March 05, 2021

2021 Election of Officers & DPCA Voting Representative: Candidate Statements

Candidate Statement(s) for 2021 Election of Officers —

Members of the Executive Committee are elected for two-year terms.  To ensure gender balance, and in in line with the policy of the Democratic Party and the DPCA, the Chair and Vice-Chair shall not be of the same sex.

Richard Miller -- Candidate for Chair

I became active in DAA during the 2020 election cycle essentially because, like many of you, I could not stand silent on the sidelines. I'm grateful that I could contribute to DAA's incredible GOTV efforts by phone banking, working at voter help tables, writing press releases, and then facilitating our post-election workshop to harvest learnings and to-dos for 2022. I am running for Chair because I feel we each have to do as much as we can, when we can. I feel I have the leadership and people skills to help drive the great DAA team to meet our key objectives: expand our membership, engage our current members, build our volunteer base, and take our GOTV efforts to the next level to retain Congress in 2022. While we know turnout wanes in midterm elections, I feel we cannot let up, especially if we want to address the critical issues of our time, like climate change and racial inequality. Professionally, I currently work as the Global Editor at SOS Children's Villages International in Vienna where I manage a global team of six communications experts. Before that, I was a newspaper and radio reporter (20+ years), so I know how to work with the media and get their attention. (See my LinkedIn bio for more about my career). I personally work best as part of a team. Seeing the passion and energy of the DAA team, I know it will be an exciting, fun, and productive two years ahead. 


Faith Hall Herbold -- Candidate for Vice Chair

My name is Faith Hall Herbold, and I would like to submit my nomination for the position of Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria. I have been a member of DA Austria since 2016, and I joined the executive committee in 2017-18 as a Member-at-Large. In addition to my role as Member-at-Large, I am the coordinator for the Austrian chapter of the Global Black Caucus. Through our efforts, we fundraised, reached voters, flipped the house and brought dignity back to the White House. 

To me, taking on a leadership role as Vice Chair means service, and I will serve the needs of Americans living in Austria the best way I know how – through hard work and dedication. One of my main goals will be to increase our membership by extending our outreach efforts outside of Vienna. In the 2022 midterm elections, all 435 seats of the House and 34 seats in the Senate will be up for grabs – let‘s work together to turn them blue and get America back on track! Every vote counts! 


Marcy Fowler -- Candidate for Secretary

Marcy has served as DAA Treasurer since 2017, ensuring accurate and transparent management of the organization's finances and expanding the use of online fundraising tools. She has also served as IT coordinator since 2019, overseeing a full review and upgrade of the organization's IT infrastructure. Marcy assisted in the planning and conduct of the 2020 Global Presidential Primary, participated in voter registration drives and phone banking as part of the 2018 DAA get out the vote effort, assisted in the planning and running of several DAA events (in person and online), and contributed to the 2018 and 2021 DAA bylaws review. Marcy has extensive professional experience in the management of digital information, report creation, and review and editing of complex legal and technical documents. Marcy is running for Secretary so that she can continue to contribute to the effective administration of the organization, ultimately helping DAA to mobilize American voters in Austria.


Diego Heatherman -- Candidate for Treasurer

My name is Diego (officially Christopher Heatherman), and I am excited to become more involved with DAA! I grew up in Kansas City in a multicultural household and have spent roughly 8 of the past 13 years in Austria, between Vienna, Bregenz, and Innsbruck. In my time here, I have built up a large personal and professional network in Vienna and Vorarlberg and learned to speak German fluently, assets which I believe could be useful in the ExComm. My first experience with politics was during high school, volunteering for the John Kerry campaign. Last summer, DA's phone banking campaigns helped me get back into political activism. While I have been on DAA's lists since the election night party in 2008, personal connections with members in Vorarlberg, phone banking, and of course the epic watch party in November have made me feel more connected to the organization over the past year and motivated to contribute. I have worked with budgets and documentation as project manager for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and am confident I can carry out the responsibilities of Treasurer with the support of others in the organization who have more direct experience with bookkeeping. For these reasons, I submit my name as candidate for Treasurer of Democrats Abroad Austria.


