Rock the Vote is the most trusted and effective nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people.
Empowering Young People
In 1990, music executives founded Rock the Vote in response to the censorship of hip-hop and rap artists. Our first partnership, with MTV, promoted the message that “Censorship is Un-American” and activated millions of young people across the country to exercise their rights and represent their interests. For thirty years, we have continuously adapted to the changing landscapes of media, technology and culture to breakthrough and empower each new generation.
We are drawing on our decades of experience to deploy the most effective and impactful messages, tactics, and technology to uplift and empower the largest, most diverse generation in U.S. history. We do this while also pioneering innovative ways to make democratic participation more accessible and defending young people’s right to vote.
2020 voter turnout
A Generation Without Representation
In 2024, Millennials and Generation Z will comprise 44% of American voters
Young voters are new voters and as new voters they face unique obstacles to voting that result in turnout that is historically 20 to 30 points below older voters. This discrepancy is even greater in midterms, state and local elections. As a result, our democracy continuously fails to represent youth, generation after generation.
As young voters overcome these challenges to break turnout records as they did in 2018 and 2020, they’ve become the target of voter suppression efforts. From the rise of voter ID laws to intensified efforts to remove polling sites from college campuses, young people must navigate obstacles designed to keep them from making their voices heard.
We know what works.
The challenges young voters face as new voters are not insurmountable. Our efforts focus on research-driven programs and innovative solutions to right the system and ensure each youth generation is represented in our democracy.
To learn more about Rock the Vote’s work to empower young people, view our Impact Reports:
Meet the Team
President & Executive Director
Vice President of Development
Senior Digital Coordinator
Senior Product Manager
Civic Technology Partner Associate
Social Media Director
Senior Manager of Sports Partnerships
Senior Data Manager
Director of Corporate Partnerships
Digital Engagement Manager
Director of Civic Technology and Policy
Board of Directors
Amanda Brown Lierman
Mũthoni Wambu Kraal
Carolyn DeWitt is the President and Executive Director of Rock the Vote, the largest national organization focused on building long-term political power for this country’s most diverse youth generation. During her tenure, she has overseen Rock the Vote’s resurgence, developing new partnerships with authentic brands, such as VEVO and HBO, deepening its leadership in civic technology with new cutting-edge tools, such as ElectionFM and the Pennsylvania Canvasser app, intensifying its fight for voting rights, and moving the organization toward an issue-first approach with a targeted outreach to diverse and marginalized communities.
Carolyn is a nationally recognized advocate for young people, featured in publications and media outlets such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, and Billboard. Today, Rock the Vote is a powerhouse for mobilizing youth through effective and timely civic education resources, innovative programs that meet young people wherever they are, and authentic messaging through trusted partners to ensure young voters understand and use their political power.
Prior to leading Rock the Vote, Carolyn was the chief of staff for the political communications firm, Pivot. She also served as deputy director coordinating satellite media booking and training teams at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. On the local level, Carolyn worked as the chief of staff for the 25th Ward Public Service Office in Chicago, and as the deputy campaign manager and finance director for Chicago’s 25th Ward Regular Democratic Organization. In her work abroad, Carolyn researched the end of apartheid and subsequent building of a democratic state in South Africa, served as a senior international advisor collaborating with a youth political movement in Madagascar, and participated in the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission.
Carolyn brings a cross-disciplinary and impact-oriented approach, with experience and background in consulting imperiled companies and leveraging technology to provide therapy to children with special needs in less developed countries. She is a strong believer in the blending of new and old tactics and the power of technology to break down barriers and accelerate widespread change.
Carolyn is a Michigander where she earned her BA in International and African Studies and Political Science from Kalamazoo College. She is also a triathlete, marathoner, and fierce advocate for her staff and young people across the globe. She also sits on the board of Coworker.org.
Lauren Briskin is Rock the Vote’s Senior Product Manager, working to make RTV’s civic technology tools even more impactful, accessible and lovable. Since receiving a library degree in 2014 and learning the importance of asking the right questions, Lauren has been doing product-adjacent work and honing the fine art of balancing user needs with the practical realities of engineering. She has worked directly with voters in a variety of capacities and has been in digital organizing since 2017.
Lauren is passionate about justice and is excited to bring a framework of accessibility, voter enfranchisement and anti-racism to Rock the Vote. Starting from an acknowledgement that technology is not neutral, she believes that civic tech has an enormous responsibility and opportunity to be a tool for change. Lauren is born and raised in Oakland. In her free time, Lauren works with mutual aid, documents local murals and hangs out with her nieces.
