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Senior Leadership

Meet the Leadership Team!

Jessica O’Connell

Executive Director

Jess O’Connell serves as the Executive Director at EMILY’s List, where she manages the senior leadership team in pursuit of strategic, programmatic, financial and operational goals to help elect pro-choice, Democratic women throughout the country.

O’Connell joined EMILY's List from the Center for American Progress, where was a senior vice president and the chief of staff. O'Connell helped lead day-to-day operations for the influential, progressive think tank. She came to CAP from the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. As the national field director, she organized influential statewide networks of more than 400 nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and think tanks on international affairs, budget issues, and global engagement.

From 2007-2008, O’Connell served on the senior team for Hillary Clinton for President, as the national director of operations. She led staffing and infrastructure to help the campaign run nationwide and managed daily operations at the headquarters. For over a decade, O’Connell has worked to elect U.S. federal and statewide political candidates throughout the country — directly on the campaign trail and off. She’s helped raise millions of dollars for progressive candidates and issues, including work in development positions with EMILY’s List and the Children’s Defense Fund. As the chief operating officer for digital services company, EchoDitto, O’Connell managed operations and the client services team that led strategic and campaign planning for national, progressive clients.

In 2009, O’Connell founded Youth Trek, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., that works to promote the character development and self-discovery of underserved girls through travel experiences and access to women leaders throughout the country.

Jess has an M.B.A. from the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business and a B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is originally from Arizona, adopted Colorado for a decade, and now lives with her partner in Washington, D.C.

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Kate Black

Vice President, Research

Kate Black is the Vice President of Research at EMILY's List, where she works to provide critical information and insight on individual races, electoral trends, and federal and state policies impacting women and families. As Vice President of Research, she has conducted first-of-its kind research to measure the impact of having women in federal office. Prior to joining EMILY’s List in 2011, Kate worked as Research Director of Gragert Jones Research, a political consulting firm where she assisted congressional campaigns with their research needs. During the 2010 cycle, she worked as a member of the rapid response team at the Democratic National Committee and coordinated research and communications at the Service Employees International Union. In 2007 and 2008, she served as a member of the Research Department on the Hillary Clinton for President campaign.

Kate is also the Executive Director at American Women, an affiliated organization of EMILY's List. American Women works to amplify women's voices across the country. In this role, she leads the organization's strategic vision, research, and outreach with allies and partners. Since launching in September 2013, American Women has worked to establish itself as the research hub on economic security issues for women and families.

Kate currently serves as Director for the DC chapter of the Younger Women’s Task Force, a group that represents over 800 women in Washington, DC. She also works to help close the gender wage gap as a salary negotiation trainer. Kate received her Master’s degree in Women’s Studies with a focus on Economics from George Washington University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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Louisa W. Farley

Vice President, Development

Louisa Farley is the Vice President of Development at EMILY’s List where she oversees development and fundraising efforts on behalf of EMILY’s List and its endorsed candidates.  In this role she also manages the major gifts and direct marketing fundraising channels. 
 
Most recently, Louisa served as the Major Gifts Director at EMILY’s List from 2012 through 2014.  Prior to joining EMILY’s List, Louisa lived in Australia where she worked with several political organizations including the Australian Labor Party’s national think tank, Chifley Research Centre and the New South Wales Labor Party.  Louisa formerly served as National Finance Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) where she oversaw the Committee’s fundraising efforts for the 2009 – 2010 cycle, and as Finance Director for New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s successful 2008 U.S. Senate campaign. From 2006 to 2007, Louisa worked in Connecticut and amassed a successful track record of raising resources for candidates at the state and federal levels, including Governor Dan Malloy and Senator Chris Dodd.  At the beginning of her career, Louisa worked for Governor Mike Easley on his 2004 re-election campaign and worked for the South Carolina Democratic Party in 2002.   

Louisa is a native of South Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and the University of Newcastle Australia with a Masters in Business Administration.  She currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband.

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Lucinda Guinn

Vice President, Campaigns

Lucinda Guinn is the Vice President of Campaigns at EMILY’s List, where she oversees all of the group’s efforts to elect pro-choice Democratic women to local, state and federal office.

Previously, Lucinda served as the Vice President of Independent Expenditures. In this role, Lucinda ran WOMEN VOTE!, EMILY’s List independent expenditure arm which works to educate and mobilize women voters on behalf of pro-choice Democratic women candidates.

