MEET OUR Team

LEADERSHIP

LEADERSHIP

John Opdycke
John Opdycke
President

John Opdycke is the President of Open Primaries. He is an activist and strategist with 25 years of experience working in independent, alternative and reform politics. He is one of the country’s most visible and vocal advocates for primary reform.

Opdycke began his career as a fundraiser and researcher for the Rainbow Lobby, which advocated for ballot access and debate reform in the United States and supported the pro-democracy movement in the Congo (Zaire). In 1992, he joined Dr. Lenora Fulani’s independent campaign for president as a regional fundraising director, and in 1994 assisted Dr. Fulani in her campaign against Mario Cuomo in the New York Democratic Party gubernatorial primary. That same year, he participated in the founding of the New York State Independence Party, a state affiliate of the National Reform Party. In 1998, became the director of development of Independentvoting.org, and between 1999 and 2014 expanded Independentvoting.org’s fundraising from $50,000 to $1 million annually.

He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Cheddar TV, PBS, and NBC and his written commentary on the subject of independent politics and electoral reform has appeared in USA Today, Newsweek, The Hill, and dozens of local publications.

Opdycke performs and directs improvisation at the Castillo Theatre, a multi-racial home for black, political, and avant-garde performance in New York City. He grew up in Evanston, Illinois and attended the University of Michigan. He lives in New York City.

Jeremy Gruber
Jeremy Gruber
Senior Vice President

Jeremy is the Senior Vice President at Open Primaries. He is a lawyer, writer, and internationally recognized public policy advocate who has helped enact over 60 state, federal and international laws and regulations. These include the successful passage of the first U.S. civil rights law in over twenty years, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a federal law protecting Americans from genetic discrimination.

Gruber has wide ranging experience in public policy and public affairs work, public education, coalition and grassroots building. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, the FDA, and numerous state, federal and international legislative and regulatory bodies. Previously, he worked as the field director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Taskforce on Civil Liberties in the Workplace, then as legal director for the National Workrights Institute and more recently Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Genetics; a public interest organization focusing on bioethics.

Gruber is regularly featured in the press and is the author of three books, Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsense published by Harvard University Press, Biotechnology in Our Lives published by Skyhorse Publishing, and The GMO Deception by Skyhorse Publishing.

Gruber received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from St. John’s University School of Law and a B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University.

He and his wife live in Brooklyn with their two sons.

Russell Daniels
Russell Daniels
Digital Communication Manager

Russell Daniels manages digital communication, content creation, and video production for Open Primaries. He maintains the websites and on-line campaign hubs and creates content for distribution across all of our digital platforms. Russell is also an accomplished actor. He can be seen regularly with his sketch team, Uncle Function at the Peoples Improv Theater or on the house team, House of Birds at Maude Night at UCB Theatre in New York. He has worked with regional theater companies including the American Shakespeare Center, Nebraska Shakespeare, Chenango River Theater and NTC Productions.

He holds a Bachelors of Music from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and an MFA in Acting from The Professional Theater Training Program at The University of Houston.

Jessie Fields, MD
Jessie Fields, MD
Board Member and National Spokesperson

Dr. Jessie Fields is an attending physician in Internal Medicine affiliated with the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. She maintains a primary care general medical practice at the Mount Sinai Faculty Practice in the Harlem community. She is on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an adjunct faculty member at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. At both medical schools Dr. Fields is a role model for medical students pursuing careers in primary care in underserved communities.

Having grown up in a poor black community in Philadelphia, she set out on a career to bring better health conditions to poor urban communities. Dr. Fields was awarded a National Public Health Service Corps medical scholarship and attended Bryn Mawr College and the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1985, and became Board Certified in Internal Medicine the same year.

During medical school she worked on the West Side of Chicago at a neighborhood health center where she initiated a hypertension screening program. As a physician she would go on to practice at the same community health center.

Dr. Fields moved to New York City in 1991, initially working as a primary care physician for the Health Insurance Plan of New York, in Brooklyn and then for the 32-BJ Union Health Center in Manhattan. In 1994 she became affiliated with North General Hospital in Harlem and remained on the voluntary staff there until the hospital closed in 2010.

An advocate for the health of the Harlem community, Dr. Fields took her commitment to community health into the political arena and has run for public office as an independent candidate, including for Manhattan Borough President in 2005 and for other local offices. She is very active as an independent leader.

