John Bonifaz is the Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People. Mr. Bonifaz previously served as the Executive Director and then General Counsel of the National Voting Rights Institute, an organization he founded in 1994, and as the Legal Director of Voter Action, a national election integrity organization. Mr. Bonifaz has been at the forefront of key voting rights battles in the country for more than two decades: pioneering a series of court challenges, applying political equality principles, that have helped to redefine the campaign finance question as a basic voting rights issue of our time; initiating and leading a legal strategy for revisiting Buckley v. Valeo in the courts; leading the fight in the federal courts in Ohio for a recount of the 2004 presidential vote in that state; and prevailing in federal court in Pennsylvania on the eve of the 2008 election to ensure that Pennsylvania voters would receive emergency paper ballots when they faced long lines caused by voting machine breakdowns. In addition to his work in the field of voting rights and democracy advocacy, Mr. Bonifaz has also served as co-counsel in international human rights and environmental litigation, including litigation to hold the Chevron-Texaco oil company accountable for its widespread destruction of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Mr. Bonifaz is a 1992 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1999 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Back to top.
Oske Buckley is the Director of Administration and Finance for Free Speech For People. Ms. Buckley has served as the Administrative Assistant for Voter Action. Prior to joining Voter Action, Ms. Buckley worked as the Development Associate and Administrative Associate for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, where she managed the organization’s donor database, engaged in event planning, coordinated and supervised volunteers, and carried out numerous administrative responsibilities. Ms. Buckley received her BA from Hendrix College in 2005, MPA from Evergreen State College in 2013, and holds a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP) certificate. Back to top.
Shanna Cleveland is Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People. She previously led the Carbon Asset Risk Initiative at Ceres where she worked with institutional investors to engage with oil and gas companies on the issue of climate risk. Shanna’s work included coordinating a global coalition of investors to file shareholder proposals at major U.S. oil and gas companies resulting in the first majority votes on climate change resolutions at companies like ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum. Prior to her work at Ceres, Shanna served as a Senior Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation in the Climate and Clean Energy Program where she was awarded the Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall Award for providing access to justice by the Boston Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for her work with communities to retire coal-fired power plants. Shanna’s work at Conservation Law Foundation included negotiating the first settlement in the country with a natural gas power plant developer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with science-based targets, a landmark decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding compensation for coal-fired power plants and system reliability planning, and protecting communities from air pollution by filing citizens suits under the Clean Air Act. Shanna graduated magna cum laude from Harvard; earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School where she served as an Executive Editor for the Virginia Law Review; and received her LL.M. magna cum laude from Vermont Law School. Back to top.
Steve Cobble is the Senior Political Advisor for Free Speech For People. Mr Cobble is also an Assistant Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Mr. Cobble is a longtime activist on both voting and campaign finance reform issues. He is a co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and Progressive Democrats of America, and has written for The Nation, HuffingtonPost, TomPaine.com, The Progressive, and many other magazines and newspapers. Mr. Cobble is a former Political Director and speechwriter for the National Rainbow Coalition, served as the National Delegate Coordinator for Jackson for President ’88, and directed the Keep Hope Alive PAC. He has worked on electoral campaigns at every level from state legislature to mayor to Congress to Senate, and has had a serious role in seven presidential campaigns, from McGovern to Kucinich. Mr. Cobble once directed the Arca Foundation, served as a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and conducted election training workshops for the African National Congress in South Africa in 1991. Back to top.
Edward Erikson is a Communications Consultant for Free Speech For People. He is the Founder and President of Erikson Communications Group. Mr. Erikson specializes in the integration of social, earned and paid media across all platforms in order to tell stories, engage people and advance issues. He has been featured in CNN, Politico, Huffington Post, TechPresident, Bill Moyers and other outlets. He has taught courses in Political Theory, American Political Thought, Media and Politics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and was the recipient of the 2012/2013 Distinguished Teaching Award. He received his MA in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. Back to top.
Ron Fein is the Legal Director for Free Speech For People. Mr. Fein previously served as Assistant Regional Counsel in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office, where he received the EPA’s National Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, the National Notable Achievement Award, and several other awards. Mr. Fein supervised the office’s Clean Air Act practice and won several major cases, including a first-in-nation air quality permit for an offshore wind farm and a nationally recognized settlement requiring a power plant to virtually eliminate its use of a local river. Mr. Fein previously clerked for the Honorable Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Honorable Douglas Woodlock of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He has also worked as an independent consultant to non-profits, as deputy campaign manager of a congressional campaign, and in software development, for which he was awarded nine patents. Mr. Fein graduated Order of the Coif from Stanford Law School and summa cum laude from Harvard College. Back to top.
Jasmine Gomez, Democracy Honors Fellow
Jasmine Gomez is the 2016-18 Democracy Honors Fellow at Free Speech For People.
Ms. Gomez, a graduate from the Boston University Law School, served on the Journal of Science and Technology Law and has written about potential state responses to corporate “Big Data” surveillance. She has held a number of leadership roles at the law school, including as Co-President of the Latin American Law Student Association, Vice President of the American Constitution Society, Co-Chair for the First-Year Advisory Program at BU, and Networking Chair for OutLaw. During her leadership positions, Jasmine helped create, facilitate, and host at least 30 events at the law school and around the city of Boston. She also received the Emerging Leader Award from the Black Law Students Association.
While in law school, Jasmine interned at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and the National Consumer Law Center, and has done pro bono work for the Mississippi Center for Justice and several Boston public schools. At the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, located in Harvard Law School, Jasmine researched and critiqued a variety of legal and policy issues that cause harm to communities of color. She examined prosecutorial misconduct and Title VI enforcement, worked on a team to create a robust website that connects nonprofits working on anti-racism work around the country, and worked with other organizations to create the first Massachusetts state-wide conference on criminal justice reform: Massachusetts and the Carceral State. Back to top.
Aspen Webster is the Administrative and Development Assistant for Free Speech for People. Ms. Webster has worked in a variety of nonprofit organizations in operations, development, and programmatic capacities. She served as the Operations Manager for the National Network of Abortion Funds in Boston, MA, where she was responsible for database management, administrative duties, and event planning. Ms. Webster is dedicated to creating a just and equitable society through legal and community efforts. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA from Tufts University in 2011. Back to top.