We're investing in Virginia in 2021.

Through our new Arena Virginia Staff Fellowship, we’ve placed seven Arena Academy graduates on key Virginia House of Delegates races and are fully funding their salaries and healthcare between the primary and general elections. Of the seven races we’re supporting, five are currently held by Democrats and are on the frontlines to defend the majority, while the other two represent unique opportunities to flip Republican-held seats. Arena is investing upwards of $25,000 in each of these critical campaigns.

Expanding diversity in politics is a key component of this initiative. Our supported candidates are 70% BIPOC and 57% women, including the barrier-breaking transgender candidate, incumbent Delegate Danica Roem. Our Staff Fellows are 70% women, 70% BIPOC, and represent the best and the brightest of the next generation of campaigners.

Why Virginia?

The 2021 Virginia elections are a bellwether for elections in a post-Trump era. In 2017, Democrats flipped 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. In 2019, the Democrats took control of the State Senate and now hold a trifecta for the first time since 1993. With these wins, Democrats have been able to improve Virginians’ lives by expanding Medicaid, passing landmark clean energy legislation, expanding voting rights, and raising the minimum wage. Still, these gains are precarious, and it is critically important that we hold the seats we flipped in recent years, lest Republicans regain control.

The Arena Virginia Staff Fellowship is a unique opportunity for Arena Academy graduates to gain valuable experience on races of local and national importance and for candidates to get essential staff support in races that are critical to retaining, and growing, Virginia’s Democratic majority.

The Candidates + Staff Fellows

8th District

Delegate Askew was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019 after winning a close race. This district is trending in the right direction for Democrats, but winning in a district like 85 will require early investment. Arena is providing a Finance Assistant to help build this campaign’s capacity to reach more voters.

Delegate Askew was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2019 after winning a close race. This district is trending in the right direction for Democrats, but winning in a district like 85 will require early investment. Arena is providing a Finance Assistant to help build this campaign’s capacity to reach more voters.

Finance Assistant

Katharine is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Finance Track. To the Fellowship, she brings experience working on three campaigns, including Djuna Osborne for Delegate (2017), Jennifer Lewis for Congress (2018), and John Edwards for Virginia Senate (2019). In those positions, she organized events and recruited volunteers, in addition to canvassing, phone banking, and helping with fundraising.

Katharine has a BA in economics, an MBA with a concentration in economics, and a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, focusing on feminist economics. Other roles she’s held include Project Administrator with The Outreach Team for the Everytown for Gun Safety; voter registration canvasses in PA, NC, and MI; and Family Friendly Action Fund voter contact canvasses in NC and MI. She has been an active member of the Roanoke Young Democrats.

As a black woman who lived in Virginia most of her life, Katharine has found that progressive spaces are where she can show up as her authentic self. She hopes to use her knowledge of economics, finance, and feminist theory to make change.

Katharine is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Finance Track. To the Fellowship, she brings experience working on three campaigns, including Djuna Osborne for Delegate (2017), Jennifer Lewis for Congress (2018), and John Edwards for Virginia Senate (2019). In those positions, she organized events and recruited volunteers, in addition to canvassing, phone banking, and helping with fundraising.

Katharine has a BA in economics, an MBA with a concentration in economics, and a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, focusing on feminist economics. Other roles she’s held include Project Administrator with The Outreach Team for the Everytown for Gun Safety; voter registration canvasses in PA, NC, and MI; and Family Friendly Action Fund voter contact canvasses in NC and MI. She has been an active member of the Roanoke Young Democrats.

As a black woman who lived in Virginia most of her life, Katharine has found that progressive spaces are where she can show up as her authentic self. She hopes to use her knowledge of economics, finance, and feminist theory to make change.

76th District

Delegate Jenkins’ race is another race that is in danger of becoming vulnerable with significant Republican investment. Arena is supporting this race with a Finance Assistant in hopes we can move this race out of reach from Republicans, freeing up Virginia’s House Caucus resources for other races.

Delegate Jenkins’ race is another race that is in danger of becoming vulnerable with significant Republican investment. Arena is supporting this race with a Finance Assistant in hopes we can move this race out of reach from Republicans, freeing up Virginia’s House Caucus resources for other races.

