Meet Our Team
AMANDA, CEO & FOUNDER
Amanda is the CEO and founder of Rise. She penned her own civil rights into existence and unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, after having to navigate the broken criminal justice system after her own rape. The federal law was the 21st bill in modern US history to pass unanimously on the record and served as a model for 15 other laws protecting sexual violence survivors throughout the nation. Amanda has been named a Forbes 30 Under 30, by Foreign Policy as a Top 100 Leading Global Thinker, Marie Claire as a Young Woman of the Year, and The Tempest's #1 Woman of Color Trailblazer. Previously, Amanda was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Department of State as his Deputy White House Liaison. In 2018, Amanda was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Alter Egos: Daenerys Taragaryen & Feminist Scream
HEATHER, SENIOR ADVISOR
Heather serves as a Senior Advisor to Rise, bringing over a decade of legal, operations, and public affairs experience in government and political campaigns. Among her clients, Heather serves as personal counsel to Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Heather previously served in the Obama Administration at the Department of State and in the White House Counsel’s Office.
Alter Ego: Liz Lemon
LAUREN, Senior Advisor
Lauren is a survivor of two sexual assaults. She is interested in making an impact on legislation outside of college campuses. Lauren connected with Amanda through a mutual friend and survivor, and shortly after began working for Rise. As soon as she started working with Amanda and the team--which at the time consisted of only a few core volunteers--she knew that Rise was something she wanted to dedicate her life to. Lauren helped the Rise team complete our first day of action in DC, introduce and pass our Federal Survivor Civil Rights bill, and pass our first state legislation in Massachusetts--all within 10 months. Lauren, like all of our Risers, truly believes in what we are fighting for. This is why she will always be a Riser.
Alter Ego: Dolores Abernathy
JUSTIN, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
A veteran of Democratic politics, Justin has worked on campaigns in eleven states throughout his career. Still a believer in hope and change, Justin worked on Barack Obama's 2008 primary and general election campaigns and was an Obama Lifer, serving for nearly the entirety of the Obama administration at USDA, where his work focused primarily on business development, increasing investments in renewable energy, and combating poverty in rural communities. Justin is a proud Ohioan and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Alter Ego: Ron Swanson
HOLLY, DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATIONS
Holly joined the Rise movement following more than a decade in the nonprofit sector, managing development, communications and public relations for causes ranging from international relief and development to community healthcare and leadership opportunities for women and girls. She is a freelance writer and designer, mostly for community-based organizations and social causes. Her writing has been featured in several academic-research publications, local circulars, in a regional production of Listen To Your Mother and much more. Holly believes in changing the world through storytelling, folk music and sarcasm.
Alter Ego: This is Fine
Mitch, National Organizing Director
Mitch began his career with the Obama Campaign in 2007 and has been working in politics ever since in campaigns all across the country. A native Californian, Mitch has been living in Florida for the past decade while traveling to work on multiple electoral and social justice campaigns. After having seen great strides forward in the past decade, Mitch has never been more excited be a part of a team of hard working, inspirational, powerful, and dedicated people in order to bring meaningful change to people all across the country.
Alter Ego: Chris Traeger
ALI, NATIONAL GRASSTOPS DIRECTOR
Ali is Rise’s National Grasstops Organizing Director. A medical student at NYIT and White House alumnus, Ali championed the passage of Rise’s bill as model policy within the American Medical Association. Ali currently works to direct Rise’s “Theory of Hope” by assisting legislators who have reached out to Rise directly to create their own survivor bill for their state. Ali has been instrumental in the movement of critical states in 2018, including West Virginia, New York, and Iowa.
Alter Ego: Sam Seaborn
NATHAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL ORGANIZING DIRECTOR
Nathan joined Rise after learning about the movement through his day job helping shape the data and technology that support national political organizing. Like most Americans, the majority of his female friends have been sexually assaulted in varying degrees of severity. The notion that their fundamental rights still vary with geography -- and are typically de facto rather than de jure -- inspired him to get involved to enshrine these rights in law. He joined Rise as the Deputy National Organizing Director in November 2016, and he works to help coordinate organizers' efforts in each of the states where Rise is actively moving forward with legislation.
