About Vote Smart
Meet Our Staff
Jessica ArrigoniNational Board Chair
Responsible for Vote Smart's National Board. Jessica has a master's in political science from Truman State University and formerly served as the Director of Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).Fun Fact: "I lived in Vote Smart's only cabin without running water for two years."
Responsible for fundraising and the integrity of Board-approved policies and standards. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Richard served on the staffs of Congressman Morris K. Udall, Senator Walter F. Mondale, and Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. He is also a former Arizona State Senator and Corporation Commissioner.Fun Fact: Has a world class collection of Daffy Ducks
Adelaide KimballSenior Advisor, Founding Board Member
Responsible for Major Giver Development and Media. Adelaide is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds master's degrees in American history and library science from the University of Arizona. She is a former archivist for the Arizona Historical Society and has previously directed Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (now the Political Courage Test).Fun Fact: Former Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year award winner
Walker McKusickNational Director
Responsible for day-to-day oversight of all Vote Smart programs, staff, operations, facilities and administration. Walker is originally from Charlottesville, VA. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with degrees in History and Economics. After graduation, he taught History and Politics in England for a year. He joined Vote Smart staff in 2015.Fun Fact: "I've scored cricket for the Royal Household at Windsor, for a spot of tea."
Mackenzie CarlsonOffice Manager and Internship Coordinator
Responsible for coordinating our Internship Program, including outreach, recruitment, and intern placement. She is also responsible for office management. In 2018, Mackenzie graduated with her B.A. in Political Science from DePaul University. Her passion for politics and love of information brought her to Vote Smart in April 2019.Fun Fact: I named my cat after a song in Hamilton.
Development and Communications
Jacob PettersonDevelopment and Communications Director
Responsible for handling donations and membership communications. Jacob was born and raised in Ankeny, IA, and graduated with a degree in English and Writing from the University of Iowa in December of 2014. He joined the Vote Smart Team in Des Moines in March of 2017.Fun Fact: I drank so much milk as a little kid I'm almost positive my bones are indestructible now.
Tessa DeConciniSocial Media Communications Associate
Fun Fact: I was a member of a professional children’s theatre company in middle school.
Responsible for social media outreach. Tessa is a high school student in Tucson, Arizona, and works remotely from there. Although she was born and raised in Virginia, it wasn’t until moving to Tucson in the ninth grade that she found her passion for politics and government. Tessa joined the Vote Smart family in January of 2018.
Murphy BurkeDevelopment & Communications Associate
Murphy grew up in Des Moines, IA and received a degree in Public Relations from Western Kentucky University in May of 2018. She joined Vote Smart in March of 2019.Fun Fact: I once won 56 cents from a trivia gameshow app!
Travis FlattInformation Technology Director
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. Travis lives in and works remotely from San Antonio, TX. His first programming experience was in BASIC on a Commodore 64.
Matt DublinFull Stack Developer
Responsible for web development, user support, and system administration. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Matt's previous areas of focus have been bioinformatics and media asset management.Fun Fact: I'm a big fan of spoonerisms.
Elections and Candidates Research
James WypychDirector of Elections and Candidates Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that monitor elections, track candidate biographical information, and research state/federal candidates' issue positions. James was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He graduated from Drake University in 2016 in International Relations and joined Vote Smart in March 2017.Fun Fact: I was an Academic-All American at Drake University for soccer!
Takuya AmagaiResearch Associate
Responsible for monitoring elections at the federal and state level. Takuya graduated from Carleton College in Spring, 2016 before joining the Vote Smart team.Fun Fact: I believed in Santa Claus until age 18.
Holly ThayerResearch Associate
Luke BascomResearch Associate
Annie PetersenDirector of Officials Research
Responsible for leading the Research programs that collect and maintain the organization's public statements, legislative information, and special interest group ratings for all U.S. elected officials. Annie graduated from the University of Iowa in 2013 with a B.A. in Journalism and International Studies, with an emphasis in human rights. She worked as a freelance copyeditor and as an assistant manager in a clothing store before joining Vote Smart in March 2017.Fun Fact: I chased Tom Brokaw down on the street for an autograph when I was 13.
Thomas StoneLegislative Research Associate
Thomas is responsible for tracking, analyzing, and summarizing major legislation in congress and all 50 states. Thomas graduated early from Iowa State University in 2017 with a B.S. in History and a Minor in Sociology. Originally from Des Moines, Thomas is a Projectionist for the IMAX Theater at the Science Center of Iowa and first joined the VoteSmart team as an intern before starting full time in July.
Nick GerhardtResearch Associate
Nick is responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Nick graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 with a degree in Political Science. He grew up in Ankeny and joined Vote Smart in July of 2017.
Sarah DuncanResearch Associate
Fun Fact: My right foot is two shoe sizes larger than my left.
Sarah grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2017 with a B.A. in World Politics focusing on poverty and inequality. Sarah joined Vote Smart in September 2017.
Chelsea HoyeResearch Associate
Chelsea grew up in West Des Moines, IA. She graduated from the University of Iowa where she received a B.A. in political science with an emphasis in political behavior, and a minor in sociology. She is responsible for categorizing and researching politicians public statements. Chelsea joined Vote Smart in April of 2018.Fun Fact: I once ruptured an eardrum while scuba diving in Fiji.
Emilee HarrisResearch Associate
Neal JensenResearch Associate
Responsible for updating ratings and endorsements from special interest groups. Originally from California, Neal has a degree in Political Science from the University Of Montana.Fun Fact: I've played guitar for 16 years.
Andrew HavensResearch Associate
Andrew is responsible for categorizing and researching politician's public statements. Andrew graduated from Cornell College in 2017 with a degree in Politics. He is originally from Illinois and joined Vote Smart in February of 2019.Fun Fact: I collect Presidential campaign buttons in my spare time.
Rebecca TaylorResearch Associate
Rebecca grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor with a BA in History and a Minor in Mass Communication. She is responsible for researching elected officials and organizing their public statements. Rebecca joined Vote Smart February of 2019.Fun Fact: I studied abroad in London and am a 100% Anglophile.