CIVIC INFLUENCERS™ STAFF
MAXIM THORNE (He/His), Chief Executive Officer
Maxim Thorne earned a B.A. (cum laude honors) in Economics and Political Science from Yale College and a J.D. from the Yale Law School. Maxim has served as the Managing Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications and Development Officer of NAACP, the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Human Rights Campaign and HRC Foundation and the Executive Director of NJ Head Start Association. As a dedicated leader and advocate, Maxim has served on the Board of Directors of many organizations as well, including the founding Board of Yale Black Alumni Association, Chaired the 40th Anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, Honorary Co-Chair of the 50th Anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, the Board of Governors of Yale University, Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, GLAAD, the North Star Fund, Amistad Research Center, Barnert Hospital Foundation and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey. He also serves on the Yale Alumni Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
“I know what it is like to feel the entire continuum of being young, marginalized and disenfranchised to becoming whole, empowered and American. Now more than ever, we need to reimagine, protect and strengthen the pillars of our democracy. We have to turbocharge and make real an intersectional and holistic democracy movement building on the centrality of the rich diversity of youth. Every innovation and tried and true is on the table, be it texting, digital organizing, short films, dorm storming, student panels, marches and more.” – Maxim Thorne
BRENNA LIMBRICK (She/Her), Operations Manager
Brenna Limbrick started with Civic Influencers in 2012 as a Statewide Organizer in Ohio. After a break to take care of her two young sons, she returned in 2018 during the Ohio midterms, again as a Statewide Organizer, to oversee Civic Influencers and help higher-education institutions continue their democratic engagement. In 2020 she transitioned to an operations role to help Civic Influencers gain its official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and oversee new process implementation. Brenna has a degree in Computer Information Systems and more than 20 years of administrative, technical and program knowledge that helps her administer Civic Influencers’ operational processes.
She believes that democracy (voting especially!), justice and equity should be taught in our society at a young age. She is dedicated to her family and kids, volunteering her time in the community when possible. Brenna resides in Pataskala with her husband and two boys who are very active in soccer.
CHRISTINA POLLONAIS (She/Her), Co-Chief, Youth Civic Power
Christina Pollonais, Esq., lived in a very culturally, racially and politically diverse society as a U.S. citizen growing up on the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Her multinational and multicultural upbringing taught her that a functional democracy must be rooted in equal voice and inclusion for all. With this exposure, she was motivated to attend Spelman College and earn a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Christina’s objective at Civic Influencers is to amplify the voices of people who are so often ignored. She believes a key way to ensure all voices are heard is by protecting voting rights and encouraging citizens to exercise these rights. In her spare time, Christina enjoys cooking, traveling and relaxing at the beach.
ELISE ORLICK (She/Her), Stakeholder Advisor
Elise Orlick works with Civic Influencers’ supporters to build capacity for the organization’s critical work empowering young people. An experienced organizer and advocate for democracy reform at the state and national levels, she joins Civic Influencers after working at the Andrew Goodman Foundation. Previously she was a State Director for WashPIRG, where she took a major role in helping pass automatic voter registration, same-day registration and pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds in Washington state. She has also worked as a Democracy Advocate for U.S. PIRG where she led federal campaigns to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and introduce federal ethics legislation.
Elise graduated from the College of William & Mary cum laude. She now lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their cat Pixel. In her spare time, Elise enjoys plant-based cooking and walks along the Salish Sea.
ELLEN WEHRMAN (She/Her), Co-Chief, Institution Civic Power
Ellen Wehrman joined Civic Influencers in June 2019 as a Statewide Organizer in Michigan. As Co-Chief, Institution Civic Power, she leads our voter-friendly institutional engagement program. Before starting at Civic Influencers, Ellen spent 12 years working in higher-education student affairs, including roles at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, Marietta College (Ohio) and Central Michigan University. Ellen has taught multiple leadership theory courses and has a deep scholarly interest in rural students’ transition to college and patterns of civic engagement.
She received her B.S. in Public Administration cum laude from the University of Arkansas and her Master’s in Higher Education – Administration & Policy from Loyola University Chicago. Ellen lives in Michigan with her husband, their two sons, her mom and their mischievous dog Sprite.
IAN RICHARD (She/Her), Chief of Media, Marketing & Communications
Ian Richard has a passion for creativity and innovation. Her strong expertise in media, marketing and communications utilizes data driven strategies that will further aid in empowering Civic Influencers nationwide. Ian’s background in both nonprofit and corporate business allows her to recognize new trends, and increase engagement among stakeholders, and showcase her creative skills in reaching our target audiences. Ian’s role at Civic influencers will help to magnify the importance of communication and democracy among young people that can bring about real change.
When she is not crafting on-brand copy palatable to various degrees of audience types, she enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering with youth sports organizations in her community, and traveling.