Jordan Holsinger is Rock the Vote’s Senior Data Manager. He coordinates, collects, vets, and analyzes Rock the Vote’s data assets to make our impact powerful and our strategies evidence-based. Jordan is intent on leveraging quantitative insights to make his community a more just place and our democracy more inclusive. He believes in making data-science interesting and useful to everyone with clever visualization and engaging communication.
In addition to crunching the numbers, Jordan has worked as an associate project director and educator with AMIGOS de las Americas in Panama and Nicaragua. He specialized in youth-led projects on public health, environmentalism, leadership, and civic engagement. Most recently, Jordan comes to Rock the Vote from Florida State University where he earned his PhD in Political Science. His dissertation focuses on non-governmental organizations and civil society. Jordan resides in his hometown of Kansas City where he enjoys cooking, running, mushroom foraging, parody song writing, and boardgames.
Julianna Cann is Rock the Vote’s Civic Technology Partner Associate. In her role, she works closely with partners at the national, state, and local level to ensure that Rock the Vote’s Civic Technology is implemented and used effectively.
A recent graduate of American University, Julianna comes to Rock the Vote with experience in the nonprofit space surrounding juvenile justice and reproductive rights. She also worked on American University’s campus as a teaching assistant and interned on Capitol Hill for one semester.
Julianna was born and raised in Delaware. In her spare time, Julianna can be found reading, running, and spending time with loved ones in Washington, DC.
David is Rock the Vote’s senior full-stack developer. He manages our website AWS infrastructure, builds many of our web tools and loves learning new tech. During his tenure he has taken the digital technology and design experience to a new level. As technology evolves, David evolves the tools we use to engage young people in politics. He has spearheaded the development of our powerful voter registration tools, while serving as our database administrator and webmaster. Occasionally he gets to break out his Photoshop skills to help design graphics and marketing materials. Prior to Rock the Vote, David was a senior designer, front-end developer, a web/print designer and a technology instructor.
David lives in N. San Diego and enjoys spending time at the beach with his wife and family.
Katie Upshaw is Rock the Vote’s Senior Manager of Sports Partnerships.
Katie leads the organization’s efforts to empower athletes, leagues, teams, coaches, and fans to register, mobilize, and vote in every election.
Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Katie earned her MPP from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal of Public Affairs. She received her BA from UCLA, where she was school record-holder and captain of the Bruins Varsity Swim team. She is a proud “swammer” and all-around sports fanatic.
Chris Palumbo is Rock the Vote’s Director of Corporate Partnerships overseeing the Brands for Democracy program and assisting companies with engaging and empowering their employees and customers to take civic action.
Prior to joining RTV, Chris served as Director of Recruitment and Business Manager at a nonprofit university where he built relationships with students, communities and corporations to provide diverse academic pathways to success for students. During his time in higher education, Chris served on several committees to ensure funding and resources were available to allow every student an equal opportunity, especially students from low-income environments and members of the Black, Latino and LGBTQIA communities. He has been an organizer and activist focused on student empowerment, LGBTQIA rights, political engagement and social justice.
Chris lives in Washington, D.C. with his partner and their lab/husky mix “Toast”. During his free time he enjoys baking, kayaking and spending time with his family and friends.
Eva Piatek is Rock the Vote’s Digital Engagement Manager. As a member of the civic technology team, she oversees the mobilization of young voters through cutting-edge email, SMS, website content, and related digital platforms.
Eva brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit communications, beginning with her time in the art world working for various galleries, museums, and community art organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area. After the 2016 election, she shifted gears professionally and worked in the environmental advocacy movement for nearly five years as a joint staff member for Conservation Voters of PA and New Jersey LCV. There, Eva honed her digital advocacy chops by growing and managing two separate email programs that mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters to take actions to protect our climate, public health, and right to vote.
As a fierce advocate for social justice and democracy reform, Eva believes that voting is what gives us power and representation in a government that’s supposed to belong to all of us. She is excited to bring this passion and energy to Rock the Vote’s digital campaigns in order to effectively move voters towards shifting society’s balance of power back to the people.
A proud “born and raised” Philadelphian with a master’s degree in Art History from Temple University, Eva resides in her hometown with her partner and their three cats. She is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and enjoys traveling, baking, gardening, and working on home improvement projects in her spare time.
Melissa Wyatt is Rock the Vote’s Director of Civic Technology and Policy.
