2021 Democrats Abroad Europe, Middle East, & Africa Regional Vice Chair Candidate Statements

Note: Candidate statements originally posted 12 April 2021. Endorsements added 5 May 2021. Addendum to the Candidate Statement for Robert Crane added 11 May 2021.

Please find below the candidate statements and photos submitted by 2021 candidates for Regional Vice Chair for Europe, Middle East, & Africa. They are in alphabetical order by last name and include photos if submitted. Candidate statements have not been edited.



Maha Rafi Atal, United Kingdom

Please give us a brief biography. 

I am an academic political scientist and former investigative journalist by profession, and a longtime Democratic Party activist with over 20 years of experience working for the party in both formal and informal capacities. This has included interning for presidential campaigns, volunteering for congressional races, consulting as a policy advisor to candidates, and currently serving on a DNC national working group on volunteer mobilization. For much of that time, in 2003, 2006-2007, 2009-2010 and continuously since 2013, I have lived outside the US, principally in Europe, but with substantial field research time in Africa and Asia. As such, I have unique interest in the way that Democrats living abroad can be engaged in the political process, and have run trainings for American abroad on how to get registered and ensure their vote is counted as well as on how to volunteer for campaigns and overcome technological or other hurdles to doing so from abroad.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

While I am a member of the DA, my principal engagement with Democratic Party politics has been through Democratic Party organizations in the states, including the DNC itself and specific national and local campaigns. Within these campaigns, I take it upon myself to be an advocate for the rights of Democrats living abroad to engage fully in the political process. In 2020, for example, while serving as one of 100 "captains" tasked with running the Biden-Harris campaign national phone bank across all swing states, I advocated for changes to technical features and to instructional and training language that would accommodate the specific needs of callers based abroad. This included successfully ensuring that training materials were updated to acknowledge the significance of the EU's GDPR regulation, which affected how callers in Europe would be able to interact with the campaign's calling technology. I also created and ran my own training sessions for callers abroad to accommodate the needs for callers outside the US to have live training sessions available at a suitable time for their time zones, as the campaign's existing sessions were in the evenings and therefore in the middle of the night for many international callers.

Why are you running for this office? 

For over a half century, Democrats Abroad has been committed to securing full citizenship rights for Americans living abroad. During my lifetime, however, I have watched as the DA's activities have increasingly concentrated on connecting DA members to one another and to activities focused on the international membership, at an increasing remove from the changes that are taking place within the party in the US. In the national Democratic Party, meanwhile, the concerns of Democrats living abroad remain marginalized or overlooked. As a DA member and longtime Democrat abroad, with strong ties to the Democratic Party in the US, I hope to be able to bridge this gap.



Robert Crane, France

Addendum from Robert Crane, 11 May 2021:

Following a recent decision based on the Democrats Abroad Code of Conduct, I wish to withdraw my candidacy for Vice Chair for EMEA. Under the current Code of Conduct a dual national cannot also occupy a position of leadership in a political party of his second citizenship and run for office with Democrats Abroad. I believe this policy is neither in the interest of Democrats Abroad nor of dual nationals and would be happy to participate in a committee to revise the Code of Conduct.

Please give us a brief biography. 

I hold a doctorate in literature (US) and have studied translation (France) and management (UK). I have worked extensively in interfaith understanding and hold a letter of reference from Mother Teresa and was received in private audience by Pope John Paul II. I worked directly with George Soros and Christine Lagarde and have worked with senior management of major multinationals (Société Generale, Nokia, McKinsey and Company, etc). I am publishing a series of books with Palgrave-Macmillan (London) on cross cultural management. In sum, I have both the management and cross cultural skills to deal with a party spanning Europe, North Africa, and rhe Middle East.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

I have been a member of Democrats Abroad in France for some twenty years and was candidate for office twice, once in Paris and once worldwide. Thus far, I have been unable to serve. I look forward to the possibility if at last serving the party.

Why are you running for this office? 

As I mentioned, I was a candidate for worldwide office in 2015 and lost. My loss turned out to be a godsend since my youngest daughter fell very seriously ill. She has now completely recovered. Moreover, I am now almost completely retired. Thus, I am free to devote myself to another task. Finally, I am also involved in European politics with a party (Alde) entirely compatible with Democratic values and positions. Thus, my hope would be to find common ground between the two over time.


Endorsement for Robert Crane

Alix Sundquist, France
Former Secretary, Bordeaux Chapter

It is a pleasure to endorse the candidacy of Robert Arthur Crane for Regional Vice Chair for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Robert has participated in a number of zoom meetings of the Bordeaux Chapter of Democrats Abroad France, and demonstrated his ability to communicate his positions clearly and persuasively, and to contribute thoughtful insights to the discussion.  As a committed Democrat with extensive international experience and connections, Robert is an excellent candidate for the position.  I will vote for him and encourage others to do so.


