Board of Directors

Puja Mehta, Chair
Class of 2010

Puja Mehta is active in the Brookline community and lives in South Brookline with her husband, Ankit, and two sons, Dylan (at Baker) and Ethan (at BEEP). Puja is currently the Chair of the Library Board of Trustees and formerly Precint 5 Town Meeting Member and founding President of the Greater Point Neighborhood Association. Puja is also Board Member of Brookline PAX and organized the first ever Martin Luther King Day Brookline Day of Service with the Town.

Puja leads by consensus building and open dialogue to champion diversity and accessibility in the community. She advocated to keep the Coolidge Corner Library Branch open on Sundays in the summer and volunteers in the Libraries are for Everyone initiative. This project seeks to combine technology and programming to make the library more accessible and inclusive for whole community. The library will be loaning iPads and apps assistive technology, support for disabilities and literacy development.

In her professional life, Puja works in the Massachusetts state legislature. Puja joined the office of State Senator Karen E. Spilka (current Chair of Senate Ways and Means) in 2009 and serves as the District Director, addressing operating and capital budget needs for the Senator’s district.

Previously, Puja worked in the Office of the United States Senate Majority Whip in Washington, D.C. She also served as the Asian American Liaison and Grants Director for U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin in Chicago, IL, and in the office of Illinois States Attorney Richard Devine.

Puja earned her B.B.A in Finance at Loyola University in Chicago and earned her J.D. at the University of Maryland, where she was a Leadership Scholar. During law school, Puja served as the Managing Editor of the Journal of Business and Technology Law, a Judicial Intern for Judge Lynne Battaglia of the Maryland Court of Appeals and a law clerk for the firm of Shapiro, Sher, Guinot and Sandler.

Cara Berg Powers, Treasurer
Class of 2011

Cara is an innovative strategic thinker working across a variety of disciplines to build the capacity of communities to create meaningful and lasting change. Before her current role as Co-Director of Press Pass TV, Cara founded the Youth Media Institute at Project: Think Different (now amplifyme) and also ran Digital Media programming for the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC). She holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change in addition to a MA in Transformative Media Arts and a BA in Screen Studies and Urban Development/Social Change.

In addition to time spent on the Adjunct Faculty at Wheelock College and UMASS Boston, Cara has guest lectured at Worcester State University, Northeastern University, MIT, Simmons College and Amherst College. She has produced programming for MTV and NBC and has provided training in media and social change to non-profit leaders like Oxfam and Facing History & Ourselves. Cara has also presented at several conferences, including the Women, Action and Media Conference, the Be the Media Conference, the National Conference for Media Reform and the Action Coalition for Media Education Conference. She is the recipient of the Empowerment Award from the 2008 Media That Matters Festival, is featured in No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power by Gloria Feldt.

Cara’s first book By Any Media Necessary, a guide for engaging youth in change through media is available online, and you can also read her work in the Kinder Braver World Series, published by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society in partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. She sits on several Boards and Commissions and plays Roller Derby as Surely Chis’l in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she resides with her husband and daughter.

Emily Kowtoniuk, Vice Chair

Emily works at ADS Ventures and has a strong background in law and public policy. Prior to joining the ADS team, Emily served as Chief of Staff in the Massachusetts State Senate and as Counsel to the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

While working in the Senate, she provided legal analysis and policy recommendations on a wide range of issue areas, including economic development, public finance, and government innovation. Emily also worked closely with the Executive Office for Administration and Finance and with the Office of the State Treasurer to craft a suite of bond bills, which contained key fiscal policy initiatives and authorized over $20 billion in new state capital investments in transportation, government infrastructure and information technology.

Emily attended Tufts University, where she graduated with a degree in International Relations. She went on to study law at Boston College Law School, focused on criminology and state and local government law. Emily’s studies brought her to King’s College in London, where she spent a semester studying international comparative law and working as a legal intern for Justice, UK, a leading law reform and human rights organization. Emily is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.

Jason Stephany, Secretary

Jason Stephany is the national Director of Strategic Communications for Health Leads, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing patients’ social needs within the healthcare system. He comes to Health Leads from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where he led strategic planning and media outreach efforts for the union’s human service and education divisions in New England. Jason is also a founding partner of the JSK Group—an award-winning consulting firm that provides message development, media relations and campaign management services to a diverse group of elected officials and advocacy organizations.

Before coming to Boston, Jason spent more than a decade in staff and advisory roles for a host of local, statewide and national progressive organizations and campaigns—including Planned Parenthood Advocates, America Votes and the Democratic National Committee. In that time, he has led fundraising, field and communications efforts on behalf of dozens of women and minority candidates in several states. This fall marks Jason’s 12th year training for Emerge!

Mary Olberding
Class of 2011

Mary Olberding (Belchertown) is a life-long champion of Democratic politics. She was elected in 2013 to serve as Register of Deeds at Hampshire County and previously worked tenaciously for two years on Dave Sullivan’s successful campaign for District Attorney. In addition to serving on the Core Leadership Team, she Co-Chaired the Fundraising Committee and served as the Belchertown Town Coordinator where she lives. Mary currently serves her community on the Finance Committee. She has been a delegate to the State Democratic Convention for the past four years and was a volunteer at the 2008 National Democratic Convention in Denver. She has a M.A. in Human Resource Management from Emmanuel College in Boston, where she finished first in her graduating class. Mary is a proud stay-at-home wife and mother of three children.

Charlene Rideout

Charlene Rideout is a partner at Kearney, Donovan & McGee, P.C. (KDM). With more than 25 years of government affairs experience, she represents clients at both the state and local level on a wide variety of matters including state appropriations, health care, financial services, small business, economic development and non-profit organizations.

Prior to joining KDM in 2004, Charlene served as Intergovernmental Affairs Manager for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). In that capacity, she was responsible for implementing legislative and regulatory strategies as well as promoting and advocating for MWRA’s agenda. She also worked as legislative director in the Massachusetts State Senate where she was responsible for researching and analyzing a broad range of legislative and policy issues relating to affordable housing, health care and budgetary matters.

Ms. Rideout previously served on the Community Advisory Board of WGBH and the City of Boston Waterways Board. She is active in various civic organizations and charitable causes and has been involved with numerous local, state and federal political campaign efforts.

Ms. Rideout received a B.A. from Suffolk University, an M.P.A. from the John J. McCormack Institute of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.

Lindsay Sabadosa

Lindsay Sabadosa is the Director of the Pioneer Valley’s Women’s March and a County Coordinator for the Women’s March in Massachusetts.

She has a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a Masters of Science from the University of Edinburgh.

Christine Slater

Christine Slater joined the Board of Directors in January 2016, following six years of experience within the Emerge network. From 2010-2013, she worked at Emerge Massachusetts, assisting with the execution of the signature six-month training programs, fundraisers and piloting the first Boot Camp training. Christine also spent time at Emerge as their Project Manager, partnering with Executive Directors and board members across 14 states to train them on NGP/VAN fundraising best practices.

Outside of the Emerge network, Christine has extensive experience event planning. She spent three years at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center coordinating their major annual events—the Walk for Change and the Gala/Auction—raising over $1.1 million in her time there, surpassing all fundraising goals. Christine currently works at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals on the Medical Scientific Affairs team, where she strategically plans and executes national rheumatology conferences and builds partnerships with advocacy groups to advance patient care nationwide.

Christine was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, and moved to Boston in 2007. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Philosophy & Political Science, and a passion for electing more Democratic women to office. She lives in Boston and spends her free time hanging out with her favorite dudes: her boyfriend, Vlad, and rescue kitten, Logan.