Josh Friedman -- Candidate for Counsel

Josh Friedman (he/him) is a Democrat and a lawyer and lives in Austria, so he is right for the DAA Counsel job! Josh has spent the last 11 years as an expat living in places as diverse as Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Harare, Zimbabwe; and, most recently, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before moving to Vienna last May. Professionally, he has spent his time overseas in international development and humanitarian assistance work. Before that, he was a practicing attorney in Massachusetts for a decade. Personally, his partner is Austrian, and they have two kids (7 and 9), and their family likes hiking in the Wienerwald and trying different types of Krapfen. 

Politically, Josh was active in voter protection in the last election. He phonebanked and textbanked, both through DA’s online system and also for Democratic state parties in Maine, Michigan, and North Carolina – focused on swing states with Senate races. This built on years working for Democratic candidates, starting with canvassing in ’92 while in college through serving as a delegate to the state convention in MA and protecting votes at polling places in Saco, Maine for Obama’s first election. Josh would be super-excited to support the DAA Executive Committee on legal and procedural questions as Counsel, and asks for your support. More on Josh can be found on LinkedIn:

Ted France -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

I declare myself a candidate for an at-large position on the DA-Austria Executive Committee. I am an educator of long standing from Duluth, Minnesota, residing in Vorarlberg for the past 24 years. I've kept my heart young over this time span through work as a teacher and director of a Montessori kindergarten. I have an International Montessori diploma, a Masters in Education, and a BA in Political Science from Kenyon College, in Ohio. I am married to an Austrian woman and have 2 adult daughters, one of whom lives and works stateside in Duluth. 

My recent DA Vorarlberg activity includes helping to spearhead and coordinate Vorarlberg's Absentee Voter Registration operation in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. national election and helping to create a “DA Vote for Biden-Harris” banner/photo, which (by some reports) gained world-wide attention! 

Back in the States, as a younger guy, I worked as a Project Coordinator (alternative freeway campaign), Campaign Manager (successful City Council candidate) and Community Organizer (in Duluth low-income district). I retain vital links to hometown political affairs and avid interest in the current state-wide, national and international political scene. I would like to serve the DA Austria Executive Committee as an at-large member, possessing special aptitude for and interest in Province Coordination, Media Communication & Contact, and Membership Engagement. 

I have voted Democratic in every election since Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976. Current issues of particular interest are income inequality and the promotion of living wage legislation, and the reduction and restraint of U.S. military spending. My interest in working for DA Austria is to support greater outreach, recruitment and participation among U.S. citizens living abroad in Austria, to keep democratic fires stoked for the 2022 Election and beyond. Thank you for your consideration and support. 


Jacki Hafellner -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

I come from Rochester, New York and have been living in Graz since 2016. I received my Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of Dayton and my Master’s of Music from Temple University. I am married and have 2 wonderful boys who are almost 2 and almost 6. I enjoy writing music and performing with my band. I am a professional singer and run my own voice studio. I found myself last election wanting to be more involved in helping get Trump out of office. I wanted to be more of an advocate for the Democratic Party. After speaking with a friend who has been a Member-at-Large, I realised that this would be a great position for me. I’d like to help out behind the scenes with recruitment and helping people vote. I am organised and love making and updating spreadsheets. In the US, I was a middle and high school choir director. Other than educating my students in the classroom and providing a nurturing and growing atmosphere, my duties included recruiting students, growing my program, planning fundraisers and connecting with the community through music. I hope I can be an asset to Democrats Abroad Austria.


Tanya Lolonis -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

For most of my 2 decades in Vienna, my political activism was individual. I donated to candidates, canvassed for Obama—twice; maybe you attended a fundraiser I held for Hillary. But after Trump‘s election, I realised I could do more as part of an organisation.

With DA members Juan Cerda and Antje Lewis, I co-founded Solidarity Sundays as a platform for people like me to amplify our political interaction from abroad. Over the past couple years, I‘ve also been a Member-at-Large on DA Austria‘s Executive Committee. I appreciated being part of a team dedicated to deepening the impact of expat Democrats on U.S. politics.

Biden and Harris are in the White House because citizens voting from abroad made up the margin of victory. This is a historic achievement. But we don‘t have a secure, filibuster-proof majority yet. I ask for your vote so I can help DA‘s Austria chapter build on its accomplishments. I bring commitment and passion, and the conviction that, as our republic faces historic challenges, Democrats have what it takes to meet them.

