Click on any of the officer titles to find the official description from the DA Charter. It also has information from the current and prior officer about the time, travel and financial commitments.
All international officers are members of the DPCA Executive Committee.
DA Charter Section 4.11 (Responsibilities of the Executive Committee)
The Executive Committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the affairs of Democrats Abroad in accordance with policies of the DNC and the DPCA. The Executive Committee shall establish its own rules and, when convened by the International Chair or one third (1/3rd) of its members, may act in a meeting, by telephone or electronic means. The Executive Committee shall adopt a budget for Democrats Abroad prior to the first meeting of the DPCA each year. Except as provided in the following sentence, decisions taken by the Executive Committee shall be by simple majority vote of those members present in person or by instructed proxy given to another member of the Executive Committee or, if such vote is taken in electronic or written form, by simple majority of the entire Executive Committee. By a two-thirds (2/3rds) majority of the entire Executive Committee, the Executive Committee may overrule any decision or action of any officer.
DA Charter Section 4.6 (Responsibilities of the International Chair)
The International Chair shall be responsible for the carrying out of the programs and policies of the Democratic Party and Democrats Abroad. The International Chair shall preside at all meetings of the DPCA, establishing meeting agendas, and implementing decisions taken during DPCA meetings. Following consultation with the Executive Committee, the International Chair may appoint deputies or assistant officers (such appointments shall be promptly notified to the DPCA) and conduct the day-to-day business of Democrats Abroad. The International Chair shall be the chief spokesperson for the organization. The International Chair may, after consultation with the Executive Committee, create or terminate committees, task forces, caucuses and councils, determine their composition and purpose and appoint their chairs or co- chairs. The International Chair shall ex officio be a non-voting member of all committees, task forces, caucuses and councils.
Comments from 2017-2021 Chair Julia Bryan
My time commitment has been full-time or more: During the first two years of a Presidential cycle, it can be as low as 40 hours, during the second two years I worked on average 60 hours a week if not more. As Chair you are responsible for driving the strategy of the organization, organizing and overseeing 20+ global committees and caucuses. You are also responsible for many aspects of fundraising (including grant writing and donor outreach), acting as the spokesperson for the org (speaking to the press, writing statements in response to issues as they arise, speaking at events, email and other comms outreach to members, running global webinars), setting the direction of the organization, acting as the liaison between the DNC and the DPCA, as well as with state parties, fire fighting issues as they arise, organizing and running weekly executive committee meetings, organizing and running annual global meetings, and encouraging and growing our tremendous volunteer team around the world. In the last election cycle, the Chair was also responsible for the successful roll out of a global presidential primary, and managing the DA delegation at the DNC in August of 2020. The Chair is always responsible for ensuring that the organization maintains its focus on its two fold mission: working to expand the vote to US Democrats living abroad and to magnify the voices of Democrats abroad back in Washington, DC.
Travel: In typical years, the Chair attends two DNC meetings (3 days) in the US, one in Washington and one elsewhere. There is an ASDC meeting (1.5 days) attached to each of these DNC meetings. The Chair or Vice Chair also attends two additional ASDC meetings in the US. These are generally spaced at quarterly intervals. The Chair should also travel to the annual DPCA Global Meeting, possibly to the 3 Regional Meetings, and occasional travel to DA country committee events. Annual total estimate: $10,000-$15,000. (The DPCA budget does include a line item for Chair/Vice Chair that covers the cost of airfare to DNC meetings.)
In 2020 I did not travel at all due to the pandemic.
In 2019, I traveled for DA to Washington DC (twice), Toronto, San Francisco, and Austin Texas.
In 2018, I traveled for DA to Washington DC, Tokyo, Malmo, Nice, Madrid, London, Chicago, and Munich.
Comments from 2015-2017 Chair Katie Solon:
My time commitment has been full-time: on average, 40 hours per week. During our tenure, we have not had a full-time executive director, which has added hours/responsibilities to every ExCom member’s commitment. (New DNC leadership has pledged that DA will receive institutional and financial support equal to that provided other state parties. Yea!)