Peter R. Gallego, Spain

Please give us a brief biography. 

I am currently a DA member living abroad in my motherland of Spain.  I am originally from Miami, Florida, USA.  I am a former hostel manager, working in the Americas, Australia, Asia, now Europe.  I speak English, 3 romance languages.  I am a political advocate of equity, social justice (=) in all realms.  I have 27 years in management, aspire to make this position as RVC EMEA, if elected a transition to hold local office in the near future, upon return home to the US EEUU. EUA Estats Units Stati Uniti.  I have lived abroad in the EMEA region for 7 years, have traveled extensively in our region.  I would like to use my leadership, political experience to make a major difference in promoting our organization from the region to an international level.  If elected, I will work hard to make the agenda of DA a reality with the issues being strongly heard, as it pertains to our region spanning 3 continents, bring it across the globe with much vested effective leadership over the next 2 years.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

In the last 5 years I have been apart of DA, I have encouraged others in our organization to vote in every election cycle.  I have also worked locally with other fellow DAs in grassroots efforts to get out the vote, to advocate for what the DA agenda has been in my beloved country of residence Spain.  I have been active, would like to take that leadership now to a regional level, in promoting the agenda of DA for the better good of our beloved party.

Why are you running for this office? 

I am running for DA RVC EMEA, because I would like to work in leading the effort of the party's agenda forward across the region, in assuring we will fully support our current democratic control in Congress, White House throughout the next 2 years.  I would like all eligible voters in EMEA to continue to support what the party wants to accomplish under the Biden-Harris administration, to help bring more advocacy to DA voters in assuring we stand strong against GOP efforts to gain control again in 2022, 2024.  If elected, will work hard with other RVCs around the world, we will find common ground to establish a better organization for everyone who is a Democrat living abroad.  Yes we can!  Si se puede!



John J. Goodman, France

Please give us a brief biography. 

I am a 42 year-old attorney, living with my wife and son in Strasbourg, France. 

I grew up in California, New Mexico, Alabama, Kentucky and the African country of Gabon.

As a kid, I was very adventurous and all the moving taught me to be adaptable and mentally tough. That led me into humanitarian work. After several years as an attorney in private practice in Lexington, Kentucky, I joined the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Red Cross is the custodian of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions - the law of war as enshrined in codes of military justice around the world. My first job was to visit prisoners of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

After several years, I joined former United States President and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter's non-governmental organization, The Carter Center. My job is to carry forward President and Mrs. Carter's legacy of peace-making, with a particular focus on Africa and some coverage of the Middle East. I also work on public health issues. My work has taken me to dozens of African countries, mostly those experiencing conflict. While the work is always challenging, I enjoy engaging with complex problems, spending time in Africa and the Middle East, and thinking creatively. I feel proud to offer whatever modest support we can in the effort to prevent, mitigate or end conflict. I have on occasion worked personally with President Carter and he has been a great support and source of inspiration. 

As the Regional Vice Chair for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I would look forward to drawing on this professional background, and the personal attributes developed along the way, in representing and supporting Democrats Abroad members. 

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

I joined DA in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. This is my first attempt to serve in a leadership role.

Why are you running for this office? 

I am running to be the Regional Vice Chair for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa because of a sense of obligation to do everything I can to support the Democratic Party right now. I am a life-long Democrat, but I have spent much of my life in "red state" areas. I have seen for myself how many have lost hope or even become hostile to the Democratic Party. But I am absolutely convinced that the direction the Party is now going can and will win many back. It's critical that the Party not rest on its laurels and continue forging ahead, gaining (or regaining) supporters one by one. I feel I can and should contribute what I can to that effort.

I am running to be the Regional Vice Chair for Europe, the Middle East and Africa because I would bring a detailed approach to listening to individual Country Committees and DA members and working with them to confront challenges they face, and seize opportunities they identify. My experience in diplomacy is that you have to take specific situations on a case-by-case basis and develop tailored solutions. That is how I would intend to approach the Regional Vice Chair role.

Having lived and worked in all three areas - Africa, the Middle East, and Europe - I would submit that I am in a good place to understand the wide range of local contexts. I would look forward to working with DA members to explore how to maximize our efforts in each area. I would look forward to contributing to representing those voices in the Executive Committee and leading, in collaboration with others, the organization of key events. I would look forward to getting to understand the situation of DA Members in each county and working with them to mobilize and organize further. Above all, I would look forward to reinforcing the role of Democrats Abroad as a key pillar of support for the Democratic Party.



