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Ebonique.jpgEbonique Ellis

She has over eight years of experience working with a variety of businesses and government agencies to solve legislative and communication related issues. Ellis has 5 years of experience working with RightNOW Women PAC. She currently sits on the board of directors overseeing Candidate Training.

From 2014-2016 she has served as Campaign Manager & Consultant for numerous congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. She created a small business consulting agency in 2016, assisting over sixty small businesses. Her consulting firm partnered with the Small Business Administration to help award over $70,000 to women-led companies. Her business services and events have been featured in numerous media outlets including YahooNews!, MSNBC, and the Hill.

An Oxford alumna, she has exceptional experience from both the nonprofit and the for-profit business arena having also held positions in business development and marketing. Her non-profit experience includes media engagement and women issues advocacy. She has dealt with legal, ethical, governance, membership, communications, tax, regulatory and numerous other issues affecting small businesses and the professional concerns of entrepreneurs.


Valerie.pngValerie Ervin

Valerie believes that politics is aspirational and that government plays an important role in the lives of people.  Her work as a legislator has focused on connecting government, business, education and the safety net to serve the needs of all residents of her community.

As a former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, and a two- term member of the Montgomery County Council where she distinguished herself as the first African American woman ever elected, she also served as the Council President. Valerie championed the issues that people in Montgomery County care about ranging from raising the minimum wage, promoting local stewardship of taxpayer money through local investment, addressing food insecurity issues, improving childhood nutrition, closing the Achievement Gap, and the many local neighborhood and civic issues that mean so much to her community.

Valerie has been a leader at the National Working Families Party since 2014 and serves as its Senior Advisor.  Her work ties issues that impact working families on the local, state and federal levels, with progressive elected officials in their respective legislative bodies.  This strategy has helped to pass Equal Pay for Equal Work, the $15 minimum wage, Fair Elections, Fair Scheduling and other progressive issues.  She is leading the work on recruiting, training and electing a new generation of progressive candidates for public office with a focus on women and people of color.  She lives in Montgomery County and is involved in local, state and national politics.

Atima.pngAtima Omara
Atima Omara is is a seasoned political strategist and advocate working in politics and the larger progressive movement. She is a former campaign staffer, non-profit manager and candidate for public office, who is the founder and president of Omara Strategy Group, a political consulting firm that brings strategic guidance to electoral candidates, campaigns, and organizations. Her firm focus on projects that center women, youth, and people of color to effect progressive change and build political power for underrepresented communities.
Atima has over a decade of campaign and political organizing experience through working for a Governor and as staff on over 9 federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns in Virginia and across the country. She has organized successfully with labor unions and community organizations across the country  in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities.Atima has served at the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels. Atima served as President of the Young Democrats of America from 2013-2015, the nation’s largest youth partisan membership based organization, and a youth arm of the Democratic Party. As President, Atima not only organized young people in the political process in almost all fifty states but also achieved membership growth, fundraising success, streamlined operations, and increased work with allied progressive organizations.

In 2016, Atima was elected Democratic National Committee Member from Virginia, and was elected Vice Chair of the DNC Women’s Caucus in 2017. She’s additionally has served in leadership in her state and local Party in Virginia. For her work, Atima has received frequent recognition including being listed as one of Ebony Magazine’s 2013 “Power 100”, and Jet Magazine’s 2013 “40 under 40”. Atima was also featured in Essence Magazine in their November 2013 list of “Ten Things We’re Talking About”. 


Jamia.pngJamia Wilson 
Jamia Wilson is many things: An activist. A feminist.  A storyteller.  A mediamaker. But more than anything, she is a natural-born thought leader. As Executive Director and Publisher of Feminist Press at City University of New York, the former Women, Action, and the Media Executive Director, TED Prize Storyteller, and former Vice President of Programs at The Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a powerful force in the social justice movement for nearly a decade. As a leading voice on feminist and women’s rights issues, her work and words have appeared in and on several outlets such as New York MagazineThe Today Show, and The Washington Post. She’s also a staff writer for Rookie and has contributed to several books such as Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop, and I Still Believe Anita Hill. But what we’re most excited about is her own book that she’s currently writing about Beyonce and feminism. (Yes, really.) It’s no surprise she was named in Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism.”