David Belmont
David Belmont
Open Primaries Board

David Belmont is a community organizer and mixed media artist living in New York City. He has been active in independent politics since 1979. David was the National Ballot Access Coordinator for Dr. Lenora Fulani’s historic run for president in 1988 when she became the first woman and first African-American to qualify for the ballot in all 50 states (plus DC). Currently he is a researcher and statistician for Independent Voting, as well as a member of the production and promotion team for the East Side Institute. David has been a professional musician for over 50 years, producing 25 albums of his own work (7 of which are on Spotify) along with being the producer and/or executive producer for projects featuring Dr. John, Cassandra Wilson, Olu Dara, Ilhan Ersahin and Pat Wictor. He is co-music director of the Castillo Theatre. World Gone Zoom, David’s first book of poetry, was published in 2021. He also writes memoir and short fiction. You can find his writing at: https://davidbelmontwriter.wordpress.com

David Cherry
David Cherry
Board Member

David Cherry is President of the Leaders Network, a collaborative of faith and community leaders working together to organize, strategize and mobilize to improve the quality of life for the West side communities and Greater Chicago. He is also Senior Vice President/Youth and Community Development and City Leader of the All Stars Project of Chicago, a nationally recognized youth development organization.  Born in Harlem, David grew up in the South Bronx just a couple of blocks from the once-infamous Charlotte Street neighborhood, a national symbol for the poverty and devastation of America’s inner cities in the 1970s.

Featured Press:

Cherry endorses STL Approves

MEET THE OPEN PRIMARIES

SPOKESPERSON COMMITTEE

David Thornburgh
David Thornburgh
Ballot PA

David Thornburgh is a nationally recognized “civic entrepreneur” who throughout his career has created and led high impact initiatives to promote economic development, political reform, and good government in Pennsylania. 

He was named a Senior Advisor for the Committee of Seventy in January 2022 after serving as its President and CEO since November, 2014. Seventy is Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest good government group and over the years has championed measures to limit the role of money in politics, make government more accountable and transparent, and educate and engage citizens in the political process. In his current role he Chairs Seventy’s signature Draw the LInes PA initiative, which he co-founded and which has enlisted 7,211 PA citizens since 2019 in drawing their own congressional maps and advocating for more citizen engagement in the redistricting process. He also serves as Chair of Open Primaries PA, an effort incubated at C70 which seeks to open primary elections to the nearly 1 million PA voters who currently can’t vote for candidates in primary elections. 

Thornburgh came to Seventy from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, where he served as Executive Director for almost 7 years. While at Fels he doubled applications to the program, launched an innovative hybrid Executive MPA program and, during Fels’ 75th Anniversary campaign in 2012 quadrupled alumni giving and carried out 12 public programs that attracted over 1,200 alumni and political and community leaders. He also created a national Public Policy Challenge student competition in partnership with Governing magazine that drew teams from 12 top universities. 

Thornburgh has received a number of awards for his professional and civic leadership. In 2006 he was recognized as one of the 101 most trusted and respected civic “connectors” in the Philadelphia area by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia. In 2000, he was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship and traveled to Australia and New Zealand to learn about entrepreneurial development and public management in those countries. He has also appeared regularly in local and national media, is an accomplished keynote speaker, and has moderated and participated in dozens of panel discussions and roundtables on a variety of topics. 

Featured Press:

CNN: Pennsylvania has a primary problem

The Fulcrum: Independent voters want to be heard, is anybody listening to them?

Jarell Corley
Jarell Corley

Jarell Corley began working on political campaigns from a young age, joining his mom to collect signatures for local Illinois candidates. His quest to find a more meaningful cause started 10 years ago when he discovered Indpendentvoting.org. Jarell quickly became involved with the movement in a number of capacities and has been an avid advocate for independents ever since. His work has included writing op eds, fundraising, and canvassing his neighborhood to get signatures for John Delany’s Open Our Democracy Act. Jarell started a Youtube channel dedicated to the Independent Voters movement in 2020. As a member of the Open Primaries National Spokesperson Committee, Jarell plans to continue being a voice advocating for a fairer election system in America.

Featured Press:

Chicago Tribune: To Remake Illinois Politics for the Better, We need Open Primaries

Jason Altmire
Jason Altmire
Former Congressman (PA-D)

Jason Altmire is a former Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania who served three terms in the United States House of Representatives from 2007-2013, where he was known as a bipartisan centrist who worked across the aisle. This openness to collaboration enabled him to get 29 of his legislative initiatives signed into law. He has written extensively about the need for primary reform, and is the author of “Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It” which explores how party polarization paralyzes Washington and what we can do to stop it. He lives in Florida.

Featured Press:

U.S News and World ReportDaily BeastThe Hill

Jennifer Bullock
Jennifer Bullock
Independent Pennsylvanians

Jennifer Bullock is the co-founder and director of Independent Pennsylvanians, a grassroots organization advocating on behalf of independent voters and for structural political reforms. She passionately advocates on behalf of unaffiliated and third party voters whose tax dollars are used to pay for primary elections that exclude them. Bullock is also a licensed psychotherapist with 27 years of experience working with individuals, groups, couples and families.