Anthony Jimos, Greece

Please give us a brief biography. 

I was born in Michigan I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Biology then I came to Greece where I am living since then. I was hired in OLYMPIC AIRWAYS as chief Cabin Attentand and I worked for 25 years. I am married and have two sons.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

I am member of Democrats Abroad and member of the Democratic Party for many years in all my life I vote for Democratic Party and I am a fallower of Burnie Sanders.

Why are you running for this office? 

I am allways involved in politics



David Mustra, Ukraine

Please give us a brief biography. 

Dr. Mustra earned his PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology at Dartmouth Medical School in 2001 and brings with him twenty years of professional experience in science policy, legislative and regulatory development, science advocacy, and program and project management. His USG experience began in 2003 with the U.S. EPA where he participated in both rulemaking and the regulatory review process. David also served as a Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2007. Since departing Washington, David spent a year in the Federated States of Micronesia contributing as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer and also working as a consultant for the WHO. David is currently based in Kyiv, Ukraine where he recently completed a nearly six-year tenure as the Biosurveillance & Research Manager on the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program. Dr Mustra now serves as Labyrinth Global Health’s Executive Director Science Policy & Strategy.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

Due to my career appointments, with most recently serving for nearly six-years as an implementing contractor for the USG and direct interface with government of Ukraine representatives, to date I have been prohibited from actively contributing to DA. However, as I enter a new phase in my work I find myself now able to actively contribute my time and experience. Throughout my career I have represented and advocated for the scientific principles at the heart of the Democratic Party Platform. In addition, while residing in D.C., I maintained an active political network beginning with my time volunteering and serving as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the Democratic party nominee during the presidential nomination campaign in 2007-2008. During that campaign cycle, I had the pleasure of volunteering in four States and also serving on Super Tuesday as the Manhattan Borough Coordinator for HRC’s campaign.

Why are you running for this office? 

Having watched live on 06 January the horrific attack that desecrated the U.S. Capitol within which I used to work, and also having observed the political rhetoric that caused it to unfold, I see the need to contribute to rebuilding our Nation’s reputation abroad as well as contributing my voice and experience towards ensuring that such events are never repeated. It is with this ideal and commitment to diplomacy and government that my candidacy to serve as a representative for the Democratic Party Committee Abroad is offered. Working at an interface with foreign governmental officials, it has been undeniable the extent to which they perceive our democracy as having been damaged. Therefore, now that I am no longer directly a contractor for the USG and am instead leading the NGO that we established here in Kyiv (the aptly named “Labyrinth Ukraine” (ГО «Лабіринт Україна»)), I have been looking at what I can do both here and back in the States to contribute to repairing the USG’s relationships and standing both with American diaspora as well as the citizens of the countries within which we live and work. Together with my years spent working in advocacy as well as internationally and at the interface of cultural and language divides, I can contribute to DA the communication and observation skills necessary for interacting with a diverse audience and building persuasive and effective messaging campaigns.



Jeffrey Nadison, France 

Please give us a brief biography. 

Jeffrey is the founder/president of a life sciences consulting firm specialising in biotechnology, nutrition, food and agriculture. Previously, he was founder/CEO of a French  start-up using cutting edge technologies to address world food security and environmental impact challenges. 

Jeffrey was the former Associate Provost (Innovation), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, responsible for the promotion of innovation across the university including industry interfaces, technology transfer, spin-out company support, and entrepreneurial education.

​Before this, he held a number of corporate senior leadership roles, primarily commercialising R&D and innovation across a broad spectrum of activities that define the global agri-food value chain for some world leading companies including Unilever, Dalgety, DuPont, Aventis and John Deere. This includes transgenic crops, precision agriculture, DNA diagnostics for accelerated livestock breeding, proprietary food ingredients, nutraceuticals and processed foods.

He has served on the supervisory boards of technology start-up life-science companies in Germany, France Singapore and the United Kingdom and on the Investment Committees of life-science and “cleantech” venture capital groups in the US and Switzerland.  

Jeffrey has extensive M&A and new business development experience, having consummated over thirty-six acquisitions, divestments, joint ventures, licensing agreements, alliances, and research collaborations. He has overseen the successful launching of fourteen profitable, proprietary products and has helped launch and nurture 10 technology start-up companies.

Jeffrey lives in Strasbourg with his wife of 38 years and when COVID travel restrictions are lifted, they intend to catch up with the grandkids in Washington D.C. and Groningen, NL. 

