Democracy Rising seeks to create an environment where all communities have political equality and are fully able to participate in their democracy. A democracy where anyone with a vision for their community can viably run for office, and where communities are empowered to hold elected officials accountable.
Democracy Rising works directly with community groups and jurisdictions to build effective organizing and advocacy strategies, empower them to advance electoral reform in their communities, and ensure electoral reforms are implemented justly.
Over the last several years, electoral reform has captured more focus in the national dialogue than ever before. In particular, ranked-choice voting (RCV) has emerged as an election reform that is gaining support at a rapid pace across the country. Many cities are adopting and implementing RCV, and viable campaigns are underway in several more cities and states. The most effective RCV advocacy efforts have dedicated time and resources to building strong and diverse organizations and coalitions at the outset. The ability to channel people power into healthy organizations is essential to leveraging this opportunity.
Democracy Rising is a program of More Equitable Democracy, a fiscally sponsored project of Proteus Fund.
WHAT WE DO
Democracy Rising works in partnership with organizations on the ground to provide:
Technical assistance, training, coaching, and resources to facilitate successful and sustainable education and advocacy efforts.
Support local groups to ensure smooth and successful RCV implementations using best practices from other jurisdictions.
Before forming Democracy Rising, Maria Perez and Grace Ramsey were colleagues at FairVote where they collaborated on creating and executing a voter education campaign in Santa Fe’s first ranked choice voting election. In 2019 their partnership continued as consultants working with several organizations on the ground in WA, UT, VA, OR, NY, supporting projects to engage and educate voters and build the foundations of successful organizing efforts. However, many organizations that need this assistance are not in position to pay for these services. By inverting the existing relationship and allowing this work to continue and expand at no cost to organizations on the ground we are able to build strong and sustainable partnerships with the organizations we work with.
Born and raised in Ecuador, Maria immigrated to the United States in the 1990s to pursue her education. She has crafted a career guided by her passion to address social disparities. A seasoned non-profit leader, organizer, facilitator, advocate, educator, and coalition builder, Maria is a firm believer in the power of people coming together to address complex social problems. She spent over ten years as a healthcare practitioner, before turning to policy, equity, and advocacy work, which she has been doing for the past eight years. She served as Campaign Lead and later as Interim Hub Manager for the California Endowment’s project Building Healthy Communities (East Oakland), Director of FairVote New Mexico, and more recently as Campaign Manager for Common Cause New Mexico. She is a national expert on the issue of ranked choice voting. She believes that democracy is the ultimate health equity indicator. She founded the firm Democracy in Action, which works at the intersection of equity and democracy in 2019.
When Grace was growing up in Wisconsin, her mother managed constituent affairs in the office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. Seeing her mother work diligently to assist constituents, regardless of party or who they voted for, and the bold policies pursued by Senator Feingold such as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, showed her that a healthy democracy serves its people and requires care and upkeep. Grace brings over 7 years experience working on RCV advocacy and implementation campaigns across the country. She began her career as an organizer with FairVote Minnesota’s Rank Your Vote campaign, went on to become Deputy Director of Outreach at FairVote, and led voter education and organizing campaigns as a consultant with Democracy in Action. Over the course of several years and many campaigns she has come to deeply understand and appreciate the power of community organizing and has solidified her belief that a strong democracy is one that evolves to better serve the people. Grace specializes in voter engagement and education, leadership development, strategic planning, and program management.
Together or individually, Grace and Maria have worked on campaigns to adopt or implement ranked choice voting in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Oakland, Duluth, Maine, Santa Fe, Memphis, Las Cruces, New York City, Vineyard, Payson, Eastpointe, Yakima, and in the 4 states (AK, KS, HI, and WY) where the Democratic party used ranked ballots for their 2020 presidential primaries.