It may be true that Jamia has spoken alongside feminist greats like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, but we think they’re also lucky to have been alongside her. A true    next generation leader, she has graced the stage at events such as TED Women, Netroots Nation, and Facing Race, and travels across the U.S. and beyond to college campuses to talk about race, feminism, spirituality, leadership, and so much more."-Fresh Speakers



Past Trainers

5.pngJessica Byrd
Jessica Byrd is a relationship driven political operative working at the intersection of social justice and electoral politics. She is the founder and principal strategist of Three Point Strategies, a D.C. based political consulting firm executing strategic political programming for people of color candidates, campaign staff and organizations.

Having spent nearly five years at EMILY’s List where she founded the first-ever homegrown candidate recruitment program - Jessica has worked on campaigns in 43 states and led national and state based programs to clear the pathway for underrepresented communities to engage in the political process.

In 2016, Jessica was named the January Woman to Watch by Essence Magazine, “12 New Faces of Black Leadership” by Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone named her one of the most influential millennials shaping the 2016 election.

Her personal interests include non-airport traveling, mentorship, and anything with guacamole on it. She is a Peter and David’s sister, a native of Columbus Ohio and a graduate of Chatham College for Women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


2.pngJehmu Greene
Jehmu Greene is an award-winning progressive media and advocacy strategist, proud Texan and recent candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. As a Fox News Political Analyst, Jehmu defends progressive values and policies on the network. She co-founded Define American with Jose Antonio Vargas, an initiative that works to elevate the conversation on immigration reform and is a founding board member of VoteRunLead, an organization credited with recruiting and training more than 15,000 women to run for political office. Previously she served as president of WakaWaka, a global social enterprise bringing solar power to people living without access to electricity; president of Rock the Vote, where under her leadership young voter turnout had the highest increase ever recorded in between two presidential electionsdirector of women's outreach and Southern political director at the Democratic National Committee; president of the Women's Media Center and Executive Director of Texas Young Democrats. She has worked on over 20 political campaigns and served as an advisor and national surrogate for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.



4.pngLeila McDowell
Leila McDowell is the Vice President of Communications at EMILY’s List. Leila most recently served as Vice President of Communications at the NAACP. Previously, she co-founded the first African-American woman-owned public relations firm in D.C. committed to social justice issues and had the honor of representing South African President Nelson Mandela during his first U.S. tour after being released from prison.

Leila has served as communications director for a number of non-profits, including the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and the Center for Community Change. Her other clients have included Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Change, the NAACP-LDF, Amnesty International, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

McDowell is a former broadcast journalist and radio personality who has reported for CNN, National Public Radio, AP Radio, Inner City Broadcasting, Radio One, Sirius XM, WHUR-FM, WKYS-FM, and WPIX-TV. She also served as the Washington Bureau Chief and senior political correspondent for the London based Arise TV.

Leila earned her BFA at New York University, studying communications and film and television production.


3.pngKimberly Peeler-Allen
Kimberly Peeler-Allen has been working at the intersection of race, gender and politics for almost 20 years.  Kimberly is the Co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office. A highly skilled political fundraiser and event planner, Kimberly was the principal of Peeler-Allen Consulting, LLC from 2003 to 2014, the only African American full-time fundraising consulting firm in New York State.

After completing the 2002 gubernatorial campaign of H. Carl McCall where she served as the deputy finance director, Kimberly founded her New York City-based consulting firm to help develop capital for clients, organizations, and issues affecting people of color that have historically been kept outside of the mainstream. 

Kimberly served as finance director for Letitia James’ successful bid to become Public Advocate of the City of New York and the first African American woman elected citywide in New York’s history.

In 2010, Kimberly was named to the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list as well as named one of The Feminist Press’ 40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism.


1.pngA’shanti F. Gholar
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.