Alex Askew

NLC Virginia
Virginia House of Delegates

Alex Askey was born in Virginia Beach and raised by his mother, a public school teacher. He came up through the Virginia Beach public education system, including Tallwood High School, before attending Hampton University. After graduating, Alex worked for nearly seven election cycles on a variety of local, state-wide, and national campaigns and projects.

Alex now serves as a legislative aide for the Virginia House of Delegates, guiding elected officials towards tangible solutions. He’s helped craft groundbreaking legislation such as the nationwide Ashanti Alert (a public alert system for missing and endangered adults), Medicaid expansion, affordable housing expansion, and school safety initiatives.

Outside of work, Alex remains engaged in this community. He is an active member of New Jerusalem Ministries, where he mentors and tutors local youth. He is a founding board member of the New Leaders Council Virginia, as well as a board member for the Democratic Business Alliance of South Hampton Roads and a 2018 graduate of UVA’s Political Leaders Program.

Matthew Blake

NLC Des Moines
Urbandale, IA City Council

A South Dakota native, Matt moved to Des Moines to attend law school at Drake University Law School. Matt works in government relations for LeadingAge Iowa of Urbandale, where he advocates for older Iowans and aging services providers throughout the state. His wife Alaina is an optometrist with an office in Waukee. They share their Urbandale home with dogs Gus and Henry.


Matt joined the Iowa Army National Guard after graduating from law school. He serves his state as a Judge Advocate (JAG Officer) for Trial Defense Services based at Camp Dodge in Johnston. Matt advises and defends soldiers with legal issues.


Matt volunteers as President of the Urbandale Fourth of July Celebration. His committee works all year to make sure Urbandale’s largest celebration is an event enjoyed by the entire community. Matt also serves on the Urbandale Civil Rights Commission and is on the board of directors for Young Variety – the Children’s Charity. The Des Moines Business Record recently named Matt one of its “2019 Forty Under 40.”


Matt and Alaina enjoy cycling and spending time with family and friends. And chasing after Henry and Gus.

Paige Cognetti

NLC Philadelphia 
Scranton, PA

Paige is currently on leave from her role as Special Assistant to the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the chief fiscal watchdog of the commonwealth. She advises on financial management, governance and transparency. Her areas of focus include oversight of public school districts, care for older adults, criminal justice reform and student debt.


Paige previously served as a director on the Scranton School Board, overseeing a $160M budget and helping navigate the district's dual crises of financial distress and public mistrust. Paige serves on the board of multiple local nonprofit organizations and economic development committees, and manages projects for her husband’s business, Caravia Fresh Foods.


Paige has a background in government oversight, investment management, economic policy, international relations and political campaigns, with broad experience in budget oversight, business development, coalition building and strategic communications.


Before moving to Northeastern Pennsylvania, Paige lived in New York and worked as an investment advisor at Goldman Sachs, sourcing new assets and managing investment portfolios for the private client business. Prior to this private sector work, Paige served in the Obama administration from 2009-2012 as a senior advisor to the Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department. Paige was a fundraiser and project director on numerous political campaigns, including running the out-of-state volunteer program in Pennsylvania for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Paige holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oregon Clark Honors College with a BA in English Literature and Romance Languages. Paige is originally from Beaverton, Oregon, where her parents still reside. Her younger brother now calls Whitefish, Montana home. Paige lives in Scranton with her husband, Ryan. They will welcome their first child in December.

Erin Cubit

NLC Des Moines
West Des Moines, IA, City Council

Erin was born in Des Moines, Iowa and spent her early childhood in Central Iowa before her family move just North of Waterloo. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Northern Iowa where she met my husband and graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Health Promotion: Women's Health. During her time as a community health educator, she became very frustrated with the access challenges the people she worked with had and wanted to change the system, so she went back to UNI to obtain her Master's degree in Public Policy. 

Four years ago, Erin and her husband were excited to move back to Central Iowa to pursue new job opportunities. For two and a half years, Erin was an organizer for the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa where she had the opportunity to work with the vast network of supporters to advocate for reproductive rights. During this time she was also able to begin flexing her lobbying skills. Currently, Erin is a health care advocate lobbying at the state and federal level for hospitals in Iowa. She was inspired to run for West Des Moines CIty Council because she is a firm believer in individuals having easy access to all of their elected officials as well as having their voice heard in any policy being reviewed. Erin is a firm believer that the inclusion of these voices is paramount to a well-run government and is committed to being an open ear and an amplifier for her community.

