Board of Directors

Tilly Blanding

Retired member, SEIU; SEIU endorsed when she ran for HoD in 2017

Tilly began her 30-year career with Fairfax County Government as a Social Worker.  Tilly later joined Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood Services as a Regional Community Developer.  Tilly is a proud graduate of South Carolina State University. She is an active member of the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Virginia, and the South Carolina State University Alumni Association. Tilly is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. In her spare time, Tilly volunteers with the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC), the Democratic Women of Clifton, and the Springfield Democrats.  Tilly ran for House of Delegates in 2017 and is an Emerge Virginia bootcamp alumna.


Sandra Brandt, Vice-Chair

Current 2nd CD Chair, Democratic Party of Virginia; former DNC member

Sandra is a veteran of Virginia Democratic politics.  Serving in many capacities, including local Democratic Party Chair, 2nd CD District chair and staff and advisor to dozens of Virginia candidates, Sandra has played major roles in Virginia Beach, Tidewater region and statewide campaigns for many years.

Leigh Anne Collier, Treasurer

Former Executive Director, Democratic Party of Virginia

As a Partner at PoliOps, Leigh Anne works with leaders in the progressive community to help build strong, efficient organizational infrastructure.   A former Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, Leigh Anne is a veteran of campaigns including Kaine for Governor, Hillary for President, and Obama for America 2012.


Elizabeth Cranwell

Elizabeth has extensive experience in Virginia politics at both the state and national levels.  She was Press Secretary to Congressman Rick Boucher and Communications Director for Congresswoman Leslie Byrne.  Early campaign experience came as 7th Congressional District Field Coordinator for the Wilder, Beyer, Terry Joint Campaign and as Campaign Manager for Delegate Alan Mayer.  A native of Northern Virginia, Elizabeth has spent the last 19 years raising her family in Roanoke.

 Doris Crouse-Mays

President, Virginia AFL-CIO

Doris Crouse-Mays started her Union career with the Communications Workers of America. Her first political campaign was for Congressman Rick Boucher, who unseated a sixteen year incumbent.  Doris worked for the ILGWU (now UNITE/HERE) and CWA as an International Organizer. While at CWA, under her leadership, CWA had 4 elections in one year, winning 3 of the 4. As a result, CWA District 2, received the Joe Beirne Award, CWA’s highest award for organizing. In 1997, Doris went to work for the National AFL-CIO.


 Hon. Sandra Duckworth

Former member, Fairfax Co Bd of Supervisors

For 25 years, Sandy was President of Duckworth & Associates in Virginia and Duckworth & Stebbins in Hawaii – a fundraising, event and conference planning company.  Sandy retired June 30, 2000 to become Governor of Rotary International District 7610.  She has been active in many aspects of community, state and national affairs, and has served on or chaired numerous boards and commissions during her career.  She was twice elected to four-year terms (‘79 & ‘83) on the Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors representing Mount Vernon District.


Sara Garland, Chair

Former Chief of Staff, US Senator Kent Conrad

Sara Garland began her political career as a volunteer for the Presidential campaign of Sen. Eugene McCarthy in 1968.    Since then she has served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and founded her own Capitol Hill government affairs consulting company, the Greystone Group.  She is former Vice Chair of the Shenandoah County Democratic Committee.  She splits her time between Washington, DC and Woodstock, VA.


Hon. Kate Hanley

Former Chair, Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors, Former Secretary of the Commonwealth

Kate Hanley served as Providence District Supervisor for the Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors from 1986–1995. She was first elected chair of the Fairfax Co Board in a special election held in February 1995. She received a full four-year term in November 1995 and was re-elected to the position in 1999.  In July 2004, Governor Mark Warner appointed her a Northern Virginia District Member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Governor Tim Kaine appointed her Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006


Gaylene Kanoyton

Current 1st Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Virginia; Former Exec Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus

Gaylene has over 20 years in Sales and Marketing and currently serve as a Advertising Executive.  She received her B.A. degree in political science from Hampton University.  Gaylene has been a leader in Democratic politics both locally and at the statewide level.  She is currently 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia and serves as Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.


