Meet a DA China Volunteer: Brian Kloosterman in Kunming

DA China is taking a moment to highlight members of our community and board.

Interview of Brian Kloosterman, volunteer in Kunming, by Alexander Lee

Brian Kloosterman is actively building a group of Democrats Abroad China in Kunming so we picked him as our first volunteer to profile. If you are based in Kunming and interested in working with him, please add WeChat ID: DemocratsAbroad to be connected into the DA China Kunming WeChat group.

Brian has lived in three states—Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Massachusetts, and Michigan—and now resides in China. He is registered to vote in Michigan. 

He was born in the New England region, where his father was serving in the Navy. Afterwards, the family returned to their hometown of Detroit. Brian has lived all over Michigan, a state that he loves. But sadly, he feels the difficulties that region faces make it hard for him to see a good future there. In fact, Brian believes Presidential candidates are consistently failing to recognize and present substantial solutions to the problems faced by the working classes in the USA, where systemic lack of opportunity and low quality of life is eroding society from within.

Besides visiting Canada, Brian had never been to another country before coming to China. Originally here for a short term programming project, he has extended his stay to five years now, working as a teacher in AP computer science, chemistry, physical education, music and physics, as well as a student manager at a high school in Kunming. He completed his MEd while in China, and hopes to continue either computer science teaching or programming when he goes back to the USA.

Brian also participates in a local maker group, where he has done some fun robotics projects and carpentry. If you need data visual coding, electronic art projects or games, he is your guy. In addition, he is working on an educational project in cultural evolution theory and a first-person ESL video game for web browsers.

Brian got involved in DA after the 2016 election because he felt it was his responsibility to participate in the democratic process.

He was a teenager when the wars in the Middle East began and he felt disillusioned by the US to see so much money being spent there instead of being utilized to help people back home. At that time, his family and friends were going through major financial hardships. They had to rely on government aid programs, but he says, “those programs have oppressive architectures.” 

Additionally, Brian was becoming more aware of the threat of global warming. “I see poverty, low quality of life, poor education, and lack of opportunity as primary drivers in feedback cycles such as violence and racism in the US,” he observed. 

If he were President for a day, he would drop most tariffs, pardon or reduce sentences of all non-violent criminals, commute all those on death row to life in prison, loosen the barriers to entry into the US, and deploy the US military in a more productive resource and alliance building manner. 


Meet a DA China Board Member: Eileen Walsh

DA China is taking a moment to highlight members of our community and board. 

Interview of Eileen Walsh, Member-at-Large, by Alexander Lee

Eileen Walsh was born and brought up in Ohio, where she is registered to vote. She is now a LEAP (Learning English for Academic Proficiency) teacher at Daystar Academy in the Sanlitun area of Beijing. She helps her students develop their abilities in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing in English, in the context of what they are studying in their classrooms.

Ada Shen (currently the National Chair of DA France) helped Eileen get involved with the Democrats Abroad organization. 

Her top issues of importance are racial equality and gun control.

She says, “I have no idea what it means to be discriminated against for any reason, and I dislike the idea that there are people who have to always be on their guard. I feel it is my responsibility as a white person to fight for a time when no one has to allow for the possibility that they will be discriminated against, for any reason.”

Regarding gun control, she believes there is no reason for any private citizens to own AK-47s. The Second Amendment refers to a militia, not private citizens, and she feels that the Supreme Court’s activist interpretation of that amendment endangers lives.

I asked her what she would do if she was President for a day and she responded, “Bring to a screeching halt the way migrants are treated. No more detention, no more separating children from their families and no more concentration camps, which is exactly what those facilities are.”

She believes that the challenge Democrats face in 2020 in general is educating people. She is perplexed and baffled by the anti-vaxers, but also by people who justify poor treatment of immigrants. “Whether it’s Donald Trump or someone else, we need to ask questions and find the information we need to make informed decisions instead of accepting what someone else tells us. It is our responsibility, and we need to stop giving that responsibility to other people.”

Eileen is frustrated by a coterie of Americans who are not tolerant of differing opinions.

“I defend the rights of those who disagree with me, as well as the rights of those with whom I have more in common. Those of us who espouse an inclusive view of what it means to be an American and want a society where differences are celebrated and everyone is encouraged to be an active member of society have the responsibility to work toward making that the reality. We need to make our voices heard as we work to create an American society where everyone is welcome.”