David Halbert

NLC Boston
Boston City Council

David Halbert is a candidate for Boston City Councilor At-large. He is a 2010 graduate of New Leaders Council – Boston, where he has served as Institute Director, Advisory Board member, and Chapter Co-Chair. He has spent over 15 years in public service, most recently with the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office where he served as Deputy Director of Community Affairs. A lifelong public servant and civic activist David has been a staff member for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and former Boston City Councilors Sam Yoon & John Tobin. 

David currently serves on the boards of East Boston Main Streets and the East Boston Piers Park Advisory Council. He has formerly served as an officer for the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts; Affirmative Action and Outreach Chair for the Boston Ward One Democratic Committee; and as a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. 

David is a graduate of numerous leadership development programs including the Commonwealth Seminar program; the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership; and the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. 

David lives in Dorchester with his wife Lauren and their two daughters.

Matt Hughes

NLC North Carolina
Hillsborough, NC Commission

Matt Hughes has been involved in public service, Democratic politics, and progressive causes for over a decade. Matt was raised in Hillsborough, attended Orange County Public Schools, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Carolina Covenant Scholar. He currently works with the Leadership Now Project, a non-profit focused on democracy reform, and recently graduated with a Master of Public Administration from UNC’s School of Government.

Growing up, Matt faced a number of challenges. He was a delayed speaker, but through Head Start, he was able to receive speech treatments. Communicating was a challenge for Matt, but because of Governor Hunt’s program, he learned how to verbally communicate and entered kindergarten on par with his peers. 

Because of Head Start, Matt has been committed to helping the next generation succeed. That’s why he served on a School Improvement Team as well as the Raising Achievement and Closing the Gaps (RACG) Oversight Committee for Orange County Public Schools. This was his opportunity to work for positive change in the Orange County Public Schools by working with school board members, fellow members of the public, and district administration to ensure that District was meeting its obligations to all students and guaranteeing that we work ardently to reduce and eliminate the disparities we see in education outcomes.


Matt has served as the Second Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party since 2017, having previously served as the Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party from 2011 to 2017. Through collaboration and forward thinking planning, Matt has turned the Orange County Democratic Party into an organized, well run operation. Matt’s commitment to grassroots politics is evident and was recently observed by the Independent Weekly: “Party leaders have credited [Matt] Hughes with increasing voter turnout in past elections.”

Matt was appointed to a vacancy on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners and was sworn in on April 9, 2018 by State Senator Valerie Foushee. Believing that people should be active members of their community, Matt serves on several non-profit and local government advisory boards and serves as one of Governor Roy Cooper’s appointees on the North Carolina Human Relations Commission. Matt grew up all Hillsborough, including West Hillsborough and Gateway Village. Today he lives in Waterstone. When taking a break from politics, Matt enjoys cheering on the Carolina Tar Heels. Matt lives with his partner Kevin and their bearded dragon and black Labrador named Chloe and Charlotte, respectively.

Phil Hernandez

NLC Oakland
Virginia House of Delegates

Phil was born and raised in Hampton Roads, attended public schools, and received a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which made it possible for him to attend William & Mary, study abroad at Oxford University, and become the first in his family to graduate from college.

He was determined to put that education to good use, solve problems, and serve others. Phil became a Senior Policy Analyst in President Obama’s White House Domestic Policy Council, where—for nearly four years—he partnered with leaders across the country to promote clean-energy jobs, fight for clean air and water, and help coordinate the response to the BP Oil Spill, the worst spill in American history.

More recently, Phil worked as an attorney with a nonprofit organization and advocated for civil rights and the rights of working people. In this role, he interacted with people from all walks of life—from grassroots organizers, to union leaders, to people who have been through the criminal justice system—all in the name of creating more and better economic opportunity for all people.

Now, Phil is proudly stepping up to serve the Eastern Shore and Norfolk in Virginia’s 100th District in the House of Delegates.

Ryan Jolley

NLC Columbus
Gahanna, OH Mayor

Ryan Jolley became the youngest elected official in the state of Ohio on November 6, 2001, at the age of 18. He is the only person to ever serve Gahanna residents on both City Council and the Board of Education. Ryan continues to serve his fellow residents as an employee in the City of Gahanna’s Department of Public Service and Engineering, where he coordinates water and sewer infrastructure, maintenance, and billing projects.


Born in Dayton and raised in Gahanna, Ryan is a graduate of Gahanna Middle School West, Lincoln High School, and The Ohio State University. He was accepted as a corps member of Teach For America, one of the most selective post-graduate programs in the nation, where he taught math and science at a public middle school north of Harlem in New York City. In addition to Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Business Administration concentrating in Economics, Ryan has earned Master’s degrees in Mathematics Education, Business Administration, and Public Administration. He has also studied Law at Rutgers, OSU’s Moritz College of Law, and Capital University.