Travel: Each year the International Chair attends two DNC meetings (2-3 days) in the US -- the Winter Meeting usually is in Washington, DC and the Summer Meeting in a different city There is an ASDC (Association of State Democratic Chairs) meeting (of 1.5+ days) attached to each of these DNC meetings. And there are two additional 2-day ASDC meetings (usually in the late spring and early winter), held in two different cities in the US, for a total of 4 ASDC meetings per year. State party chairs, vice chairs, EDs and other state party staff attend the ASDC meetings. In conclusion: the DA Chair usually travels to the U.S. every 3 months.
From Germany, these 4 trips each cost $1500-$2500 (usually sharing hotel rooms or staying with friends). In addition, there is travel to the annual DPCA Global Meeting, to possibly 3 Regional Meetings, and some travel to DA country committee events. Annual total travel costs: $6,000-$12,000.
Since 2012, the DA Budget has included a line item for Chair/Vice Chair travel of $2000-3000 and I have been reimbursed $2000-3000 for travel expenses each of the past 3 years.
In 2014, I traveled for DA to Washington (DNC & ASDC meetings & 2014 DPCA Global Meeting, DA’s 50 year anniversary celebration & door knock-Feb/March), Los Angeles (to join the ASDC/DNC delegation to Taiwan-March), Taiwan (April), Annapolis (ASDC-May), Atlanta (DNC & ASDC-August), Toulouse (DAF fundraiser, panel & call-in with guest speaker-Sept?), Wiesbaden (DAG women’s caucus-Oct?) and Hollywood, FL (ASDC-Dec) and Washington, DC (WH holiday fest-Dec).
In 2015, I traveled for DA to all DNC and ASDC meetings, except for the spring ASDC meeting that was held in San Francisco the same weekend as our DPCA Global Meeting. I attended DNC listening sessions in Las Vegas (March or April) and Atlanta (April), and then traveled to the DR for our 2015 DPCA Global Meeting. I traveled to Edinburgh (EMEA regional meeting-Oct or Nov) and led mini-DA door knocks (on FATCA reform) in Washington in Feb and Dec.
In 2016, I traveled for DA to Cologne (DA Germany AGM-Jan), Berlin (2016 DPCA Global Meeting-May), Philadelphia (ASDC and DNC pre-Convention meeting-May), Brooklyn (Clinton HQ-May), Philadelphia (Democratic National Convention-July), Washington (meetings at the DNC-August), Vienna (DAA fundraiser for the DPCA-Sept), Denver (ASDC meeting-Dec), and again to Washington (meetings at DNC & WH holiday party-Dec). I also hosted 11 DA members at my home over one week to count GPP ballots (March).
Comments from 2013-2015 Chair Katie Solon:
My time commitment has been full-time: on average, 40 hours per week. During our tenure, we have not had an executive director, which has added hours to every ExCom members' time commitment. (We are hopeful/determined to hire at least a part-time executive director.)
Travel: Each year the Chair attends two DNC meetings (3 days) in the US, one in Washington and one elsewhere. There is an ASDC meeting (of 1.5 days) attached to each of these DNC meetings. The Chair also attends two additional ASDC meetings, held in two different cities in the US. This would usually translate into travel to the U.S. every 3 months.
These 4 trips each cost $1500-$2000 (sharing rooms or staying with friends). In addition, there is travel to the annual DPCA Global Meeting, to possibly 3 Regional Meetings, and some travel to DA country committee events. Annual total: $10,000-$15,000.
In 2014, I traveled for DA to Washington, California (to join the ASDC Taiwan trip), Annapolis, Atlanta, Toulouse, Wiesbaden, Vienna and Hollywood, FL.
(Since 2012, the DA Budget has included a line item for Chair/Vice Chair travel of $2000-3000.)
