At the YDMA Annual Convention on Saturday, May 12, young Democrats from cross MA convened to listen to inspiring speakers, learn about ways to take action in the coming months, and vote for new officers and board members.
Get to know the new (and returning) officers:
President: Rebecca Pinn
Rebecca Pinn is the current president of YDMA, a Boston resident, and a senior strategist at Continuum, an innovation and design consultancy. She previously served at the YDMA secretary and public service director. Rebecca has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Product Development from Carnegie Mellon University. She previously volunteered as a mentor at Science Club for Girls.
Vice President: Robert Cohen
Robert Cohen has served as Vice President of the Young Democrats of Massachusetts since 2016. He works full-time as an analyst for the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in the Massachusetts legislature. Outside of YDMA, he is also an active member of the Ward 21 Democratic Committee in Boston and a proud member of the Young Friends of PPLM (Planned Parenthood League of Mass). When his life isn’t being consumed by politics, you can usually find him either quietly listening to jazz or loudly cursing about the Red Sox.
Secretary: Caesar Nuzzolo
Caesar Nuzzolo is the current Secretary of YDMA. Before becoming secretary, he served as the Communications Director and the Technical Director. A recent graduate of Northeastern University, he now works as a Software Engineer in the biotech industry.
Treasurer: Frank Ulip
Frank Ulip was elected treasurer in 2017. He lives in Boston and is a Marketing Manager for software company Clavis Insight.
Membership & Outreach Director: Melissa Schapero
Melissa Schapero is in her second year serving as YDMA Membership & Outreach Director. She also is the secretary for the South Shore Young Democrats chapter and Ward 3 Vice Chair for the Quincy Democratic City Committee. Her background is in psychology and statistics for social sciences, and she studied at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of St Andrews (United Kingdom). As a U.S. Army brat, she has lived all over the country and is proud to make her home in Massachusetts.
Board of Directors
Political Director: Liana Ascolese
Liana Ascolese is the current Political Director of YDMA and proud Eastie resident. She was previously the campaign manager for now Cambridge City Councillor Alanna Mallon, and now serves as her legislative aide. Liana was an active member of College Democrats where she was a Chapter President, Women’s Caucus State Chair, and National Women’s Caucus Vice Chair. She has her Bachelor’s in Political Science and masters in public policy, both from UMass Amherst. When Liana has free time she spends it reading, eating burritos, and walking around the City to look at dogs.
Public Policy Director: Solomon Steen
Solomon Steen is the current Public Policy Director for YDMA. He also serves as the Our Revolution Massachusetts Cambridge Representative. In that role, he spearheaded the 2018 Democratic Gubernatorial Intersectional Women’s Issues Forum and the 2018 Racial Justice Policy Forum at Roxbury Community College for the 7th Congressional District Democratic Primary. He is interested in advancing intersectional social justice through structural policy reforms and broad-based civic participation.
Communications Director: Jonathan Cohn
Jonathan Cohn is the current Communications Director for YDMA. He works as an editor at an environmental think tank in Cambridge. He chairs the Elections Committee and Issues Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, is a member of the Political Committee of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, and is the chair (and former treasurer) of the Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee. He was a campaign fellow for the Obama re-election campaign in Philadelphia and has been volunteering on campaigns ever since. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and Master’s degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
Fundraising Director: Alex Place
Alex Place is the current Fundraising Director for YDMA. Having been swept up in politics by the Bernie Sanders campaign, Alex now serves on the Milton Democratic Town Committee and is the Milton representative for Our Revolution Massachusetts. Alex is committed to ensuring that the Democratic Party has a winning message and is truly fighting for the common American. In addition to starting a Mexican health company and a nonprofit in Boston, Alex has worked on a number of political campaigns and is excited to bring his business background to the role of Fundraising Director for YDMA. Alex enjoys squash, hip-hop, fishing, chess, family oyster farm, animals, and being a resource to people.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Director: Vacant
Technical Director: Michael Bakshi
At-Large Director: Michael Dooley
Michael Dooley is an At-Large Director of YDMA. He is the founder and chair of the Neponset Valley Young Dems and comes worked and volunteered on numerous political campaigns.
At-Large Director: Sharon Solomon
At-Large Director: Hanna Switlekowski
Hanna Switlekowski is currently an At-Large Director of YDMA. She is the Legislative Director of State Senator Paul Feeney and previously served as a Legislative Aide for Representative Lou Kafka. She is a member of the Sharon Lions Club, a Community Representative at the Jewish Community Relations Council, and a member of the Sharon Finance Committee. She holds a Bachelor’s from Brandeis University and an MPA from Northeastern University.
