May 17, 2018

Candidate Statements for Officer Elections at the June 16th AGM

Below are the Candidate Statements for the individuals who are standing for election to the Dems Abroad Canada Board at the upcoming AGM for Secretary or IT Manager to fill mid-term vacancies. Additional details will be provided in the AGM Meeting Notice to follow.





· Marnelle Dragilla

· Jacquelyn MacKnight


· Julie Buchanan

· Greg Nelsen

· Tim Smith

Name: Marnelle Dragilla

Nomination for: Secretary

Marnelle was appointed DACA Secretary in August 2017 to fill the vacancy when the elected secretary resigned.

She is a proud Washington State voter and has resided in Canada, in both BC and Ontario, for over 20 years. She currently lives in the London, Ontario, area and is actively involved in the London & Area DA chapter. Her chapter Chair enthusiastically endorses her for DACA Secretary.

Marnelle attended the May 2017 DA Global Meeting in Washington, D.C. and was instrumental in the planning discussions to form the new global Progressive Caucus (ProDA) within DA for which she now serves as a founding steering committee member.

Marnelle represented DA as an attendee at both the 2017 People’s Summit in Chicago and the inaugural Women’s Convention (associated with the Women’s March in D.C.) in Detroit.

Marnelle also represented DA Canada and ProDA at the 2018 DA America’s Regional Meeting in Costa Rica, where she presented on both ProDA and the Women’s Caucus, of which she is also a member.

Marnelle has participated in numerous marches, talks and special events with DA in Toronto, including the 2018 Women’s March. She also participated in the bus trip from Canada to Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives.

Marnelle’s favourite DA-related activity, however, would have to be liberating the DA donkey from a warehouse outside Philadelphia in a sketchy cargo van with Ed Ungar - and transporting it across the Canadian border without any issues! The DA donkey can often be found at GOTV events in the Toronto area.

Marnelle has a background in social work centred on an anti-oppression framework, and she is also a lawyer. Her legal practice has focused on child protection law for the last 12 years, including representing children, as an agent of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

She is a past Regional Director, Vice-Chair and Acting Chair for the Organization of Counsel for Children’s Aid Societies. She is Chair of her local cycling club and sits on the Board of the Ontario Cycling Association.

At present, Marnelle is actively involved in organizing the 2019 Democrats Abroad Global Meeting in Washington, D.C.


Name: Jacquelyn MacKnight

Nomination for: Secretary

I have been living in Ontario Canada since November of 2000. I became a citizen of Canada in 2002.

I maintain my nursing license in both Minnesota and Ontario. I have been active in the democratic party since 18 years of age and served as campaign staff for the Minnesota Jesse Jackson campaigns along with Senator Paul Wellstone.

Experience which is pertinent to this position is listed below.

• LHIN Health Professional Advisory Committee

• Council of the College of Nurses of Ontario, elected member assigned to the Registration

Committee, finishing my term in June 2014

• Rehab/CCC Advisory Committee member at CNO in 2014

• RPNAO member and serve as VP of the IB SIG group, current

• Gerontological Nursing Association Ontario, President NE Chapter

• Gerontology Professionals of Canada LinkedIn Group, Manager

• White Mountain Academy Board of Directors, Secretary

• Elliot Lake Library Board, Vice President


Computer: MS Office, Google Chrome & components, Outlook, Personnel and client records intake and maintenance, database maintenance, charting, data collection for records, setting up initial and ongoing scheduling.

Work style: Confidentiality ensured, honest, loyal, superb organization skills, goal oriented, ability to prioritize independently, adaptability - efficient under pressure, always meet deadlines, multitasking - competent handle many assignments, willing to stretch extra hours if needed to complete extra assigned work, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving skills.

Communication: Great at interpersonal communication - effective coordinator, excellent verbal and written communication skills, an effective listener, accuracy and punctuality, superb customer relations, good judgment, negotiating skills, conflict resolution, strong presentation skills

Other information which may be important: I live in Elliot Lake Ontario, a northern community.


