Leadership Team

IS is home to a talented group of organizers who help shape the direction of the organization. We categorize our work in three ways: Direction, Development, and Initiatives.

Direction

The IS leadership team is committed to promoting the organization's mission within the broader community. Our leadership lab, #nav, is comprised of a dedicated group of managers and advisors who lend their talent and expertise to IS.

Nina Vyedin

#nav chair

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Nina Vyedin is a founding member of IS and the brains behind the IS labs/incubator model. A first generation Ukrainian immigrant, Nina grew up in Silicon Valley with two engineer parents who worked tirelessly to give her the experience of the American dream. She cut her teeth in the startup world as a technical product manager at Xamarin (now Microsoft), working alongside some of the best folks in the industry and developing her own style of people and product management. At IS, she is passionate about leveraging technology and innovation practices in service of building better communities. Through her work on IS programming and direction, she seeks to empower others to be effective and empathetic leaders and organizers. You can follow her on various media at keybase.io/vyedin.

Abby Brockman

#nav vice-chair

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Abby Brockman is described by her peers as the heart of the organization. Abby believes that showing up is one of the most radical things we can do to build community. As a graduate student at Boston University in the School of Theology, she is training to be an interfaith hospital chaplain. She also works part-time as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with a team dedicated to providing empowering trauma-informed care for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. She is a trained mediator and has been known to describe her hobbies as “difficult conversations” when asked at social events (much to the chagrin of her friends). A founding member of IS, Abby gives workshops on tools for engaging in difficult conversations across the red-blue divide, and co-writes the weekly Good News & Action lists that are distributed throughout Massachusetts.

Sean Edwards

#nav vice-chair

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Sean Edwards is a founding member of IS. He comes from a background in operations and engineering at tech startups. Originally from Portland, Maine, Sean has spent the past 3 years working with Boston-based startups to develop tools and processes that keep engineering teams effective while operating at the relentless pace of the technology sector. Combining his professional background in distributed software and systems thinking with a love for the performing arts, Sean specializes in developing systems and teams that turn vision into action. You can follow him on Twitter at @tilmonedwards.

Marjie Alonso

#nav at-large, advisor

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Marjie Alonso is an advisor to the #nav board. She has served on many Boards of Directors, and has consulted for numerous non-profits, creating supportive development strategies, lead structures, growth initiatives and group processes for both start-up and existing organizations.

Marjie is the Executive Director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC.org) and the co-founder of the Somerville Foundation for Animals and the Somerville Pet Food Bank, which provides pet food to at-risk and homeless families throughout Eastern New England. The Foundation also hosts the Somerville Dog Festival each year.

Marjie lives in Somerville with her chupacapra-cat-beagle mix, Nellie, and is frequently visited by her two sons. She feels coffee is an extremely important part of life.

Danielle Chapdelaine

#nav at-large, creative lab lead

danielle

Danielle Frances Chapdelaine is a design geek and startup junkie whose goal is always efficiency. She can be bribed with the promise of a good coffee and a better chat, thoroughly enjoys learning how to play the ukulele, and can effortlessly whip up a dinner party you'll want to post on all your social media profiles. Daniellle is a founding member of IS. See more of her work at danfranchap.com.

Alex Swift

#nav secretary, leads coordinator

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Alex Swift moved to Somerville two years ago and immediately fell in love with its welcoming and engaged community. An unabashed people-person, Alex is passionate about empowering individuals to affect lasting positive change in their communities. When she isn’t organizing events to welcome and inspire the newest IS members, you can find Alex hiking New England and listening to cheesy Christmas carols – yes, even in July.


Development

The development wing of IS builds and maintains the infrastructure that powers the organization. These individuals manage a pool of professional talent for IS and partner organizations.

Jesse Baer

#writing lab co-lead

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Jesse Baer was born and raised in Cambridge and has been obsessed with politics since at least elementary school. He comes to IS with years of experience in student activism and journalism, a B.A. in Politics from Oberlin College, and a somewhat incongruous post-college career in information technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @misc.

Andrew Selzer

#tech lab co-lead

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Andrew Selzer is a Django developer in the medical industry and a lead of the Tech lab in IS. As a resident of Somerville, he believes in leveraging technology to assist and amplify work done for activist causes.

Lisa Tam

#fund lab co-lead

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Lisa Tam primarily focuses on the finance function of the organization. She is a CPA with experience in both public and industry accounting. In recent years, her focus has been on business technology applications that would improve finance functions. Born in Hong Kong, but raised in the Netherlands, she grew up in a small business environment of an immigrant family. Grateful to have had the opportunity to come to the United States to build her own dream, she believes that EVERYONE should get the same opportunity if they are willing to work hard at it. She likes to garden to restore balance in her little world. To make the best of the winters, she enjoys skiing down beautiful snow-covered mountains.

Gile Beye

#fund lab co-lead

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Gile Beye cut her teeth on activism marching in Washington to protest the Vietnam War with her parents. Since then she has attended many more marches, canvassed for candidates, made constituent phone calls, and licked countless envelopes. She was twice elected to the planning board in her small NH town, and that success convinced her to run for NH state representative. Though her bid was unsuccessful the experience was significant. She continues to sink her teeth into activism any way she can. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and no pets.

