Equity in Democracy
Persistent and unyielding in our commitment to a just multiracial democracy, Public Wise fights to secure a government that reflects the will and protects the rights of the people. We accomplish this through education, research, organizing, funding and partnerships that support more voting and more equitable representation.
Public Wise envisions a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people, with government that is accountable, trusted, and transparent.
Areas of Work
We conduct and publish innovative, non-partisan research to fill gaps in the existing body of voter rights research and serve as a publicly available resource to advocates, academics and policymakers.
“We provide financial and operational support (funds+) to strengthen the work of frontline organizations engaged in litigation, advocacy, outreach and education.
We collaborate with partners to improve voting rights policies and budget initiatives on the federal, state, and local levels through advocacy and direct lobbying.
Board of Directors
Eric Laufer | Board President
Eric Laufer is a multi-disciplinary entrepreneur with ventures in renewable energy technology, real estate and film. He has developed innovative solutions that mitigate the impact of wind farms on surrounding communities and wildlife, managed a diverse commercial and land portfolio with an eye towards good environmental stewardship and produced films that promote values of acceptance and inclusivity. He holds multiple patents and has a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical engineering from Stanford. His greatest joy is chasing his three daughters and wife around New York City.
Andy Bernstein | Board Member
Andy Bernstein helped found HeadCount in 2004, and became its executive director in the Spring of 2008.
Under his leadership, the organization has registered over 650,000 voters, forged alliances with hundreds of musicians and entertainers, and produced dozens of highly-successful events and initiatives.
He has been a featured speaker at the South by Southwest music conference, and appeared as an expert commentator on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and several other television networks. He also oversaw production of public service announcements starring Jay-Z, Dave Matthews, members of the Grateful Dead and the boy band Brockhampton, the most recent of which was distributed by the Ad Council.
Andy was the architect behind “The Bridge Session,” a 2012 concert and webcast that brought together The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir with members of The National for the first time. Later, they recorded an album together.
Prior to creating HeadCount, Andy was best known in the music community as an author of “The Pharmer’s Almanac”, a guide to the band Phish that sold over 70,000 copies. He also worked in sports for over a decade, serving as media editor of Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, and later as Vice President of U.S. Corporate Development at the technology company Kangaroo TV, A 1994 graduate of Brown University.
Bernstein resides in a slope-side condominium at the Mountain Creek ski resort, not far from New York City. His pastime is posting harrowing GoPro videos of his ski adventures on social media.
Kristen Dart | Board Member
Kristen Dart is the Political Director for Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. In that capacity she serves as the organization’s lobbyist and leads the political and electoral work.
Prior to her current role she served as deputy director of the policy office for the House of Representatives in Rhode Island. She coordinated Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s re-election bid in 2016.
Kristen previously served as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Mayor Jorge Elorza in Providence, RI and as the community organizer for Planned Parenthood Southern New England (PPSNE). At PPSNE she coordinated their Generation Action interns, lobbied the General Assembly, coordinated the RI Religious Coalition for Reproductive justice and had a leading role in Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island’s elections efforts.
Her passion for politics and voter rights comes from a long family history of fighting for civil rights and justice. She is an avid college sports fan, she enjoys traveling and hosting family and friends for meals. She resides in her hometown in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Jacob Faber, PhD | Board Member
Jacob William Faber is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Service in New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and holds a joint appointment in NYU’s Sociology Department.
His research and teaching focuses on spatial inequality. He leverages observational and experimental methods to study the mechanisms responsible for sorting individuals across space and how the distributions of people by race and class interact with political, social, and ecological systems to create and sustain economic disparities. While there is a rich literature exploring the geography of opportunity, there remain many unsettled questions about the causes of segregation and its effects on the residents of urban ghettos, wealthy suburbs, and the diverse set of places in between.
His scholarship highlights the rapidly-changing roles of numerous institutional actors (e.g. mortgage lenders, real estate agents, check cashing outlets, and police officers) in facilitating the reproduction of racial and spatial inequality. Through investigation of several aspects of American life, he demonstrates that a pattern of “institutional marginalization” emerges as a powerful mechanism connecting segregation to socioeconomic disadvantage. His work has been published in American Sociological Review, Annual Review of Sociology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Demography, Social Forces, Housing Policy Debate, and other prominent journals.