Name: Julie Buchanan

Nomination for: IT Manager

I am writing to nominate Julie Buchanan from Alabama, currently of Brampton, ON for the position of IT Manager.

Julie Buchanan has been an active contributing member to Democrats Abroad Canada for nearly ten years, participating and volunteering at the local, national and global levels.

Currently Julie has been Acting IT Manager since the position became vacant, stepping forward when the person elected was unable to serve the full term. Julie had previously served as the IT Manager and brought a technical aptitude plus an understanding of the technology utilized by Democrats Abroad, which enabled her to immediately be effective.

This is not the first time Julie has stepped up or raised her hand to take on a challenge. On two separate occasions when vacancies occurred unexpectedly, Julie stepped into the Acting Chair position for the Toronto Chapter, leading the chapter to increased growth and member engagement.

Julie also gave her boundless energy and optimism for the Democratic Party to be a driving force for Democrats Abroad Canada's participation in the Women's March on Washington and the March for Our Lives.

Julie has been successful as the Acting IT Manager and I'm proud to nominate her to complete the term. Julie was born in Alabama and votes from Tennessee. Julie has agreed to serve if elected.


Steve Nardi


Name: Greg Nelsen

Nomination for: IT Manager

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Greg Nelsen and I am a registered Democrat living in Toronto Ontario. I have lived in Canada for nearly 20 years and reside here as a permanent resident. I am originally from Houston, Texas (a native son!) and actively participate in the happenings of my home state. I am registered to vote in the state of Texas and have never missed an election, be it local or federal. I have been a member of Democrats Abroad for many years.

I am an Information Technology professional and have more than 30 years' experience. As an IT consultant, I am always seeking opportunities to grow a business or organization by leveraging my knowledge of technology with the needs of the client organization. I have experience in various markets ranging from public to private including banking/finance, insurance, medical, R&D, government, and military.

Through my years of experience, I provide a wide range of expertise from the nuts-and-bolts, such as managing institutional domains, e-mail and list servers, and databases, to the "soft skills" needed to manage people. I have direct experience managing teams of people, including software development teams and volunteer social organizations and know the need for that "special something" required to coax the best performance from all.

A leadership role is critical to the effective functioning and good governance in any organization. Communication is critical to break down barriers and remove obstacles. As such, I also provide training and written documentation -- from technical design documentation to end-user "how to" guides.

I am currently in a position where I can devote time to the organization and feel that now, more than ever, the need to do so.

Please consider this note as my self-nomination to stand for the position of IT Manager for Democrats Abroad Canada. I am not an incumbent for this position.


Name: Tim Smith

Nomination for: IT Manager

• I care deeply about your privacy and the security of our membership data and infrastructure. 

• I believe advancing a progressive agenda is crucial to securing environmental, economic, and social justice for all Americans. 

• I work as a data scientist supporting a Web browser that you've heard of, and I have a deep understanding of how Internet technologies and platforms work.

I would look forward to maintaining a professional and effective Internet presence for Democrats Abroad Canada while helping chapter leaders communicate with their members. Since recent events have made clear that parties around the world have nefarious interests in Democratic infrastructure, I will apply a common-sense approach to best practices for information security to help maintain the integrity and privacy of your membership data and our information resources.

My past political engagement includes volunteering on phones and at doors for Democratic presidential campaigns and progressive referendum campaigns. I've worked as a staff field organizer for Hillary Clinton in Nevada in 2008, and as a field intern in DC for Human Rights Campaign. I hold BS, MS, and PhD degrees in engineering.

I reside in Vancouver, BC; vote in Irvine, CA; and I am not an incumbent.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can email me at [email protected], you can find my LinkedIn profile at, and Vancouverites can catch me swimming with the English Bay Swim Club. It would be an honor to have your support.


Watch for the registration details to attend via WebEx and the electronic ballot to be distributed on June 1st.

George Spiegelman, NEC Chair
Annie Parry
Ed Ungar