JAN BRENNAN (She/Her), Senior Institutional Donor Advisor
Jan Brennan brings a strong background in civic engagement, education and social change to her role as Civic Influencers’ Mountain West Director, working with our higher-education partners in Colorado and New Mexico. Jan has a Master of Public Administration from the University Colorado Denver. She has held a variety of positions in civic engagement, community-engaged learning, and education and cultural policy. She most recently worked with Education Commission of the States’ National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement where she published extensively on civic learning policy and served as the project leader for a national service-learning initiative. Jan is a Senior Fellow with the National Civic League and is licensed as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children and as a Youth Program Evaluator.
JARED LUCERO (He/Him), Statewide Organizer
Jared Lucero is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a recent graduate from The University of New Mexico with a degree in Political Science and minor in Entrepreneurship. Jared also studied politics and anthropology in Amsterdam, Netherlands, at Vrije Universiteit. Jared enjoys the fast-paced nature of elections and brings years of community organizing, having held roles in finance, field, digital strategy and governance. Jared also brings his activism for youth in politics as he started his civic engagement in high school, serving on his City’s Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and was selected to attend the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Jared has also been a volunteer firefighter and EMT student and encourages everyone to take a stand in their local community. In his spare time, Jared enjoys triathlon training, hiking and video-editing.
JOHANNA MUDRY (She/Her), Statewide Organizer
Johanna Mudry is an experienced and dedicated intrapreneur. For the past 18 years, she’s worked to improve communities and serve those with greatest need. She’s made social change her prime focus since graduating from Eastern University with an M.S. in Nonprofit Management. Earlier she graduated with honors from Temple University where she earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice. Johanna has worked to advance communities and individuals in a wide variety of capacities; whether building homes for families, tutoring and mentoring youth, working for environmental or healthcare improvements, or working on grants and fundraising. She looks to continue this success through empowering others, including students, to become productive and active citizens, while increasing her own power as a change agent.
Johanna is also a proud resident of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, where she actively participates in her neighborhood association, local food co-op and tends to her community garden.
KYLE IDAHOSA (He/Him), Data Scientist
Kyle Idahosa received his Master’s in Public Health concentrating in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and his B.S. in Biology (magna cum laude) from Kent State University, in Kent, OH. As a graduate assistant for the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, he was involved in analyzing the turnout for the Undergraduate Student Union Executive Director election at Kent State University. Kyle has extensive experience in designing visual dashboards and provided technical advice and assistance to citizens, staff, universities, and communities to obtain and/or disseminate information. He has maintained proficiency in statistical programming languages/software such as SAS, R, and ARCGIS by analyzing data, and applying standard and complex statistical, and epidemiologic measures determining appropriate methods for specific needs. Kyle’s objective at Civic Influencers is to collect, organize and analyze key data points and trends regarding youth voter suppression legislation and laws from across the country. He believes data is integral in highlighting the issues of youth voter suppression and supporting our organization’s mission. Prior to joining, he worked as an Epidemiologist investigating epidemic situations of infectious or chronic diseases and collected epidemiological data for surveillance of general health, or specific diseases in the community. In his free time, he enjoys driving sport cars, yoga, and playing video games.
LIAM HYSJULIEN (He/Him), Statewide Organizer
Liam Hysjulien received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his Master’s in Environmental Sociology from the University of Tennessee. Before starting at Civic Influencers, Liam spent six years working in higher education as a Political Science program coordinator at the University of Tennessee and Duke University. Liam worked on developing and implementing voter-related service-learning initiatives that helped to empower students to become more civically engaged around issues of voter registration, voter awareness and voter education.
LUKE VERDECCHIA (He/Him), Statewide Organizer
Luke Verdecchia joined Civic Influencers in April 2017, and he has worked to engage 30+ higher-education institutions in his home state of Wisconsin since then. Luke supports cohorts of Civic Influencers in this role, including 30-person cohorts in 2018 and 2020, to increase young people’s civic power and strengthen institutional support for voting rights. In addition to his organizing work in Wisconsin, he chairs Civic Influencers’ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Committee. Prior to joining the team, he worked with his municipal clerk to provide the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s 40,000+ students with educational materials for the 2016 presidential election. Luke holds a Bachelor of Arts–Journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Luke is excited to continue his organizing work in Wisconsin given how closely the state will be watched in 2022 and 2024. He lives in Madison, and he enjoys running, biking and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
MICHAEL NORRIS (He/Him), Senior Special Projects Manager
Mike Norris spent ten years as the Associate Director of Florida Campus Compact prior to joining the staff of Civic Influencers. Mike is well known for his work with college and university faculty and staff throughout Florida on issues related to civic engagement. While at Florida Campus Compact, Mike started the Engaged Faculty Fellows program assisting faculty to redesign course curriculum to include service-learning and community-service components. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor of music theater at Tallahassee Community College. In his role as a Statewide Organizer in Florida, Mike supervises Civic Influencers in North and Central Florida and consults with staff to increase young people’s civic power throughout the state.