Alter Ego: Poe Dameron
Sergio, regional organizing director
As a longtime activist in the survivors' rights space, Sergio had long known about Rise and Amanda's incredible work for survivors' rights, and was in awe of all the work they had done in the short time since the organization began. This year, Sergio decided to get involved with Rise because we are one of the few national organizations actively having an impact, while empowering millennials and survivors to pen their own civil rights into existence.
Meet Our Risers
Abby, New York
Abby is a sexual assault survivor who has been a New York state organizer for Rise since January 2017. This year, she testified at the Capitol in Albany about the destruction of her rape kit—helping to extend the protection of sexual evidence collection kits in NY from 30 days to 20 years. When not volunteering with Rise, she's a journalist, writing for a variety of publications that include Yahoo, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, and The Daily Beast. Now living in Brooklyn, she's originally from Cincinnati.
“My name is Amaris and I am a rape survivor. Aging out of the foster care system with very little resources and no support system, I was not able to receive emergency medical treatment and my rape went unreported. It took me nearly a decade to come to terms with my attack and begin sharing my story. Because of my experience, I made the decision to pursue law school in order to become an advocate for those who need it the most. I am so honored to be a part of the Rise team and have the opportunity to use my education and background to ensure that no survivor feels alone or unprotected.”
Alter Ego: April Ludgate
"I am proud to be working with this organization to end the inequality sexual assault survivors face in our criminal justice system. Rape, and sexual assault have affected the lives of many individuals I love deeply. Our broken justice system has made things that much more painful and difficult for them, along with millions of others. I am a Riser because I believe it is my duty as a citizen to be involved in making this country, and our justice system, serve and protect the people it governs. I believe that justice should not be determined by geography. That sexual assault survivors deserve the basic human rights Rise has put forward, and I want to be a part of the team that pushes daily to reach that future. Not only for survivors in America, but for survivors all around the world. Hope is contagious, and I believe that it is up to us to be the change we want to see in the world. I am proud to be a part of this organization. One which is the embodiment of a long history of activism that demonstrates the power our voices have and the change we are capable of. An organization that works everyday to ensure millions are protected, and shows us that no one is powerless. Let us rise up and be the change we hope to see in this world."
Brandon, Fund Development
Brandon is an advocate that has supported Rise's fundraising efforts on its Development team since March 2017. When not volunteering with Rise, he is an Associate at Ares Management, a private debt and equity investment firm. Prior to that, he worked in investment banking in New York, advising on mergers & acquisitions and private placement transactions for a variety of technology and media companies. Brandon is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and is currently based in Los Angeles.
“I’m in my fourth year of medical school at Washington University in St Louis. A future OB/GYN, I am passionate about women’s rights and am currently spending a year researching healthcare access in high-risk pregnancies and infertility. I have seen from friends and family how our legal system failed them after their sexual assaults. I am excited to be a part of Rise and to fight for the rights of survivors across the state and wherever my future takes me. When I’m not in the hospital or advocating, I’m out exploring the outdoors, eating ice cream, or playing with my foster pup!”
Alter Ego: Eowyn
Carrie joins Rise as a sexual assault survivor who aims to channel her skills and experiences to pursue social justice, prevent sexual and gender-based violence, and ensure that every survivor can access mental, physical and legal care. She is ecstatic and motivated be a part of the Rise movement as this organization drives monumental change across the globe. A recent graduate from the University of Southern California, Carrie currently works in public relations and creative communications. She loves making art, lifting weights, singing/song-writing and eating large portions of waffles.
Alter Ego: Leslie Knope
Colleen joins the Rise team from Southwest Wisconsin, and brings several years experience working as a trauma therapist in a rape crisis center. Having responded to dozens of hospital calls, Colleen has witnessed first-hand the retraumatizations that can occur from an insensitive, uninformed approach to victim services. This brought Colleen into the training circuit, where she worked with first responders of medical teams and law enforcement to provide training toward a more trauma-informed approach to working with recent survivors, which consequently brought an increase in social service referrals, prosecution, and convictions. Colleen is thrilled to be a part of a team that is energized by the idea that all survivors deserve rights, voice and an individualized approach as they walk their path toward personal power reclamation. When Colleen is not advocating for survivors, she teaches college, spends time with her loving husband and extremely cute daughter, grows an organic garden, and tends her flock of chickens.
