Board of Directors

Chairman

Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion…

President

Heidi Heitkamp is the founder and Chair of the One Country Project, an organization focused on addressing the needs…

Board Member

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (Retired) was most recently the director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia on the White House’s National…

Board Member

Annie Duke is an author, corporate speaker, and consultant in the decision-making space

Board Member

Bob Kerrey is Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship, where he advocates for broad reform in…

Board Member

Igor Kirman is a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he focuses primarily on mergers and…

 

Board Member

Linda Chavez is a Senior Fellow at the National Immigration Forum. Chavez authored…

Board Member

Mark Lasswell is an op-ed editor at the Washington Post. He is the former editorial features editor…

Board Member

Max Boot is a historian, best-selling author, and foreign policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s…

Board Member

Michael Steele is a political analyst for MSNBC and a Senior Fellow at Brown University’s Institute…

Board Member

Mickey Edwards is a former eight-term member of Congress, having been a member of his party’s leadership, a senior member of…

Advisory Board

Advisor

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian

Advisor

William “Bill” Kristol is a political analyst and media commentator regular panelist on…

 

Advisor

Bret Stephens currently works at the New York Times and is a journalist, editor…

Advisor

Dan Benton founded the technology hedge fund Andor Capital Management…

Advisor

Daniel B. Hurwitz is Founder & CEO of Raider Hill Advisors LLC. He is a graduate of Colgate…

Advisor

Eric Wolf served as an Investigations Officer in the National Unit for Serious…

 

Advisor

He is a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy…

 

Advisor

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is Chairman of Spitzberg Partners LLC. He served as German Minister…

Advisor

Lisa is a senior level advisor, strategist and leader with extensive experience supporting…

Advisor

In a career that has spanned the private & public sectors, Lucy has worked in political advocacy and tech….

Advisor

Rina Shah is a DC-based political advisor, commentator, and social entrepreneur…

 

Advisor

Whitney Haring-Smith is a former Rhodes Scholar, entrepreneur, and investor focused primarily…

 

Staff

Executive Director

Manager,
Content & Strategy

Policy Associate

Operations Associate

Project Manager

Research and Writing

Research and Writing

Research and Writing

Development, Events, and Community Management

Social Media & Marketing

Graphic & Web Design

Video Editing

Video Editing

Video Editing

Operations Manager 

Research & Writing

Program Associate

Social Media & Marketing

Social Media & Marketing

Social Media & Marketing

Video Editing

Video Editing

Video Editing

Video Editing

Garry Kasparov
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion of the USSR at the age of 12 and the world under-20 champion at 17. He came to international fame at the age of 22 as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985. His famous matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996-97 were key to bringing artificial intelligence, and chess, into the mainstream.
Heidi Heitkamp is the founder and Chair of the One Country Project, an organization focused on addressing the needs and concerns of rural America. Prior to founding One Country, Heitkamp served as the first female senator (2013-2019) from North Dakota.
Alexander Vindman
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (Retired) was most recently the director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia on the White House’s National Security Council. Prior to retiring from the U.S. Army, he served as a Foreign Area Officer with assignments in Moscow, Russia and for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a Political-Military Affairs Officer. While on the Joint Staff, he co-authored the National Military Strategy Russia Annex and was the principal author for the Global Campaign for Russia. He is currently a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute and Visiting Fellow at University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. His book HERE, RIGHT MATTERS (HarperCollins) will be published in the spring of 2021.
Annie Duke
Annie Duke is an author, corporate speaker, and consultant in the decision-making space. Her most recent book, “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” is a national bestseller. A world-champion poker player, Annie retired from the game in 2012. She is the co-founder of The Alliance for Decision Education, a non-profit whose mission is to empower students through decision skills education, and serves on the board of After-School All-Stars.
Senator Bob Kerrey
Bob Kerrey is the Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship, where he advocates for broad reform in higher education. From 1983 to 1987 Kerrey served as Nebraska’s 35th Governor, and then as Senator from 1989 to 2001.
Igor Kirman
Igor Kirman is a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he focuses primarily on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and general corporate and securities law matters. He teaches as an adjunct at Columbia Law School, is the author of a book on M&A confidentiality agreements, and was named one of American Lawyer’s “Dealmakers of the Year” for 2006 and 2015.
Linda-Chavez
Linda Chavez is a senior fellow at the National Immigration Forum. Chavez authored Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation (Basic Books 1991), which the Denver Post described as a book that “should explode the stereotypes about Hispanics that have clouded the minds of patronizing liberals and xenophobic conservatives alike.” National Review described Chavez’s memoir, An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Basic Books 2002), as a “brilliant, provocative, and moving book.” In 2000, Chavez was honored by the Library of Congress as a “Living Legend” for her contributions to America’s cultural and historical legacy. In January 2001, Chavez was President George W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Labor until she withdrew her name from consideration.

