Candidate Statements for 2021 DAVI Elections

Democrats Abroad Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands 

There are currently no candidates for the positions of Membership Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator. Nominations and/or appointments for these positions will take place on the floor of the online Annual General Meeting, March 20th, 1-3 pm. Please contact the Nominations and Elections Committee if you are interested. 

Candidates were asked to make a short statement of interest, which follow here.


Chair Candidate Statement

DR. GILES HOGYA, Self-nomination for Chair of Democrats Abroad Victoria and the Islands Chapter (DAVI)
Giles Hogya is a dedicated and passionate Democrat and an experienced leader in Democrats Abroad.  Since joining Democrats Abroad 14 years ago, he has held several significant offices incluiding:

⦁    Chair of DAVI for 5-terms or 10 years,
⦁    Acting Chair DAVI, present,
⦁    Acting Vice-chair, Democrats Abroad Canada, 1 year,
⦁    Vice-Chair, Democrats Abroad Canada, 1 year,
⦁    Chair, Democrats Abroad Canada, 2-terms, 4 years,
⦁    Delegate, National Democratic Convention, Philadelphia, PA, 2016

In concert with the Board of Directors of DAVI, Giles has articulated his plans for the next 2 years if elected, which include overarching goals and strategies for achieving these goals. The aforementioned are found on the DAVI home page.

Other leadership posts include Chair of the Department of Theatre and 2-term Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. Dr. Hogya earned a BA from Miami University (OH) and an MA and PH.D. from Northwestern University (IL). He is also an active professional theatre director and designer, presently a Resident Designer for Blue Bridge Rep in Victoria and for Theater 2020 in New York City.

He is a life-long boater, married, father of two sons and a dual citizen.

Giles asks for your vote.


Vice-Chair Candidate Statement

Election for Vice Chair, DAVI
Candidate Statement
After completing a Master’s degree (MSc.) in Information Systems, I earned my PhD. in Sociology at the London School of Economics. Subsequently, I taught at the University of London before moving to Massachusetts with my husband in 2002.  Presently, I am a mom and homemaker for our two boys, now six and thirteen. I joined the DAVI Board as Acting Secretary last year, motivated by a deep and growing concern for our democracy, which has only increased following the recent attacks. Since joining, I have been involved in many aspects of our local organization and, with this experience under my belt, I feel ready to take on the challenge of Vice Chair. As well as undertaking the work of Secretary, I have completed certification to work with our database. I have also collaborated with the Chair, Vice Chair and other Board members to produce job descriptions for the Board, and to create a detailed plan of action for the next two years. Additionally, it was my privilege to welcome, train and lead our wonderful team of phone bank volunteers during the election to help ensure all our members had the information they needed to register and vote. If I am elected, I especially look forward to working with members to increase our numbers and visibility; to making DAVI more inclusive for constituencies currently underrepresented; to supporting the creation of a Young Democrats group; and to help raise the funds we need to mobilize Americans in Victoria & Islands to vote.


Secretary Candidate Statement


I am applying for the position of Secretary for the DA Victoria and Islands chapter.

I am a relatively new member and was active in phonebanking for the 2020 election.  I also assisted Judith Fox with verifying member contact information after the election. 

I am no longer professionally active but my field was child psychiatry.  My clinical work was done in collaboration with multi-disciplinary teams, my preferred practice setting.   In addition to my clinical work, I was active in community education related to mental health, working with colleagues to provide educational sessions through various venues, including schools, the Doctors of BC, and the Ministry of Child and Family Development of BC. 

I enjoy being engaged with the community where I live and feel it is important to "give back."  I also believe it is important to be informed about and engaged with events in the larger world.  This recent election demonstrated unequivocally how important this is.  Being part of Democrats Abroad allowed me to combine these interests and values.  Although I have a quiet temperament, I work well with people and am comfortable asking questions and making suggestions or recommendations.  I am organized and reliable. Being on the board in the position of Secretary would offer me the opportunity to increase my participation with Democrats Abroad, which I would be pleased to do. 

With thanks

Jennie Preuss


Treasurer Candidate Statement


Self-nomination for DAVI Treasurer 2021 AGM
I agree to stand for DAVI Treasurer having served in this capacity since August, 2018.   I have 25 years work experience as a Tax Accountant in Canada and the US.  I was Treasurer for Langham Court Theatre for four years and was their bookkeeper for 10 years.  


Social Media Coordinator Candidate Statement

MELANIE WADE, BA, BEd, MS, EdD – Social Media Coordinator

Since moving to the greater Victoria area in November 2018, I have been involved in a number of endeavours. As a retired educator, I have applied my skills to serving as an instructional assistant for Camosun College. This has evolved into an on call online position post Covid-19. Currently, I also serve on the executive board for CFUW (Canadian Federation of University Women) Victoria. My duties for this organization encompass website management and communications.

As a resident of the San Francisco Bay area prior to my relocation, I served as principal for adult continuing education until my retirement. In addition, I volunteered (and continue to serve) as website/social media manager for Canadian Women’s Club of the San Francisco Bay Area. Furthermore, I served on the executive board for AAUW (American Association of University Women) Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek including as website/social media manager and past president. Previously, I was a resident of southern California where I was employed in both public education and educational sales and support in the private sector.

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, I welcome the opportunity to serve DAVI as Social Media Coordinator. I appreciate both the social connections and personal growth potential that this position has to offer. I remain passionately interested in Democratic politics and how public policy affects both countries.