DA Charter Section 4.7 (Responsibilities of the International Vice Chair)
The International Vice Chair shall replace the International Chair whenever the latter is absent or is incapacitated, and shall have such other duties as may be prescribed by the International Chair.
Comments from Incumbent and 2015-2017 Vice-Chair Art Schankler:
The job of the Vice Chair is to work with the Chair in managing the organization. This may involve an assignment of specific responsibilities to the Vice Chair. The Vice Chair may also substitute for the Chair in the Chair's absence in particular functions, such as leading meetings of the Executive Committee. In this regard, the Vice Chair is expected to attend meetings of the Executive Committee, the frequency of which is determined by the Executive Committee itself. Meetings, conducted via Webex, usually last from 1-3 hours.
The Vice Chair, as a voting member, is expected to attend meetings of the Democratic National Committee and the Association of State Democratic Chairs, which meet generally a total of four times per year in the United States. The Vice Chair is expected to attend the annual meeting of Democrats Abroad and where possible, regional meetings of the organization.
Total time commitment is approximately 15-25 hours per week and travel costs, depending on location of the individual, can be expected to be at least $5,000 per year, depending on the number of meetings attended. Some assistance for these travel costs may be provided by Democrats Abroad or the Democratic National Committee in the future.
Comments from 2017-2021 Vice-Chair Alex Montgomery
I have spent between 15 and 40 hours per week on my role as Vice Chair. The primary responsibilities are to work with and support the Chair with strategy, planning and implementation. I also have travelled to ASDC/ DNC meetings twice a year in addition to DA's meetings. Meetings cost between $1,000 - $3,000 including travel from Hong Kong and accommodations.
Comments from 2013-2015 Vice-Chair Ken Sherman:
My average time per week devoted to DPCA business as vice-chair would be about 4-6 hours a week. I have been in attendance at nearly all Ex Com meetings. Over a two-year term I had travel and hotel stays at four DNC/ASDC meetings, four additional ASDC meetings, and three international meetings in London, DC, and the DR to come. That would be eleven meetings, but I missed two ASDC meeting. With travel costs from Toronto or Buffalo NY, which are near my home, my average cost per meeting was about $1300, or $11,900 in total.
DA Charter Section 4.9 (Responsibilities of the International Treasurer)
The International Treasurer shall keep the financial records of the DPCA, establish a budget for approval of the Executive Committee, oversee its bank and other financial accounts, make an annual financial report to the DPCA, and ensure that any necessary reports or filings with the DNC or the governmental authorities of the United States of America and the several States, are timely made.
Comments from 2017-2021 Treasurer Lissette Wright
Further to the above-mentioned responsibilities and comments from my predecessors, I strongly believe that International Treasurer's primary focus should be the oversight and financial management, budgeting, and reporting of the DPCA's finances.
The International Treasurer should be discreet, equanimous, impartial; methodical, comfortable with generally accepted accounting principles and willing to ask questions and explain figures if asked...as well as incredibly detail-oriented, willing to ensure decisions are taken and followed-up upon, and capable of enforcing internal controls and financial policies with a degree of flexibility.
Depending on the schedule and preference of the elected DPCA ExCom, the International Treasurer should be open to weekly ExCom meetings and weekly Treasurer's Reports outlining DPCA's financial situation.
It is worth noting that the International Treasurer is legally responsible for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports; therefore, familiarity with FEC Compliance and Reporting* is an asset.
Approximate time commitment is 20-35 hours a week.
(*) FEC Reporting and Compliance Resources
+DA FEC Compliance Training
+Complying with the Federal Campaign Finance Act (FECA)
Comments from 2015-2017 Treasurer Tom Schmid:
I agree with what Art had provided for the International Treasurer's role.
Comments from 2013-2015 Treasurer Art Schankler:
The International Treasurer is responsible for the finances of Democrats Abroad. The Treasurer is, according to the Charter, specifically responsible for preparing, based on input from other members of the Executive Committee, a budget for the coming year and a financial report for the preceding years. Traditionally, the Treasurer has also been responsible for fundraising at the international level. Among his/her regular tasks are the following:
- Approving all disbursements in accordance with purchase guidelines approved by the Executive Committee.