Chavez has held a number of appointed positions, among them Chairman, National Commission on Migrant Education (1988-1992); White House Director of Public Liaison (1985); Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1983-1985); and she was a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1984-1986). Chavez was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland in 1986. In 1992, she was elected by the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as U.S. Expert to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Chavez was also editor of the prize-winning quarterly journal American Educator (1977-1983), published by the American Federation of Teachers, where she also served as assistant to AFT president Al Shanker (1982-1983) and assistant director of legislation (1975-1977).

Chavez serves on the Board of Directors of ABM Industries, Inc. a Fortune 500 company, as well as on boards of several non-profit organizations.

Chavez was born in Albuquerque, NM, on June 17, 1947, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Colorado in 1970 and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from George Mason University in 2012. She currently resides in Silver Spring, MD.

Mark Lasswel
Mark Lasswell is an op-ed editor at the Washington Post. He is the former editorial features editor, overseeing op-eds, at the Wall Street Journal, where he also served as deputy books editor.
Max Boot
Max Boot is a historian, best-selling author, and foreign policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a Global Affairs Analyst for CNN.
Michael Steele
Michael Steele is a political analyst for MSNBC and a Senior Fellow at Brown University’s Institute for International and Public Affairs. When he was elected Lt. Governor of Maryland in 2003, Michael Steele made history as the first African American elected to statewide office; and again with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 2009.
Mickey Edwards
Mickey Edwards is a former eight-term member of Congress, having been a member of his party’s leadership, a senior member of both the Appropriations and Budget Committees, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, and an advisor to the State Department. He is Vice President of the Aspen Institute, a visiting professor of public and international affairs at Princeton University, a political columnist, a published author, and an inducted fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Agora Institute, where she co-directs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.
William “Bill” Kristol is a political analyst and media commentator regular panelist on ABC and MSNBC. Mr. Kristol served as Chief of Staff for Vice President Dan Quayle, and led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory. In 1997, he co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) with Robert Kagan and he is the founder and director of Defending Democracy Together.
Bret Stephens currently works at the New York Times and is a journalist, editor, and political commentator. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including two honorary doctorates and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
Dan Benton founded the technology hedge fund Andor Capital Management and served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman until 2008, when he then established the Andor Opportunity Fund, LP and the Andor Opportunity Offshore Fund, Ltd. He graduated from Colgate University in 1980, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1984.
Daniel B. Hurwitz is Founder & CEO of Raider Hill Advisors LLC. He is a graduate of Colgate University and the Wharton School of Business Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Eric Wolf served as an Investigations Officer in the National Unit for Serious and International Crimes Investigations with the Israeli Police, where he conducted several international investigations on crimes including homicide, fraud, and kidnapping. He later worked as the head of the Ambassador’s Office at the Embassy of Israel in Moscow. He is a founder of Paragon Outcomes Management, a New York private equity fund. He earned a BA from Jerusalem Hebrew University, an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and an Executive MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

He is a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a former fellow at Stanford University’s Centre for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law, and a 2020 Yale University World Fellow. Named as the 2016 African of the year by the Daily Maverick Newspaper of South Africa and one of 100 top global thinkers of 2016 by Foreign Policy magazine of the USA, Mawarire continues to work as an advocate, speaker and trainer on nonviolent citizen-driven change, democracy development and human rights.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is Chairman of Spitzberg Partners LLC. He served as German Minister of Economics and Technology and then as Minister of Defense in the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. zu Guttenberg was a Member of the German Parliament, a Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Secretary General of Germany’s CSU party.