Professor Faber’s scholarship has received recognition from several organizations, including the ASA Latino/Latina Sociology Section, Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM), Association of Black Sociologists (ABS), Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), and Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). In 2020, Professor Faber won NYU’s Making a Difference Award for his research and teaching on the hidden and unsettled causes of segregation by race. In 2018, he was named NYU Wagner’s Professor of the Year and won the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Research Prize.
Dr. Faber earned his PhD in Sociology from New York University and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. He also graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Master’s degrees in Telecommunications Policy and Urban Studies and Planning and a Bachelor’s degree in Management Science. Between stints at graduate school, Dr. Faber worked as a Senior Researcher for the Center for Social Inclusion, a racial justice policy advocacy organization.
Shijuade Kadree | Board Member
Shijuade Kadree currently serves as the Chief Advocacy Officer for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City.
She is an alumna of Emory University where she graduated with a joint degree with the Schools of Law and Public Health, specifically focusing on Global Environmental Health. A former defense attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services, Shijuade has significant government relations, policy, strategic planning and stakeholder cultivation and engagement experience.
Her current work as the Chief Advocacy Officer for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center means she is responsible for creating, implementing, and directing the annual legislative and fiscal lobbying strategy to support its powerful programs and to advocate for equity and inclusion of the larger LGBTQ community in New York State.
Shijuade centers her approach from a black, queer, feminist perspective, believing that when all of those needs are engaged and addressed, all will benefit from the outcome. She has worked with all levels of government, for-profit, and non-profit actors, to ensure that the work being done is thoughtful, innovative, and inclusive, with an explicitly intersectional lens. Her legislative and organizational policy drafting and implementation experience, across multiple interests and sectors, informs the incisive and proactive approach to her changemaking work.
A recipient of multiple awards for her work, she is also a sought after speaker, panelist, commentator, and moderator. She can be sought out for professional consulting services through her firm, Compass Strategies Consulting. Shijuade resides in New York City with her wife and children.
Stephanie Miliano | Board Member
Stephanie Miliano is the Chief of Staff at Stu Loeser & Co with an extensive background in politics, government, organizing and bilingual English-Spanish communications.
Prior to joining Stu Loeser & Co, Stephanie was a national organizer for political engagement for the Women’s March in Washington, DC while working closely with its co-chairs. She has also served as state field director for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s reelection campaign. Previously, she served as deputy chief of staff to New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez spearheading citywide projects, and advising on City budget, legislation and communications, and as Manhattan political organizer for Hillary for America.
Sean O’Shea | Board Member
Sean O’Shea is a Partner at Alexander, Borovicka & O’Shea Government Solutions and President of SPO Strategic Consulting, LLC.
Sean has more than 15 years of policy, legislative and legal experience working with various federal, state, and local government entities, nonprofits, trade associations, universities, corporations, and unions in the transportation and infrastructure areas, as well as complex insurance, environmental, and national security issues.
Sean served in various capacities in Washington, D.C. from the White House to Capitol Hill, as well as in the private sector representing various clients. Most recently, Sean served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Illinois overseeing significant capital investments throughout the State of Illinois including a $31 billion capital program that invested in a variety of transportation systems, including highways, bridges, high-speed rail, passenger rail, and transit systems across the Chicago region and beyond; a $2 billion Clean Water Initiative that was a joint effort between the Illinois Finance Authority and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to attack the backlog of drinking and wastewater needs throughout the State; and a $12 billion capital construction plan that is addressing significant capacity issues on the 286-mile Illinois Tollway system.
Sean served as Vice President of Building America’s Future, which was founded by former Governors Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and which now includes Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. As Projects Director & Legislative Assistant to then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sean handled domestic appropriation bills, transportation and infrastructure issues, homeland security and health matters related to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City, and served as an adviser to Senator Clinton on the Northern Ireland peace process and other key pieces of legislation.
Sean previously served in the Office of Cabinet Affairs in the White House for President Bill Clinton overseeing several key agencies responding to crisis events, and helped coordinate policy and operations with the President’s Cabinet for issues such as major disaster declarations, aviation incidents, and policy announcements.
Sean has represented clients in the private sector before Congress and the executive branch agencies on appropriations issues, regulatory matters, and assisted clients navigate Congressional investigations at a major lobbying firm and law firm. In 2015, Sean was elected to the Board of Directors of Building America’s Future and Building America’s Future Educational Fund, the organization at which he previously served as Vice President. Sean is a graduate of DePaul University and American University Washington College of Law. Sean is an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia. He is admitted to the United States Supreme Court, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the Illinois Supreme Court.