Outside of City Hall, Ryan is active in civic organizations, serving as a board member of GIFT: Gahanna Inclusion for Teens & Young Adults, a fellow and board member of the New Leaders Council Columbus chapter, and having served for four years as a board member of the Gahanna Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. He is also a former member of the Gahanna Kiwanis Club and the Gahanna Jaycees. Ryan is an avid cyclist who enjoys Gahanna’s parks and trails as often as he can, along with his girlfriend, Adrienne Moser, a speech-language pathologist at Columbus Academy.

Gina LaPlaca

NLC Board of Directors
New Jersey General Assembly

Gina LaPlaca has dreamed of running for office since she was 9 years old, when she watched my first presidential debates in my parents' living room during the Bush-Dukakis race. 

Gina has been helping Democrats get elected at every level since 1997, and by her senior year of college, she watched the Bush v Gore debacle unfold, she knew that just standing on the sidelines would never be sufficient. She has devoted her life and career to engaging in the public policy arena and serving her community in any way she could. 

It has never been more important for smart, experienced and dedicated individuals to step up and put their names on the ballot. Gina is confident that her extensive experience, partnered with her unique skills and abilities, makes her the ideal candidate to serve as Assemblywoman for New Jersey's 8th Legislative District.

Isabel Longoria

NLC Houston
Houston City Council

Isabel is proud to have served on the City of Houston’s Planning Commission, an appointed-board tasked with creating sustainable growth and development across Houston. Chosen as a fellow of New Leaders Council Houston in 2016 and elected as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors in 2018, Isabel has also strived to mentor Houston’s future leaders, providing them with the skills and networks to affect positive change for their communities. She has served on the boards of the League of Women’s Voters, the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, as well as the Mayor’s Housing Transition Team. She currently serves as the co-coordinator of the University of Texas’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Graduate School Alumni’s Houston Chapter and the class coordinator of the St. Agnes Alumni. 

Her previous work experience includes political campaigns and working for elected officials in the Houston area, with a focus on Latino and LGBT community organizing. Isabel is proud to have held positions with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), The Office of State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia and the Office of State Representative Jessica Farrar. Isabel holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Trinity University (2010) and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas LBJ School (2012). In her spare time she likes to grow vegetables in her backyard and research fun facts about pretty much anything.

Robert McKnight

NLC Louisiana
Louisiana State Representative

Robert McKnight, a native New Orleanian, is a staff attorney at the Orleans Public Defenders office. Robert decided at age 8 that he wanted to be a lawyer and drew interest from Charles Hamilton Houston’s quote, “a lawyer is either a social engineer, or he’s a parasite on society.”


Prior to joining the Orleans Public Defenders, Robert held legal externships at the United States House of Representatives for a Louisiana Congressman, the Texas State Senate, the Louisiana State Senate and the Louisiana Attorney’s General’s office. Robert also clerked for an Orleans criminal district court judge.


Robert is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and a cum laude graduate of Southern University Law Center where he served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Race, Gender and Poverty. 


During Robert’s first year with the Martinet Society, he has been extremely active and participatory in multiple committees. Most recently, Robert helped plan and execute the 'Second Line to the Polls' event where information about the different candidates on the ballot were distributed, and fellow New Orleanians were encourages to head to the polls and vote.

Bill Moen

NLC New Jersey
New Jersey General Assembly

Bill Moen is a candidate for the General Assembly in New Jersey's 5th Legislative District, running to give back to communities in Camden and Gloucester Counties that have had such a positive impact on his life. 

Moen served as an elected member of the Camden County Board of Freeholders, serving the over-500,000 residents of the county. He was first elected in November 2015 as one of the youngest freeholders in the State of New Jersey, and was re-elected in November 2018. During his tenure on the Freeholder Board, he dedicated his time to modernizing county government and tackling issues of importance to the community, such as student loan relief.

Bill is currently employed by the United States Senate, providing outreach to the state’s southern counties and managing an office in Camden City. He previously served as a legislative aide in New Jersey’s Fifth Legislative District, where he helped draft state policy, including New Jersey’s first bill to bring social-impact bonds to the state and legislation requiring social media education as part of the public school curriculum, to caution students on the risks and permanence of social media activity. 

A fifth generation Irish-American and lifelong resident of Camden County – who was raised in Runnemede – Bill understands the importance of service to the community. The grandson of two World War II veterans and the son of a Vietnam veteran, Moen is a member of the Runnemede VFW Post #3324 Auxiliary, an organization of relatives of veterans of war. He spent years volunteering as a little league baseball coach with the North Camden Little League, and serves as a board member of the Rowan University Alumni Association. 

Jared Nicholson

NLC New York City
Lynn, MA School Committee

Jared was elected to the Lynn School Committee in 2015 and is running for reelection. He is a law professor at Northeastern University, where he works with and studies small businesses, in support of community growth. Jared and his wife are expecting their first baby this fall.