Member-at-Large Candidate Statements (4 positions to be filled)

Consideration for Member at Large, DAVI
Susan Watt
Candidate Statement

I was born and raised in New York, and began my political campaign work as an 8 year old child, sealing and stamping envelopes for Al Lowenstein for Congress.
I have lived in Victoria, for over 38 years, during which time I would always find a way to get involved with GOTV calls for Democratic candidates in each US election.

I spent my parenting life very involved in the education of my children. Two time President of our Co-Op preschool, Co-Chairing The ‘Making Tomorrow’ Educational Conferences (for 3 years), on the executive of elementary/middle schools for 14 years and President of High School PACs for 8 years. 

In 2013, I was asked to join the Board of Directors of Congregation Emanu-El, where I sat as a Member At Large for 4 years, resigning only because of my campaigning commitments.

Upon “graduation” I quickly moved into heavy involvement with the Green Party of BC (as well as Canada). In 2012, I joined the campaign staff to elect Andrew Weaver as the first BCGP MLA, as the campaign Event Coordinator, working closely with the Fundraising Co-ordinator. This opportunity gave me an eye opening experience to the inner workings of politics. I worked part-time as a constituent assistant in the Office of Andrew Weaver, in addition to becoming a voluntary Medical Advocate. In 2017, for the campaign to re- elect Andrew, I took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator, managing approximately 200 volunteers, ranging in age from 11 to 85. I encouraged and was privileged to have the opportunity to engage, train and mentor, a large number of University student volunteers. In addition, I was still assisting with events and direct fundraising. Each campaign (and in-between), I was very active on Call Hub, so am quite familiar and comfortable on that platform. 

From 2013 - 2020, I also served as the President of the Oak Bay Gordon Head Riding Association for the BCGP. I decided to move from that commitment to DAVI, in order to do whatever I could to help elect Joe Biden and other democrats. Now more than ever, I continue to see the need for consistent, active participation in making sure Democrats are elected up and down the ballot in order to secure our democracy.

I would love to become more involved and learn the lay of the land within DAVI. If elected as a Member at Large, I would love to help engage a younger demographic to the organization and work with the Board in any other areas I feel I can contribute. Thank you for your consideration.

PATRICIA KOSTEK, currently Acting Vice Chair DAVI
Seeking Chapter Member-at Large position

⦁    Dual citizen from Pennsylvania (Scranton area)
⦁    Active in Democrats Abroad-DAVI for the past 15 years
⦁    Lifelong Democrat from a family of passionate Democrats
⦁    Previous DA - Victoria Board positions held:
⦁    Acting Chair 
⦁    Vice Chair
⦁    Acting Vice Chair
⦁    Member-at Large

Service to DAVI Community. 
Assisted in the organization of and implementation of:

⦁    Obama Inauguration at Swan’s Pub
⦁    Fourth of July Activities, multiple years
⦁    Pub meet-ups for Election Nights, Primary nights and general socializing
⦁    Thanksgiving dinners at local church halls
⦁    Tax Seminars
⦁    Movie night
⦁    Get out the Vote
⦁    Registration at area public libraries
⦁    Information booth at civic events (Pride Parade, etc)
⦁    Media Advertising voter registration events (editing and devising Ad script)

Community Service:

⦁    Board member Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (1994-2015)
⦁    Board member, American Federation of Musicians, AFM/CFM Local 247, Victoria and the Islands (2018-present)

While at the University of Victoria (1989-2018) I held the following leadership positions:

⦁    Acting Director of the School of Music 
⦁    Acting Chair of the Theatre Department 
⦁    Acting Associate Dean of Fine Arts

During the 2020 Presidential election, I came to the stark realization that the Democracy known by all Americans before the election of Donald Trump in 2016 is extremely fragile. The fact that on January 6, 2021 there could be a riot and violent attack against the 117th US Congress while in session at the US Capitol has strengthened my resolve to do everything I can to GOTV. 
If elected I will continue to work in support of Democrats Abroad initiatives to get out the vote in midterm elections and the presidential election 2024.

Candidate Statement
I’ve been a member of Democrats Abroad since 2012 and became a board member in 2018. After the 2016 election I felt that I needed to find a way in addition to voting to try to reverse the horrible path my birth country was on and through Democrats Abroad I found that way. In 2018, together with fellow board member Jena Magnus I did canvassing in Washington State for house candidate Kim Schrier  who with a tiny bit of help from us flipped the seat blue! Canvassing wasn’t possible due to covid19 during the 2020 election so I had to confine my efforts to donating what I could to Senate candidates with a potential to flip seats. In 2022 I’m hoping to go to my birth state of Georgia and volunteer to do whatever I can to help re-elect Senator Raphael Warnock and I hope elect Stacy Abrams as Governor. Meanwhile I’d like to continue to serve as a board member of Democrats Abroad.

GREG SHEPARD, BA, BEd, MS – Member-at-Large
As a retired educator with extensive volunteer experience, I am interested in serving as Member-at-Large for DAVI. I was employed as a high school science teacher and adjunct university faculty member in southern California for over twenty years. After relocating to the San Francisco Bay area in 2006, I was employed as an adult education instructor, and I served as a volunteer school group guide and new volunteer trainer for Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California. Soon after my move to the greater Victoria area in November 2018, I became a volunteer science presenter at Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO). Since the onset of Covid-19, I have participated in online telescope training from DAO.

 Originally from Toronto, I resided in California for a total of thirty-five years. As a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, I take an ongoing interest in the politics and governance of both countries. Serving as an officer for DAVI is a wonderful opportunity to apply my skills and experience and to meet new people.