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Our Staff


Erik Altieri

Director of Communications

Erik is the Director of Communications for the Agenda Project. He previously served as the Communications Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and was Manager of NORML PAC. He administered NORML's social networks that reach well over one million individuals. Mr. Altieri was one of National NORML's registered lobbyists and has lobbied--and helped write and run grassroots campaigns in support of --federal and state bills regarding marijuana reform. Erik was also one of the group’s primary spokesmen to the media and has been quoted or has appeared in countless print, radio and televised media outlets. Erik graduated from American University and currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where he spends his time obsessing over politics and hardwired to his newsfeed and CNN.


DeVeria Flowers

Director of Finance and Operations 

Originally from Hampton, VA, DeVeria came to the DMV area fourteen years ago and is currently in the process of relocating to Charlotte, NC.  In her rare spare time, she likes to travel and loves to listen to a wide variety of music for relaxation.  Since coming to the DMV area, she has become extensively involved in the progressive political movement.  She has joined Agenda Project as the Director of Finance and Operations and is working to expand our capabilities so that we can be a major contender in the ever expanding Progressive Movement.

Michael Iannelli

Fundraising Associate

A true believer in Mario Cuomo’s dream of a more equal and unified ‘American family,’ Mike first became interested in politics while studying climate change in his youth. He has been working to promote progressive causes and social justice legislation ever since. After working as a grassroots organizer for Democracy Matters he transitioned to local government electoral campaigns and then to environmental advocacy with Citizens Campaign for the Environment. He also spent three years working as a legislative intern for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer in his Southern Tier and Capitol Hill offices. A proud Eagle Scout and Long Island native, Mike earned a BA in Political Science and History from Binghamton University. When not busy binge-watching Seinfeld, he enjoys cooking, all things Italian, loves to travel and to spend time with friends and family.

Ron Len

Ron Len

Video Editor

Ron Len is a film editor with 20 years of experience in a wide variety of genres. He has been recognized as an outstanding editor in his field in both long and short form work. Ron’s work ranges from feature films and documentaries to short films and television commercials. All told, he has edited films that have appeared at over 100 film festivals around the world, garnering numerous Best Feature and Grand Jury awards. Some of those films include "He Said, She Said", directed by Doug Liman, "Queenie in Love", directed by Amos Kollek, "Just Like You Imagined?" directed by David Frankel, "Who I Am", directed by Jesse Peretz, "Jailbait", written and directed by Brett C. Leonard, "War Eagle, Arkansas", directed by Robert Milazzo and "Particles of Truth", directed by Jennifer Elster.  Ron is also recognized as a contributing member to the Avid Technology Film and Video editing website. He enjoys bananas and watching footage of other people enjoying the great outdoors. 

Erica Payne

Founder and President

Erica is the Founder and President of the Agenda Project and the Agenda Project Action Fund, where she focuses on identifying and amplifying the diverse set of issues that most clearly differentiate the progressive and conservative worldviews. Prior to founding the Agenda Project, Erica led The Tesseract Group, a boutique marketing and communications firm focused on expanding the intellectual and communications infrastructure of the progressive movement.  In this role, Erica worked with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law and the Roosevelt Institute among others.  Prior to this, Erica co-founded The Democracy Alliance, a donor collaborative whose partners have invested over $100 million in progressive organizations. Her early career included serving as Deputy National Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee during the 1996 presidential re-election campaign and as a consultant to a number of campaigns and political organizations. Erica is the author of the Practical Progressive: How to Build a 21st Century Political Movement.  She is the co-editor of Make Markets Be Markets, a definitive volume on financial reform.  She holds a BA in Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1991) and an MBA from Wharton School of Business at UPenn (2000).