Peter Kollm

#outreach lab co-lead

Peter Kollm is originally from Acton, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Maryland College Park, where he double majored in Journalism Studies and Government and Politics. After graduating in 2014, he began a business career in client end-user/engagement and saw an immediate need to apply engagement tactics to help aid new activists through thoughtful outreach. Peter hopes to continue his work with IS creating a large recruitment and outreach community to connect new members to what fires them up in the resistance.


Initiatives

The initiatives wing of IS is made up of short-term and long-term projects that fit within the goals of the organization. These individuals lead efforts to improve our communities, hold those in power accountable, and build the world we want to live in.

Esther Brownsmith

#action lab co-lead

esther

Esther is a Bible and Ancient Near East doctoral student at Brandeis, baker, progressive activist, and not-so-secret nerd. She jumped into anti-war and environmental activism in her youth. While those causes still have a special place in her heart, fighting the recently escalating threats against immigrants and Muslims has become a particular passion. As lead of the Action Planning lab, her goal within IS is to help channel the anger and energy of progressives into concrete legislative pressure against Trump’s agenda. She spends her free time with her spouse, her pet degus, and fictional BioWare characters.

Alex Place

#action lab co-lead

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Alex is a social entrepreneur and activist. He has worked in rural communities in Guatemala to provide low-cost solar energy. He founded a Mexican healthcare company dedicated to facilitating on-site health programs, as well as a Boston nonprofit dedicated to championing water access in schools and community buildings. Recently, he resisted out at Standing Rock, and actively participates in MA politics with Our Revolution Massachusetts and IS. As one of the co-leads for the Action Planning lab, Alex is most excited about the in-person canvassing that the Action Planning lab has done and the community of concerned citizens that are involved with IS.

Stacey McCullough

#choosing-battles lab co-lead

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Stacey Y. McCullough has been a design thinker for 18 years, including six at IDEO. Her interest in childhood development led her to an in-house innovation leadership role for a worldwide education company, and to volunteer work with children and families via Cambridge Family and Children's Service and the Parent-Child Home Program. While she continues to conduct design strategy projects across a variety of fields, she especially prizes those related to children's wellbeing. By founding and co-leading IS's Choosing Battles lab, Stacey is applying her expertise in optimizing efficacy and serving user needs to the arena of activists calling their legislators.

Becca Mayfield

#choosing-battles lab co-lead

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Becca Mayfield is a co-lead of the Choosing Battles lab for IS. She is an award-winning graphic designer and brand strategist, with an appetite for organizing complex information and an unwavering belief in the power of human connection. Raised in a small town in North Carolina, the lure of snow and public transit brought Becca to Somerville in 2009. Her professional work includes clients such as the Trustees of Reservations, the Peabody Essex Museum, the City of Boston, and Massachusetts General Hospital. She is a board member of The Sanctuary Boston, a worship community grounded in Unitarian Universalist values. Becca received a Bachelor of Graphic Design with a minor in Industrial Design from the College of Design at North Carolina State University. You can see more of Becca's work at beccamayfield.com

Zayda Ortiz

#mystic-valley lab lead

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Zayda Ortiz is a child of Mexican immigrants born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her parents taught her the importance of community service and civic engagement at an early age. Interning summers at the YWCA Intercultural Service Center, she helped newly arrived immigrants become integrated members of American society. Zayda also taught English and literacy skills in the Oklahoma migrant farming community. Throughout her life, she has canvassed for several campaigns, voter registration, and health care reform. Professionally, she has spent years working in the health care field, advocating to get treatment and coverage for patients in need. In her time working with IS, Zayda has energetically promoted the Safe Communities Act. She has been persistent in getting city and state leaders to commit to protecting Massachusetts’ immigrant population.

Karen Shakman

#family lab co-lead

Karen Shakman works for an educational nonprofit where she provides training and coaching to educational leaders and conducts research and evaluations. She is also a parent of two school-age boys who are budding community organizers in their own right. Karen is a transplanted Chicagoan who has been in Cambridge for the last 15+ years and considers Massachusetts her chosen home. For all of Karen's professional life she has been involved in schools and community nonprofits, as a community worker, teacher, researcher, board member, and parent. Karen is eager to create opportunities where children are welcome and active, learning about issues with adults and engaging in productive activism side-by-side.

Lily Linke

#family lab co-lead

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Lily Linke is passionate about creating education and action opportunities for kids and parents to do together. A theatre maker by training, Lily loves exploring any potential intersections among art, activism, education, and community building. She is passionate about sustainability, the great outdoors, and expressing love through food.

Noah Pestana

#ee lab lead

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Noah Pestana was raised in Connecticut and moved to the Boston area to attend Northeastern University. There he earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering. Since graduating, Noah has become a performer and tech at ImprovBoston in Cambridge and a test engineer at MIT. His focus is on increasing renewable energy use in Massachusetts and combating climate change. Noah also runs a monthly charity improv show in Somerville.