Finance Assistant

Tristan is a graduate of the May 2020 Online Arena Academy on the Finance Track. In 2020, Tristan was a finance Assistant with the Florida Democratic Party—a position funded by Arena. In this role, he worked for two different campaigns: Kayser Enneking for HD 29 and Tracey Kagan for HD 21. He also has a Masters Degree in International Relations from NYU as well as Dual-Certificate in US-Chinese Relations from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Nanjing University in China.

Passionate for social justice, tolerance, and diversity since a young age, Tristan was inspired to get involved in state politics after an internship with a Future Now Fund giving circle. In this role, he learned the impact that relatively small amounts of money and targeted spending could have on critical races at a state level.

Tristan has experienced first-hand the importance of local politics and government in ordinary people’s day-to-day lives. He believes that state government in the United State is critical for ensuring the basic needs of every citizen are met.

Tristan is a graduate of the May 2020 Online Arena Academy on the Finance Track. In 2020, Tristan was a finance Assistant with the Florida Democratic Party—a position funded by Arena. In this role, he worked for two different campaigns: Kayser Enneking for HD 29 and Tracey Kagan for HD 21. He also has a Masters Degree in International Relations from NYU as well as Dual-Certificate in US-Chinese Relations from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Nanjing University in China.

Passionate for social justice, tolerance, and diversity since a young age, Tristan was inspired to get involved in state politics after an internship with a Future Now Fund giving circle. In this role, he learned the impact that relatively small amounts of money and targeted spending could have on critical races at a state level.

Tristan has experienced first-hand the importance of local politics and government in ordinary people’s day-to-day lives. He believes that state government in the United State is critical for ensuring the basic needs of every citizen are met.

13th District

Delegate Danica Roem is the first out transgender person elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Under Delegate Roem’s leadership, this district is becoming a bluer district, but it is still vulnerable to Republican investment. Arena will be supporting this race with a Deputy Fundraising Director in the hopes we can move this race out of reach from Republicans, freeing up Virginia’s House Caucus resources for other races.

Delegate Danica Roem is the first out transgender person elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Under Delegate Roem’s leadership, this district is becoming a bluer district, but it is still vulnerable to Republican investment. Arena will be supporting this race with a Deputy Fundraising Director in the hopes we can move this race out of reach from Republicans, freeing up Virginia’s House Caucus resources for other races.

Deputy Fundraising Director

Chartu is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Campaign Manager track. To the Fellowship, she brings experience as a Field Director for Marcus for North Carolina 36, as a Regional Organizing Director with Organizing Together 2020, and as an Organizer for Pete for America.

Chartu spent most of her life planning to be a chef. While working in a restaurant for an owner who was a huge proponent of the NC Bathroom Bill – HB2 – Chartu and half of the staff were fired for being LGBTQIA+. After this experience, and when HB2 began to get traction in North Carolina, she was spurred to step into the political arena. She is motivated to fight for a better, more progressive south by supporting a new generation of LGBTQIA+ and Black and Brown Politicians.

Chartu is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Campaign Manager track. To the Fellowship, she brings experience as a Field Director for Marcus for North Carolina 36, as a Regional Organizing Director with Organizing Together 2020, and as an Organizer for Pete for America.

Chartu spent most of her life planning to be a chef. While working in a restaurant for an owner who was a huge proponent of the NC Bathroom Bill – HB2 – Chartu and half of the staff were fired for being LGBTQIA+. After this experience, and when HB2 began to get traction in North Carolina, she was spurred to step into the political arena. She is motivated to fight for a better, more progressive south by supporting a new generation of LGBTQIA+ and Black and Brown Politicians.

7th District

Debra Gardener’s campaign represents one of the best shots in the Commonwealth to flip a district from red to blue. In 2019 the margin for the race was razor-thin. In order to flip this seat blue this year, it will require significant investment. Arena is providing a Finance Director to help build this campaign’s fundraising capacity and expand its ability to reach more voters.

