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Our Leaders

Fueling the Movement

Some organizations have a few volunteers helping the professionals who run things.

At Braver Angels, we have a few professionals helping the volunteers who run things.


The Grassroots Engine of Braver Angels

Braver Angels Moderator
Field Leaders

Field leaders include state coordinators, regional leads, and alliance co-chairs. They guide and organize volunteers on the ground and recruit new alliance members, with a focus on working towards a Red-Blue balance.

Braver Angels Skills Workshop
Local Volunteers
Local volunteers are the heartbeat of our mission and the engine of our grassroots work. Their roles are expansive and include moderating online and in-person workshops, chairing debates, and organizing events at the local, state, and national level.
Braver Angels Project Leaders
Project Leaders
Project leaders are the depolarization entrepreneurs behind the scenes. Their roles range from maintaining the online delivery of workshops to analyzing program data. They inject ideas into the movement and implement them in a self-directed environment.

Braver Angels National Team

Kira Barone


Kira Barone joined Braver Angels in August of 2021. She leads the finance team and oversees budgeting, audits and strategic financial forecasting. She has worked most of her career with non-profits especially start up non-profits or those in phases of rapid growth. She grew up in Iowa and now lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters.

Maggie Bayless


Maggie Bayless is an entrepreneur who founded ZingTrain, a business to business training company, and is now focused on working less and volunteering more. As Braver Angels’ Moderator Training Coordinator, Maggie leads Moderator Office Hours, helps design the monthly Moderator Forums and co-facilities Moderator Orientation meetings with Bill Doherty. She’s also happy to be the point person for any Moderator-related training questions!

David Blankenhorn​


David Blankenhorn is president and co-founder of Braver Angels. He is the author of In search of Braver Angels. He co-founded the National Fatherhood Initiative in 1995, founded the Institute for American Values in 1988, and has authored or co-edited 14 books. He grew up in Mississippi and now lives with his family in New York City.

Yvonne Boyd


Yvonne Boyd trained as a volunteer organizer in January 2021 and enjoys training new organizers and helping alliances with their first workshop. She is a Zoom participant manager and a member of the BA Ambassador Team. In March 2022, she became the Organizer Call Coordinator (blue) and works closely with Casey (red). Yvonne is a middle school secretary and lives in SE Washington State with her husband and two teenagers.

April Chatham-Carpenter


April Chatham-Carpenter is a faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the Department of Applied Communication. Along with serving as a volunteer co-director for the BA office of Field Operations, she is a Regional Team Lead for the West South Central Region of Braver Angels and a co-facilitator for the monthly moderator forum for Braver Angels (BA). She loves teaching and researching how dialogue can be used in the public square to create relationships between people.

Bill Doherty​


Bill Doherty is a co-founder of Braver Angels and the creator of the Braver Angels workshop approach. Bill is a Professor and Director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Bill combines a background in family therapy and community engagement.

Elizabeth Doll


Elizabeth Doll joined Braver Angels in March 2022 as the Director of Braver Politics after four years of volunteering with the organization and many years working in politics in the Pacific Northwest. She began political work as a teen, when, while interning on a Congressional campaign, she became passionate about improving her community through civic engagement. Since then, Elizabeth has consulted for and worked on many state and local campaigns. She and her husband live on Bainbridge Island and when not engaged in politics, she enjoys photography, hiking, and horseback riding.

Mónica Guzmán


Mónica Guzmán is a bridge builder, journalist, and author of “I Never Thought of it That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times”. She was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Moni is the inaugural McGurn Fellow at the University of Florida, working with researchers at the UF College of Journalism and Communications and beyond to better understand ways to employ techniques described in her book to boost understanding. A Mexican immigrant, Latina, and dual US/Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids, and is the proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.

Eliza Hawkins


Eliza Hawkins started volunteering with Braver Angels in 2019 and quickly got involved in the evaluation team to help out with the feedback forms. She moved into the coordinator position in January 2022. She holds a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication and teaches media ethics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. As an adjunct faculty member at BYU, she also conducts research on depolarization when she is not taking care of her four children, dog, cat, and chickens.

Martin Hunke


Martin Hunke is the Workshop Delivery Manager of Braver Angels who ensures our ability to deliver workshops in an environment of rapid growth. He also leads the moderator and Zoom Event Manager training teams. Martin has a M.S. in Computer Science and immigrated to the U.S. in the 90s to work on A.I. in the Bay Area. Before joining Braver Angels, he developed apps for Android as a freelancer for companies such as SAP and owned a Yoga studio in Berkeley.

Casey Jorgensen


Casey is a Red State Co-Coordinator and Event Organizer. Originally from Boise, she has lived in/near Salt Lake City since 1990. Her education is in marketing, and she worked as an Executive Assistant until she and her husband, Dean (from Alberta, Canada) had their first of three children (who are now grown.) She has served as a GOP Precinct Chair and Delegate, URLEND Parent Advocate, Patriot Camp Founder/Director, and UHEIA Board Member. Casey loves live theater, is a devout Latter-day Saint, and feels honored to work with truly Braver Angels.

Olivia LaMelle


Olivia serves as our Director of Human Resources, bringing over 15 years of diverse, strategic human resources experience. As a senior level HR professional, Olivia has been responsible for providing strategic guidance and leadership for all aspects of the human resources function and establishing a vision and direction for the full complement of core human capital programs, policies and services. Olivia has served on several non-profit boards in the capacity of the HR chair providing strategic guidance to the board and organization.

David Lapp

braver network

David Lapp leads Braver Network and We The People’s Project at Braver Angels. David spent several years interviewing working-class Ohioans about their life experiences and families before helping to start Braver Angels. David lives with his wife Amber and six children in South Lebanon, Ohio, the home of the first-ever Braver Angels workshop in December 2016.