- Reviewing and approving Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports, filed on a monthly basis. The Treasurer’s name appears on the reports and it is the Treasurer that is legally responsible for the report.
- Attendance at Executive Committee meetings and providing a Treasurer’s Report for such meetings, outlining the financial situation of the organization.
- Providing input and advice to ensure that all fundraising, disbursements and reporting are made in accordance with election laws and FEC regulations.
- Together with the IT and Communications Committees, ensuring that the Democrats Abroad contribution website is user-friendly, accurate and up to date.
- Working with Country Committees to ensure that CC fundraising events for the DPCA are executed correctly.
- Developing a Fundraising Plan and organizing a Fundraising Committee.
- Organizing or helping to organize International Fundraising Events at the international level, and ensuring that financing of Global and Regional meetings is handled correctly.
- Providing advice to CCs about FEC compliance procedures related to their own fundraising.
- Communicating with CCs to encourage fundraising for DPCA.
- Attendance at CC and regional events as needed/requested and if possible to discuss fund-raising for DPCA.
Approximate time commitment is 10-20 hours a week.
DA Charter Section 4.8 (Responsibilities of the International Secretary)
The International Secretary shall keep minutes of DPCA meetings (taking particular note of all Standing Resolutions) and Executive Committee meetings, circulate minutes and records of action to DPCA members, be responsible for maintaining all the administrative files and records and membership lists and databases of the DPCA and Democrats Abroad, and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the International Chair.
Comments from 2021-2022 International Secretary Beth Landry
The Democrats Abroad (DA) Charter outlines some of the duties of the International Secretary. In addition to these comments, both Julia Bryan and Will Bakker give excellent summaries below.
DUTIES: The International Secretary is responsible both for meeting minutes of routine Executive Committee meetings as well as those of any DPCA meetings held throughout the year (i.e., the Annual Global Meeting). Compiling these minutes requires monitoring attendance and quorum of officers, agenda items as discussed, actions and/or votes taken, etc. Meeting minutes, once drafted, are made available and voted on at the next respective meeting.
From the DA Charter, the International Secretary is “responsible for maintaining all the administrative files and records and membership lists and databases of the DPCA and Democrats Abroad, and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the International Chair.” For myself, this entailed ongoing assessment and reconciliation of all DPCA leaders including those in leadership listservs and on organizational internal communications platforms, remaining vigilant to routine and ad hoc organizational deadlines and DA Charter requirements, ensuring country committee leadership pages were up-to-date, and being the primary manager for general incoming communications. Historically and currently, the DA IT Team has primary ownership for oversight of the DA membership database.
Additional duties prescribed by the DA Charter for the International Secretary include reconciliation of DPCA elector proxies and recording of DA Charter amendments. DA Charter Section 3.7 (c) notes, “Proxies given as described below shall be notified to and received by the International Secretary at least three (3) days before the relevant meeting.” This officer coordinates and verifies all submitted elector proxies in advance of the respective voting body meeting. Further, Section 11.2 outlines, “Within 30-days of any amendment to this Charter that is duly passed by the DPCA according to Section 11.1, the International Secretary [...] shall submit the minutes and record of such amendments or changes to the International Counsel. [...]” These duties, and the position generally, require meticulous attention to detail and strictly holding leaders accountable to organizational practice.
TIME COMMITMENT: As our organization has grown, the time commitment has correspondingly grown for routine duties to necessitate taking 15-20 hours per week. With this in mind, in recent years it has evolved as a best practice to appoint deputies under the Executive Committee officers such as that of the International Secretary to assist with the breadth of the work (as well as building our leadership bench!). Drafting of meeting minutes can take a couple of hours per Executive Committee meeting and over the course of a week for meetings of the DPCA body.
