Name: David Mustra
External links: LinkedIn
Candidate: International Vice Chair
Member since: 2017
Dr. Mustra earned his PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology at Dartmouth Medical School 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 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 volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment.
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.
How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA's success?
With over ten years of experience working within USG programs and six years spent OCONUS implementing international programs, I bring a unique perspective on US government and diplomacy. I also possess unique understanding of the US political and legislative process thanks to my experience including time spent in the EPA’s Office of Science Policy where I was awarded an EPA Bronze Medal for my contribution to the OMB regulatory review process, and also my time in the Senate office of Hillary Clinton where I contributed to drafting environmental legislation, constituent relations, and assisted in scoping and managing the Senator’s involvement in seven congressional oversight hearings. 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 effective and persuasive messaging campaigns.
Are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address should you be elected?What are the three pressing political issues that you would work to include in the A 2020 Platform and why?
With my background in human health and working in science advocacy, I find that rampant misinformation campaigns and disinformation propaganda that are overwhelming the protective public health messaging related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to be one of the greatest public health threats that we as a global community face. As such, a focal topic of my work in Ukraine is countering the undermining of protective public health initiatives created by social media and other informal sources of misinformation and disinformation propaganda. Unfortunately, within politics the analogous situation also exists and whether intentional or not, misinformation and disinformation is often propagated via politically polarizing memes and internet posts. As we work to move beyond the public’s fomenting anger and damage it caused to our nation’s Capitol and reputation abroad, it is critical that DA outreach and official messaging remain at all times professional, informative, and persuasive. DA has a unique potential to appeal to a global community of American diaspora from all walks of life. As such, I believe we must be committed to circumventing barriers and de-escalating the partisanship rhetoric and disinformation that can even now be seen and heard abroad and continues to fuel resentment and division.
How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?
In light of the politicization by the Trump administration of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has adversely tinged international responses, and the upheaval during the transition to the Biden administration, there is truly a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to repair regional diplomatic relationships, rebuild our nation’s standing and the credibility of USG implemented programs, as well as to reconnect with the American diaspora and appeal to them to support future democratic party candidates. In addition, the polarizing of Americans, both abroad and at home, has contributed to creating an air of hostility and one where belief or opinion supersede facts and rationale debate. As such, I believe it is imperative to our future success to not further the ongoing war of memes, but instead to create outlets for information and ensure that fact-based messaging prevails and is a driving principle for our work in the future.
Endorsement from Tamera Luzzatto, former Chief of Staff to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
I write to heartily endorse the candidacy of David Mustra for the position of International Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad. I have known David since he joined and worked for then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2007 as part of our legislative team. I was Senator Clinton’s Chief of Staff for her entire tenure, and therefore observed David’s superb work ethic, intellect, and commitment to public service. In addition, David went on to volunteer for and actively help Clinton's pursuit of the party's nomination for the presidency in 2007 and 2008 and then began his active participation in the Democratic Party.
Due to constraints set by his previous professional position, David was not able to participate in the Democratic Party, through his work he has always demonstrated his commitment and advocated for the principles of the Democratic Party Platform. At a time when we face global political and personal challenge, I believe that David’s strong technical background and commitment to advocacy and communications will serve the DPCA well and contribute to building participation and navigating this important organization's future.
Based on David’s strong record of leadership and performing in challenging environments and international locations, it is my pleasure and without reservation to endorse his candidacy, and should he be elected, I believe that he will bring unique perspective and action while serving in the role of International Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad.
Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.