Debra Gardener’s campaign represents one of the best shots in the Commonwealth to flip a district from red to blue. In 2019 the margin for the race was razor-thin. In order to flip this seat blue this year, it will require significant investment. Arena is providing a Finance Director to help build this campaign’s fundraising capacity and expand its ability to reach more voters.

Finance Director

Will is a graduate of the 2021 Arena Academy 201 management training. As a dual citizen, speaking English as his second language, frequenting Mexico, and constantly moving to different parts of America, Will brings a unique perspective to all his work. He has nearly 15 years of experience working in politics and brings to the Fellowship experience as a Campaign Manager, Organizing Director, and Field Director on races including Jennifer Webb for Florida State House and Alex Tiktinsky for Connecticut State Senate.

Inspired by President Obama, Will joined the Obama campaign in Iowa in 2007 and continued to work in local politics after that. In 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy by directly attacking Mexicans, his family, and Muslims, his partner’s family, with hateful dangerous lies, he decided to devote himself entirely to fight this threat to our democracy.

Will is a graduate of the 2021 Arena Academy 201 management training. As a dual citizen, speaking English as his second language, frequenting Mexico, and constantly moving to different parts of America, Will brings a unique perspective to all his work. He has nearly 15 years of experience working in politics and brings to the Fellowship experience as a Campaign Manager, Organizing Director, and Field Director on races including Jennifer Webb for Florida State House and Alex Tiktinsky for Connecticut State Senate.

Inspired by President Obama, Will joined the Obama campaign in Iowa in 2007 and continued to work in local politics after that. In 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy by directly attacking Mexicans, his family, and Muslims, his partner’s family, with hateful dangerous lies, he decided to devote himself entirely to fight this threat to our democracy.

100th District

Finale Norton is the first African American woman to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in District 100. In 2019, Republicans won this district by a slim margin. The geography of the district is split in two by the Chesapeake Bay. To flip a district like 100 will require field staff on both sides of the bay. Arena will be supporting the campaign with field staff to enable it to operate in both geographies.

Finale Norton is the first African American woman to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in District 100. In 2019, Republicans won this district by a slim margin. The geography of the district is split in two by the Chesapeake Bay. To flip a district like 100 will require field staff on both sides of the bay. Arena will be supporting the campaign with field staff to enable it to operate in both geographies.

Political Director

Cynthia is a graduate of the Online Florida Arena Academy in 2020 on the Campaign Manager track.

She brings 7+ years of campaign experience to the Fellowship, including roles on Wendy Davis’ campaign, Erin Zwiener’s for Texas House campaign, and Chris Green’s for SAISD School Board campaign. Born in the Rio Grande Valley as a Second Generation American from an early age Cynthia felt her whole existence was made political. As a child she would go canvassing, fundraisers and even some protests. Her real turning point was in 2013 during Senator Wendy Davis unforgettable filibuster. In 2014 barely a freshman in college she applied to be a fellow on her campaign and the rest was history. The little girl from a boarder town in the RGV couldn’t be happier at getting to be a part of change and helping get great folks elected.

Cynthia is a graduate of the Online Florida Arena Academy in 2020 on the Campaign Manager track.

She brings 7+ years of campaign experience to the Fellowship, including roles on Wendy Davis’ campaign, Erin Zwiener’s for Texas House campaign, and Chris Green’s for SAISD School Board campaign. Born in the Rio Grande Valley as a Second Generation American from an early age Cynthia felt her whole existence was made political. As a child she would go canvassing, fundraisers and even some protests. Her real turning point was in 2013 during Senator Wendy Davis unforgettable filibuster. In 2014 barely a freshman in college she applied to be a fellow on her campaign and the rest was history. The little girl from a boarder town in the RGV couldn’t be happier at getting to be a part of change and helping get great folks elected.

28th District

Delegate Cole’s campaign for District 28 is one of the top protection races this year. In 2019 this race was close, and Republicans think of District 28 as a place where they can make a pickup. Arena is supporting Delegate Coles’s campaign with a Deputy Campaign Manager to help implement a robust strategic campaign.