As Julia Bryan notes, “There are two annual periods of exceptional work. One is the membership certification period in January and February, which involves a great deal of communication with [45+] Country Committee leaders. The other [time frame] is the approximately ten week period before a global meeting.” The one- to two-week period after global meetings is additionally time-intensive.
RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT, SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE BASE: The International Secretary interacts with the Democrats Abroad membership and various volunteer leaders across the organization from nearly all time zones. Many will come to this officer for a multitude of questions and inquiries, and so being both resourceful and approachable is important. This office also requires being able to balance responsiveness with time management.
It is essential for this officer to have a robust internet connection and reliable computer. Travel to in-person meetings means that computer (and/or any back-up device(s)) must be portable. Extraordinary care should be taken to ensure that whatever device is used is maintained to endure the time period while in office.
The duty to maintain "all the administrative files and records and membership lists and databases of the DPCA and Democrats Abroad” requires the International Secretary to be technologically savvy, able to onboard to various SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms quickly and with ease, to be astute to routine revisions of those platforms, as well as an understanding of the baseline proficiency required for general volunteers to utilize these platforms and advocacy/foresight around training volunteers to have that baseline knowledge. Some of the inquiries posed to the International Secretary are those of leaders onboarding and offboarding to/from these.
FINANCIAL COST: The financial commitment encompasses travel to any in-person global meetings, as well as from the voluntary nature of the position and time not spent employed elsewhere. This officer must be present for DPCA meetings as they will be taking minutes. I served as the International Secretary during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so in-person meetings did not take place during my tenure to require a travel cost.
Comments from 2015-2017 International Secretary Julia Bryan:
The basic duties of the International Secretary are spelled out in the DA Charter. These duties alone require a time commitment of around 8 hours per week. Taking the minutes of Executive Committee meetings includes understanding what needs to be recorded, making your minutes readable, submitting them back to the ExCom, adding in any changes, filing them and then making them available to DPCA members.
As Will Bakker mentions below, the duty to maintain "all the administrative files and records and membership lists and databases of the DPCA and Democrats Abroad” includes using several different online and offline systems to track information that changes frequently. Once one learns those systems, this amounts to a few hours per week. There are two annual periods of exceptional work. One is the membership certification period in January and February, which involves a great deal of communication with 50+ Country Committee leaders. The other is the approximately ten week period before a global meeting.
There are also many daily and weekly duties as Secretary. Because of your role as record keeper, you are turned to by everyone in the organization for information about who does what, where x can be found, and how to solve y and z problems. Be prepared to dive into the nitty gritty of the organization immediately so that you can answer these questions. Making sure you can answer email and chat messages several times a day is also an important part of this position.
Each Executive Committee develops its own style for assigning the general work of the global level to officers. As International Secretary I also moderated our listserve, co-managed our communications committee, managed several aspects of our GOTV, was heavily involved in membership work and helped to develop the new website. Besides the listserve (which falls under the Secretary’s responsibilities), these were projects and roles that I took on voluntarily, but they do provide an example of the expectations of the organization.
The financial commitment comes in time lost from more remunerative work and the two trips to in-person global meetings. You must be present for those meetings as you will be taking minutes. As International Secretary, my travel costs have been over $4000 (including the trip this May).
As Will mentions below, “any International Secretary should have a high-quality internet connection, a reliable and up-to-date computer, and either a backup computer or an extraordinary computer support service. This position does not allow for extended periods without access to one’s documents and the ability to communicate via WebEx and other internet services.”
Comments from 2013-2015 International Secretary Will Bakker:
The duties of the International Secretary are enumerated by the DA Charter and those duties alone constitute a time commitment of 5-8 hours per week. Taking the minutes of Executive Committee meetings is not trivial, as it involves making them readable, submitting them back to the ExCom, integrating the inevitable changes, and then making them available to DPCA members.
