Rock the Vote Staff
Rock the Vote
Under Smith's leadership, Rock the Vote built new tools and technologies and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters, setting the highest voter registration records in both midterm and presidential elections in the organization's history.
Prior to Rock the Vote, Smith founded and directed Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project in partnership with The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Young Voter Strategies provided the general public, political parties, candidates, consultants and non-profits with data and research on the youth vote as well as best practices to effectively mobilize young people.
In 2004, Smith served as national field director for the Student PIRG’s New Voters Project, the largest nonpartisan grassroots effort ever undertaken to register and mobilize young voters. Prior to her work at the New Voters Project, Smith was an organizing director for Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing in Boston.
Smith has served as a youth vote expert appearing on MSNBC, CBS ‘Washington Unplugged,’ Fox News, and CNN, in addition to writing for and being quoted in publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, National Journal, The Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, The Washington Post, POLITICO, The Atlantic, and more.
Smith received a B.A. with honors in Economics and Public Policy from Duke University. In 2006, Smith was named one of Campaign & Elections magazine’s Rising Stars for her work with young voters. She was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest of 2007. Smith serves on the national advisory board for Duke University’s DukeEngage program. And recently published the afterword for Electoral Dysfunction, the companion book to the documentary hosted by Mo Rocca.
V.P. Marketing and Communications
Rock the Vote
With over 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing and communications, Chrissy Faessen joined Rock the Vote’s team in 2008 as the Vice President of Communications and Marketing. In her capacity as Vice President she is responsible for creating and executing effective grassroots, broadcast, digital and mobile strategies to accomplish the ambitious goal of registering 1.5 million individuals in the 2012 election.
Faessen is also responsible for executing a range of events from star-studded events at the political nominating conventions to summer festivals, bus tours, and inaugural celebrations. One of the major projects Faessen undertook at Rock the Vote was spearheading the organizations first high school civics program, Democracy Class. The program, supported by an advisory board of innovative professionals from the education, media and music communities, is designed to educate and excite high school students about voting, elections and governance. Overall Faessen helps Rock the Vote use music, popular culture and new technology to engage and mobilize millions of young people to participate in the political process.
Prior to joining the Rock the Vote team, Faessen served as Business Director at DDB Issues and Advocacy, a progressive issues advertising practice, part of DDB Worldwide. In her capacity as Business Director at DDB, she waged advocacy, public policy, and advertising strategies including lacing stories in the top US media outlets. Faessen worked with clients such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Save the Children, PATH, Reproductive Heath Technology Project, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, and HopeLab. Additionally, as part of various campaign spotlight stories, she has been quoted in the PR Week and numerous other trade publications.
While Faessen's work product speaks for itself it has also received awards from the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and The Webbys.
National Political Director
Rock the Vote
Amanda is the National Political Director at Rock the Vote. In this role, she oversees the organization's civic engagement programming, leads the voter registration modernization advocacy efforts, manages partnerships, and works closely with our digital team on the maintenance and development of Rock the Vote's online voter registration tool.
Two days after graduating from Dartmouth College in 2007, Amanda joined the Obama campaign, organizing in several states during the primary season – Nevada, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and North Carolina. She moved to the Chicago headquarters for the general election, serving as the surrogate desk for the Great Lakes Ohio Valley region and as the "bodywoman" for the President's sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.
Amanda worked in the Obama Administration through 2011. First, she served on the President's Transition Team and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. She then transitioned to the White House, where she served as the Assistant to the Director in the White House Office of Political Affairs. And most recently, as the Advisor for Strategic Planning at the U.S. Department of Energy, she developed strategy for Secretary Chu’s medium and long-term agenda, making recommendations concerning the priorities of both the Department leadership and the Administration generally.
She joined the Rock the Vote team in 2011 to “pay [her experiences] forward.” Engaging young people in our country's democracy is her mission, and she loves it.
Rock the Vote
David brings over 14 years of digital and design experience to Rock the Vote. He joined the organization over 8 years ago as a multimedia developer. As technology evolved so did David's expertise and interest in learning savvy ways to engage young people in politics. Over time, he has built hundreds of web pages, created and coded dozens of campaign websites and designed a countless number of marketing materials. David has also managed and built large databases, oversees the organizations' adwords program, deploys their mobile initiatives and even checks out a few of the festivals and concerts along the way.
Prior to Rock the Vote, David was a senior designer and front end developer at Pro Sound, a web/print designer at iNetnow and a technology instructor at a private school in Arizona. He's even spun a few records as a DJ in high school and college.