Jennifer Rakow-Stepper -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

Jennifer is a longtime DA Austria member and has served as DAA’s Chair and DPCA (DA Global) Voting Representative since 2017. Before that, she organized the 2016 Rockin’ the Vote fundraiser concert and was DAA liaison for the January 2017 Women’s March. In her tenure as Chair, she has worked as Voter Registration Coordinator to recruit and train volunteers and reach voters; created viable DAA precinct groups in the different Austrian regions; recruited engaged and skilled leaders; organized DAA’s successful 2020 Global Presidential Primary, numerous events and demonstrations, and the DAA Talks lecture series which has hosted Timothy Snyder, Melissa Fleming, Eric Frey, and many others. During her tenure, DAA’s membership has grown by an astounding 56% and has been among the highest country committee rankings for volunteer engagement and Vote From Abroad usage.

Jen is proud of the work she’s accomplished to date and as a DAA Member-at-Large she hopes to continue to contribute to DA Austria. She lives in Vienna and votes in California.


Raina Saul-Ganev -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

I have lived in Vienna for 7 years and hail from Seattle, WA originally but made my way to Vienna from NYC. I very much enjoy and thrive being part of something that advances the common good. I feel strongly that the Democratic Party must work especially hard right now with all of our current obstacles to embrace and fight for the working class and marginalized groups, to undo the incredible damage done by the past administration and move forward boldly to fight climate change and establish more equity (economically, medically, socially and educationally).

I have volunteered on many occasions over the years with DAA:

  • Working as Study Abroad Coordinator for the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections, registering students studying abroad at Webster, IES, AIS, Danube, and AAIE
  • Helping research and prepare DA Austria’s bid to host the 2020 EMEA Regional Meeting
  • Marching with DA in past Pride parades as well as organizing for or volunteering at Rallies (March for Our Lives, Immigration-Kids in Cages, RBG Memorial)

I would like to do whatever I can to help while living abroad. As a Member-at-Large, I would be taking the next step in commitment.


Sophie Spiegelberger -- Candidate for Member-at-Large

As U.S. citizens abroad, we not only have a say in who our elected representatives are – we can even be the margin of victory! I want to spread this word, let Americans all over the world know that voting doesn’t have to be a chore. Making your voice heard can also be fun and bring people together, and this is what Democrats Abroad is all about. For the past year and a half I have worked to spread this message as Communications Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria and in December 2020 also assumed the role of social media director for DA's global platforms. Now, I am running for the position of Member-at-Large to bring a communications perspective to Austria’s Country Committee and also further grow within the DAA organisation, which has become akin to a second family! 


Candidate Statement(s) for DPCA Voting Representative—

Please note: The DPCA Voting Representative position is not a DAA Executive Committee role and does not have a vote on the Executive Committee. That is why Jen is running for both a DAA Member-at-Large position, where as an ExCom member she can continue working to Get Out The Vote, as well as for one of the three DPCA Voting Representative positions to represent DAA within global leadership. The other two DPCA Voting Representative positions are held by the Chair and Vice Chair. 


Jennifer Rakow-Stepper -- Candidate for DPCA Voting Representative

Jennifer has excellent relationships within Democrats Abroad global leadership. It has been her pleasure to represent DA Austria at EMEA Regional Meetings in Athens and Madrid in-person; at Global DPCA Meetings in Washington DC and Tokyo online, and at DA Germany’s Annual General Meeting in-person in Munich. In order to remain informed about plans both regionally and globally, she has regularly attended the weekly DPCA Executive Committee meetings and the monthly EMEA Regional meetings.

As DAA Chair, she has worked together with other global leaders to adopt important amendments to the DPCA Charter such as the 1Person/1 Vote rule that dramatically increased engagement in the global body. Jen was also part of a regional group that successfully lobbied to ensure that the 2020 EMEA delegates to the Democratic National Convention were the most diverse ever.

She looks forward to continuing as a DPCA Voting Representative and introducing our new Chair and Vice Chair to global leaders!


2021 Nominations and Elections Committee

Democrats Abroad Austria