DANL 2017 ExCom Election Candidate Statements

Below are the statements for all candidates of the DANL 2017 Executive Committee Elections:

Kendra Borgen

Candidate for  Chair

Having volunteered in elections for 18 years, I decided to put my hand up and ran for the at-large position in 2015. In my near decade in Holland watching the US political situation unfold in front of me, I was frustrated by what I witnessed and yet felt powerless in action. Being on the Democrats Abroad ExCom changed that.

Coming from both a red state (Alaska) with very few votes in congress and the fewest amount of electoral votes I never truly felt effective in my voting power.  Serving on the board really helped me to understand just how powerful my voice could be.  It gives you a chance to make a difference in every election.

I've decided to run for the Chair position this time because I take Bernie Sanders' message very seriously; if you want something done you have to go do it! Those who have come before me have done an excellent job and if chosen to lead, I feel we are already off to a good start.

There are a few strengths I bring with me:

1. Youth: in my experience in DA globally, few of the positions have been filled with people under the age of 40. I'd love to change that and inspire more young adults to be engaged.

2. Drive: Having worked for myself my entire life I've learned how to just make things work, finding a way to make things happen. We've got a lot of work to do in the coming 2 years and we'll need to find creative ways to get things done.

3. Motivation: I seem to inspire and encourage people to come together in action. I love bringing people in and getting them revved up to get working. DA Netherlands could work on activating more members. Everyone wants to 'do something' - especially now, but many are uncertain what or how. I want to make it more clear that DA is an all volunteer organization, maybe some of us have titles, but we only work when all of us are working together. I'm happy to use my skills from running 2 successful business to active many of the 30.000+ Americans who live in The Netherlands, to work towards our collective goals of more progressive values in D.C. 

I'd be honored to serve as Chair and I'm looking forward to driving Democrats Abroad- Netherlands forward towards the 2018 elections.


Robbie Checkoway

Candidate for Vice Chair

As a Massachusetts voter living in Amsterdam for 15 years, my own vote in a comfortably blue state just isn’t enough for me. I’m thankful to count Democrats Abroad as my ‘state party’, because it means I can help influence the outcome of elections in every state and every Congressional district across the country.

I’ve worked within Democrats Abroad since 2000, first as our local NL vice chair and then chair. In the global organization, I’ve served as international secretary, vice chair and DNC member. My proudest accomplishment in all this time is working on the original team that created VoteFromAbroad.org back in 2004-2006.

I’ve written and read a lot of these candidate statements over the years. We’re all passionate about electing Democrats and advancing progressive politics. For me, the key criteria in choosing leaders is simple: What skills can you bring to the table? My top three are:

COMMUNICATION. I’m an advertising copywriter by trade, crafting messaging for products and brands. For Democrats Abroad Netherlands, our top challenge is getting the word out and getting our US voters registered.

ORGANIZING. For DA, I’ve worked on everything from local speakers and fundraisers to our Global Primary and Democratic National Convention delegation.

NETWORKING. It’s all about who you know and how you activate them. As a freelance professional, I live-or-die by my network, which includes a fair share of the expat creative community in Amsterdam. I also offer experience navigating the complexities of our own party infrastructure.

It would be a privilege to serve our group in the role of vice chair at this critical juncture. Thank you for your consideration


Jeff Rupp

Candidate for Legal Counsel 

Experience and qualifications:

Member of Democrats Abroad Netherlands for more than 14 years, chair since 2015. Vote in Virginia.

A lawyer with many years of experience in Washington DC; held senior positions during Clinton administration, while volunteering in AIDS fundraising, education and services.

Moved to the Netherlands 16 years ago to be with my Dutch partner.

Public Affairs Director at a non-profit financial sector association.

I’m been involved with the Democrats Abroad Netherlands for many years, helping with rank-and-file tasks such as voter registration, development and fundraising, while at the same time meeting many dedicated members. It’s been gratifying to see our dramatic growth both in size and effectiveness during those years. The friendships I’ve developed with other Americans living in the Netherlands through DANL are also important to me.

For the past two years I’ve served as Chair of Democrats Abroad Netherlands. In that role I helped to lead the Executive Committee and organize our community building, member outreach and voter registration efforts.

While the outcome of the November elections was deeply disappointing, I believe the challenges ahead of us is to engage our members’ energy, passion and enthusiasm across a broad front of activities designed to ensure all eligible voters are informed, registered and vote. We need to build on the successes we’ve achieved and focus on making gains in the mid-term elections to ensure that our shared values of fairness, justice and equality are furthered, despite the current President and Congress, and that our voices are heard.