Lisa Berg is a senior level advisor, strategist and leader with extensive experience supporting C-suite executives transform business vision into actionable solutions for financial services and non-profit organizations. Lisa is a graduate of Cornell University and has served in a number of non-profit leadership and board roles for organizations including: Cornell University, the GO Project, the Dalton School, her Co-op Board and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

In a career that has spanned the private & public sectors, Lucy has worked in political advocacy and tech. She served as Joe Walsh’s campaign manager during his insurgent run against Trump and formed Mockingbird Lab to get issue-advocacy orgs to shift towards data-driven tactics. Until 2019, Caldwell served as the Chief Strategy Officer & EVP at Crowdskout, ultimately helping to shepherd the company through a successful acquisition. Under her tenure, Crowdskout was named the Best Advocacy Technology Platform by Campaigns & Elections Magazine. Caldwell has appeared on & written in numerous outlets including CNN, Fox News, Fox Business, and NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. She frequently speaks and writes on the collision of technology and issue-moving.

Rina Shah is a DC-based political advisor, commentator, and social entrepreneur. She is currently the Senior Fellow for Inclusive Governance at the Rainey Center for Public Policy and a Contributing Writer for The Week. She is a proud daughter of West Virginia and of immigrants from Uganda and India. In 2016, she led the #NeverTrump movement, becoming the first RNC delegate to speak out against candidate Donald Trump––for which she was canceled by the RNC, only to be reinstated after a lengthy legal battle. She later worked as Chief Spokesperson for Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign, just one of nearly 40 political campaigns on which she has worked. In 2020, she founded Republican Women for Biden. In addition to her political work, she is co-founder of the Women’s Public Leadership Network and sits on the board of many women-focused nonprofits.
Whitney Haring-Smith is a former Rhodes Scholar, entrepreneur, and investor focused primarily on industrial and technology businesses. As a Managing Partner at Anzu Partners, Dr. Haring-Smith leads the portfolio support functions and has led most of Anzu’s acquisitions and software companies.

Prior to joining RDI as its Executive Director, Uriel worked in the private sector – first as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and then in strategy at start-ups in the mobility space including DoorDash and Uber. As a student at Yale University, he founded and to this day, continues to chair the Peace & Dialogue Leadership Initiative (PDLI), an organization dedicated to bridging the civil-military divide and creating a space on campuses for a nuanced discussion of the US role in the Middle East.

James Lewis joined RDI from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies where he worked as a Research Assistant for Senior Fellow Anne Applebaum. There he helped create an interdisciplinary course entitled “Democracy,” taught for the first time in the Spring of 2021. His academic background is in American political history and international relations. James is a graduate of Yale University.

Shay Khatiri is a policy associate at RDI. He studied politics at Arizona State University, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, with a focus on trans-Atlantic security. He also writes on foreign policy for The Bulwark. He also publishes a Substack newsletter, The Russia-Iran File.

Savannah Herms joined RDI in 2022 for database and administration support. She is a graduate of Millikin University with a background in Musical Theatre. While at MU Savannah participated in organizations promoting conversations on Race and Inclusion in conjunction with the Illinois community. Before RDI, Savannah worked with the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts partnering with the Jurkowitz Family Foundation to connect youth and senior citizens to international symphonies and Opera performances. Savannah writes and produces content for Hidden Hollywood, a YouTube project highlighting film and Hollywood history through a modern, and often political, lens. Outside of RDI Savannah can be found exploring National Parks and Monuments across the USA.

Haven Lerner is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history. At Penn, he was editor of the Interview Staff for the Penn Political Review (PPR), doing interviews with policy experts including former president of Mexico Felipe Calderón and Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and Co-founder of a new podcast for the PPR , ‘Let’s Talk Politics’, which explores current issues in greater depth with campus faculty. He likes audiobooks, basketball, and baseball (when the Yankees are winning).