DA China In DC: A Recap from the Chair

While it sometimes feels, as the proverb goes, that heaven is high and the President is far away, Democrats Abroad is a vital part of the Democratic Party. We may be the only one of the 57 “state parties” spread across over 50 countries, but we still meet regularly annually.

This year’s Democrats Abroad country committee leadership global meeting took place in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., in May. Our focus: how local leaders can empower volunteers in preparation for 2020. Through our actions and learnings at the global meeting, DA China is better positioned than ever to fight Trump and the Republican agenda.

This was the third global meeting I attended in person to represent DA China. Sam Wong, our former Vice Chair, was also present in DC, and Elizabeth Jenkins, our current Vice Chair, attended (and voted) virtually.

As a volunteer on the Nominations and Elections Committee, and as Chair of the Bylaws Committee, the meetings felt especially productive this year. I want to share three personal highlights I feel are powerful strengths for our party heading into the 2020 election:

  1. Medicare-for-All Resolution: Each year, DA considers and passes resolutions that stake out our position on key issues, ensuring that they are being communicated directly to DNC leadership. This year we passed a resolution advocating support for a Medicare-for-All plan and expressing a strong view of healthcare as a right for Americans, regardless of their bank account balance. I was proud to vote in support of this resolution, and healthcare is shaping up to be a focal point of Democratic election efforts around the country.

  2. Communication Plans and Training: Amanda Mohar, the global communications lead, delivered a comprehensive overview of DA’s strategy from now through to the primary season and also conducted training on how to activate new volunteers and members. In addition, country committee leaders shared ideas on GOTV and voter registration efforts, with a special focus on reaching students and other overlooked groups. DA China, with support from some amazing volunteers, is working hard to identify opportunities to engage with more study abroad programs.

  3. Democratis Galore: Democrats Abroad is front-of-mind as a key part of the primary and election process. We had the opportunity to host many Presidential hopefuls and other guest speakers to share their ideas on the future of the country. Senator Doug Jones spoke passionately about the importance of defending voter rights, including those of Americans living abroad, leaving a huge impression on all attendees. As you know, voting from overseas can be daunting and confusing. DA has formed global voting rights task forces to identify, track and challenge instances of overseas American voter disenfranchisement.

After the meeting a group of volunteers spent two days on the Hill door-knocking on issues that affect Americans overseas. One topic that resonated with many we met was HR1 and voting rights. HR1 currently includes language that refers to “paper ballots,” which may be used to exclude electronically returned ballots by Americans overseas.

In many parts of the world the postal service is simply not reliable enough for receiving and returning paper ballots. Fax or scanning is a much more optimal solution that does not increase risk of fraud. We found a receptive audience and generated interest for easier overseas voting in California, New York, and Iowa.

These next 18 months are going to be some of the most important in our country's history. We need your help!

Please get in touch to learn more about DA China's work - we are always looking for more volunteers, and we very much appreciate donations to help fuel our efforts. On behalf of the DA China Leadership Board, thank you.


Aaron Kruse
Chair, DA China


2019 Newly Elected Leadership Board for DA China

To the Democrats Abroad China community,

The NEC is pleased to announce the new Leadership Board from 2019-2021! With 54 voters, the new board members are:

  • Aaron Kruse
  • Elizabeth Jenkins
  • Elaine Chow
  • Kim Wong
  • Faith Gary
  • Alexander Lee
  • Sarah Kimmet
  • Eileen Walsh
  • Justin Fischer
  • Patrick Cranley
  • Devika Koppikar
These candidates all won at least 50% of the vote (at least 27 voters included them in their ballot).

We’d also like to announce the new Executive Committee, who consist of:

  • Chair - Aaron Kruse
  • Vice Chair - Elizabeth Jenkins
  • Legal Counsel - Alexander Lee
  • Treasurer - Patrick Cranley
  • Secretary - Kimberley Wong
  • Communications Director - Elaine Chow
Chair, Vice Chair, Legal Counsel, Treasurer, and Secretary positions all had single candidates, and the majority of the voters at AGM assented to electing them to the position. Patrick Cranley won 18 of 26 votes for Treasurer and Elaine Chow won 11 of 21 votes for Communications Director.

