Emerge America Staff

Andrea Dew Steele, President and Founder

Andrea Dew Steele is the President and Founder of Emerge America and the Co-Founder of our first affiliate, Emerge California. She is a passionate advocate for increasing the number of women in elected office at every level and is motivated by a life-long commitment to progressive politics and change.

Struck by the incredible lack of women holding elected office at the local level in San Francisco, Andrea co-founded Emerge California in 2002 to lead the fight to get more women elected to office in Northern California. Andrea worked tirelessly to develop a top notch training program and in 2005 she founded Emerge America to replicate the model in all 50 states. Emerge currently has training programs in 16 states across the country with plans to expand in the future.

While starting Emerge, Andrea served for 8+ years as Political and Philanthropic Advisor to Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of Esprit Clothing and Democratic activist and philanthropist. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Andrea worked for many years in Washington D.C. as a policy analyst on Capitol Hill and fundraiser for Democratic candidates and committees. Andrea holds a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University and a M.A. in International History from the London School of Economics. 

Andrea is very active in the Democratic Party and regularly lends her expertise to women candidates for local, state and national offices. She also regularly blogs about politics at the Huffington Post and has appeared on national and local television and radio, including MSNBC and Al Jazeera America to discuss politics, campaigns and current events.

Allison Abney, Communications Director

As Communications Director for Emerge America, Allison sets and executes the organization's national communications strategy and promotes staff and state affiliates to the press, public and other message influencers. Having worked in the press and legislative shops of two Democratic congresswomen and served as communications director on the campaigns of several women candidates for local office, Allison understands the unique challenges women face in politics and has developed a deep commitment to seeing more women elected to office at all levels of government. Before joining Emerge America, Allison served as media relations director for IR+Media, a PR firm that specializes in diversity and inclusion. She served as press secretary for the chairman of the DC Council and as the communications lead for several political campaigns and a community development non-profit. Allison also managed all of the press interactions for Small Business Majority, a large, national non-profit organization, handling all media interactions at both at state and national levels, building relationships with reporters, pitching and placing news stories, securing interviews for staff and the CEO and ensuring media coverage of their target issues. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in journalism and holds two masters degrees from the University of Denver in Conflict Resolution and International and Intercultural Communication. 

 Allison can be reached via email at allison@emergeamerica.org.
Alisha Woodward Burleson, Operations Director

Alisha Woodward Burleson came to Emerge America in March 2010 and is currently Emerge America's Operations Director. 

Alisha started her political career as the Training Assistant for EMILY's List during the 2008 election cycle. While at EMILY''s List she helped manage their job bank and coordinated their endorsement logistics for 284 candidates in the Political Opportunity Program (POP) which helps pro-choice Democratic women run for and win state and local office. Before coming to Emerge, she was on the finance team for a U.S. Senate campaign where she managed the call time and low dollar fundraising program. 

Alisha graduated from the University of San Diego in 2002 with a B.A in Political Science and has a deep seated passion for politics and getting more women elected to all levels of office. She lives in Martinez with her husband, two year old daughter and crazy yellow lab/border collie mix. 

Alisha can be reached via email at alisha@emergeamerica.org.

A'shanti Gholar, Political Director

A’shanti F. Gholar is the Political Director for Emerge America, the only organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and empowering Democratic women to run for public office. For 15 years, A’shanti has been a grassroots organizer and activist for women, communities of color, and progressive causes. She has experience in building coalitions, program development, and community and political engagement. Prior to coming to Emerge America, A’shanti served as the National Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Director of African American Engagement for the Democratic National Committee. A’shanti has also served as the Manager of National Partnerships for United Way Worldwide, as a political appointee in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and as the Director of Public Engagement for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte, NC.

A native Nevadan, A’shanti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s of Science Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with an emphasis on leadership development and women in leadership. A’shanti was featured as a political influencer in CQ Roll Call Magazine, named a top woman of color in policy by Walker’s Legacy, and appears on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin as a political commentator.

A'shanti can be reached via email at ashanti@emergeamerica.org.

Judy Pineda Neufeld, Senior Advisor

Judy Pineda Neufeld began her tenure as Senior Advisor in November 2014, and is an alumna of the Emerge Massachusetts Class of 2009. Prior to her current role, Judy served as the Executive Director of Emerge Massachusetts for three years and Vice President of Emerge America for a year and a half. As Executive Director, Judy increased the size and diversity of the program members in the Emerge Massachusetts’s classes and successfully designed and implemented a pilot candidate training bootcamp program in May 2012. Before starting as the Executive Director of Emerge Massachusetts, she was the Manager of Recruitment and Community Partnerships at Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, the largest and oldest mentoring organization in Greater Boston exclusively serving girls.  While at Big Sister, Judy managed all volunteer and child recruitment for the agency, developed a Diversity Council to recruit more women of color, and created a thriving Alumnae Association. Judy Neufeld worked on numerous political campaigns during her time in Massachusetts. She is the former Co-President for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women and chaired their Political Action Committee in 2010. Judy graduated from Tufts University.

Judy can be reached via email at judy@emergeamerica.org.

Jenny Ma, Project Coordinator

Jenny joined Emerge America in April 2015 and is currently Project Coordinator. Jenny graduated from UC Berkeley in December 2014, where she majored in Political Science and minored in Gender and Women’s Studies. She has previously interned at UC Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center as a Program Assistant, and at the U.S. General Services Administration in San Francisco as a Summer Fellow, where she gained valuable public service experience and helped conduct outreach to key stakeholders and businesses in the Bay Area. Most recently, she worked as a research assistant at UC Berkeley, helping to analyze the path to elected office for women and people of color. She believes that the empowerment of women and people of color is absolutely critical to promoting progressive change, and she is excited to support Emerge America’s work in that endeavor.

Jenny can be reached via email at jenny@emergeamerica.org

Tess Pawlisch, Administrative Assistant

Tess has been dedicated to working alongside and electing Democratic women since 2011, when Governor Walker and a Republican state legislature went after women’s reproductive rights in her native Wisconsin. Tess was most recently the Development Assistant at The Progressive, Inc. and Event Coordinator of Fighting Bob Fest, the nation's largest outdoor festival of progressives. Tess has also worked for Mary Burke's campaign for Governor, the South Central Federation of Labor, The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans. She volunteers her fundraising skills for EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Colburn Consulting. Tess graduated from UW-Madison in December of 2016 with a degree in Sociology. Tess is an avid traveler and is always planning her next adventure.

Tess can be reached via email at tess@emergeamerica.org

Camille Vinogradov, Project Coordinator

Camille Vinogradov joins Emerge America as Project Coordinator. Camille worked with Hillary for America and the North Carolina Democratic Party as an organizer in the 2016 general election cycle, increasing Durham County’s Democratic voter turnout to higher levels than 2008 and 2012. She has interned at the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in Atlanta, where she worked on finance policy, and the US Department of State in Washington DC, where she worked on climate change policy. She graduated magna cum laude from Emory University in May 2016 with a degree in International Studies and French, where she wrote a thesis on European far-right parties, receiving high honors. She is a native San Franciscan, and feels lucky to have lived and worked in communities across the United States. She strongly believes that women, particularly in state politics, have the power to change and influence policies to reflect working families’ priorities. 

Camille can be reached via email at camille@emergeamerica.org. 

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