Mark Bryk joined RDI after years of working as a CTO and project manager for various internet startups. He is a fiction writer who focuses on political entrenchment, and volunteers as a coordinator for the Brooklyn Board of Elections. He is a graduate of electrical engineering at The Cooper Union.

Giacomo D’Urbano is a graduate from Queens College in New York City where he majored in Political Science with a double minor in Latin American Studies and Honors in the Social Sciences. Before joining RDI, he worked on the policy research team for NYS Senator John Brooks authoring a report on veterans’ educational benefits. Born and raised in Italy, it goes without saying that he loves calcio (soccer) and hiking. When not at work, he tries to keep up with a never-ending list of news articles and books, watches the NBA, and never misses a Juventus game!

Kevin is a junior at Yale University from Vancouver BC, Canada. He intends to pursue a career in law, and majors in History on the Politics, Law and Government track. Outside of his course work, Kevin studies classical voice, and currently serves as the Club Secretary of Yale Rotaract and the stage manager of the Yale Glee Club. Before joining RDI, he interned for BC Pro Bono Services and worked as a research assistant. In his free time, he also teaches history and political philosophy. 

Wendy Avilés is a fourth-year at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in International Relations and Linguistics, and graduating in May 2022. She is also the author of the poetry collection El Bilingual Catarsis, to be published in May 2022. Wendy has experience in politics, human rights, and electoral observation during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as research and bilingual translation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic (MIREX), Center for Civil and Community Participation (CCE) of Emory, the Carter Center and the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT/OEA). She has also served as a Research Assistant in the Department of Political Science at Emory and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Most recently, she published an article in the Diplomatic Context Bulletin of MIREX on maximizing observation missions and an article in the Dominican newspaper, Acento, on gender-fair language in Spanish.

Caroline is a student at the University of Scranton studying Public Policy and Service with plans to study abroad in Spain for a language immersion experience. During Caroline’s hiatus from her studies, she was a state delegate for Bernie Sander’s 2020 presidential campaign and a volunteer coordinator for a progressive congressional campaign in Pennsylvania’s largest rural congressional district. During this time, she owned and managed the largest online community for teenagers. She is also a Hard of Hearing (HoH) advocate who proudly wears hearing aids as a young person. A cat mom of three, she spends most of her free time with her spouse and kitties when not traveling. She is interested in public health policy and emergency management, and she hopes to serve a year in the Americorps NCCC FEMA Corps after graduation.

Sisi Hammoudi-Patout is a senior at the CUNY College of Staten Island. She is completing a major in International Studies and a minor in History and Criminal&Social Justice. She is pursuing a career in law.  Prior to RDI, Sisi was an intern at Courier Newsroom, a progressive political media company working on voter outreach and the societal impact of voter legislation. Sisi is a dual citizen in France and the United-States, speaking both languages fluently. Sisi loves to read fantasy and historical fiction and literary fiction. Sisi is working on her own book in the genre.

Emme Marchese is a student at Temple University in Philadelphia where she studies journalism and political science. Throughout her time at Temple, she has worked as the long-form editor and assistant news editor at The Temple News, a Campus Representative for the Feminist Majority Foundation in Washington D.C., and has interned for ABC News In Philadelphia. Emme enjoys writing, watching movies, reading, and traveling.

Gabriel Strobel is a Graphic & Web Designer at RDI and a recent graduate from Catalyst Berlin, where he studied electronic music production. He is a multimedia artist in Berlin exploring his creativity under the alias ‘OIIA’, and often works as media producer, audio technician, and photographer on a freelance basis. During his free time he can be spotted enjoying long walks at the riverside.

Michael Kern is a fourth-year student at the University of Texas at Austin studying Film Production and Conflict Resolution. Being born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Michael always took a special interest in both politics and film. With this in mind, he has had a myriad of experiences in both fiction and non-fiction filmmaking, including shooting a documentary in rural Kenya. He is interested in understanding how storytelling can be used as a tool to decrease domestic polarization. In his free time, Michael loves reading good sci-fi novels, watching movies, and cooking.