The duty to maintain "all the administrative files and records and membership lists and databases of the DPCA and Democrats Abroad” includes using several different online and offline systems to track information that changes frequently. Once one learns those systems, this amounts to a few hours per week. There are two annual periods of exceptional work. One is the membership certification period in February, which involves a great deal of communication with 50+ Country Committee leaders. The other is the approximately ten week period before a global meeting, which requires frequent communication with the organizers and careful word-smithing to turn complex descriptions into comprehensible notices.
Each Executive Committee develops its own style for assigning the general work of the global level to officers. The International Secretary must have the ability to decline tasks, and even pet projects, in order to fulfill Charter-mandated responsibilities.
A far as the financial commitment, the most significant are the two trips to the in-person global meetings. Taking minutes at those meetings absolutely requires one’s presence. I would say that the trips I took (and will take) as International Secretary cost a total of just over $4500.
I suggest that any International Secretary should have a high-quality internet connection, a reliable and up-to-date computer, and either a backup computer or an extraordinary computer support service. This position does not allow for extended periods without access to one’s documents and the ability to communicate via WebEx and other internet services.
DA Charter Section 4.10 (Responsibilities of the International Counsel)
The International Counsel shall be a qualified legal practitioner available for consultation on legal and procedural questions relating to Democrats Abroad and its activities, and the interpretation of and compliance with the Charter and Bylaws of the DNC, the Charter of Democrats Abroad and the bylaws of Country Committees, and serve as Parliamentarian at DPCA meetings. The International Chair may appoint a separate individual to serve as Parliamentarian.
Comments from 2019-2021 Legal Counsel Joe Smallhoover
Comments from 2017-2019 Legal Counsel Tom Schmid:
The work of International Counsel fluctuates based on the needs of the organization; however the time commitment is most certainly expanding. During the lightest periods, the time commitment is routinely 2-3 hours peer week. During peak periods, workload can range between 10 to 20+ hours per week. Predictable periods of peak workload are in the months prior to the Global Meeting and in the months leading up to primaries and general elections. Leading up to 2020, there is no doubt that International Counsel will need to devote significant amounts of time to the interpretation and implementation of the Delegate Selection Plan, the administration of the Global Presidential Primary, and the administration of the 2020 Global Meeting and Global Convention. Meanwhile, data privacy, FEC compliance, DA Charter interpretation and managing a variety of member complaints and related investigations are some of the routine matters that International Counsel will be called on to handle and give advice.
The financial requirements of International Counsel will vary. Certainly, International Counsel should plan on attending the Global Meeting in person each year barring unforeseen or exceptional circumstances. In the coming term, International Counsel must commit to attending the 2020 Global Meeting and Global Convention in person. It is also possible (but not a foregone conclusion) that International Counsel may need, or may be encouraged to attend a DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting to defend the 2020 Delegate Selection Plan. However, the role of International Counsel can generally be performed remotely. Other than various out-of-pocket expenses that I've paid at my own discretion, my costs serving as International Counsel have not significantly exceeded the cost of being a DPCA member.
Comments from 2015-2017 Legal Counsel Orlando Vidal:
The time commitment varies, of course, but I would say an average of about 6-8 hours a week: participating in all Executive Committee meetings; providing legal advice to the ExCom; answering questions from Country Committees; mediating problems as they arise; drafting our Delegate Selection Plan (this is the major undertaking for any International Counsel and it will be intense and time-consuming for about two months of the two-year term); liaising with DNC staff; reviewing contracts; drafting agreements; etc. The costs have been significant for me as I have had to travel (plus hotels) to all Global and Regional meetings (plus the Convention and other meetings) from Dubai; I would say approximately $15,000.
Comments from 2013-2015 Legal Counsel Orlando Vidal:
The time commitment varies, of course, but I would say an average of about 8 hours a week. The costs for me have been significant as I traveled to all three Regional meetings (Costa Rica, Ukraine, and Taiwan) plus London, plus DC, plus the Dominican Republic, all from Dubai; I would say $12,000 to $15,000.