Melissa leads the organization’s efforts to register and mobilize young voters through cutting-edge civic technology, including its online voter registration platform that is utilized by hundreds of national, state, and local partners across the country. She directs Rock the Vote’s election policy work, spearheading efforts to protect and expand voting access for young people through digital advocacy campaigns, legislation, and participation in litigation efforts.
Melissa has roots in both Cleveland, Ohio and St. Petersburg, Florida, and she received her B.A. in Political Science and Art History from the University of Miami.
Katie Romero is a Senior Fellow where they lead Rock the Vote’s internship program and create original video content for social media. In this role, they facilitate collaboration between interns and staff and provide support to interns ensuring a rewarding and educational experience at one of the nation’s top voting rights nonprofits. Katie also coordinates, reviews, and creates original video content for social media that aims to educate and empower young eligible voters.
Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Katie worked as the Intern to the Outreach & Zero Waste Program Manager at Recycle Ann Arbor, where they optimized the website’s searchable A-Z Recycling Guide and created content for the organization’s social media and community outreach efforts.
Katie graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Women’s & Gender Studies and Psychology. While there, Katie served on the board of the LGBTQIA+ Spectrum Center, and worked as a research assistant in the Stigmatized Sexualities Research Lab. While living in Ann Arbor, Katie joined the cooperative housing movement, holding several leadership positions at Luther Buchele Cooperative House.
Born and raised in metropolitan Detroit, Michigan, Katie enjoys baking, swimming, creating art, playing board games and video games, and caring for their cat, Mischa.
Charles Pritz is a Fellow on Rock the Vote’s Civic Technology Team. In his role, he conducts research that shapes the organization’s civic technology, translates complex policies into easily digestible information, and ensures that Rock the Vote provides accurate and accessible resources to voters and partners in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Charles is currently pursuing his B.A. at William & Mary, studying International Relations and Environmental Science & Policy. On campus, he conducts research in partnership with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and serves as a campus tour guide. In his free time, Charles enjoys hammocking, cooking a good meal, perfecting his many playlists, and staying active, all while spending time with his family and friends.
Deirdre Benavides is Rock the Vote’s Senior Digital Coordinator. She oversees the Elections Reminders Program as a member of the organization’s civic technology team.
Prior to joining RTV, Deirdre served as a community coordinator with The Justice Collaborative where she co-produced a streaming news show and podcast in collaboration with The Appeal and NowThis.
She is a certified technical writer and communications major living in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
Denise Bayles is Rock the Vote’s Vice President of Development, overseeing fundraising and development operations for the organization. In her role, Denise is responsible for connecting donors with the mission of Rock the Vote in order to raise vital funds for the organization.
For more than 15 years, Denise has led fundraising efforts as a development executive for local, regional, and national organizations. During her career, she has been responsible for raising close to $100 million for non-profit causes. Denise brings an expertise in developing comprehensive, innovative fundraising strategic plans to achieve revenue growth and brand awareness.
Denise began her non-profit career as the Director, Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where she transformed and grew the CMN fundraising program and team. During her tenure, she was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Major Gifts & Children’s Miracle Network and was tapped to oversee all donor events relating to their new hospital building opening. After leaving Children’s Hospital, Denise held leadership positions at non-profit organizations such as American Cancer Society, Starlight for Children’s Cancer, American Lung Association, and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Originally from Indianapolis, Denise graduated from Purdue University with a major in Theater and a minor in Communications. After graduating, Denise moved to Los Angeles where she began her career working in the music industry and subsequently became a Client Manager for Bank of America. Denise made the switch from for-profit to non-profit in 2006, and since then has been fiercely dedicated to raising much-needed funds for organizations throughout the US. Denise achieved her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential in 2014 and also completed Indiana University’s The Fund Raising School’s certificate program in Fund Raising Management that same year. In 2019, she became certified as Master Trainer for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Denise recently relocated from Los Angeles to Nashville and is a lover of big dogs, live music, and brunch!
Mr. Ayeroff founded Rock the Vote in 1990 in response to a censorship campaign crusading against artists’ use of explicit language. Mr. Ayeroff’s 35-year career in the music industry provided a strong foundation for Rock the Vote’s signature fusion of politics and pop culture. As Senior VP of Marketing and Creative Services at A&M, he spearheaded campaigns for The Police, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Supertramp, the Carpenters , Peter Frampton and many others. As Senior VP of Warner Bros in the 80s, Jeff oversaw marketing, design and videos for such iconic artists as Madonna, Don Henley, Dire Straits, Talking Heads, ZZ Top, Prince, Eric Clapton, The Cult, Echo & the Bunnymen and Steve Winwood, to name a few. After leaving Warner Bros., Ayeroff and his friend and partner, Jordan Harris, built Richard Branson’s Virgin US label from the ground up, signing and marketing many high profile artists. Then, Ayeroff and Harris founded The Work Group, a west coast boutique, Sony Music Label, signing and developing more artists before he went to work for Apple, overseeing the marketing of the Beatles 1, which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. He and Jon Rubin also began ArtistsFirst, a creative and marketing consulting agency, which has launched international humanitarian activism with its music.
