Progressives are at a watershed moment and if we don’t course correct immediately we could set our movement, and our country, back generations. Here’s Arena’s plan to fight back.
In 2022, we plan to put 20+ Arena-trained staffers on the ground in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, doing the essential work of mobilizing voters in places where races will be decided by just a few hundred votes.
This investment could be the difference between winning and losing, and, in turn, the difference between whether these states take action on abortion access, gun violence prevention, climate change, and voting rights.
In a contested 2024 presidential election, it could also mean the difference between whether these swing states certify valid election results or not.
In Arizona, gains of just two seats in the State House and State Senate would yield Democratic majorities. Democrats have not controlled the State House since 1966. Arena’s goal is to place at least 11 staffers in Arizona.
In Michigan gains of three seats in the State House and four seats in the State Senate would put Democrats in power. Arena’s goal is to place at least 5 staffers in Michigan.
The Pennsylvania House Republicans have a 111-92 majority after the 2020 elections. By flipping twelve seats Democrats can regain control of the house, where new fair maps make victories possible. Arena’s goal is to place at least 6 staffers in Pennsylvania.
Jeanne Casteen was born in Harvard, Illinois. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 2008 and an M.Ed. from Arizona State University in 2010. Jeanne is a mother of four, middle and high school teacher, and former school board president of the Creighton School District’s Governing Board of Education. She is running for State Senator in Legislative District 2. Jeanne Casteen is currently the Executive Director of Secular AZ.
Judy has spent her life in our community as a mom, teacher at Greenway High School, and community leader. She grew up in the West Valley where her mom was a writer and her dad went from shop teacher to principal of the first vocational high school in Phoenix. Judy Schwiebert earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Arizona State University in 1978 and a master’s degree in education from Ottawa University in 2001. She co-founded Theater Works.
Cindy Hans has been a resident of Arizona for nearly three decades and is a retired public school educator, serving in various capacities including teacher, assistant principal, principal, technology specialist, and grant administrator. She is running for the State Senate against incumbent Senator J. D. Mesnard.
Jennifer Pawlik, is a native Arizonan. She’s been a teacher in the classroom for over 20 years, but felt she could make a difference by running for office.
Elected in 2018 as the first Democrat and the first woman to represent the District, she is a voice for all of LD13’s constituents.
She is a passionate advocate for public education, protecting voter rights and our environment, especially our water.
Taylor Kerby is a full-time educator living in the Casa Grande area. A native of Arizona, he graduated from ASU and is a Ph.D. student at Grand Canyon University where he studies cognitive learning processes and how to increase student achievement. He has served on the Casa Grande Union High School Governing Board starting in 2020. Taylor is passionate about preserving our right to vote, funding public schools, and improving the lives of all Arizonians.
After high school, Keith received a bachelor’s degree in English from Sacremento State University and traveled to Australia with his wife, Donna, to participate in a teaching-exchange program for 18 months.
Upon returning to the states with Donna (and a new baby), Keith began teaching English in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, while finishing his commitment to the United States Air Force and Army reserves. He also obtained a master’s degree in teaching English at the community college, and an educational leadership certificate – both from Northern Arizona University. Keith and his family lived in Lake Havasu for 25 years. During that time, Keith volunteered for service organizations such as the Jaycees, the local police department, and for his church.
It was during this time that Keith reignited his passion for politics. A lifelong democrat, Keith’s political identity was forged by his parents’ work in helping to strengthen the San Francisco streetcar union and their focus on the importance of education. In the Lake Havasu School District, Keith was the president of the local chapter of the Arizona Educator’s Association (AEA) for several years as well as the chair of both the Lake Havasu City and the Mohave County Democratic Parties. He was appointed, and then re-elected, as the Mohave County School Superintendent– a position he held for six years.
After leaving his superintendent position, Keith worked as a charter school principal shortly before embarking on a new adventure as the principal of the Santa Rosa Boarding School in Santa Rosa, Arizona. During his time living on the Tohono O’odham reservation, Keith worked with and learned from O’odham teachers, leaders, and families to help create bright futures for their children.
Upon retiring, Keith moved full-time to a house right on the dividing line between Casa Grande and Coolidge, Arizona, where he lives with his wife, Donna, their daughter Stacey, two rambunctious dogs, a desert tortoise, and a few tropical fish. Keith volunteers for both the Casa Grande and Pinal County Democratic Parties. He is currently the Vice President of the Coolidge Unified District School Board and a delegate to the Arizona School Board Association. An Eagle Scout himself, Keith also volunteers at his church as a liaison to a local Boy Scout troop. Most recently, he has been ordained as a Stephen Minister.
