in LGBT community, first for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (1993-1998) and then for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1999-2006). Over 500 of his training alumni have taken critical leadership roles in campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT ballot measures. Over 150 have won elected office. Dave has been involved in the efforts to curb and defeat anti-gay ballot measures since 1993. From 2006 through 2008, he was also part of the Industrial Areas Foundation team in Ohio working to increase voter turnout in inner-city, predominantly people of color neighborhoods. Dave has run campaigns and trained candidates, campaign managers, and community leaders since 1980.

    David Caldwell helped lead the nation's first successful pro-LGBT ballot initiative in Cleveland Heights, Ohio (Cincinnati quickly followed with the second). In the Cleveland Heights campaign, over 1,000 volunteers worked at least one volunteer shift, and by the time Election Day arrived, the campaign had talked one-on-one with over half the voters in the city. David got involved with the Cleveland Heights campaign after reading about the issue on the Internet (he begs you not to rely on this strategy for recruiting your volunteers). David made several trips to Maine in 2009 to assist both the field and finance teams there. He moved to Maine to help lead the field team for the final five weeks, during which he coauthored the statewide field plan and managed ten staffers who faced unique challenges in organizing the state's most rural region (a quarter of the population, but about three quarters of the land area). Under his leadership, the regional team's growth rate immediately doubled from 20% to 40% and stayed there for the next four weeks, increasing to 100% in the final week, and ending eight times larger than before he arrived. After campaigning on LGBT issues in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, two Portlands (OR and ME), and Ypsilanti (MI) about laws ranging from non-discrimination ordinances to domestic partnerships and marriage, David thinks that our opposition mostly stems from a fear of people who are different, regardless of the issue on the ballot.

    Toph Allen is an organizer with the LGBT Mentoring Project, working in partnership with Vote For Equality in Los Angeles. Originally from England, he's been living in America for six years, and graduated from USC in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology. He started started volunteering for LGBT causes during the No on 8 campaign, signing up online (as Dave Caldwell, above, did) and working on phone banking, IPVR and visibility. More recently, he worked for the successful Steve Zimmer for LAUSD School Board campaign as a Data Specialist and ran their phone banks as a volunteer. Currently, Toph works on multiple areas of VFE's canvassing program, including a video project, capturing canvassers talking to voters at their doorsteps; confirmation calls; and volunteer recruitment. He believes in bringing empirical thinking to grassroots work to push back against society’s prejudices, and also likes going to concerts in small venues.

    Jen Higgins is the Mentoring Project's latest addition. She attended school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She first interned with Equality Maryland and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, in their field and political departments, respectively. Subsequently, she worked as field organizer for Maine's No on 1 campaign, running the Early Vote program and GOTV canvassing, as well as doing quite a bit of in-person volunteer recruitment. After the campaign ended, she worked in Georgia as a field consultant for Simone Bell's campaign, and then for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as a contract organizer on ENDA. With the Mentoring Project, Jen's been working double-time on the forthcoming report on the Proposition 8 campaign, and has begun helping out with VFE's other areas of work, especially confirmation calls. Once, Jen interned with NASA. She can program robots.
Comments