Freedom for All Americans Education Fund Team
Executive Director • Email
Matt McTighe is a political operative and longtime advocate for LGBT equality who has more than 15 years of experience in campaign management, public education, communications strategy and running ballot initiatives on a host of progressive causes, including LGBT equality, gun violence prevention, climate change and campaign finance reform.
Matt was at the helm of the marriage initiative in Maine that was among the first in the nation to win the freedom to marry at the ballot box, part of a breakthrough year for marriage at the polls in 2012. He has managed campaigns for governor, U.S. Senate and Congress and ran or advised state and municipal ballot initiatives across the country on a range of issues.
He previously served as the Marriage Project Coordinator for Gill Action, where he helped oversee marriage and nondiscrimination campaigns in more than a dozen states. He led the successful national campaign to get a fully inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) passed through the US Senate with strong bipartisan support in 2013, and also served as the Political Director for MassEquality during the fight to preserve the freedom to marry in Massachusetts. Earlier in his career, Matt worked as a lobbyist for the Human Rights Campaign, during which time he helped defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment and advance the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Chief Program Officer • Email
Kasey Suffredini is a transgender attorney with 17 years experience managing nonprofits, developing policy and leading state-based advocacy campaigns to win administrative, legislative and electoral victories on LGBT issues. Over the course of his career, he’s participated in efforts to secure over 50 policy reforms in 34 states on a wide variety of social justice issues. He also has helped to elect 116 pro-LGBT candidates to office, including the nation’s first openly gay state attorney general. Prior to joining Freedom for All Americans, Kasey was the Executive Director of MassEquality, the Bay State’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, where he developed and led successful campaigns to secure adoption of transgender nondiscrimination protections, transgender-inclusive health insurance, LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying protections, and the nation’s fist statewide commissions to address LGBTQ youth homelessness and LGBTQ aging. Photo by Hurley Event Photography
Chief Operations Officer • Email
Katie Belanger has extensive experience working with nonprofits and for profits, boards and staff teams, and coalitions and campaigns to develop shared missions and craft comprehensive implementation plans. Katie has a passion for aligning groups around their vision, building robust implementation plans, engaging and developing leaders, and delivering real successes to the LGBT community. Prior to joining Freedom for All Americans, Katie was the President & CEO of Fair Wisconsin, the Badger state’s LGBT advocacy organization. She currently serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Equality Federation Board of Directors and runs her own consulting business, Katie B. Strategies, LLC. As Freedom for All Americans’ Chief Operations Officer, Katie oversees the organization’s strategic planning and internal operations, and directs LGBT University, which trains and develops the next wave of nondiscrimination campaign staff.
Director of Development • Email
Juan Barajas leads the fundraising strategy and operations for Freedom for All Americans. With more than 15 years of fund development and nonprofit leadership experience, he has raised more than $25 million to help advance legal protections and cultural acceptance for LGBT Americans.
Most recently, he led national fundraising efforts for Freedom to Marry, the campaign that helped win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. He also held various senior leadership roles with GLAAD as well as with San Francisco Bay Area LGBT organizations including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Pacific Center for Human Growth, and the Outlet Program.
He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and lives in San Francisco, CA.
Finance & Administrative Director • Email
Jacob McClain has many years of experience working on campaigns across the country in the areas of field and operations, as well as some finance and fundraising support, to help advance LGBT rights. Jacob has worked to pass inclusive non-discrimination laws and marriage for same-sex couples through state legislatures and city councils, worked to defend victories for both, and to proactively win marriage at the ballot box in Maine. He has a strong history of working with broad coalitions and constituency groups to build supportive communities and achieve success. Jacob brings his years of experience to Freedom for All Americans and support campaigns across the country to win nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans.
Derrick M. Brown
Director of Corporate Engagement • Email
Derrick Brown has over 20 years experience in forging strategic partnerships, directing programing, and securing funding for various nonprofit organizations. He has leveraged his diverse skill set in diversity & inclusion, marketing, advertising, partnership management, and media/event promotion to maximize organizational growth and reach within communities across the country. He has been committed to providing enrichment opportunities and support for diverse populations while liaising with key corporate and other stakeholders. Most recently Derrick spent three years as Executive Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce New York, over ten years as Executive Director for the Kidd Kraddick Foundation, and three years as the Human Resources Director for Clear Channel Radio Dallas. He earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Marketing and a graduate degree in Organizational Management/Human Resources. He currently resides in Philadelphia.
