Fred Wertheimer is the Founder and President of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to strengthen our democracy and promotes government integrity, accountability and transparency measures to accomplish its goals.
Wertheimer has spent more than four decades working on democracy and governance issues, and is a recognized national leader and spokesman on money in politics issues, including campaign finance, ethics, lobbying and transparency reforms.
He has been described by The New York Times as “the country’s leading proponent of campaign finance reform,” and “the dean of campaign finance reformers,” by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne as “the eminence grise of the campaign reform movement” and by The Boston Globe as a “legendary open-government activist.”
The Washington Post said “Democracy 21 is one of Washington’s foremost watchdog groups.”
Wertheimer was named as one of Washington’s 90 greatest lawyers of the last 30 years by Legal Times in 2008 and as one of Washington’s top lobbyists for several years by The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
A graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School, Wertheimer served from 1981 to 1995 as President of Common Cause, a nonpartisan citizens’ lobby. He served in 1996 as a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and in 1997 as the J. Skelly Wright Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School. Wertheimer also has served as a political analyst and consultant for CBS News, ABC News and ABC’s Nightline.
Don Simon is Counsel to Democracy 21 and a partner at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry LLP where he specializes in litigation and administrative law. From 1995 to 2000, Simon served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Common Cause. In that capacity, he directed the legislative and legal programs for the citizens lobbying organization. Simon is an expert on campaign finance law issues, and has testified numerous times before Congress and the Federal Election Commission on campaign finance issues. Over the past three decades, he has been involved in numerous major legislative and litigation campaign finance efforts.
Kathryn Beard is Democracy 21′s Communications and Research Director. She manages the organization’s media and online activities, including social media, and is the webmaster for the organization’s website. Before joining Democracy 21, she was a researcher for CBS’s 60 Minutes, produced blog posts and videos for The Case Foundation, managed the social media for 20/20 Productions, and served as a legislative media intern in a congressional office. Beard is a graduate of the George Washington University, where she studied international affairs, journalism and mass communications.
Matt Keller is a consultant to Democracy 21 on policy and legislative issues. Keller is currently Senior Director for XPRIZE. He previously served as Vice President of Global Advocacy for One Laptop per Child and as Legislative Director for Common Cause, where he played a key role in organizing coalition support and in lobbying for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which banned political party soft money. Keller is a leader in the field of using the Internet and technology for educational purposes.
Nicco Mele is an adviser to Democracy 21 on the Internet, social media and new technologies. Mele taught new media at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and co-founded Echo & Co., a digital consulting firm. Mele was named by Esquire magazine as one of America’s “best and brightest” for his groundbreaking work on Internet fundraising for the 2004 presidential campaign of Governor Howard Dean. He is the author of “The End of Big.”
Dibby Johnson helps Democracy 21 and the Education Fund with its organizational management, administrative and financial activities, and serves as Secretary to the Boards. She also oversees the organization’s human resources and hiring efforts. She is the former Administrative Director at Common Cause and served as the Senior Advisor for Human Resources at People For the American Way.
Dominic Ucci helps Democracy 21 with its financial management and administration. He has worked with Democracy 21 since the organization’s founding in 1997 and also serves as Treasurer of the Democracy 21 and Democracy 21 Education Fund boards. Ucci serves as Chief Operating Office for People for the American Way.
Jackie Howell has helped Democracy 21 with its media operations, communications and development activities since the organization’s founding in 1997. She has worked with a wide range of national and local nonprofit organizations, helping them create and expand their communications and outreach efforts.