Session Type(s): Panel
Starts: Thursday, Jul. 13 4:00 PM (Central)
Ends: Thursday, Jul. 13 5:00 PM (Central)
Room: Salon A-3
Conservative control of state courts threatens the remaining foundations of our rights and democracy. State court decisions on voting could swing critical elections. Conservatives are hellbent on capturing these courts, recognizing that they helped stop the “big steal” and are often the only check on far-right state legislatures. If they succeed, a path will be cleared to enact anti-democratic agendas, including abortion bans, anti-LGBTQ+ laws, and more. But there’s hope–Wisconsin elected Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court, which flipped the court’s ideological majority. This panel features leaders on the front lines of appointing and electing progressive state court judges and how we can fight for more progressive state courts.
Zachery is Deputy Legal Director at Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, where he directs research, policy, and advocacy on state courts. Zachery previously worked as a civil and human rights litigator at organizations including the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), American Oversight, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is based in New York City.
As Senior Campaign Strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union, Michael Ambler (he/him) manages the ACLU’s electoral engagement with state Supreme Court races across the country.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Michael managed the Josh Gottheimer for Congress campaign in NJ-5, where he led the campaign to a 7-point victory in an R+4 district. Previously, Michael ran the Janet Mills for Governor campaign in Maine, winning a 7-way primary and helping elect the first female Governor in Maine’s history, and the Ro Khanna for Congress campaign in CA-17.
Michael lives and works in New York City; after moving to six states in eight years, he’s profoundly excited to be settling down in the only place with worthwhile pizza. He graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and lives with his wife Sarah and dog Sunny.
Three things fuel Shwetika’s political organizing: moments, moving, and mortgages.
Creating moments for connection drive Shwetika’s curiosity, creativity, and intellect. She directs campaigns to engage voters for 50+1 Strategies. She also fundraises for, supports, and elects women to California state offices as VP of The California List.
She honed her organizing and analytical skills fundraising for the 2013 Lt. Governor’s race in Virginia, managing a successful 2014 Independent Expenditure campaign in Hawaii, and in finance, film, and technology.
Shwetika’s diverse experiences involved moving and seeing what moves people. Shwetika’s first time moving was at 6 years old and she then went on to live in 7 other cities in 2 countries.
Shwetika’s parents, like families across the country, were victims of the Great Recession. Their mortgage cost more than the home it was paying for. Addressing issues of economic inequality power Shwetika’s political passion as a result.
Jennifer has been organizing professionally for 20 years with experience at the local, state and national levels. Ms. Knox’s first dream was to pursue technology and become a coder, but she fell in love with organizing in her hometown of Madison, WI as a working class college student pushing for college affordability and access for low-income students and students of color. After spending a decade learning and honing the craft of person-to-person organizing Jknox’s, position at Working Families allows her to leverage her deep field and organizing expertise with an opportunity to pioneer tech strategies that meet real needs on the ground to power the movement.
Jennifer supervised Working Families Party’s work which helped flip the state’s supreme court from republican control in 2023 opening up opportunities to end Wisconsin’s abortion ban, un-gerrymander the state, and overturn anti-democratic and anti-worker rulings.
At WFP jknox is leading on developing WFP’s organizing model, tactical innovation, sharpening WFP’s tech stack, and launching Votivate, a tool that gets voter file access to all campaigns – no matter how big or small – to run effective grassroots campaigns.
After 15 years living in Washington, DC, Jennifer recently relocated to Denver, CO. jknox enjoys all things outdoors including running, hiking, skiing, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
Blair Sapp is a campaign strategist who currently serves as the National Deputy Political Director at America Votes, where he helps national progressive organizations plan their election strategies. Prior to that, Blair has worked as a digital strategist and a field organizer for campaigns around the country. Blair lives in Washington, D.C. with his partner and their two dogs.