Alter Ego: Muppet Janice
"I wish that I could tell my 20-year-old self what sexual assault means. Back then, I didn't realize that those oh-too-friendly 'mentors' or 'friends' were following a very common playbook to take advantage of young, naive girls. Years later, I was assaulted. I was furious that I was being disrespected, furious that so many attackers have gone unscathed, and furious that I didn't stand up for myself all those prior times. I had to end my silence, self-blame and ignorance. Being a part of the Rise family is teaching me that I have a voice. I join the fight to protect survivors and educate everyone in hopes of preventing sexual assault and rape."
Alter Ego: Donna Paulsen
Gabriela joined Rise to uphold the fight for sexual assault survivor’s rights. As an advocate through her county’s rape crisis center and a social worker at a child advocacy center, Gabriela has been working closely with survivors and their families over the years. The challenges these individuals face when navigating the healthcare and justice systems are vast and complex; they necessitate public education and advocacy in order to improve our society’s response to sexual assault. Gabriela believes that Rise’s efforts are bringing these critical issues to light and are offering a platform for survivor’s voices to be heard.
Heather is a college lecturer, writer and yoga teacher. She got involved with survivors' rights in college, advocating for the women, men and children brought to emergency rooms in Chicago. Working as an Illinois Organizer for Rise and helping to pass SB3404 has helped her to turn her own experiences into civil rights and has renewed her faith in the legislative system. Her hope is that the momentum of this movement brings real change to the way we think about violence, power, and what it means to be a community.
Alter Ego: Dark Phoenix
Jennifer got involved with Rise after meeting Amanda in April 2016. Amanda invited her to lobby members of Congress the next day. That's how Jennifer became a part of the team that passed the historic federal 2016 Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act. In 2017, she was the California State Director of Rise, and worked to successfully pass the California bill, AB 1312. She dyed her hair orange (Rise's color) during that time. She is now working to pass a similar law in New York, is a Rise Communications Associate, and does whatever else is needed to help further our mission of granting survivors rights.
Alter Ego: Detective Rosa Diaz
Joel is a rape survivor who has been an Alaska state organizer for Rise since October 2018. As a young adult, he told his extended family about a family member sexually abusing him at a young age. Most of the family chose to not believe his account. Joel’s childhood trauma, coupled with the added trauma of family not believing him, motivated him to engage in justice-related pursuits throughout his adult life. After high school, Joel served four years in the 101st Airborne Division’s fabled Pathfinder Company as an infantryman, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Following his honorable discharge, he returned to Alaska and spent over three years as a legal aide at the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office while he completed his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, graduating at the top of his class. He then became a police officer, graduating from his police academy as class valedictorian. While Joel’s ability to empathize deeply with victims was invaluable on the streets and he truly enjoyed patrol, he changed careers in 2017 to spend more time with his wife and two children – though he remains a weekend on-call police officer. His new career involves protecting the public by investigating doctors and nurses on behalf of his state’s government. He looks forward to using his knowledge and experience to assist Rise with passing legislation in Alaska and beyond. When not volunteering for Rise, he enjoys listening to NPR, reading, investing, bike riding, and playing with his kids.
Alter Ego: Andy Dwyer
jon, north carolina
"My name is Jon, and I am a victim of sexual assault. My trauma opened my eyes to the gravity, pervasiveness, and damage that sexual assault inflicts on survivors, families, and communities alike. I have made it a point to mitigate sexual assault and protect survivors throughout my life and career as best I can, and Rise is doing the work that we as a society and as individuals need and deserve. Strengthening victims’ rights and fighting against sexual assault takes a communal support; it takes collaboration and unity. Together, we can support survivors. Together, we can Rise."
"Survivor rights are important to me because I don't think justice should be based on geography - everyone deserves to be equally protected under the law, no matter where they live or what gender they are. Knowing how many people are sexually assaulted each year and how difficult it is to get justice, I wanted to help Rise clear the path for survivors."