I’m committed to that goal and would be honored to serve as Legal Counsel of Democrats Abroad Netherlands. I hope you will support me. 


Tre’ Shawn L. Griffin

Candidate for Secretary

I’m Tre’ Shawn Griffin and I am willing and able. In my hometown of Akron, Ohio, I gained a love of politics and public service in my pre-teens. I started out by volunteering for museums, hospitals, and as a military kid camp counsellor. I than began volunteering for local political campaigns, presidential campaigns, and student government. After studying in England and the Netherlands, I recently graduated from university with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in History. I believe that our party needs to represent the people it serves and that it must be more inclusive. Public service is my biggest passion, for, how can one complain without putting forward the smallest amount of effort?

I’m running for Secretary because I’m willing and able. I’m running because of my passion for detailed work and administrative experience working on political campaigns. With many years of philanthropic volunteerism experience and being the local Digital Captain for Hillary’s campaign, in Ohio and from the Netherlands alike.  This role was created specifically for me; I worked on reaching voters, promoting events, and sharing campaign news via social media throughout North-East Ohio. In 2016, I did freelance secretarial work for Democrats Abroad Netherlands. All of which, have given me a plethora of clerical, interpersonal, planning, and scheduling skills, that will benefit me as Secretary.

In closing, let the displeasure within our party and our loss last November; serve as a true rallying cry. I want to help build a truly inclusive Democratic Party that captures the voices that represent the diversity of America. Pressing to make sure the voices of Democrats Abroad are heard and included creating a truly unified party. We must not shun change, nor lack in inclusion, nor falter on platform. United we must resist and persist. We must be. And I am. Willing and able.


Bob Bragar

Candidate for Treasurer

I would be honored to be elected for a second term as treasurer of Democrats Abroad Netherlands. During my first term, I helped increase our financial resources from just a few hundred euros to over €4000.  Sad to say, but money is the lifeblood of politics. We can't work without it. And we must ensure that we handle our money with integrity and within the strict requirements of the Democratic Party. I can do that for you.

The mid-term elections for Congressional and State offices will  come up fast, and this financing will help us fight to regain Democratic control. We must have an effective treasurer in place at this important moment.

My presence on the executive committee would bring continuity as well as vital contacts with DA International, our mother organization. I served as Chair of DA Netherlands from 2007 until 2011, and worked as hard as I could for the election and reelection of Barack Obama, a man whom I have met and admire more than any other. After that, I was legal counsel of Democrats Abroad Netherlands and Chair of DA’s Platform Committee. In the U.S., I have represented Democrats Abroad on the Democratic National Committee and at national conventions.

Professionally, I'm a retired lawyer and member of the bar in New York and Washington DC. 

I hope you will vote for me, and let me continue our important work for Democrats Abroad.


Bill Bien

Candidate for Member-At-Large

I am asking for your consideration as a member at large member of the Democrats Abroad Netherlands chapter.  It would be an honor to serve our organization and to help our Democrat community take back the Congress in 2018!  Serving as a Democrat is a life-long pursuit of mine, starting from when I was raised on a small farm in Ohio, led volunteer diversity campaigns on my college campus, to when I moved west to California and began serving in local politics and presidential campaigns.

Like most of us, I have been a political activist for a while.  I would like to draw upon this experience to help DA Netherlands contribute to the Democratic Party’s success in 2018 and then in 2020. My campaign work includes voter registration, and get–out–the vote actions for the Gore and Kerry campaigns. I also organized and participated in local elections for school boards and school parcel taxes.  I also served as a caucus officer in the California Democratic Party for two years during this time frame.  Locally I served for four years, first a member and then the chairperson for the Mountain View California Humans Relations Committee (the city’s civil rights commission), and then briefly as an Environmental Planning Commissioner before moving overseas.   My moves overseas to Australia and now to  the Netherlands have focused my efforts on fundraising for the Obama and Clinton campaigns.   

After our defeat in November, I recognize that I should do more to help us win again.  My reasoning is based on my interactions with my teenage children who have watched the USA and were shocked by what they see.  It has been hard for them to accept our defeat, as it has been for me.  However, I have explained that the USA is a great country where diversity, civil rights, and equality matter.  What we see now is a reaction against the economic turbulence working class people suffered in the center of our country.  Unfortunately, the Republican party capitalized on this and support of these voters.  We, the Democrats, as the party of working class voters,  need to reconnect with these voters as well as register as many Americans abroad from these areas as Democrats, and then motivate them to vote. 

My experience has prepared me to help do this as a member of the DA Netherlands leadership team.  So, I would like to ask for your vote so I can help us increase voter registration and get-out-the vote activities within our expatriate community.