About Vote Smart
Meet Our Staff
Jessica ArrigoniNational Board Chair
Responsible for Vote Smart's National Board. Jessica has a master's in political science from Truman State University and formerly served as the Director of Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).Fun Fact: "I lived in Vote Smart's only cabin without running water for two years."
Responsible for fundraising and the integrity of Board-approved policies and standards. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Richard served on the staffs of Congressman Morris K. Udall, Senator Walter F. Mondale, and Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. He is also a former Arizona State Senator and Corporation Commissioner.Fun Fact: Has a world class collection of Daffy Ducks
Adelaide KimballSenior Advisor, Founding Board Member
Responsible for Major Giver Development and Media. Adelaide is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds master's degrees in American history and library science from the University of Arizona. She is a former archivist for the Arizona Historical Society and has previously directed Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).Fun Fact: Former Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award winner
Walker McKusickNational Director
Responsible for day-to-day oversight of all Vote Smart programs, staff, operations, facilities and administration. Walker is originally from Charlottesville, VA. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with degrees in History and Economics. After graduation, he taught History and Politics in England for a year. He joined Vote Smart staff in 2015.Fun Fact: "I've scored cricket for the Royal Household at Windsor, for a spot of tea."
Andrew BuengerInternship Coordinator and Office Manager
Responsible for coordinating our Internship Program, including outreach, recruitment, and intern placement. Also responsible for office management. A native of Spencer, Iowa, Andrew graduated from Central College in 2016 with a BA in Communication Studies. Andrew was an Americorps VISTA with the Iowa Department on Aging before joining Vote Smart in January of 2018.Fun Fact: "I stayed for a week in a 15th century Scottish castle as a personal guest to a laird(lord) and lady."
Development and Communications
Alejandro OrtizDevelopment Director
Responsible for handling donations and membership communications. Alejandro was born and raised in Sioux City, IA and received his B.B.A. in Business Management and Business Analytics & Information Systems from the University of Iowa in December of 2016. He joined the Vote Smart Team in Des Moines in February of 2017.Fun Fact: "Every time I sneeze I sneeze at least 2-3 times consecutively—I don't think that I have ever sneezed just once."
Janet CaballeroCommunications and Media Associate
Tessa DeConciniSocial Media Communications Associate
Travis FlattInformation Technology Director
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. Travis lives in and works remotely from San Antonio, TX. His first programming experience was in BASIC on a Commodore 64.
Matt DublinFull Stack Developer
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Matt's previous areas of focus have been bioinformatics and media asset management.Fun Fact: I'm a big fan of spoonerisms.
Elections and Candidates Research
Peter McLaughlinDirector of Elections and Candidates Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that monitor elections, track candidate biographical information, research state/federal candidates' issue positions, and gather special interest group information. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2016 with a degree in Government and International Studies. He joined Vote Smart initially as an intern in 2015 and returned as a staff member in 2016.Fun Fact: "I've been to three of the four corners of the customary world map."
Rachael AndersonResearch Associate
Responsible for updating ratings and endorsements from special interest groups. Rachael is originally from Minnesota and graduated from Dickinson College in 2014 with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. She joined Vote Smart staff in 2015 after completing an internship with the organization.Fun Fact: "I have picnicked on top of a glacier."
Jesus OrtizResearch Associate
Responsible for the PCT program, including making issue position determinations for political candidates. Jesus grew up in Baldwin Park, CA. He graduated from the University of California - Davis with a degree in Political Science in 2012 and recently finished one year of service with Americorps NCCC-FEMA Corps. He joined Vote Smart staff in 2015.Fun Fact: "I lived in an abandoned Sam's Club for about a month."
Takuya AmagaiResearch Associate
Responsible for monitoring elections at the federal and state level. Takuya graduated from Carleton College in Spring, 2016 before joining the Vote Smart team.Fun Fact: I believed in Santa Claus until age 18.
Lucia HerreraResearch Associate
Responsible for researching biographical data as well as issue positions of candidates running for office or currently in office. Lucia is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2016 with a major in International Area Studies and a minor in French. She initially joined Vote Smart as an intern in 2016 and returned as a staff member in 2017.Fun Fact: I was a part of the Young Marines for 10 years.
Dave BabayevResearch Associate
Responsible for updating ratings and endorsements from special interest groups. David is originally from Des Moines and graduated Iowa State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Economics. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science at Iowa State University.Fun Fact: I was born in Iowa, but learned Russian before English.
Holly ThayerResearch Associate
Annie PetersenDirector of Officials Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that collect and maintain the organization's public statements and legislative information on all U.S. elected officials. Annie graduated from the University of Iowa in 2013 with a B.A. in Journalism and International Studies, with an emphasis in human rights. She worked as a freelance copyeditor and as an assistant manager in a clothing store before joining Vote Smart in March 2017.Fun Fact: I chased Tom Brokaw down on the street for an autograph when I was 13.
Paige LeeLegislative Research Associate
The Legislative Research program tracks, analyzes, and summarizes major legislation in Congress and all 50 states. Paige graduated from Knox College in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science. She recently completed a year serving with Teach For America on Rosebud Indian Reservation before joining Vote SmartFun Fact: I have lived in 9 states and 2 countries.
Kathleen PowersLegislative Research Associate
Responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in Congress and all 50 states. Kathleen earned a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and studied Spanish at the University of Málaga. Originally from Illinois, she moved to Des Moines and joined the Vote Smart team in 2017.Fun Fact: “I drove the same car for 14 years until it finally died during the fall of 2017."
Thomas StoneLegislative Research Associate
Thomas is responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in congress and all 50 states. Thomas graduated early from Iowa State University in 2017 with a B.S. in History and a Minor in Sociology. Originally from Des Moines, Thomas is a Projectionist for the IMAX Theater at the Science Center of Iowa and first joined the VoteSmart team as an intern before starting full time in July.
James WypychResearch Associate
Responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. James was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He graduated from Drake University in 2016 in International Relations and joined Vote Smart in March 2017.Fun Fact: I was an Academic-All American at Drake University for soccer!
Duncan RobakResearch Associate
Responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Duncan is originally from Nebraska and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2012 earning a degree in History. He joined the Vote Smart staff in May of 2017.Fun Fact: I was captain of my high school's winless trivia team.
Nick GerhardtResearch Associate
Nick is responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Nick graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 with a degree in Political Science. He grew up in Ankeny and joined Vote Smart in July of 2017.
Sarah DuncanResearch Associate
Fun Fact: My right foot is two shoe sizes larger than my left.
Sarah grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2017 with a B.A. in World Politics focusing on poverty and inequality. Sarah joined Vote Smart in September 2017.
Jacob PettersonResearch Associate
Jacob is responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Jacob was born and raised in Ankeny, IA, and graduated with a degree in English and Writing from the University of Iowa in December of 2014. He joined the Vote Smart Team in Des Moines in March of 2017.Fun Fact: I drank so much milk as a little kid I'm almost positive my bones are indestructible now.