State Rep. Kevin Hertel is serving his third term representing the 18th House District, which is comprised of the communities of Eastpointe, St. Clair Shores and part of the village of Grosse Pointe Shores. Hertel grew up in a family dedicated to public service and learned from a young age the importance of being involved in his community. As a student at Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods, he learned the value of strong leadership and was active in many areas including, athletics, student government, theatre and many volunteer opportunities.
Hertel attended Michigan State University, where he studied political science. While attending MSU, he remained focused on the importance of staying involved in activities he believed in. Along with students from each of Michigan’s 15 public universities, Hertel spearheaded an effort to advocate for an increase in higher education funding. He continued to stay active in political campaigns and learned firsthand how government should work as an intern for former state Senator Deb Cherry. Before serving in the House, Hertel worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as a legislative analyst and then as a special assistant in the office of the president.
Hertel has been an active member of his community and is currently a member of the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee, a volunteer for Macomb County Special Olympics and a member of St. Isaac Jogues Parish. He serves on the Board of Directors for Macomb County Care House and has been involved in many volunteer activities in St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe.
Hertel lives in St. Clair Shores with his wife, Ann, and son, William.
Johanny was born in New York City on August 31, 1973 and is the daughter of Ana & Luis Cepeda. She lived and attended school in the Dominican Republic from the age of 9 to 14. Johanny is a proud mother to two children: Enith, 18, and Elias, 16, and is married to Felix Freytiz III. Johanny graduated from Mother Cabrini High School in New York City then attended the State University of New York at New Paltz College where she majored in French, minored in Spanish, studied abroad in Paris, France in 1994 and earned a bachelor’s degree of Arts. She also obtained a Master of Science in Education degree from Long Island University and became a bilingual guidance counselor. For over ten years, she worked for Grand Street Settlement and held the position of Program Director for the Beacon Center, a school-based community center located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. In addition to her role as program director, she worked part time as the college counselor for Marta Valle secondary school where the community center is housed.
In 2007, a business opportunity presented itself in Reading, PA. Johanny chose to leave New York City and her promising career to become an entrepreneur/businesswoman. She relocated her family to Pennsylvania to establish Mi Casa Su Casa Café, located at 320 Penn Street in downtown Reading. She graduated from Kutztown University Small Business Development Center and Latino Business Resource Center business program in the spring of 2009.
Johanny was appointed to City Council representing District 6 in the city of Reading in January 2019. Then in November 2019, she was elected City Councilwoman of District 6, Reading PA, by the people and January 2020 began serving her four-year term and in June 2022, she was unanimously appointed to President of Reading City Council.
Johanny has always seen great potential for the City of Reading, PA and as a result, has been an active member of the community by engaging herself and her business in all activities, events that promote our diverse culture, history, and art of the city of Reading. Her motto is Querer Es Poder (when there is a will there’s a way) and everything you do, do with LOVE!
District 33 is my home. I grew up here, listening to stories of the relatives who built the steel bridges that span the Allegheny and served our community as nurses and teachers. My family taught me to give back and serve – exemplified what hard work and commitment can accomplish. I have dedicated my life to that and will take my track record of standing up for what is right and getting things done to Harrisburg.
Melissa “Missy” Cerrato is no career politician. She’s a dedicated public servant and a working mom who knows what it means to serve our community. Now, she’s running to be the State Representative for House District 151, to ensure Harrisburg is working on the issues that matter to us.
As a Pennsylvania native, Missy grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and has raised her own family in Horsham for the last decade. Her husband, John, is a member of the UA Steamfitters Local 420, and their daughters go to our public schools. She is invested and highly involved in our community, including assisting and organizing for charities like Catholic Charities Outreach, The Mitzvah Circle, and multiple holiday toy drives.
Since 2018, she has served under State Representative Liz Hanbidge, working directly to better the lives of our neighbors, seniors, and veterans. As District Director, her job is to get results for the community when no one else can. From helping to put millions of dollars in unclaimed funds back in our pockets, to fighting to end a months-long backlog and get Pennsylvanians long-awaited unemployment assistance, Missy’s proactive, solution-oriented approach means people get the help they need.
Lisa got involved in politics 11 years ago when her two sons were still students in Radnor’s public schools and the School Board was debating the budget. Her youngest came home from school crying, saying that his gym teacher said he might lose his job. Lisa decided to tune into the next School Board meeting when they would be debating the budget. As she sat there watching it on her TV, it was clear that the Board was doing next to nothing to truly fight for the schools. It seemed like they felt the status quo was good enough. But not for Lisa.
Lisa got up, in her pajamas, hopped in her car, and drove to the meeting just in time for public comment to advocate for additional improvements to the schools. It worked. And Lisa has been fighting for her community ever since.