Jared currently chairs the School Committee's Policy Subcommittee and has helped found a wrestling program in Lynn with new middle school teams and a citywide high school varsity team. He speaks English and Spanish and is also on the board of the North Shore Latino Business Association. Jared is a graduate of public schools, Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

Oliver Starnes II

NLC New Jersey
Morristown, NJ Council

Oliver Starnes is a Grants Manager at Millennium Strategies LLC. He was a volunteer with Cory Booker’s special election for United States Senate and a staff assistant in the District Office of Senator Joseph I. Liberman. Oliver graduated from Trinity College with a BA in Political Science and Government and a Masters in Public Policy. In his free time, Oliver volunteers with the Seeing Eye Foundation as a guide dog raiser.

Monica Taylor

NLC Philadelphia
Delaware County, PA Council

Dr. Monica Taylor believes in fighting for a new voice for Delaware County. She knows that our communities are strongest when we value economic prosperity while caring for the most vulnerable members of our community. She is ready to serve the people of Delaware County.


As a working class candidate, Monica knows the concerns facing communities within Delaware County. Monica is ready to bring your issues and concerns to the table and to be a voice for the people. Monica is committed to creating protections for hardworking families, including equal pay and a livable wage, affordable child care, and paid family leave. Monica is known as a tireless worker, who is committed to improving our local economy, investing in our public schools, and fighting for the middle class. Monica is ready to bring logic, compassion, and reason to policy making in the county, ensuring that an evidence-based approach is used to tackle problems.


Monica comes from a family founded on hard work, perseverance, and service to others. While Delco’s hardworking families are struggling to get ahead, career politicians in Media appear to have lost interest in their constituents’ lives, in creating real jobs, in providing healthcare, and in educating our children. Monica received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. As a standout on the women’s basketball team, she earned the opportunity play professionally in Ireland. While completing her Master’s degree, Monica served as a graduate assistant basketball coach at East Stroudsburg University. She then worked at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point before earning her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. Monica is an alumna of the New Leaders Council, an organization working to bring progressive change to government at all levels. Monica lives in Upper Darby with her husband Jason and two daughters, Maya and Zoey.

Isaiah Thomas

NLC Philadelphia
Philadelphia City Council

Isaiah Thomas is a dedicated public servant from northwest Philadelphia. He has committed his life to building a brighter future for all of Philadelphia.
Isaiah has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors. He has served as an educator and Associate Dean of Students; mentors high school students as the school’s Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach; and volunteers for organizations that advocate for communities of color, including the Mayor’s Commission on African American Men and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia.
He is the co-founder of the Thomas & Woods Foundation, which provides free summer programs for children across the city.
Isaiah believes our city government should work for all 1.5 million residents. As the Director of Community Affairs for the City Controller, he visited every neighborhood in the city to connect people with the resources to resolve longstanding municipal service issues and the tools to strengthen their financial education.

Isaiah is a graduate of Penn State University and holds a graduate degree from Lincoln University. He lives on East Oak Lane with his wife, Klissa, and their son, Isaiah Jr.

Gregory D. Young

NLC Capital District NY
Fulton County Supervisor

Born and raised Gloversville, NY, Dr. Gregory Young is passionate about creating a more engaged, sustainable community. He is currently serving his third term on the Fulton County Board of Supervisors. Young is the executive director of the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corporation and co-coordinator of Elected Officials to Protect New York. He leads a variety of community groups as board member and volunteer, including the Fulton County Historical Society and Museum, Fulton-Montgomery Cornell Cooperative Extension and Fulmont Community Action Agency. Viewing community colleges as crucial sites for social justice, Young teaches courses in history and political science at the State University of New York at Cobleskill and Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Young holds summa cum laude bachelors and masters degrees at the College of Saint Rose in Albany in History and Political Science and a PhD from the University at Buffalo. He also has a passion for excellent pizza.

Girmay Zahilay

NLC New York City
King County, WA Council

Girmay Zahilay is running for King County Council, D2, in 2019 because he believes in the promise of all our residents from our youth to our senior citizens. He is running for King County Council because in one of the wealthiest counties of the wealthiest nation in the world, none of our neighbors should be too poor to live. He believes the county government must take a leadership role in building affordable housing, fixing our criminal justice system,  promoting environmental justice, and providing reliable access to transportation. Girmay wants to change the priorities of our political system, give our communities greater access to government, and fight for bold progressive policies. Over the coming months, he is excited to hear from you; excited to hear your ideas and your stories; excited to work with you to make our county a vibrant

1050 Connecticut Ave., NW, #66004
Washington, D.C. 20036

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