At-Large Director: Helena Berbano
Helena Berbano is currently an At-Large Director of YDMA. She is a civic engagement and organizing specialist and has managed national voter engagement programs. For the 2016 election cycle, she co-founded and organized a national coalition of Asian American Pacific Islander millennials in support of Secretary Clinton. For the 2017 election cycle, she served as campaign manager for Nicole Castillo’s bid for Newton city council. For 2018, she is serving as a strategic adviser for Tram Nguyen for State Representative (18th Essex District-MA). She is a 2018 Emerge cohort member, an alumna of Progressive Change Campaign Committee and New American Leaders candidate trainings, and a board member of Mass NOW and New Leaders Council – Boston. She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
President Ex-officio: Matthew Murray
Matthew Murray is the President Ex-officio of YDMA. He has been a member of YDMA since 2008, and has sat on its board of directors since 2009. From 2009 until 2012, he held the sixth congressional district representative seat, and from 2012 until 2016, he was the chair of the GLBT Caucus. From 2016 until 2018, he was the president of the young Democrats of Massachusetts. He along with help from others revitalized the organization and brought it to a new strength within the Democratic Party. Outside of YDMA, Mr. Murray has been involved in politics for almost 15 years. Working on over 25 campaigns as a volunteer up to campaign manager in eight different states. He is a lifelong resident of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
YDA Committee Rep (female-identifying): Brittany Pettit
YDA Committee Rep (male-identifying): David Perelman
David Perelman previously served as the YDA National Committee person (Male Identifying), from 2015-
2017 and is happy to return to this position. He is a political organizer, disability rights advocate, progressive activist, and identifies as LGBT and Jewish.In addition to having attended several Young Democrats of America National Committee meetings and events in the past, David is an active member of the YDA Northeast Regional Board and has traveled around New England and New York to support and collaborate with Young Democrats in other states.
DSC Rep (female-identifying): Lisa Stevens-Goodnight
Lisa Stevens-Goodnight is a licensed attorney, campaign organizer and the former Chair of the Greater Boston Chapter of YDMA. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in May 2017 and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in November of that year. Lisa currently works as the Deputy Field Director for the Greater Boston area on the Safe Patient Limits Ballot Initiative. At YDMA, Lisa is focused on encouraging and helping interested members get active with the State Committee (Anyone interested in learning how to run for State Committee is encouraged to reach out!). Lisa is currently lives in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, with her dog, cat and partner. She is active with her Democratic Ward Committee.
DSC Rep (male-identifying): Bryan Barash
Bryan Barash is the Democratic State Committee representative (male-identifying) for YDMA. He is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy & General Counsel in the Office of Massachusetts State Senate President Harriette Chandler. He serves on the Newton Human Rights Commission and previously served as an elected member of the Newton Charter Commission. He lives in Newton with his wife Claudia and their two dogs, Shotzy and Seven.
Neponset Valley: Brendan Roche
South Shore: Michael Kaplan
Michael Kaplan has served as the Chair of the South Shore Chapter of the Young Democrats since it was founded in March 2017. He is an attorney with a solo general practice with an office in Boston. His goals for the South Shore Chapter are to grow membership, and elect Democrats in the region!
Greater Boston: Ronald (“RJ”) Cross
Ronald is a native Marylander who has lived in the Boston area for three years. He got his start in corporate management and found his way to teaching special education in the Brookline school system. His passion is strongly tied to educating and empowering people to become more self-advocating and feeling comfortable tackling problems that they are facing. Most recently, Ronald served as a community organizer working with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. He also serves on the Board of Bikes Not Bombs, an organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth in domestic and international communities. When he’s not at work, you’re likely to find him knee deep in clothes at a local thrift shop, hunting for rare treasures.
Cape Ann: Chris Sicuranza
Central Mass: James Bedard, Co-Chair
Central Mass: Meghan LaPorte, Co-Chair
Meghan LaPorte is a native of Holden, Massachusetts and a graduate of Wachusett Regional High School. Meghan earned a Bachelors Degree in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2010 and shortly after moved to Colorado to pursue a post-graduate degree. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Colorado, Denver with a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. During her time in Denver, she worked as a restaurant manager, case manager for youth experiencing homelessness, and a community educator. She was also involved with the Denver Young Democrats and was an advocate for Denver Homeless Out Loud. She currently resides in Holden with her dog, George, and is excited to get to work in the Bay State!
North Shore: Tyler Carlton
Western Mass: Chris Skutnik
Chris Skutnik is the interim Chair of the Western MA Young Democrats, and is extremely heartened by the massive levels of progressive activism sweeping the nation. He currently lives in Springfield with his wife and dog Atlas, and one of his favorite historical heroes is Edward R. Murrow.
Black Caucus: Ed Shoemaker
Womens Caucus: Ally Blanck
Latino Caucus: Jocelyn Antonio
Jocelyn Antonio is the chair of the YDMA Latino Caucus. She majored in Evolutionary Anthropology and received her B.S. from Duke University. Jocelyn has focused on public health research at Duke University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, RTI International, and most recently at Boston Medical Center. Prior to becoming the Interim Chair of the Latino Caucus, Jocelyn helped organize Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.
LGBT+ Caucus: Laura Hickey
Laura Hickey has been a proud Democrat since she was too young to vote. A native New York, she is proud to be able to claim Massachusetts as her home and wants to be part of the progressive example that this state sets for the rest of the country.
Disability Caucus: Jack Suslak
Parents Caucus: Vienna DeGiacamo
College Dems & High School Dems of MA
College Dems: Caroline Brantley
HS Dems: Amanda Westlake
Amanda Westlake is a rising senior at Wakefield Memorial High School. She got her start in politics in 2016, co-founding a local chapter of High School Democrats and beginning to volunteer on campaigns. In her free time, she enjoys history, art, and track and field. Amanda is the Chair of the Massachusetts High School Democrats.