We’d also like to thank Samantha Wong and Johanna Yueh for volunteering their time at the AGM to assist in running the election.

If you have any questions regarding details of the election, please address them to any or all of the NEC by email by May 14, 2019.

Thank you,

The Nominations and Election Committee (NEC)
Melinda Yang (
Lisa Movius (
James Barnard (

2019 Candidates for DA China Leadership Board

Below are the candidates running for the Leadership Board of Democrats Abroad China. We include details such as their candidate statement, which positions they have been nominated for, their contact information, and endorsements.

The candidates are listed alphabetically by first name.

Download all candidate information in PDF: DA_China_Candidates_2019_FINAL.pdf

Note that floor nominations will be accepted during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday April 14, 2019 from 1-3 pm. Voting will occur first for the eleven members of the Leadership Board, and after they are confirmed, officers will be elected from those eleven. Thus, all voting will occur during the AGM for DA China members attending either in person or through WebEx. Please register for the meeting, and sign up to be a DA China member if you haven’t done so already! Stay tuned for more information about the election format.

Register for the 2019 Annual General Meeting

We ask that in the weeks leading up to the election that conversations about the candidates remain respectful in the public spaces provided by DA China. We invite any DA member to submit further endorsements to the NEC (email any or all of us listed below) by April 11 for any of the listed candidates – we will compile and share these to DA a few days before the AGM.

We look forward to your participation – please come and vote, and help decide the future of Democrats Abroad in China!

All the best,
The Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC)
Melinda Yang (
James Barnard (
Lisa Movius (

Women's Wave - Beijing


Saturday, January 19

11:30 am at Jing A - Xingfucun Brewpub in Beijing

Free to all genders and nationalities!

Come see how much you know about notable current and past women, historic events advancing gender equality, and more! Teams can be up to six people, and winners will receive a prize! Don’t have a team? Don’t worry, we can help match you up!

Those who RSVP using the QR code below at least 24 hours before the event can get a free drink with the purchase of brunch. Hope to see you there!

For more info, email:


Thanksgiving at the Great Wall


Ready Set GO VOTE from Abroad

Free workshop on absentee voting for Americans. 

2:30-3:00pm on Saturdays at the Bookworm

Aug 25 Sept 1 Sept 8 Sept 15 � Sept 22 Sept 29 Oct 6 Oct 13

Extended hours for voter assistance: 3-5pm. 

  • Complete the required application to request your absentee ballot for the November 6 midterms.
  • Learn about your state's deadlines and requirements for submissions.
  • Find out what to expect in the voting process and how you can protect yourself from being disenfranchised.

Sessions are 30-minutes and limited to 10 participants per session. Drop-ins are welcome during the extended hours for voter assistance 3-5pm.

Questions? Contact DA China Secretary, Elizabeth Jenkins - call/text/wechat: 186-1236-5524.


2018 Labor Day Weekend in China

Red White & VOTE BLUE! Democrats Abroad China invites you to join our Labor Day Weekend Meetup at the Beijing Bookworm (Saturday, September 1st - 2:00-4:00pm). The afternoon will feature updates from the Women's and Progressive Caucuses, as well as our Get Out The Vote (GOTV) team. You can make sure you're registered and ready to vote by absentee ballot for the November 6th midterm election. We will also have opportunities for you to take action and mobilize other U.S. voters in China. This event is open to new and existing Democrats Abroad members! Voter support will be available to all Americans regardless of party affiliation. Free to attend. RSVP requested but not required:


China Voter Help Desks 2018


U.S. citizens living in Shanghai should plan to go to Boxing Cat Brewery (3rd floor) on Yongfu Lu and Fuxing Lu to register and request your absentee ballot. Every weekend from August 25, there will be a voter help desk staffed by volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays 12:00pm-5:00pm. 


In Beijing, we will have a voter help desk on Saturdays 12:00 - 5:00 PM from August 25 - October 13 at the Beijing Bookworm in Sanlitun.

Also, in Wudaokou we will have volunteers available at Lush and/or Pyro to help with voter questions on Saturdays 12:00 - 5:00 PM.


Kunming, Chengdu, Shenzhen and maybe more! Please stay tuned.

Get involved

Want to work a voter help desk? See a good venue or special event where we should be? Call/text/wechat Elizabeth 186 1236 5524