Amanda Brown Lierman
Ms. Bergthold currently serves on the Board of Directors of Rock the Vote, as well as the Campaign for America’s Future and People for the American Way. She works as a Principal Partner at RALLY, offering valuable political campaign, pop culture, and communications experience for companies like GAP, Inc., Sandy Hook Promise, and the Lear Family Foundation, the latter of which she has been the Executive Director of since 1997. In this capacity, she works to provide grants to progressive organizations that push civil rights, the arts, and the like.
She also served as National Deputy Political Director for current Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, as well as General Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign.
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo
Manager, Legal Mobilization & Strategic Campaigns Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Chris Melody leads the Lawyers’ Committee organizing team, focusing on alternative strategies to litigation such as advocacy, large-scale programs and other solutions to address critical civil rights issues. She joined the Lawyers’ Committee in December 2011, serving as the Election Protection campaign manager to ensure the successful execution of the 2012 program. She continues to work with the Voting Rights Project to combat efforts to curb access to the ballot box, expand and protect voting rights and create tools to educate and empower voters. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, she worked with federal agencies to develop global health and bio-security standards. Chris spent two years as the Outreach Director for Common Cause working to advance their democracy reform agenda and pass federal legislation that would create publicly financed campaigns for members of Congress. She got her start in community organizing and issue advocacy as a Program Specialist for DC ParentSmart, a nonprofit working to help DC parents navigate the education system. A seasoned campaign organizer, she has served in numerous roles for different political campaigns across the country including as the Iowa Deputy Political Director for a 2008 presidential campaign, campaign manager for an Iowa State Senate race in 2006, and a field organizer for a 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in South Carolina. Born in Venezuela and raised in Texas, she graduated from Austin College with a B.A. in English Literature and Anthropology. Follow Chris Melody on Twitter @Fieldsy.
Russell Glass is a serial technology entrepreneur, having founded or held senior positions at four venture-backed technology companies and sitting on the boards of numerous others. Russ founded and led Bizo from 2008 to $50mm+ in revenues and over 160 employees before being acquired by LinkedIn for $175mm in 2014. He then led products for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, more than doubling growth to $800mm+ in revenues. Since leaving LinkedIn in June 2017, Russ has been focused on using his experience with technology, data science, and narrative/branding tactics to developing novel strategies increase engagement and turnout among young voters.
Mr. Jordan is a real estate investor and developer, working primarily in Northern California. He is very active in local, state and national politics. He has been involved in many high-profile campaigns and is an active volunteer in the community, serving on the Board of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, on the Investment Committee of the ACLU, Akonadi Foundation, and in the past on the Board of the Bentley School.
DeRay Mckesson is an activist, organizer, and educator who has dedicated his life to fighting against injustice and building political power for young people —two goals central to Rock the Vote’s mission.. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from Bowdoin College and holds an honorarydoctorate from The New School. DeRay has advocated for issues related to children, youth, and families since he was a teen. As a national leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the co-founder of Campaign Zero and OurStates.org, DeRay has worked to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies to ensure equity. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, DeRay has become a key voice in the effort to confront the systems and structures that have led to the mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. He is also the host of Pod Save The People, a weekly podcast focused on activism and social justice. DeRay was named as one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and as one of the 30 Most Important People On The Internet by Time Magazine in 2016.
He previously taught 6th grade math in New York City as a Teach For America Corps Member, worked for the Harlem Children’s Zone and TNTP and opened an academic enrichment center in West Baltimore. He has also worked with Baltimore City Public Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools leading systemic human capital change.
Photo Credit: Andre Chung for The Washington Post/Getty Images
Jesse is the founder and principal consultant at Common Thread Strategies –providing strategic, messaging and creative support to clients looking to advance their brands as agents of social change.