Prior to joining EMILY’s List, Lucinda served as Political Director at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a nonpartisan organization that helps elect outstanding LGBT community leaders to public office. During the 2012 election cycle Lucinda served as the Western Political Director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where she helped elect 11 new members of Congress while retaining the seat of every incumbent in her region. Lucinda’s multi-faceted political experience includes: campaign management (including Ami Bera for Congress), field organizing, earned media and paid communications for both independent expenditures and coordinated campaigns. Throughout her career she worked on and advised campaigns at the legislative, mayoral, congressional, senate, and presidential levels. 

Lucinda, a proud BBQ-eating Texas Democrat, has a Bachelor of Science from the UT Austin School of Journalism and now lives in Washington, DC.

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Caitlin Mitchell

Vice President, Digital

Caitlin Mitchell is the Vice President of Digital for EMILY’s List, overseeing digital strategy and implementation for online fundraising, messaging, and community building.

Most recently, Caitlin served as the Deputy Digital Director for the Democratic National Committee, where she managed the team's rapid response program during the 2014 cycle. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., she served as Email Director for Organizing for Action in Chicago, helping raise $18 million online from more than 400,000 donors and activating more than 4,000,000 supporters in their first year.

Before that, Caitlin served as an Email Writer on the 2012 Obama campaign, helping raise a record-setting $690 million online. Caitlin served as Digital Director on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2011 mayoral campaign, and first honed her political chops working with clients on digital strategy and research at AKPD Message and Media.

Caitlin is a proud Ohioan and graduate of Ohio University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies with a focus on political communication.

She lives in D.C. with her husband, two cats, and many plants. Contrary to popular opinion, she loves the D.C. humidity.

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Leigh Warren

Chief Administrative Officer

Leigh Warren is the Chief Administrative Officer at EMILY’s List, overseeing the Human Resources, Finance & Compliance, and IT functions of the organization.

Before joining EMILY’s List in 2009, Leigh held many different political jobs, from Scheduler for a Congressman to Managing Director of a national polling firm. She also served as the Operations Director for America Coming Together (ACT).  Leigh got her start in politics answering phones for Senator Bob Graham of Florida.  Leigh is a proud Florida Gator and holds a M.A. from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. Leigh lives in Virginia with her daughter, Olivia.

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Mŭthoni Wambu Kraal

Vice President, National Outreach and Training

Mŭthoni Wambu Kraal is the Vice President of National Outreach and Training where she oversees the implementation of EMILY’s List training programs, creating and maintaining strategic partnerships with the progressive community, and beyond. Most recently, she served as the Senior Director for State Engagement and Development where she worked on candidate pipeline development and recruitment of new women to run for office.

Prior to joining EMILY’s List in 2009, Wambu Kraal spent 2 cycles at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raising money for candidates and Congressional incumbents in tough races. That’s where she learned about the world of campaigns and the important role fundraising plays in winning campaigns. She also saw up close that some of the most underrepresented groups in Congress—women and people of color—weren’t keeping up with the growing influence of money in elections. That is why she later went on to co-open and run a woman-owned fundraising firm that serviced clients at every level of political office. She has also served as the PAC Coordinator for the AFL-CIO and served as the Deputy Political Director for then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden. In 2008, she was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Political Director for Senator Kay Hagan’s successful race against Senator Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina.

She is a graduate of Howard University and proud Bison where she earned a B.A. in Journalism. Wambu Kraal is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and a lifetime member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband, John Peter, and their young son, Mirii — who she’s ensured has been standing with women before he could physically stand.

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Melissa Williams

Vice President, Independent Expenditures

Melissa Williams is the Vice President of Independent Expenditures, running the EMILY’s List independent expenditure arm, WOMEN VOTE!. In this role, she oversees the organization’s efforts to research, persuade, and mobilize women voters; and works to strengthen partnerships with progressive allies nationally.

Melissa also serves as the Executive Director of American Women, an affiliated organization of EMILY's List. American Women works to amplify women's voices across the country. In this role, she leads the organization's strategic vision, research, and outreach with allies and partners.

This is her second stint at EMILY’s List, first joining staff in the 2012 cycle to run the House and Gubernatorial IEs. Prior to joining EMILY’s List, Melissa was the National Political Director for the Sierra Club. While at the Sierra Club, she oversaw the electoral program, running independent expenditures, membership communications, and coordinated campaigns nationwide. Melissa has worked on independent expenditure and membership programs for a number of progressive organizations and labor unions. She holds degrees in Government and Women’s Studies from Harvard University. She also holds an M.S. in International Political Economics.

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