Featured Press:

The Citizen’s VoicePhiladelphia CitizenTribune-Democrat

Sondra Cosgrove
Sondra Cosgrove
Vote Nevada

Sondra Cosgrove is the Executive Director and Chair of the Board for Vote Nevada. Vote Nevada is a new civic engagement nonprofit that promotes civic participation, legislative advocacy, and advancing civil rights.

She is also a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada. In addition to teaching, Sondra works with the CSN Women’s Alliance to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Sondra is currently the Vice Chair of the Nevada Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a City of Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commissioner, a board member of the ACLU NV, and a board member of Nevada Women in Trades. She previously served as President of the League of Women Voters of Nevada.

Featured Press:

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dan Douglas
Dan Douglas
Arkansas State Representative (R)

Dan Douglas was first elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives as a Republican in 2012. He is also a farmer and real estate investor. Douglas has been an outspoken proponent of bipartisanship and electoral reform. In 2017 and 2018 he introduced legislation for top-two nonpartisan primary elections in Arkansas.

Featured Press:

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Dr. Jessie Fields
Dr. Jessie Fields
Physician & Activist

Dr. Jessie Fields is Harlem-based physician and teaches at both the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. A native Philadelphian, Dr. Fields has dedicated her career to providing primary care in underserved communities. After working in the Westside of Chicago and Harlem Dr. Fields saw how the social and economic conditions of poverty affect a person’s physical health. To address those problems she took her commitment to community health into the political arena. Dr. Field’s supports primary reform as an approach to breaking down barriers to participation and increasing voter mobility in communities of color.

Featured Press:

Washington Examiner Daily CallerHuffington Post,

Kevin Frazier
Kevin Frazier
Oregon Open Primaries

Kevin Frazier is committed to making our democracy more representative and participatory. He started The Oregon Way, a statewide, nonpartisan blog, to create a platform for common sense ideas to bring people together and solve problems. His own writing on open primaries and other democratic reforms has been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch, and The Kennedy School Review. In addition to advocating for structural reforms to our democracy, Kevin launched No One Left Offline, a nonprofit focused on closing the digital divide — a necessary condition to allowing all Americans to participate in a 21st Century democracy. Kevin is currently a student at the UC Berkeley School of Law and Harvard Kennedy School. He proudly calls Oregon home and has worked closely with advocates for electoral reforms in his home state as well as in California.

Featured press:

The FulcrumSan Francisco Chronicle, Oregon Live

Joe Kirby
Joe Kirby
South Dakota Open Primaries

Joe Kirby is a proud fourth-generation South Dakotan, prominent business leader and government reform advocate. He believes all voters should have equal rights to participate in the election process. He is a lifelong Republican who believes strongly in the importance of competition in the political arena. Kirby played a leadership role in the 2016 initiated constitutional amendment campaign to create top-two nonpartisan elections in South Dakota, which ultimately garnered 45% of the vote.

Featured Press:

Argus LeaderThe HillDakota Midday

Adam Morfeld
Adam Morfeld
Nebraska State Senator

Adam Morfeld has been serving in the Nebraska state senate since 2014. He sits on the Education and Judiciary Committees and is dedicated to advancing participatory democracy. Morfeld founded Civic Nebraska in 2008 to protect voting rights, create more accessible elections and strengthen K-12 civic education. He is currently the organization’s President and CEO. Civic Nebraska is the only public interest group in the state dedicated to creating uniquely Nebraskan civic education programs and conducting Nebraska-specific election administration policy research. Though Nebraska uses nonpartisan elections for state legislative races, Morfeld believes voting can be made even more accessible and supports same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration, expanding vote-by-mail and expanding Nebraska’s open primary to include statewide and federal offices.

Featured Press:

Lincoln Journal StarABC NewsWall St. Journal

Danny Ortega
Danny Ortega
Attorney and Political Activist

Dany Ortega is a Democratic Party leader, an attorney, and longtime advocate for community empowerment and democratic reform. He speaks frequently about the impact closed primaries have on Latino participation, representation, and empowerment. Ortega is the former Board Chair of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino nonprofit advocacy and civil rights organization in the country. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Phoenix Arizona.

Featured Press:

Fox NewsUnivisionAZ Voter Forum

Sam Rasoul
Sam Rasoul
Virginia State Delegate (D)

Sam Rasoul was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates as a Democrat in 2014. In 2016 and 2018 he introduced legislation for top-two nonpartisan primary elections in Virginia. He is also the first VA legislature to no longer accept donations from special interest PACs or from registered lobbyists. Delegate Rassoul is an outspoken advocate for both reforming the system and rebuilding trust between the American people and their elected representatives.