Digital Strategist • Email
Claire Caldwell is a digital communications professional dedicated to the advancement of civil rights. She has worked across diverse issue areas, with focus on advocacy for LGBTQ equality, reproductive rights, and criminal justice. Claire joined Freedom for All Americans in 2015 after working with the ACLU and international public health NGO, Doctors of the World. She holds a dual BA in English and French from American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Director of External Communications • Email
Angela Dallara is the director of external communications at Freedom for All Americans. She previously spent four years at Freedom to Marry, where she managed the day-to-day communications operations of the organization. She worked to increase Freedom to Marry’s national media presence by cultivating relationships with reporters at prestigious outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, NPR, MSNBC, Huffington Post, and more. She provided messaging guidance for organizational spokespeople, same-sex couples and their families, and movement partners. She also directed media strategy across specific programs elevating the voices of young conservatives, southerners, and mayors. She collaborated closely with the digital team to ensure Freedom to Marry became a one-stop shop and resource on marriage for journalists. Prior to that, she served as the National News/Transgender Advocacy fellow at GLAAD and the women’s history associate at Women’s eNews.
Graphic Designer • Email
Jorge Gutierrez is the Graphic Designer at Freedom for All Americans. He is a Los Angeles native currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BA in Communications from The California State University, Northridge and a BFA in Graphic Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.
During his time in NYC, he has worked for a range of non-profit organizations both large and small. Most recently, he provided print and web support for the Freedom to Marry digital action team, which helped secure marriage equality nationwide. Previously, Jorge worked for 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East, where Jorge provided design support for the campaign to achieve affordable, quality healthcare for all non-union members. Prior to 1199 SEIU, Jorge also worked for United Way of New York City, where he used his design skills to fight poverty throughout the five boroughs.
Jorge believes in the importance of community involvement, inspiring others and giving back. When he is not designing, he is volunteering at various AIGA events. He believes in empowering communities to form and grow, and strongly believes in using his skills as a way to influence social change in our communities
Director of Public Education • Email
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen is a transgender LGBT policy and advocacy expert. His wide-reaching experience in the LGBT movement has covered field organizing, leadership development, fundraising, and media advocacy. He has previously worked with GLAAD, the Transgender Law Center, Gender Justice LA, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. In past roles, he trained over 650 volunteers to canvass and over 600 volunteers to phone bank on groundbreaking nondiscrimination and marriage equality campaigns, and organized leadership development programs in transgender communities and LGBT communities of color, honing new strategies for social change.
Over the course of his career, he has conducted international Spanish-language interviews, including on Univision, Telemundo, and MiraTV, as well as English-language interviews with outlets such as The New York Times, MSNBC, Politico, and CNN. In 2015, he was honored as a Champion of Equality for by the grassroots advocacy organization SAVE for increasing transgender visibility.
Rodrigo graduated from Brown University and lives in Miami, Florida.
State Communications Director • Email
Owen Loftus is one of the most sought after political communications experts in the American West. Reporters have written that he is an “invaluable resource,” an “ace communications director” and “the single best person handling press in Colorado.” Prior to joining Freedom for All Americans, Owen served as communications director for several high-profile U.S. Senate and congressional races, as well as for the Colorado Republican Party and the Colorado House of Representatives. He is regularly invited to conduct training seminars both at home and abroad. Recently, Owen traveled to Tunisia to teach public relations techniques to political parties in the newly formed democracy.
As FFAA’s state communications director, Owen is passionate about working with broad coalitions of people and organizations across the political spectrum to obtain equal rights for LGBT Americans. Owen is also active in his community. He serves on several nonprofit boards and is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.
Research & Earned Media Specialist • Email
Erik Maulbetsch is a Colorado-based research & communications consultant. He works with organizations, coalitions and campaigns to identify and execute creative research-based media opportunities, develop timely social media campaigns, and coordinate multi-issue communications efforts. He previously served as Communications Director for the ACLU of Colorado where he produced the usual array of newsletters, emails and annual reports, represented the organization on coalitions, and once found himself on stage at Red Rocks with a microphone in his hand. Prior to his advocacy work, he was a magazine editor for nearly five years. With Freedom For All Americans he focuses on research and communications efforts to achieve nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans.
Public Engagement Director • Email
Amy Mello is the Public Engagement Director for Freedom for All Americans. Previously, she worked as the Field Director at Freedom to Marry from 2013 through 2015. She has served as Field Director for five statewide campaigns to win marriage for same-sex couples, including three years working to protect Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation marriage rights from legislative attempts to repeal the law or place it on the ballot for public referendum. In addition to Massachusetts, she has worked on marriage campaigns in Connecticut, California, Rhode Island and Maine, the country’s first-ever popular vote victory for marriage.