He votes in California

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

I was an active and enthusiastic team member of the DA France GOTV effort during the last election and also supported the Zoom drop-in sessions for Georgia’s US Senate special elections.

My most meaningful contributions all relate to helping folks register to vote, often having to ‘go the extra mile’ to help voters with special needs – sometimes providing as much emotional support as technical support. My most memorable episode took place during a Zoom drop-in call with an octogenarian in the Netherlands who votes in Georgia. After walking him through the FWAB form on-line for over an hour, he remarked that the process was more painful for him than when he voted in Georgia in 1964. He then explained that he joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Selma to Montgomery marches, was beaten and arrested for his efforts and jailed with MLK. I later learned that he was in fact Dr. King’s lawyer. 

Why are you running for this office? 

The Zoom drop-in experience cited above inspired me to redouble my efforts and ultimately to seek further engagement with DA post-elections. This, and a deep concern for the future of my grandchildren is what motivates me to put my name forward for the EMEA RVC position. I want to contribute to the success of the Democratic party in order to help ensure a better future for my grandchildren. I believe that my skills and experiences are a good match for, and requisite to assuring success this executive role. 



Kasey Pollard, Netherlands

Please give us a brief biography. 

I am black American expat, wife, mothe, and athlete. I was born Atlanta, Georgia raised in Bellevue, Washington. I received a bachelor's and master's degree  from Tennessee State University. While deciding if a doctoral program was for me, I was an adjunct professor in the English department at my alma mater. While traveling to the UAE with a stop over in Amsterdam, I met the love of my life my darling British husband and Amsterdam. Now, I am the hands on parent to our two lovely citizens born abroad.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

I organize unofficial watch/parties for othe American Expats. We gather in person and on zoom to discuss and debate US social and political as well as geopolitical subjects. My greatest contribution would be my Inaugural Watch Party Think Tank. All attendees had a night of support and discussions about the changes in the political tide.

Why are you running for this office? 

I am passionate about the expatriate dilemma. We are creating lives far from where we are yet still feel the social responsibility to be informed and make our voices heard. I know that I can create comradare among the Democrats Abroad.



Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Austria

Please give us a brief biography. 

I was born the daughter of a politically active mother in Marin County, California in the early ‘60’s and, at a young age, was sticking stamps on mailers — unfortunately, for Republicans. In college, a group of friends and I began to attend marches and print and post pro-democracy/anti-contra posters on the streets around LA. I graduated from UCLA with a BA in Design in 1983 and spent the next years working at the LA Weekly and as the Art Director for Spectacle Magazine as well as doing other graphics work. While pursuing my Masters degree in Architecture, I worked in both Frank Gehry’s and Richard Meier’s offices and graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCIArc) with high honors in 1989. I was then employed by the architect Eric Owen Moss and the Viennese architectural firm, Coop Himmelblau. With this last position my German husband and I moved to Vienna in 1994. Our children grew up as German/American citizens in Austria, where I have lived for more than 20 years and recently had the pleasure of serving as Chair from 2017-2021. I’ve been a member of Democrats Abroad since 2007.

Describe your work with Democrats Abroad and cite your greatest contribution. 

As DAA Chair, I focussed my efforts on the structure and function of our Country Committee and on engaging members and US citizens in Austria. Internally, I recruited and built a back bench of leaders with both diversity and important skill-sets for our organisation, including in IT, Communications, and Events. That work clearly paid off at this year’s ExCom election where seven of the eleven ExCom positions were filled by new leaders. Thanks to volunteers who stepped into coordinator positions, DA Austria had the highest engagement numbers in the world in 2018 and fourth highest in 2020. We also had the highest number of callhub agents to membership of any other country committee (3.78%), and our phone bank numbers were the sixth highest of all country committees. Our small size belies our commitment!

Structurally, I oversaw the registration of our CC as a recognised non-profit and the resulting transition of our archives and working documents from Yahoo Groups to G-Suite for nonprofits. We established clear procedures for using the resource, and I advised other CC’s on implementing this process. I was an active member on our Bylaws Committee that completely updated and revised our 2011 Bylaws to ensure they reflected new technologies and norms. With the development of our Comms team, we updated and stylistically branded our monthly newsletter, social media platforms, and graphics to create a recognisable online presence. Finally, during my tenure I worked to increase the number of sustaining donors to the current level, which now covers our overhead expenses and ensures our financial stability for project expenses. This internal work over the past four years has built a strong foundation for DA Austria’s future growth. 

