North Carolina Voters For Clean Elections

 

Staff Members

Melissa Price Kromm, NC Voters for Clean Elections Coalition Director

Ms. Kromm is the Director of N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, North Carolina's leading voice for returning power to citizens and lessening the corrosive influence of special interests in state politics. Kromm serves as lobbyist and leader of the 35+ member coalition, which helped passed North Carolina's "Voter-Owned" public financing for select judicial and Council of State races, as well as the pilot municipal program.  Before joining N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, Kromm was part of a successful effort to pass same-day voter registration at early voting sites in North Carolina. 

Board Members

Bill Wilson, President

Mr. Wilson joined the North Carolina Justice Center as Deputy Director in January 2012. Prior to coming to the Justice Center, he was Associate State Director for Advocacy at AARP North Carolina. From 2000 to 2005, he worked for the NC Advocates for Justice as Director of Politics and Government Relations. He worked for the NC Association of Educators from 1990 to 2000, where he directed the government relations program. Wilson owned a technology consulting and research firm, and did survey research at the Research Triangle Institute. He has been a frequent speaker on legislative strategy, politics, and policies.

Wilson played a key role in several pieces of legislation that included creating a consumer rating system for North Carolina’s adult care homes, raising North Carolina teacher salaries to the national average, and eliminating the death penalty for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. His policy and advocacy work has included the areas of health care, taxes, education, legal issues, election reform, and aging policy.

He has degrees in journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and information studies from Syracuse University.

Brent Laurenz, Vice President

Brent Laurenz joined the Center as director of outreach in 2010. Prior to that, he worked in policy and government relations for the Civil War Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields. He received a bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech and a master's degree in political management from George Washington University.  In addition to his work at the Center, Brent also serves on the Board of Directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Triangle and the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission.

Bob Hall, Treasurer

Mr. Hall is the executive director of Democracy NC. He has been working with grassroots groups across North Carolina since 1970, collaborating with them on research projects on economic and social issues. He has served as executive director and research director with the Institute for Southern Studies and was recognized for that work with a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992.

Bob Phillips, Secretary

Mr. Phillips is the executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. His interest in campaign finance reform comes in part from his other work experiences which include television news reporter and press secretary for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. He is a native North Carolinian and graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

James Andrews

Mr. Andrews is the President of the North Carolina AFL-CIO. He served as the organization's Secretary-Treasurer for 13 years before being elected President. Originally from Warren County, NC, he helped organize a union at his plant in Henderson before becoming Director of NC Frontlash in 1974. He has several decades of organizing and advocacy experience in North Carolina

Peg Chapin

Ms. Chapin was an early supporter of campaign finance reform.  She was the Co-President of the League of Women Voters of NC, Chair of the Board of Democracy NC and on the Original Board of NCVCE.  Presently, she works as the Advocacy Chair of the League of Women Voters of Charlotte, Mecklenburg and State Coach for League of Women Voters. 

Ellen Harnick

Ellen Harnick is Senior Policy Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (“CRL”), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices.  CRL is affiliated with Self-Help, one of the nation’s largest community development financial institutions.  Ms. Harnick’s work focuses on consumer lending issues, ensuring access to responsible credit by middle income and lower income families, and preventing abusive lending practices.  At the state level, her work has focused on abuses by payday lenders, car title lenders and consumer finance companies.  She has also worked at both the state and federal levels on abuses by debt settlement firms.  Prior to joining CRL, Ms. Harnick was a partner in the New York law firm of Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, where she represented corporate clients.  During 2001-2002, she served with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo on the legal team advising the Special Representative of the Secretary General, focusing on the development of market economic laws and the transition to self-government.  

Ms. Harnick graduated from Brandeis University and Georgetown University Law Center.

Alex Kotch

A Chapel Hill, NC native, Alex began as a research associate with the Institute for Southern Studies in January 2014, focusing on money in politics. He tracks outside money spent in North Carolina’s state-level elections, managing the content on FollowNCMoney.org, and writes articles for Facing South, the Institute's online magazine. Alex’s work has also been published by The American Prospect, BillMoyers.com, The Brooklyn Rail and Vocativ. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from Brown University and a PhD in music composition from Duke, and is an active producer and DJ.

Linda Levy

Ms. Levy is the Voter Service Chairman of the League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  Her responsibilities include coordinating voter registration of new citizens on the day they are naturalized, administering a high school voter registration drive project, in which the 20 public high schools and about five private high schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg are invited to conduct a voter registration drive.  The student organizations such as NAACP chapters, student government, leadership groups and social studies classes run the drives themselves, under the supervision of the faculty advisor.  The League gives an honorarium of $100 to each organization that successfully registers or pre-registers at least 35 students to vote.  This project is now in its eighth year and through the years thousands of high school students have registered or pre-registered to vote. Her other interests include volunteering in the first grade of a local public school with a majority of Hispanic students, exercise classes, religious studies and Spanish conversation groups and classes. Prior to retirement her work experience included administering a high technology trade organization on Long Island, NY; and in Charlotte coordinating a commercial real estate organization, and administrative duties in property management firms.

Adam Sotak

Mr. Sotak is the Organizing Director for Democracy North Carolina and has been on the NCVCE board since 2005. He has been working with Democracy North Carolina (formerly Democracy South) since January 2000. Prior to his work at Democracy NC, Adam received his MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill and trained and worked as a labor organizer. He also spent two years working with at-risk youth. In 2001, he received the Humanitarian Award from the Charlotte-Black Political Caucus and in 2005 he received the 'Unsung Hero Award' from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP for his work for voting rights. He continues to work in the Charlotte area and throughout the state\'s Piedmont and western counties, encouraging citizens to take ownership of their democracy.

Jeanne Van Divender

Ms. Van Divender has over ten years experience as an information consultant. She has worked for several chemical and pharmaceutical companies in New York and North Carolina in their Knowledge Management and Informatics departments. She has been a Key Legislative Contact for AARP for two years. She is also a precinct judge for the Wake County Board of Elections. Ms. Van