Delegate Cole’s campaign for District 28 is one of the top protection races this year. In 2019 this race was close, and Republicans think of District 28 as a place where they can make a pickup. Arena is supporting Delegate Coles’s campaign with a Deputy Campaign Manager to help implement a robust strategic campaign.

Deputy Campaign Manager

Simone is a graduate of the March 2021 Arena Academy on the Campaign Management track.

She brings to the Fellowship experience on the Jon Ossoff for Senate runoff and at NextGen America, serving as a Deputy Operations Director for Community Mobilization and the New Hampshire Operations Director respectively. Simone is an advocate for engaging the youth vote in politics, having worked on university campuses in Iowa and New Hampshire. While in college, she successfully petitioned the administration of her college to continue their commitment to student political participation through the ALL IN Democracy challenge and the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).

Simone was drawn to campaigns because of the importance and impact of 1:1 conversations with voters. Making a voter feel they are being heard and can effect positive change and is a powerful reinforcement of our democracy. She has stayed in campaigns because of the overarching hope that a candidate can restore to a community, and the net good that is the outcome of their victory.

Simone is a graduate of the March 2021 Arena Academy on the Campaign Management track.

She brings to the Fellowship experience on the Jon Ossoff for Senate runoff and at NextGen America, serving as a Deputy Operations Director for Community Mobilization and the New Hampshire Operations Director respectively. Simone is an advocate for engaging the youth vote in politics, having worked on university campuses in Iowa and New Hampshire. While in college, she successfully petitioned the administration of her college to continue their commitment to student political participation through the ALL IN Democracy challenge and the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).

Simone was drawn to campaigns because of the importance and impact of 1:1 conversations with voters. Making a voter feel they are being heard and can effect positive change and is a powerful reinforcement of our democracy. She has stayed in campaigns because of the overarching hope that a candidate can restore to a community, and the net good that is the outcome of their victory.

10th District

One of our original 2017 Arena-supported candidates. Delegate Gooditis faced close re-election in 2019, and once again Republicans have their eye on taking back District 10. Close races like this require a strong field presence, so Arena is supporting the Gooditis campaign with an Organizing Fellow.

One of our original 2017 Arena-supported candidates. Delegate Gooditis faced close re-election in 2019, and once again Republicans have their eye on taking back District 10. Close races like this require a strong field presence, so Arena is supporting the Gooditis campaign with an Organizing Fellow.

Organizing Fellow

Janie is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Digital Track. She spent a decade pursuing a career in opera and working in the restaurant industry. In 2020, she could no longer sit on the sidelines. She had been active as a volunteer organizer before this: In 2017 she completed a Community Organizing Fellowship with Organizing for America (OFA) and created and managed a fundraiser/music & arts project during the pandemic. She became a volunteer leader during GOTV with Vote Save America and the Ossoff for Senate campaign. This experience inspired her to apply to Arena Academy. After Arena Academy she landed an organizing role on a crucial NYC primary campaign. Janie is ready to put her analytical, digital, and organizing skills to work to keep Virginia blue.

Janie is a graduate of the March 2021 Online Arena Academy on the Digital Track. She spent a decade pursuing a career in opera and working in the restaurant industry. In 2020, she could no longer sit on the sidelines. She had been active as a volunteer organizer before this: In 2017 she completed a Community Organizing Fellowship with Organizing for America (OFA) and created and managed a fundraiser/music & arts project during the pandemic. She became a volunteer leader during GOTV with Vote Save America and the Ossoff for Senate campaign. This experience inspired her to apply to Arena Academy. After Arena Academy she landed an organizing role on a crucial NYC primary campaign. Janie is ready to put her analytical, digital, and organizing skills to work to keep Virginia blue.

We need your support.

Arena needs your help to convene, train and support the next generation of candidates and campaign staff. Our programs are designed to make politics more accessible to more people. That’s why everything we do is free or low cost. This is made possible by the support of generous donors. Chip in to help progressives build winning campaigns.

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By providing your cell phone number you consent to receive periodic updates from Arena, including automated text messages and phone calls. Txt HELP for help, STOP to end. Msg & Data rates may apply. See our Privacy Policy.