Like many other country committees, I found that the period of Trump’s presidency resulted in an urgency and engagement of Americans living abroad that made membership outreach both relentless and rewarding. In the first two years, it felt like a demonstration or vigil needed to be organised monthly. They were an important outlet though and helped us to grow our membership to 23% of the US population in Austria. To further that goal, I worked to establish regional precincts outside of Vienna with voter registration tables and monthly events. There are now five, up from two, active precincts in Austria. I also oversaw the establishment of multiple monthly events in Vienna, monthly meet-ups in other cities, and a number of semi-annual events to increase membership participation and target new members. During the summer of 2020, we held 17+ in-person voter registration events in Vienna and other major Austrian cities. I also worked together with a local English language magazine to provide a DHL discount for Americans to return their ballots and held a voter help table next door to expedite the process! Additionally, after a few members from Bratislava attended our GPP and other events, DA Austria undertook the sponsorship of Democrats Abroad members in Slovakia in order to increase membership and participation in that region. 

As a volunteer in 2016, I organised DA Austria’s Rockin’ the Vote for Hillary fundraiser concert to benefit the DPCA. I think Art Schankler would say the €2400 profit the event raised was my greatest contribution to DA!

Why are you running for this office? 

Growing up in Northern California in a household where politics was a regular side dish and both Republicans and Democrats were at the table, I learned from an early age the power and importance of political engagement. Serving as DA Austria’s Chair over the past four years has made me appreciate even more what individuals working together can accomplish. It was exhilarating to have the opportunity to strengthen the country committee and reach out to so many Americans in Austria.

As EMEA Regional Vice Chair, I’d like to see more communication and knowledge-sharing among regional CC Chairs & Vice Chairs. The silver lining behind the pandemic has been that just as knowledge and skills were shared within a country, we’ve now learned how to cross-pollinate across borders. This pooling of resources and talent reduces redundancies and benefits us all. In that vein, the Voter Help Zoom, Call-a-Thons, and VFA trainings were fantastic initiatives. We need  to ensure continued support of region-wide programs and resources early on in the election cycle and cultivate other similar projects that would benefit from multi-CC cooperation and coordination. I also think it would be beneficial to hold online sessions for CC ExCom leaders twice a year, including prior to the EMEA Regional Meetings, in order to discover challenges that CC’s are facing and target issues that should be of focus.

As a recruiter, organiser, and listener, I’m excellent at finding and placing people with talent and skills in positions best suited to their skill set and interests. Over the past four years, I have deepened my management tool box, learning to delegate and oversee multiple projects simultaneously. I enjoy hearing about different ideas for development, and over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of you about your ideas. Your input has helped me to shape my vision for the role, and I look forward to continuing the conversation as your Regional Vice Chair. I hope I will have your vote!


Endorsements for Jennifer Rakow-Stepper


Keith M. Jacomine, Austria
Former Chair and Vice-Chair

My initial work with Jennifer in DAA was during her work as a super volunteers in the 2016 election cycle. She conceived and spearheaded a very successful benefit concert for the DPCA at a time when they were turning to country committees to help with fundraising. 

Subsequently she decided to run as Chair and I served as her Vice-Chair for one term. 

During Jennifer’s tenure as DAA Chair, she not only substantially grew our membership, but she also engaged a entirely new group of individuals to become members and volunteer to elect Joe Biden President. 

She’s organized, strategic, hard working and committed to DA and its ideals. I think she would be a wonderful RVC and I wholeheartedly endorse her. 


Katie Solon, Germany
DNC Member 2020-2024,  International Chair 2013-2017

I enthusiastically endorse Jen Rakow-Stepper for EMEA Regional Vice Chair! After two terms as DA Austria Chair, Jen knows how to grow and develop a country committee, build and manage teams; she will be a resource for all in the region.

A longtime member of DAA, Jen identified a gap in her country committee at a critical time in 2016, and stepped up to fill it. The concert she organized galvanized voters and volunteers, and raised needed funds and fun for both DAA and global. Her organizing and rallying abilities put her on a direct line to being elected Austria chair.

As one of the co-founders, I’ve loved seeing Jen revitalize and expand DAA. Under her leadership, membership increased by 60%... to 23% of the estimated US population in Austria. Amazing! Equally impressive - DAA consistently is among the highest in volunteer engagement and percentage of VFA usage. Her teams grew 5 active precincts, and sponsored members in Slovakia to initiate GOTV activities there. She’s made these gains sustainable by building a diverse bench -- recognizing talents and skills and matching people with DA roles.   Seven newly active volunteers have joined the incoming DAA excom of 11.

Jen will support and guide established and developing country committees, build and work well with a regional team and her global ExCom colleagues. She’ll provide space for leaders to share best practices. With Jen as RVC, EMEA will engage more voters and volunteers, to help win important races in the US.

Please vote for Jen!