Stan Levine


Stan Levine leads the DEV Team that ensures that all of our workshops are properly developed and maintained. He is also a member of the National Tech Team, the Training Team, the Help Desk Team, and the Event Development & Delivery Team. Stan spent over 30 years working for the Department of Defense as a member of the Senior Executive Service. He grew up in New Jersey, spent 12 years in the Pentagon, and now lives with his wife in North Carolina.

Jessie Mannisto


Jessie Mannisto is a former CIA leadership analyst, Google Policy Fellow, political activist, and founder and editor emerita of Third Factor, an online magazine, podcast, and membership community dedicated to the search for the higher path. With interests in psychology and philosophy, she was drawn to the Braver Angels debate program as a way to productively channel that intellectual energy that we so often use to process—or to cloak—our more vulnerable emotions. After getting deeply involved in her local alliance’s debate program, she was thrilled to come on board as Braver Angels’ Director of Debates in 2024.

A proud native of Detroit and graduate of Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan, Jessie is now based in the Washington, DC area.

Mark Metzger


Mark Metzger joined Braver Angels in 2022. In 2023, he oversaw operations and logistics for the Braver Angels National Convention in Gettysburg, PA, led the arts initiatives Four Score: A Memory Play and Braver Lens: Amateur Photography to Heal American Divides, and managed day-to-day operations of the National office. 

Donna Murphy


Donna Nielsen Murphy joined Braver Angels in 2017 and has served in a variety of leadership roles in the organization. Matching people for 1:1 Conversations is her all-time favorite Braver Angels activity. She has worked as an economist in both the public and private sector, most recently at the U.S. State Department, and is the author of three books.

Luke Nathan Phillips


Luke Nathan Phillips is director of the America’s Public Forum program and works with the Debates, Media, and Braver U teams. He is based in the DC area.

Steve Saltwick


Steve Saltwick is the inaugural Senior Fellow of Braver Angels focusing on key strategic initiatives for advancing its mission. He is also the founding conservative co-chair of the Braver Angels Central Texas Alliance. He is a bio-psychologist whose career took a path through high-tech on six continents. He researches the guiding principles of the mammalian brain. He has published in SCIENCE but prefers to dote on his first grandchild and two border collies.

Andrew Stillman


Andrew Stillman brings over a decade of leadership and technical skill in software and systems development in the non-profit and for-profit startup worlds, where he developed popular tools for schools in Google’s cloud ecosystem. Prior to his life as a technologist, Andrew spent two decades as educator: first as construction crew boss leading teens in the rural mountain West and then as a public school teacher and school founder in NYC. Andrew directs Braver Angels technology roadmap.

Dawn Strauss


Dawn Strauss has extensive experience bridging the partisan divide having been raised by conservative parents in a very liberal suburb outside of Boston. After graduating from the University of Michigan and completing an MBA at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dawn started working in fundraising in a volunteer capacity. In 2016, she left the business world to begin a career in fundraising and development. Today, she manages individual giving as the Director of Development at Braver Angels. Dawn lives in Dallas, Texas with her four children.

Barbara Thomas


Barbara Thomas is a retired U.S. diplomat with 20 years of experience in strategic planning, operational oversight, personnel development, crisis management, cross-cultural communication, policy advocacy, and organizational reform.  A native Minnesotan, she and her husband have five children and three grandchildren.

Gabriella Timmis


Gabbi Timmis is a proud Midwesterner who happens to live in New York City. She joined Braver Angels in 2022 as a field reporter before coming on as the Director of Social Media, and now, the Director of Communications & Marketing. She also volunteers for Braver Angels as the Blue Co-Chair of the NYC Alliance.

Prior to Braver Angels, Gabbi worked for NBC News as an assistant producer, where she led the digital strategy for the education division, wrote and produced live broadcasts, reported on trends in education, and managed social media. During the 2020 election, she worked as a political organizer and deep canvasser in her home state of Michigan. Gabbi graduated from Michigan State University and has a master’s from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she focused on the convergence of adult learning, political polarization, and media.

Mary Thomas-Vallens


Mary Thomas-Vallens, a lifelong educator, has extensive experience in curriculum and staff development. Currently, she is a student teacher supervisor for Concordia University, Irvine. As a Braver Angel, she is now on the Moderator Training Team. She plans and co-facilitates the Monthly Moderator Forums. She’s leading the BA School Board-Education Network, and she’s co-chair of the Orange County-South Bay, CA Alliance. She loves engaging others in workshops and encouraging high-schoolers to be “Braver Teens.”

Molly Wicker


Molly holds a B.A. from Grove City College where she studied English and Economics. Upon graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. to do The Falls Church Fellows, a nine-month leadership development program focused on the integration of faith and work. She has held fundraising roles at multiple nonprofits, including The Trinity Forum, The Human Trafficking Institute and The Philanthropy Roundtable. Molly is also an avid writer, and her work has been published in a number of places, including The New York Times. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.

John Wood, Jr.


John Wood, Jr. is a national leader for Braver Angels, a former nominee for Congress, former Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, an opinion columnist for USA Today and a noted writer and speaker on issues of political and racial reconciliation.

Board of Directors

Hunter Baker


David Blankenhorn


Jonathan Haidt

Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership; Stern School of Business, New York University

JoAnn Luehring

Partner, Roberts and Holland, LLP

Glenn T. Stanton

Director of Global Family Formation Studies
Focus on the Family

Thomas K. Sylvester

General Counsel, Hedera; Chairman,
Braver Angels Board of Directors

Braver Angels Support