In his spare time he enjoys surfing, photography and travel with his wife.
National Field Director
Rock the Vote
Phaedra Jackson - is the National Field Director for Rock the Vote. In that role Ms. Jackson oversees our internship program, trains and manages our volunteer community street team leaders in over a dozen states; as well as works to create programming, develop materials, host trainings and conduct on- going communications with Rock the Vote volunteers nationally.
Phaedra also coordinates plans and efforts with field partners – state-based and national organizations focused on youth civic engagement. Along with these tasks she works closely with the political director on programs that engage young voters in on-going participation, including issue engagement, voter registration, turnout, and voter protection events in their communities.
Prior to coming to work for Rock the Vote, she was the project Director for Virginia New Majority (VNM) where she oversaw direct voter contact programs and organized Virginias around voting rights and immigration policy. Prior to joining the VNM Phaedra worked in Texas in the 2008 cycle organizing her community for the presidential primary. Following the primary she moved on to staff a highly contested Congressional race in Louisiana. Jackson has grassroots lobbying and organizing experience and has worked for SEIU, PennEnvironment, Environment Florida, and Strategic Consulting Group on many social justice issues. She is a graduate of Southwestern University where she studied theatre and political science.
Field & Operations Manager
Rock the Vote
At a time when unemployment and student debt are hitting young people the hardest, it’s Maura’s personal mission at Rock the Vote to make sure young Americans know how important their voice is through the power of voting. Maura wears many hats, but her main role at Rock the Vote is to help the National Field Director at on the ground events & provide over-all office management and support. She has previously helped lead efforts at major music festivals like Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza.
Prior to working at Rock the Vote, Maura worked as a Field Organizer for President Obama’s 2012 grassroots organizing team in Dayton, Ohio. This field experience, in the battleground of all battleground states, brought her closer to developing a meaningful understanding of how democracy works in its most raw form---on the ground talking to voters about what issues directly impact their lives. She will always be a field organizer at heart!
Maura received her BA in International Studies & French from the University of Dayton in 2011 where she also served as Student Body Vice President---her first mini-experience in politics. Her roots growing up in a small town near Pittsburgh, PA make her a Steelers fan for life and someone who appreciates a good “Yinzer” accent. She loves biking around DC (especially to visit the pandas at the zoo) and waiting all year long for the Oscar winners to be announced.
Manager of Online Engagement
Rock the Vote
Austin grew up in Florida’s Space Coast—watching space shuttle launches and fantasizing about becoming an astronaut. The dreams of space travel have long since faded, but he still takes pride in the Countdown County’s (321) area code. After graduating from Florida Atlantic University in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology, he moved to beautiful Southern California to join human rights organization Invisible Children on the second leg of their viral Kony 2012 campaign. He managed the Los Angeles, CA region of the campaign and helped organize a California delegation to attend Invisible Children’s lobby day in Washington, DC.
After spending a few days in Washington, Austin couldn’t tear himself away—he moved to the city in the spring of 2013 with nothing more than a bicycle and a dream to change the world. As a Millennial, Austin believes that his generation has the power to transform the shape of politics and create a more connected global community—his youthful idealism is what led him to Rock the Vote.
Austin is currently working on his Masters Degree in Public Policy at American University, but spends his days pouring his heart and soul into 140 character tweets #ButReally #GottaGetThatRT. Among other things, he enjoys coffee, reading Steinbeck novels, watching live filibusters, and eating California burritos. You can follow him at @austin_estes.
Democracy Class Program Director
Rock the Vote
Rachel is the Democracy Class Director for Rock the Vote. She works with partners, schools, staff, and volunteers to inspire an entire generation of voters by equipping them the tools necessary to engage in active citizenship.
Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Rachel served with the Peace Corps in the Federated States of Micronesia as a secondary school teacher. While living on her small, remote island, she worked closely with local officials to establish the island's first public library, start a women's leadership group, and implement a youth leadership training program for several islands. Rachel also worked for Ashoka's Youth Venture where she was instrumental in designing their "Dream it. Do it. Challenge." Additionally, she developed an earned income strategy for Youth Venture that enabled the organization to support the partners, schools, and businesses that were critical to the implementation of Youth Venture's programming around the country and world. Rachel has also worked with the Close Up Foundation, Language ETC, and Hands On DC.
Rachel is a proud graduate of American University (Go Eagles!) with a degree in Political Science. She hails from Massachusetts and makes no apologies for the run of good luck that has benefited the Red Sox, Pats, Bruins, and Celtics over the last decade.