ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Atima Omara is an award-winning political strategist, advocate, writer and speaker who has spent 15 years engaging youth, women, and people of color in the political process and related progressive causes. From grassroots organizations to state houses; from the Governor’s mansion to running for a public office herself, Atima has toiled in the trenches for social and electoral change. She is the founder and president of Omara Strategy Group — a D.C. metro based consulting firm, that provides strategic political services to progressive people of color, women and LGBTQ candidates. In addition, it offers political- and capacity-building services to organizations that center women and people of color in their work. Previously, Atima served as the vice president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a research-based advocacy reproductive health and rights non-profit organization where she oversaw it’s programming and operations. Prior to that, Atima has more than a decade of campaign experience, which includes working as a special assistant for then Virginia Governor Mark Warner as well as a campaign staffer on more than nine federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns in Virginia and other battleground states across the country. She has successfully led grassroots advocacy campaigns in six states with labor unions and community organizations, working on the ground for voter registration, ballot initiatives, and get-out-the-vote operations in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities. Atima’s multi-faceted political experience includes campaign management, field organizing, fundraising, and paid communications for coordinated campaigns and independent expenditures. Additionally, Atima served as president of the Young Democrats of America from 2013-2015, the nation’s largest youth partisan membership-based organization. Upon her election, she became the first African American and the fifth woman to serve as president of the organization in its more than 80-year history. As president, Atima not only organized young people in the political process in almost all 50 states, but she also achieved membership growth, fundraising success, streamlined operations, developed leadership programs, and increased collaborations with allied progressive organizations. Currently, Atima is an elected Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from Virginia and a vice chair of the DNC’s Women’s Caucus. She is a board member for Emerge Virginia, that identifies, trains and encourages Democratic women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office, a founding board member of Virginia’s List PAC, that endorses and help elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates to office in Virginia and she is Board Chair of the Planned Parenthood Metro Washington Action Fund.
Francela Chi de Chinchilla, Vice President of Partnerships, Equis Labs, is an expert in advocacy strategy and coalition building for progressive causes and issues affecting people of color. For almost a decade at The Raben Group she served her nonprofit clients with strategic planning and execution of high-level decision making for long-term campaigns on issues including immigrant inclusion, health equity, and the Latinx political empowerment. While at the Raben Group she was at the forefront of a growing movement to diversify the environmental sector. She served as a founder and Vice President of Programs for the Green Leadership Trust, a network of board members from the nation’s largest environmental groups leveraging their shared power to bring equity and power to the sector. Francela concurrently served as the Vice President of Advocacy and Partnerships on the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall. She directed the campaign’s efforts while coordinating with the Administration, the Smithsonian, and Congressional leadership to design advocacy and community engagement programs for the campaign. She built a robust network of support for this long overdue museum that includes 100 nonprofit organizations, award-winning musicians, artists, civil rights icons, and local legislators nationwide. Before joining The Raben Group, Francela held positions in the Donor Relations Department of the California Community Foundation, conducted research with Dr. Harry Pachón at the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, and led development at the LULAC National Educational Service Centers.
Betsy Fischer Martin is an Emmy-winning journalist and former TV news executive. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University and a faculty member in the School of Public Affairs, where she teaches courses on campaigns and elections. During her earlier career in television news, she spent 23 years at NBC News serving as the longtime Executive Producer of Meet the Press with Tim Russert and as the Managing Editor of NBC News Political Programming. A native of New Orleans, Fischer Martin did her undergraduate and graduate work at American University in Washington, DC. She is a cum laude graduate of their School of Public Affairs and earned a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the AU School of Communication.
Claudia Cereceda is a 2016 graduate of NYU, Liberal Studies. After graduating, Claudia worked as Special Assistant to the First Lady of the City of New York, the Director of Scheduling for the First Lady and then the Director of Operations in the office of the Mayor of the City of New York. She worked on the National Regional Operations Desk of the Elizabeth Warren for President Campaign. Currently, she is a public policy student at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.