Meet Our Staff
National Board Chair
Responsible for Vote Smart's National Board. Jessica has a master's in political science from Truman State University and formerly served as the Director of Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).
Responsible for fundraising and the integrity of Board-approved policies and standards. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Richard served on the staffs of Congressman Morris K. Udall, Senator Walter F. Mondale, and Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. He is also a former Arizona State Senator and Corporation Commissioner.
Senior Advisor, Founding Board Member
Responsible for Major Giver Development and Media. Adelaide is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds master's degrees in American history and library science from the University of Arizona. She is a former archivist for the Arizona Historical Society and has previously directed Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).
Responsible for day-to-day oversight of all Vote Smart programs, staff, operations, facilities and administration. Walker is originally from Charlottesville, VA. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with degrees in History and Economics. After graduation, he taught History and Politics in England for a year. He joined Vote Smart staff in 2015.
Office Manager and Internship Coordinator
Responsible for coordinating our Internship Program, including outreach, recruitment, and intern placement. She is also responsible for office management. In 2018, Mackenzie graduated with her B.A. in Political Science from DePaul University. Her passion for politics and love of information brought her to Vote Smart in April 2019.
Information Technology Director
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. Travis lives in and works remotely from San Antonio, TX. His first programming experience was in BASIC on a Commodore 64.
Full Stack Developer
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Matt's previous areas of focus have been bioinformatics and media asset management.
Development and Communications Director
Responsible for handling donations and membership communications. Jacob was born and raised in Ankeny, IA, and graduated with a degree in English and Writing from the University of Iowa in December of 2014. He joined the Vote Smart Team in Des Moines in March of 2017.
Social Media Communications Associate
Responsible for social media outreach. Tessa is a high school student in Tucson, Arizona, and works remotely from there. Although she was born and raised in Virginia, it wasn’t until moving to Tucson in the ninth grade that she found her passion for politics and government. Tessa joined the Vote Smart family in January of 2018.
Development and Communications Associate
Melissa grew up in Des Moines, IA, just up the street from the Vote Smart office. She graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in English & Creative Writing and Studio Art in May 2019, and joined Vote Smart in August of 2019.
Rachel was born and raised in Ankeny, Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University in May 2019, with a degree in Public Relations and minors in Political Science and Speech Communication. She joined Vote Smart in October 2019.
Director of Officials Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that collect and maintain the organization's public statements, legislative information, and special interest group ratings for all U.S. elected officials. Annie graduated from the University of Iowa in 2013 with a B.A. in Journalism and International Studies, with an emphasis in human rights. She worked as a freelance copyeditor and as an assistant manager in a clothing store before joining Vote Smart in March 2017.
Legislative Research Associate
Thomas is responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in congress and all 50 states. Thomas graduated early from Iowa State University in 2017 with a B.S. in History and a Minor in Sociology. Originally from Des Moines, Thomas is a Projectionist for the IMAX Theater at the Science Center of Iowa and first joined the VoteSmart team as an intern before starting full time in July.
Nick is responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Nick graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 with a degree in Political Science. He grew up in Ankeny and joined Vote Smart in July of 2017.
Chelsea grew up in West Des Moines, IA. She graduated from the University of Iowa where she received a B.A. in political science with an emphasis in political behavior, and a minor in sociology. She is responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in Congress and all 50 states. Chelsea joined Vote Smart in April of 2018.
Responsible for updating ratings and endorsements from special interest groups. Originally from California, Neal has a degree in Political Science from the University Of Montana.
Rebecca grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor with a BA in History and a Minor in Mass Communication. She is responsible for researching elected officials and organizing their public statements. Rebecca joined Vote Smart February of 2019.
Celia is originally from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California in 2017 with degrees in Anthropology and Psychology. After graduation, she worked in the Middle East teaching English and with Grassroots Campaigns. She joined Vote Smart in the summer of 2019. Celia is responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in congress and all 50 states
John received a B.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations and Political Behavior as well as a certificate in Political Risk Analysis from the University of Iowa. Before that, however, he attended Des Moines Area Community College and received an Associate of Arts degree. Joining Vote Smart in July 2019, he works to research elect officials public statements.
Working in our public statements team, Makala is responsible for helping to manage elected officials and candidates public statements in our database. She is originally from West Des Moines, IA and went to school at Loyola University. Before becoming a staff member with Vote Smart, she was an intern.
Director of Elections and Candidates Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that monitor elections, track candidate biographical information, and research state/federal candidates' issue positions. James was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He graduated from Drake University in 2016 in International Relations and joined Vote Smart in March 2017.
Responsible for researching where public figures stand on a variety of issues through past public statements, social media posts, votes, and group ratings. Andrew graduated from Cornell College in 2017 with a degree in Politics. He is originally from Illinois and joined Vote Smart in February of 2019.
Luke grew up not far from the Vote Smart headquarters in Des Moines. He graduated from the University of Denver in 2019 with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in French. Luke joined the Vote Smart team in 2019 and is responsible for maintaining candidate profiles.
Conner is involved with tracking and researching primary, general, and special elections happening across the country. He studied Political Science at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Conner joined Vote Smart in May of 2019.
Davin graduated from Western Washington University in June 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science and Minor in Sociology. He joined Vote Smart in 2019, and he works on maintaining candidate profiles.
Caroline graduated from the University of Iowa in December of 2019 with her B.A. in Ethics and Public Policy with an emphasis in Political Science, along with two minors in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies and Political Science. Caroline joined VoteSmart in February of 2020, where she is a research associate in the elections department specializing in Issue Positions research.
Tristan grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He came to Iowa to attend Cornell College, and graduated in 2018 with bachelor's degrees in Politics and German. He joined Vote Smart in early 2020, where he is responsible for maintaining candidate profiles.