Braden Thommarson is a fourth-year Film and Digital Media student at Baylor University. He has been fascinated by politics at both the state and federal level, as well as internationally, since high school, and is seeking to sharpen his media skills while gaining a broader perspective on the current affairs in the world. When not working or studying, he can usually be found watching Top Gear and The Grand Tour or going on a night drive with his friends.

Alexander Sarrain is a Dominican-American graduated from the Miami International University of Art & Design in Computer Animation. He specializes as a 2D animator, storyboard artist, concept artist, illustrator & character designer with multiple years of freelance experience working with YouTube influencers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, music bands, podcasts, and independent sports teams.

Lawrence is a classically-trained composer and audio engineer from Virginia with respective bachelors degrees from Shenandoah Conservatory and Old Dominion University. Before interning with RDI, Lawrence worked closely with the Old Dominion University Symphony Orchestra to successfully engineer their Spring 2021 virtual concert. He has also performed instrumental/audio work for artists by the names of Ivana Lee, Noah Chapman, Ghost Town Remedy, and Alexa Rose. Lawrence is also responsible for the 2019 independent release of the niche electronic music album Admirer. Away from audio, Lawrence likes UFOs, dancing in the mirror, and eating good food.

Prior to joining RDI, Timothy Han worked in the campaign and political consulting worlds. He is a fan of the Bears, Bobby Kennedy, and democracy.

Luke Henkel is a rising junior at Georgetown University studying government with a minor in history. Prior to RDI, Luke worked as an intern for the city government of Indianapolis, Indiana, his hometown. In addition, Luke currently serves as an editor for Left Middle Right and on the board of the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition. In his free time, he likes watching college basketball (among other sports), hiking, and reading or listening to political news and commentary.

Audrey Firrone is a senior undergrad and first year graduate student at the University of Memphis. Her undergraduate studies are in creative mass media, French and political science, and her graduate studies are in journalism. At RDI, Audrey works as a Social Media and Marketing Intern. She also works with student-led groups advocating for Uyghur human rights through social media content creation, research and writing blogs. Research is also one of her passions as she works with two international organizations collecting data about policy decisions regarding COVID-19 that is used widely by social scientists and governments. When she is not working, she can be found reading fantasy or historical fiction novels.

Austin is a recent graduate from New York University, where he studied media, culture, and communication while working in the entertainment world. His love of democracy and interest in electoral reform are what brought him to RDI, where he is a Social Media and Marketing Intern. Austin lives in Chicago with his dog.

Piper D’Emanuele is a fourth year at the University of Virginia studying American Politics and English. She has previously worked for local and national politicians from her home state of Minnesota. Most recently she worked as a Legislative Intern for a D.C. law firm. At the University of Virginia, Piper is a member of One for the World, an organization which encourages students to pledge 1% of their future yearly earnings to charities approved by the effective giving standards. She also works for a local business. In her free time Piper loves to explore all Charlottesville has to offer, taste test bubble tea, and spend time with her friends.

Ruchit Negotia is a 2020 graduate of the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Film. He has produced, written, directed several short films during his 4 years of school. Alongside, producing his own content, he has worked on countless other films in various production roles. Having a passion for great storytelling has brought him to RDI. Where he is the video editor responsible for crafting a strong narrative. Besides editing videos, Ruchit also has a passion for painting, playing the guitar, and taking photos.

Danielle Wietrzychowski is a 2020 graduate of the College of New Jersey where she graduated with high honors with a bachelor’s in communications, majoring in interactive multimedia and minoring in management. While in college Danielle volunteered to assist disabled individuals and students through her involvement in the Special Olympics and the TCNJ Disability Support Services. In her prior work, Danielle used video for public information initiatives including a video collaboration with the New Jersey Brain Injury Alliance. Danielle has a passion for using light, movement and sound in video and animation to stimulate the senses and emotions and drive engagement. In her free time Danielle enjoys gaming, troubleshooting software to improve user experience, and having spirited discussions with friends and colleagues about technology and its uses.

Aaro Berhane

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.