Moore has served as Vice President for Civic Engagement at Rock the Vote, White House Speechwriter, and Associate Director of Public Engagement at the White House –wherehe managed President Obama’s strategic partnerships with artists, celebrities and entertainment leaders working to advance policy priorities. He championed stakeholder engagement for the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and led the brandingeffort around the President’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ (MBK) initiative in support of young men of color, launching the ‘MBK Community Challenge,’ curating the program’s websites, logos, and national celebrity PSAs. Moore also led a celebrity engagement effort around criminal justice reform including a private strategy session between the President and leading hip hop artists.
Moore held state and regional management positions on President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, focusing on political and field organizing in battleground states. He served Communications Director for Human Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a public affairs official at the Administration for Children and Families.
Prior to entering public service, Moorewas a communications and outreach counselor at Western Washington University, working with low-income families and students of color. He is a native of Lynnwood, Washington, and a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in Political Science.
Michael is a movement-builder, activist, storyteller and proud father. He is co-founder of The Soze Agency, a creative company focused on social impact campaigns and triple bottom line companies.
He is a respected leader in the new social justice movement who, among other topics, helped ignite conversations around America’s relationship with race, the death of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and the Obama presidency.
He was recently profiled in the NY Times for his civil rights activism, and identified as “the man you go to if you…want to leverage the power of celebrity and the reach of digital media to soften the ground for social change.”
He is a prolific voice on social media, with more than 250,000 followers, and a regular commentator on outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR and HLN. From 2009-2015, Michael served as the President of GlobalGrind.com, a millennial driven news website founded by hip-hop impresario, Russell Simmons.
Michael serves on the Board of Directors for The Trayvon Martin Foundation, Policy Link, The GatheringFor Justice and The Young Partners Board of The Public Theater.
Earlier in his career, Michael spent over a decade as an award winning film director and producer. He is the proud father of Mateo Ali.
Jessica Reeves is an experienced social impact professional with a history of working at the intersection of media, politics, and social good. She currently serves as a political appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration as Director of Public Engagement at the Small Business Administration. There she leads the agency’s strategic outreach to stakeholders including small business advocacy groups, private sector groups, government agencies, elected officials and small business leaders.
Previously, she consulted for various organizations and companies on civic engagement, social enterprise, and nonprofit programs through her consulting firm JL Reeves Strategies. Jessica has a history of working on high impact campaigns with a range of partners, from corporations like Google and Lyft to local nonprofits in all 50 states.
Before starting her consulting business early in 2019, Jessica was the Chief Operating Officer at Voto Latino, a pioneering civic media organization shaking up the political establishment to bring underserved youth voices into the democratic process. A millennial herself, she is a thought leader in civic engagement and youth electoral politics. She has spoken at various national conferences and convenings on the intersection of youth, politics, media, and technology including the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva, the Aspen Institute’s Convening on Latino Civic Engagement, SXSW (South by Southwest), AFL-CIO’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference, and many more. Her interviews have appeared in Univision, Telemundo, CNN, NBC, American Prospect, Washington Post, USA Today, and others. Jessica has served on the distinguished boards of Priorities USA, NonProfit Votes, and Indivisible Austin.
Jessica earned a BA from Boston College and an MA from Georgetown University. A native of El Paso, TX, she currently lives in Austin with her husband, toddler, and two Boston Terriers.
Mũthoni Wambu Kraal
Mũthoni Wambu Kraal is a veteran political strategist, organizer, and trainer. She has served as a senior level advisor and trainer to seasoned and aspiring political leaders and parties, both in the U.S. and internationally. She is known for her diplomacy but also for speaking truth to politics.
Mũthoni has worked in progressive politics for over two decades and she’s played a pivotal role in historic campaigns. She most recently served as the National Political & Organizing Director for the Democratic National Committee, helping Democrats to win the White House in 2020 and critical races across the country with a record-breaking voter coalition.
Prior, she spent almost a decade at EMILY’s List, the largest political resource for women in the U.S., shaping women leaders at every level of the ballot. Mũthoni got her start in campaigns working 2 election cycles at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raising money for U.S. House candidates and Congressional incumbents in tough races. That’s when she saw up close that some of the most underrepresented groups in Congress weren’t keeping up with the growing budgets of campaigns.
This led Mũthoni to co-open and run a woman-owned fundraising firm servicing diverse clients, including Barack Obama’s winning U.S. Senate race. She’s worked for the labor movement and held senior level campaign roles.
Mũthoni grew up in New York City. She’s a graduate of Howard University with a B.A. in journalism. Mũthoni is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; a lifetime member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders; an active member of Global Progress and sits on the Board of Act Blue. She resides in Washington, DC with her husband John Peter, their young son Mirii.