Justin Strekal

Deputy Director of Communications

Justin serves as the Deputy Director Communications at the Agenda Project. He has worked on Democratic campaigns for over 8 years and in 13 different states, and most recently served as Campaign Manager for Congressman Mark Takano. Shifting his focus out of electoral politics, Justin is ready to tackle some of the most pertinent issues facing our country today--most notably, the influence of money in politics. Justin saw first-hand the direct effect of dark money in the American political system working on multiple congressional campaigns in 2012 and ‘14. Moving forward, he is working towards a political system that is immune to loopholes and secrecy. As proud as one can be as a Cleveland native, he moved to the DC area in late 2014 and thoroughly enjoys public transportation and other pleasures that a well-organized society can produce.

Kathryn DeSimone

Director of Fundraising

Kathryn is the Director of Fundraising at the Agenda Project. She first discovered her passion for politics at nine years old, watching the results of the 2000 presidential election from her living room couch. Kathryn graduated from the New York University campus in Greenwich Village, where she received her B.A. in Economics. She was also a student in the inaugural class at New York University's satellite campus in Washington, D.C where she interned in the Economic Policy Office at the United States Department of Treasury. After working on numerous House and Senate campaigns, Kathryn transitioned to legislative work at the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. At the Agenda Project, Kathryn is dedicated to making sure that the ideas of the Progressive Movement translate to effective public policy. 


Hannah Hendler

New York Director,
Practical Progress Editor

Hannah serves as  the New York Director for the Agenda Project and its brands. She is also Managing Editor of Practical Progress--the Agenda Project Action Fund’s actually brief briefing on the most Important news from the Progressive Movement. A proud Pacific Northwest native, Hannah first came to the East Coast to study at NYU where she graduated with a BA in History and Classics. Since then, she has worked as a research assistant on numerous book projects and served on the editorial boards of historical journals, all while perfecting her favorite yoga pose: the Bird of Paradise. Hannah has been actively involved in progressive issues since she was a child attending labor union rallies with her parents. 


Erika Kalkofen

Junior Associate

Erika grew up part California girl and part DC native. Moving at a young age influenced her love for travel and ultimately her decision to head south for a degree in International Relations at the University of South Carolina. She continued her journey by studying abroad in China and Japan, which exposed her to what, exactly, international citizens thought of the American democratic process. These mostly negative views motivated her to get involved and, more importantly, get her generation involved. She joined USC’s Congressional Advisory Board, which presented student’s views, concerns, and potential solutions to relevant government representatives and organizations. Now, she hopes to continue these efforts together with the Agenda Project. She plans to join the Peace Corps and dreams of eventually becoming UN Secretary General. 

Morris B. Pearl

Board Chairperson

Morris B. Pearl is a board member of the Agenda Project and the Managing Director of Top Wonks, the Agenda Project’s initiative to amplify the voices of the country’s preeminent policy experts among lawmakers and the media. Mr. Pearl previously spent most of his career in the capital markets, on both the sell side and the buy side, being a go to guy when innovations in structured finance required innovations in computer software engineering to make them work.  Mr. Pearl started out on the sell side, back before mortgages were considered “credit” products, and then moved to BlackRock where he worked on projects for governments, regulators, and central banks assessing the cost of the banking crisis and subsequent bailouts to the taxpayers of several different countries.


Karl Sandrich

Junior Associate

Karl Sandrich was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. While at college he studied Philosophy and Religion, focusing on Continental Philosophy and wrote his thesis on the Philosophy of Sports. After graduating in 2012 he moved back to California where he taught high school following in the footsteps of his parents, both of whom are teachers. He then moved to the Bay Area where he ran fundraising campaigns for various progressive groups. He has long been interested in policy debates and the pitched battles that come from them. Additionally, he was trounced in his second grade student council election and thus follows politics to discover where his campaign went wrong all those years ago.


Elle Tilden

Practical Progress Fellow

Elle Tilden graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2013 with a degree in English Literature. She studied civil war literature, focusing on themes of freedom and morality. Since moving to New York, Elle has worked in a variety of fields. She helped a mobile shopping app develop a social media and email presence while also contributing to various magazines and blogs. Elle has always been interested in writing about social justice and has consistently volunteered for various non-profits from a young age.