Deputy Digital Director • Email
Adam Polaski is a writer, designer, storyteller and digital strategist. As the Deputy Digital Director for Freedom for All Americans, he writes and highlights stories of LGBT Americans who need non-discrimination protections, manages social media outlets, and supports the digital work for state campaigns across the country. Previously, Adam served as the Deputy Digital Director of Freedom to Marry. In his more than three years there, he built a network of hundreds of same-sex couples; developed a powerfully engaged social media audience; and built a national resource tracking marriage litigation.
Adam has been recognized for Excellence in Online Journalism by the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association for his work as a writer and editor for The Bilerico Project. Adam is originally from Philadelphia. He graduated summa cum laude in May 2012 from Ithaca College, where he studied journalism and Spanish. He now lives in Brooklyn, where he volunteers with the Ali Forney Center and consults on digital strategy and graphic design for political campaigns.
Chief Public Affairs Officer • Email
Dan Rafter is the Chief Public Affairs Officer at Freedom for All Americans, where he manages the organization’s communications efforts and works to implement results-driven media strategies for state campaigns. Dan brings a decade’s worth of experience in political and advocacy communications, and has worked on issues including LGBT equality, health care reform, trade, the environment, government transparency and efforts to improve secondary education.
Prior to joining FFAA, Dan worked as a Communications Director on Capitol Hill and as the Associate Director of Communications at the Human Rights Campaign. While at HRC, Dan supported and led communication campaigns on efforts ranging from repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to successfully passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act through the U.S. Senate; as well as efforts to secure the freedom to marry and call out opponents of LGBT equality. While at strategic consulting firms including Spitfire Strategies and GMMB, Dan supported issue advocacy campaigns and provided strategic counsel to a number of foundations and non-profits.
Dan graduated from Fordham University in New York with degrees in history and political science. While in New York, Dan worked as a political reporter for NPR-affiliate WFUV News. Dan now lives in Washington, D.C.
Director of Grassroots Engagement & NEAT • Email
In his role as Director of Grassroots Engagement and the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), Brian engages and supports volunteers, grassroots activists and organizations across the country to take action in support of comprehensive non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.
As the former Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and Marriage Equality New York, Brian brings almost a decade of experience in non profit and campaign management, volunteer engagement and coalition building to FFAA. Under Brian’s leadership, MEUSA played a key role in the national passage of marriage equality helping lead 16 field campaigns as well as the supporting over 500 events in Washington D.C. and nationwide during the Supreme Court hearings in both 2013 and 2015.
In addition to being published in numerous venues, Brian has spoken nationally and internationally and received multiple awards for his work for LGBTQ equality and other issues. He previously worked in both emergency management and as a high school teacher and is currently a Californian living in New York with his husband Jonathan.
Digital Director • Email
Cameron Tolle is the National Digital Director for Freedom for All Americans, where he leads the organization’s digital program and strategies for state campaigns across the country. He brings more than seven years of experience building and winning grassroots and digital campaigns. As the Director of Digital Action for Freedom to Marry, he led the organization’s state-based digital work nationwide. Over five years, he directed digital programs in more than 25 states, including several key marriage victories in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. He was also crucial in shaping and executing the digital programs for the first-ever marriage wins at the ballot box in Maine and Washington in 2012.
Cameron’s expertise has led to him being a sought-after trainer, panelist, and presenter on digital media and campaigning. He has appeared at conferences and trainings across the country to help translate his experience into more wins for LGBT causes large and small.
Cameron is a native of Kansas City, Missouri and graduated cum laude from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with an Honors BA in Philosophy, Politics, & the Public and an emphasis in Gender & Diversity studies. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
State Legislative Consultant • Email
Sarah Vaughan is a political operative with extensive experience in campaigns, elections, lobbying, and issue advocacy. Her focus is on legislative strategy and passing state laws that protect everyone under the law from discrimination, regardless of where they live, their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most recently, she was the policy director at Gill Action, an organization dedicated to advancing LGBT equality at the state level. In this role, she managed Gill Action’s legislative strategy to pass pro-LGBT policy in multiple states controlled by both Republicans and Democrats.
Before joining Gill Action, Sarah served as political director at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, working to retain and win democratic majorities in state legislatures throughout the country. Sarah also worked as caucus director in the Colorado senate for the first female president of the Colorado Senate, Joan Fitz-Gerald.
Sarah completed her undergraduate degree and Master’s of Public Administration at the University of Colorado. She is originally from North Carolina and currently resides with her husband, son, and dog in Denver.