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Meet the RDI Team

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Sarah Jaynes, Director

Sarah serves as a Senior Advisor to Committee on States, coaching emerging donor alliances in states from Alaska, to New Hampshire, to Alabama. Sarah previously served as Executive Director of Progress Alliance of Washington for thirteen years. In this capacity she helped found some of Washington state’s most important civic engagement organizations including the Washington Bus, Fuse, and the Win/Win Network, and co-led development of the Heroes’ Narrative project.  Sarah is recognized for her expertise leading innovative campaigns integrating field experiments, digital platforms, and transformative narrative. An organizer at heart, Sarah has dedicated 25 years to working for shared prosperity, democracy, and a healthy environment. When she’s not working, she is raising four kids and enjoying the spectacular Washington mountains.

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Stephanie Johnson, Program Officer

Stephanie previously served as Program Manager at NEO Philanthropy, a national funder intermediary, working in the Donor Services and Special Projects Department helping manage projects including state-based civic engagement tables and donor collaboratives. Before NEO, Stephanie served as Program Coordinator for the Kresge Foundation, a national foundation based in Detroit, as program lead on the organization’s Opportunity Fund, stewarding grants on issues of immigration, civic engagement, and racial equity. Before her time in philanthropy, Stephanie was a Venture For America Fellow in Cincinnati, OH where she worked with a variety of technology start-ups and small businesses. Stephanie holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She grew up on a farm outside of the small town of Denton, Maryland and is passionate about making change for rural communities.

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Michael Chameides, Program and Communications Manager

Michael comes to RDI with a passion for progressive organizing in small and rural communities. He has led successful campaigns to ensure voters can safely and freely cast their ballots, improve safety for residents regardless of citizenship status, and expand economic opportunities. He is an elected official, serving on the Board of Supervisors and Deputy Minority Leader of Columbia County, NY. Previously, Michael served as Mayoral Aide in Hudson, NY. Michael also worked in Higher Education as the Marketing and Editorial Manager at Bard College at Simon's Rock. He has a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from The New School and has received artist grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, Puffin Foundation, and New York Foundation for the Arts.

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Renee Linde, Development Manager

Before joining RDI, Renee was an active grassroots fundraiser and activist. Renee had a successful career as a technology executive in a series of start-ups before focusing her energies on grassroots organizing and supporting organizations devoted to racial, economic, and climate justice. She is passionate about educating new political donors about the importance of funding the year-round work of grassroots organizing and building progressive political infrastructure. Renee earned a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Psychology from U.C. Berkeley. She spent her childhood summers in a small mill town in southern Washington, and her childhood of fishing, tubing, and swimming in the Klickitat River cemented her love of the water and rural places.

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The Heartland Fund, part of the Rural Democracy Initiative, is seeking candidates for three positions.