Michelle is a fourth year medical student at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, School of Medicine and a soon-to-be obstetrician-gynecologist. She became involved with Rise after hearing one too many stories and witnessing the emotional trauma in the aftermath of sexual assault among her close friends from college. Her friends told her how the pain and loss of control broke them and often how avenues they were promised would help only kept them feeling broken and alone. She's since met survivors in the clinical setting who had unfortunately fell through the cracks and didn't get the post-assault resources or healthcare they needed. Given that Alabama is an adopted home state she's come to love -- full of heart and fight -- but whose laws still fail to ensure basic civil rights for survivors, she hopes that helping to bring the Survivors' Bill of Rights to AL and neighboring states will be an important step in the right direction.
Alter Ego: Peik Lin
"I'm currently a graduate student at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where I'm studying evidence-based practices to treat survivors of rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence suffering from PTSD. Previously, I worked at Google and Democracy Prep Public Schools. I received my B.A. from Brown University, and my M.Sc. from the University of Oxford. Reporting my assailants is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. When I learned that law enforcement would not prosecute my rapists, I asked for a copy of my police report. In case my rapist's other victims come forward in the future, I wanted to ensure there would be proof of my testimony after it was purged from the system. I wanted to take back my agency—some measure of control over my own case and the ability to help others in the future. The law enforcement system denied my request, and the sense of agency I had created for myself by reporting my assailants was once again taken away. I emailed Amanda for advice, and joined Rise the same week. I now lead Rise's organizing efforts here in Missouri."
Alter Ego: Princess Leia
Nataliya, UN Liaison
Nataliya is Deputy to the CEO and UN Liaison, in addition to being the grassroots organizers for Massachusetts. She is a junior studying at Harvard College pursuing a double major in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Studies of Slavic Language and Literature with a minor in History. She became inspired to join rise after attending a class called, “Gender, Violence, and Power,” where she was introduced to the organization. Nataliya is excited to continue ensuring survivors’ rights in the United Sates and around the world.
Alter Ego: Edna Mode
"I am currently a full time law school student, with my Master’s and a license as a Mental Health Therapist. I am a survivor of rape myself. After seeing the many injustices in the legal system, as well as poor general treatment by investigators, I have dedicated the majority of my free time to making changes for future survivors. I am a public speaker and have spoken for law enforcement agencies, prosecution, and university administrations, teaching about trauma informed investigative practices to reduce the secondary victimization many survivors face. I also have spoken for legislation promoting an increase in trained sexual assault nurse examiners. I love that I get a chance to be apart of Rise to advocate for survivors throughout the state of Indiana and beyond. This is my passion and I could never imagine doing anything else."
Alter ego: Jahan Yousaf
Sarah, Grasstops Organizing
Sarah began working with Rise as a summer intern, and has since stayed on to work on grasstops organizing. She first got involved with survivor rights advocacy when she came to college, and since then has worked on numerous projects to improve training and policies surrounding sexual assault on her college's campus. She is currently a junior at Harvard College studying social studies, and is eager to continue fighting for survivor rights with Rise.
Alter Ego: Pam Beesly
"My name is Shelby, and I got involved with Rise after hearing Amanda's story. The courage and fierce determination that Amanda showed, not only in ensuring her own rights, but also in her commitment to protecting others from the same experience inspired me. I joined Rise as an ally and advocate because I believe that people are supposed to take care of each other. The team at Rise makes it possible for energy to turn into action, and I am excited to take action in Georgia!”
Alter Ego: Amy Gardner
“I am so excited to be joining Rise as the Arizona State Lead. When I was younger I was sexually assaulted by a family member over the course of several years. The overwhelming sense of isolation, shame and fear kept me from reporting the abuse until much later in life. By that time the statute of limitations was up and I was told I had no recourse. At first I was frustrated and felt abandoned by the justice system. But out of an awful experience came my passion for helping others find justice. With Rise, I’ll be able to focus on ensuring that this doesn’t happen to other survivors. As a proud mom of two, my husband and I strive to teach our kids that their voices have power, that they should stand up for what they believe is right and that they can make a difference. It was those beliefs that led me to Rise and this work. I’ve always believed that if you see something that is wrong or unjust, don’t sit around and complain, do something! With Rise fighting for our rights, I am confident that our future will be incredibly bright! When I’m not working with Rise, I can be found working in public education, volunteering, and spending time with my awesome kids and amazing husband.
My personal mantra “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi"
Alter Ego: Molly Weasley