She ran for School Board and won, helping bring a Democratic majority to the board that year. Lisa later served as Vice President of the Board and led the way on creating one of the area’s first full day kindergarten programs. She worked with her colleagues to find common sense solutions to the complex challenges facing our schools, unafraid to buck the status quo. Lisa delivered for Radnor public schools.
Lisa later ran for Commissioner, ready to make her town a better place. She joined a Board deadlocked in partisan politics, but was elected President and led a Republican majority Board during her first year. Together, they found a way to make progress. She led efforts to secure critical investments for the public library, increase police funding, pave township roads, improve stormwater management, and pass four balanced budgets. At a time when no one thought all that was possible, Lisa made her town a better place. Lisa doesn’t play politics – she’s only focused on showing up for her community.
I am from the Gila River Indian Reservation and will one day be the governor of my tribe. I’ve been pursuing my goal through this line of work to learn how to connect with the community. I volunteer for many causes and I’m currently an organizer for ADLCC.
Xóchitl has grown up in Arizona and considers the Sonora desert (but not its heat) home. She has been passionate about social justice since she was a little girl and has grown up wanting to change the political climate and landscape in Arizona and the U.S. She jumped into politics with an internship on Kyrsten Sinema’s historic 2018 Senate campaign and has been involved in political campaigns ever since.
Xóchitl loves traveling (when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic), talking to strangers (yes, really!), and discovering what similarities we all share as well as what unique things set us apart. She loves learning new languages, listening to all styles of music, and dancing (even when music isn’t playing).
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Hailey Ruiz is a Political Science major at Houston Community College in her hometown of Katy, TX. She is an Arena Academy 2022 graduate and this will be her first time working on a campaign. She has previously worked as an assistant manager at Sonic Drive-In from 2018-2020, and as a nursing home receptionist from April through December of 2020.
I’m a climate justice organizer and political fundraiser from Bakersfield, CA. I have worked on races up and down the ballot. I’m currently in the process of co-founding a non-profit organization that teaches latin@ communities how to organize. When I’m not fighting for clean air and water or fundraising, I like to go on walks.
Alba is a career-changer and native New Yorker born and raised in Astoria, Queens, traversing the private and public sectors in Finance with Munich Reinsurance America as an Underwriting Analyst, and then delving into political campaign roles as a volunteer to develop her resume while she transitioned from one career to the other. Her political career progression encompasses roles such as Legislative Intern with State Representative Perry Warren, (PA-1), New Staff Deputy Director with The Outreach Team, and most recently as Call Time Manager with Sterling Strategies. In Spring of 2019, during the height of COVID-19, she became the Senior Political Advisor for Vote In Or Out, a political research platform developed by the founding members of the New York City Women’s March. Alba’s political journey now takes her to Reading, Pennsylvania, as Finance Director and Arena Fellow for the Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz for PA campaign working to deliver the next Democratic majority to the State Legislature in Harrisburg.
Hello I’m James from Nashville, TN. I have been working in field programs on campaigns since 2018 mostly in Tennessee and Kentucky. I believe a properly run field program can create an infrastructure of activists that will work for their community for years to come. The only downside to my work is that is keeps me from my Saturday game of Dungeons & Dragons that I have been apart of for the past 2 years.
Lauren-Elaine is excited to serve as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Melissa Cerrato’s House District 151 Campaign.
A graduate from the 2022 Communications Track of Arena Academy, Lauren-Elaine has a decade-long background in Issue Advocacy and Community Organizing with emphasis on special populations and youth. She holds a double major in Psychology & Criminal Justice with minors in Bible & Biology from University of Northwestern. She is a volleyball and hockey enthusiast as well as a proud midwestern gal who has been living and organizing in Dallas-Fort Worth for the past 6 summers.
Sarah (she/her) is a community-builder, coordinator, and cultural organizer. In addition to electoral organizing, Sarah spends her volunteer time co-coordinating a regional practical support network for people seeking abortions. An experienced producer, curator, and nurturer of the performing arts, Sarah is a born-and-raised Philadelphian and lives in South Philly.
4 minutes and 30 seconds of TV advertisements in the Detroit media market
4 minutes of TV advertisements in the Philadelphia media market
A deputy campaign manager who can develop and oversee a strategy to directly reach 60,000 voters in Maricopa County
3 minutes and 30 seconds of TV advertisements in the Phoenix media market
Republicans have spent decades cultivating talent and investing for the long run, and right now we’re paying the price. Republicans control 30 state legislatures, 28 governors mansions, and are just a few seats away from regaining control of Congress. Together with an activist Supreme Court, they’re enacting policies that turn back progress on everything from abortion to voting rights to climate change.
Arena is building a new generation of political leaders who will lead the fight to save our democracy and build progressive power for the long run. It’s going to take all of us to make change. Join us in this work.
Paid for by Arena Summit, a section 501(c)(4) organization, and Arena PAC.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.