Annie Kasper, Secretary

Annie has been an active member of the Richmond community for many years.  She was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to the Capitol Square Preservation Council and to the Council on the Status of Women by Governor Tim Kaine in 2009.  She also serves on the board of Voices for Virginia’s Children, an advocacy group working to protect the welfare of Virginia’s children.  Annie is a charter member of the board of DemBiz RVA, an organization furthering the interests of small business and elected leaders.

Maggi Luca

Maggi has elected and worked for a number of Democratic women in Virginia, including as campaign manager and Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Leslie Byrne, campaign manager and legislative aide to state Senator Janet Howell, and legislative aide to state Senator Toddy Puller.  She was appointed to the State Board of Social Services under Governor Mark Warner, served as President of the Virginia Electoral Board Association and was Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board.

Atima Omara

Current Virginia DNC Member; former President, Young Democrats of America

Atima Omara was elected President of the Young Democrats of America (YDA) at YDA’s 2013 biennial convention in San Antonio, Texas. She is the first African American President in YDA’s 81 -year history. She previously served as Vice President from 2011-2013; Director of YDA’s Mid-Atlantic Region from 2009-11; and as Chair of YDA’s Women’s Caucus from 2006-09.

Alexsis Rodgers, Alumnae Relations

Current Communications Director, Planned Parenthood of Virginia; Current President, Virginia Young Democrats

Alexsis is currently Communications Director of Planned Parenthood Virginia and was recently elected the President of the Virginia Young Democrats of Virginia.  She also served ss Policy Director for Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam.  Before working in state government, Alexsis managed award-winning communications and advocacy campaigns focused on college affordability, public transportation, pediatric care, labor rights and environmental initiatives.  Alexsis is an alumna of the 2014 inaugural class of Emerge Virginia.

 Cianti Stewart-Reid

Former Virginia House Democratic Caucus Director; former Exec Dir, Planned Parenthood of Virginia

Cianti Stewart-Reid is vice president for campaigns at Truth Initiative.  Most recently, Stewart-Reid served as the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. In that role, she coordinated legislative lobbying, regulatory outreach, and electoral campaign work. In 2013, as the executive director of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, she managed policy and legislative work and led efforts to recruit, train, and coordinate the campaigns of legislative candidates throughout the state.

Stewart-Reid is active at the community level. Over the past decade, she has served as a board member for organizations dedicated to women’s issues, education, and healthy living. She received her law degree from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Heather Allen, Alumnae Representative

Chief Financial Officer, OnTrack Consulting- Indy

OTC help clients optimize their business, improve their operations, and accelerate their organizational performance through seizing and retaining millennials in the workplace. Combining deep industry knowledge and generational experience with specialized expertise our customers find individualized targeted solutions when working with OnTrack Consulting.

 Devon Cabot, Alumnae Representative

Devon Cabot is a dedicated and reliable policy and government professional with experience working for elected officials at the state and local level. Most recently, Devon worked for State Senator Jeremy McPike, who serves on the committees of Rehabilitation and Social Services, General Laws and Technology, and Local Government, as well as the Secure Commonwealth Panel and the SOL Innovation Commission. She oversaw his legislative agenda, working with diverse interest groups to influence policy and pass legislation. Some of her policy interests include workforce development, technology and innovation, environment, healthcare, and ABC reform.

Devon received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and her Master’s of Public Policy from the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, where she is active in the Alumni Chapter. In 2014, Devon was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to the Commonwealth’s Board of Optometry, where she serves as the citizen/patient member. She is a graduate and current Board Member of Emerge Virginia, and a graduate of the Sorensen Institute’s Emerging Leaders Program. She remains active in political and policy campaigns in Northern Virginia.

 Xenia Ruiz, Alumnae Representative

Currently, US House of Representatives Director of Outreach – Democratic Caucus, Vice Chair Katherine Clark. 

As a Latina alum who completed Emerge at 28 years old, I’m committed to recruiting and training women of color and millennial women. As the Founder of the soon-to-be-announced Congressional Dreamers Staff Association, my personal journey as a former DREAMer helps me understand the power of the growing electorate across Virginia.