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.
2016 voter turnout
A Generation Without Representation
In 2020, Millennials and Generation Z will comprise nearly 40% 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, 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
Director of Civic Partnerships & Campaigns
Social Media Director
Civic Technology and Policy Associate
Director of Corporate Partnerships
Data and Research Associate
Associate Director of Development
Director of Civic Technology and Policy
Board of Directors
Amanda Brown Lierman
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo
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 Alderman Daniel Solis 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 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.
For over a decade, David has been Rock the Vote’s full-stack developer. He manages our website 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. He even gets to break outhis Photoshop skills to help design graphics and marketing materials. Prior to Rock the Vote, David was a senior designer and front-end developer at Pro Sound, a web UI and print designer at iNetnow, and a technology instructor at a private school. He even spun a few records as a DJ in high school and college.
Stephanie Shaw is Rock the Vote’s Director of Corporate Partnerships. She leads the organization’s Brands for Democracy program –working with companies to mobilize their employees and customers to use their voices and vote. She also oversees Rock the Vote’s Democracy Day initiative, encouraging businesses of all sizes to give employees time off to vote. Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Stephanie managed the Corporate Affairs department at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for more than six years –convincing companies to improve their policies affecting animals. She collaborated with Airbnb, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and dozens of other industry leaders to develop policies banning elephant rides, tiger petting, whale and dolphin captivity, and other cruel activities. Stephanie has worked in client services for nearly 15 years, including with eBay Enterprise and the NBA’s Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns. Now based in Los Angeles, Stephanie is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. In her free time, she works as a hotline volunteer with Freedom for Immigrants, is a mentor to LAUSD youth through WriteGirl, and is involved with New Leaders Council, having been named as a Los Angeles Engaged Fellow in 2017.
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.
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.