Featured Press:

NBC NewsRoanoke TimesRichmond Times Dispatch

Steve Richardson
Steve Richardson
Virginia Independent Voter Association

Steve Richardson has been an independent for most of his life and has consistently been facing barriers to participating in elections as a result. To ensure that every independent voter in Virginia is included in the political process he founded the Virginia Independent Voter Association (VIVA). Richardson and VIVA fight for reforms like top-two nonpartisan primary elections that that would help Virginia deliver an accessible democratic process to its voters.

Featured Press:

Daily ProgressVirginian PilotIVN

Drey Samuelson
Drey Samuelson
Takeitback.org

Drey Samuelson has a successful history working in politics. He has worked for former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (SD-D), ran successful ballot initiatives in Nebraska, and worked alongside Congressman and Senator Tim Johnson (SD-D) both on his election campaigns and as his chief of staff. He also co-founded TakeItBack.Org, a nonprofit focused on using ballot initiatives to reform the political process in South Dakota and other states. The group specifically hopes to curb the polarizing and hyper-partisan nature of our current political system. He was a prominent leader of the ‘Yes on V’ campaign for open primaries in South Dakota in 2016. Samuelson grew up in Nebraska where the state legislature uses top-two nonpartisan primary elections and sees these more open and fair elections as a crucial step forward to create a more effective political process.

Featured Press:

Wall St. JournalOmaha World-HeraldArgus Leader

Shea Siegert
Shea Siegert
Alaskans for Better Elections

Shea Siegert most recently led the successful 2020 Ballot Measure 2 campaign in Alaska, which instituted Top 4 Open Primaries, Ranked Choice Voting in General Elections, and strengthened campaign finance disclosure, as the Yes on 2 Campaign Manager & Spokesperson. Prior to 2020, Shea spent 3 sessions working for Republican and Independent Legislators in the Alaska State House, and has played a role on over 17 Alaska campaigns, including serving as Interim Campaign Manager to Independent Governor Walker.  Shea is now working to implement and defend the policies within Ballot Measure 2 as the Director of External Affairs and Co-Founder of Alaskans for Better Elections, Inc. and the Alaskans for Better Elections Foundation.

Featured Press:

The Fulcrum

Steve Westly
Steve Westly
Former California Controller & CFO

Steve Westly served as Controller and CFO of the state of California from 2003 to 2007. He was instrumental in the 2010 campaign to enact open primaries in California. He is also the Founder and Managing Partner of The Westly Group, a clean technology venture capital firm. California has the fifth largest economy in the world and is often seen as an innovative leader for technology, but Westly believes it’s time also look at the state as an innovative political leader as well. Top-two nonpartisan elections have helped California have more competitive elections, increased minority representation in politics, and encouraged bipartisan collaboration.  California is a global leader in technology and is increasingly becoming a global leader in democracy innovation having enacted independent redistricting and open primaries.

Featured Press:

NewsweekSan Jose Mercury NewsThe Hill

Dariel Cruz Rodriguez
Dariel Cruz Rodriguez
Student

Dariel Cruz Rodriguez is an aspiring change maker who enjoys connecting the dots. Dariel has been featured on the Fulcrum and Miami Herald for his work in Florida. From solving problems in his capacity as a Steering Committee Member at the Civics 2030 Campaign to being apart of a state campaign to bring Open Primaries to Florida, Dariel may very well have quite the experience under his belt in community organizing. Dariel served as a Founding Fellow in the Civics Unplugged Fellowship, and now serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the organization. Within the realm of non-partisan reform, Dariel currently serves as co-director of the Students for Open Primaries organization, and works with Elena to support Open Primaries initiatives on a daily basis.

Elena Ashburn
Elena Ashburn
Student

Elena Ashburn is a constantly busy high school junior with a passion for making the world a better place. She is an active member of her school’s drama club and the Editorial Assistant for her school newspaper. As a high school sophomore, she co-founded Bloom: Empowering the Military Teen with her best friend. Bloom is a website for military kids, by military kids, and it has articles, videos, and art all about the life of a military-connected child. She is also a founder of Students for Open Primaries, and she is featured in the upcoming documentary “The Young Vote.” Additionally, she was a Founding Fellow of Civics Unplugged, and she remains active in the Civics 2030 community; in her free time, she hosts Civic Unplugged’s podcast, “Mission Control 2030: The Voice of Civics Unplugged.” She was also a Youth Reporter for EarthX, and she has a passion for audio journalism and public policy!

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