Originally from Arlington, Virginia, Mike holds the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from Samford University in Alabama. Prior to his work in the field of higher-education engagement, Mike held full-time positions as a music educator and church musician in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Tallahassee.
NAUSHEEN ANSARI (She/Her), Chief of Stakeholder Engagement
Nausheen Ansari received her B.A. in English from the University of Central Florida and her Master’s in Public Administration from the City College of New York. While in graduate school, Nausheen served as a White House intern and worked with both the New York City Mayor’s Office and UNICEF. Nausheen is a strong advocate in the voting rights space and has worked at both Civic Influencers and the Andrew Goodman Foundation. Prior to her work in civic engagement, Nausheen worked for the Community Service Society of New York, whose mission is to help break the cycle of poverty and strengthen low-income communities. She has volunteered with a number of nonprofit groups, including Amnesty International and iMentor and is proud of her work with the Center for Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA) where she worked closely with South Asian immigrants in their pathway to citizenship by translating Urdu to English. Nausheen also works as an adjunct professor of Political Science at a local community college in New Jersey, teaching American National Government and other courses.
NATE HALL (He/Him), Statewide Organizer
Nate Hall is returning to his roots in campus organizing in his role at Civic Influencers. He got his start doing voter registration and GOTV work at Ohio University. From there, he worked on various campaigns in Ohio, including managing two races for state representative, culminating in two years as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives. For the last four years, he has done political organizing work for a labor union, primarily in Ohio and Michigan. As part of this work, Nate managed a team of 20+ organizers working on races across Michigan. He also helped to draft a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives to address payroll fraud and misclassification and helped manage the bipartisan coalition that passed it out of committee. Nate spends his free time fixing up his house in Columbus, working out and caring for Harley, a 10-year-old pit bull, with his wife Nicky.
PATRICK COKLEY (He/Him), Chief of Organizing, Advocacy & Learning
Patrick Cokley works to bring issues of inclusion to the forefront of all communities. As the Chief of Organizing, Advocacy and Learning, Patrick believes in the importance of giving all young people the tools they need to be engaged citizens with the ability to bring positive change to their communities.
As a graduate of Howard University, Patrick believes that it is imperative that the disability and traditional diversity communities learn to work together as they both share the core values of inclusion. Only together can our communities realize the success of an America that is inclusive of all of its citizens.
Originally from South Carolina, Patrick now makes his home in the New Jersey. In addition to being a person who is Low vision, Patrick is also the parent of two children with disabilities.
PAYGE HARDY (She/Her), Donor Engagement Assistant
Payge Hardy joined Civic Influencers as a Civic Influencer in 2019 and held several campus-wide events at her community college in New Jersey. Enthralled by the opportunity to work as a member of the development team in 2020, Payge continues to develop as a young professional and proponent of civic engagement.
Payge attends Columbia University in the City of New York and aspires to fight the ongoing affront to democracy in the United States. A progressive advocate for social justice, Payge is a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Committee. She continues to share her perspective as a young leader and hopes to kindle the flame of democratic justice by sharing the mission of Civic Influencers and her own personal story.
Payge is excited to innovate her work upon our organization’s relaunch and continues to dream in color. In her free time, you may find her curled up with a book, exploring nature or making friends at community events (preferably with live music).
RACHAEL GAMBINO (She/Her), Chief of Staff
Rachael Gambino firmly believes that your vote is your voice. An innovative and results-oriented professional, she brings over eight years of fundraising, event planning, program development and volunteer management experience in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations to Civic Influencers. Prior to joining, she worked with The Andrew Goodman Foundation, a partner organization advancing youth civic engagement across the nation, and Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit whose mission is to transform lives and communities through entrepreneurship. With a focus on strategic planning, an emphasis is placed on the maximization of resources, prioritization of team well-being and optimization of creativity.
Rachael currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and rescue dog Charlie. She received her Bachelors of Science in Communications from the State University of New York at Cortland. She is a proud alumni of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, serving two terms across the Northeast.
RACHAEL HOUSTON (She/Her), Faculty Resources Coordinator
Rachael Houston joined Civic Influencers in March 2018. She is extremely passionate about equipping young people with the knowledge to become informed voters and active participants in our democracy. During her time at Civic Influencers, she has empowered and mentored young people in the state of Minnesota and across the country. She has also helped build Civic Influencers’ faculty institutional programming over the years. In addition to her role at Civic Influencers, she is an academic who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. (ABD) at the University of Minnesota. She studies American politics and political methodology. With a specialty in quantitative methods, Rachael is excited to help Civic Influencers make strategic decisions based on data analysis and interpretation to fight voter suppression efforts.
Prior to joining the team, Rachael attended Coastal Carolina University for a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Communication. She covered community stories for a local news station and served as a Constituent Services Representative for a U.S. House member. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, rock concerts and binge-watching Survivor.