Meet the Team
Russell Verney, Political Advisor –– Russell Verney was the 1992 political advisor and 1996 Campaign Manager for Ross Perot's presidential campaigns. He also has served as the CEO of a very large, highly effective nationwide non-profit issue advocacy organization, United We Stand America and he was the founding Chairman of a nationally recognized political party, the Reform Party. He also has provided research, drafting and editing for six books related to various public policy matters that have made the New York Times best-sellers list. A frequent guest speaker, he has written speeches that were delivered to national audiences and prepared testimony for Congress and State legislatures. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. Verney attended Northeastern University. He is a decorated US Army veteran and now resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife Gayle.
Charles Wheelan, Policy Advisor –– Charles Wheelan is a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. His most recent book, “The Centrist Manifesto,” calls for a new political party “of the middle.” From 1997 to 2002, Wheelan was the Midwest correspondent for The Economist. In 2009, he ran Democratic candidate in the special election for Illinois's 5th congressional district, the seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico and other publications.
Ryan Morgan, Digital Advisor –– Ryan Morgan is Managing Partner at Veracity Media, a D.C. based communications firm where he works directly with Congressional and Gubernatorial candidates on a daily basis. His background in data and analytics lends itself to voter targeting and effective message testing, particularly online. Ryan specializes in social media strategy and advertising, having made one of the most liked Facebook posts of all time (1.1 million likes). Ryan worked previously as the digital director of the Common Sense Coalition, a PAC dedicated to bringing both parties together, and notably grew their fan-base on Facebook from zero to 230,000 over the course of one year.
Larry Norton, Legal Advisor –– Larry Norton, one of the nation’s leading authorities on campaign finance, lobbying and government ethics laws, serves as co-chair of Venable’s Political Law group. From 2001-2007, Mr. Norton served as General Counsel for the Federal Election Commission. Through this position, he played a prominent role in the implementation of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, commonly referred to as the McCain-Feingold law. Prior to his tenure at the FEC, he served as Associate Director in the Division of Enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and at the Federal Trade Commission as Assistant Director in the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Before joining the federal government, Mr. Norton served as a Maryland Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Litigation Division. He began his legal career at Venable as a litigation associate.
Rachel Vierling, Research co-Director and Press Secretary –– Rachel is a communications specialist in public affairs. Previously she was the communications manager for The Can Kicks Back’s “Generational Equity Tour,” which traveled across the country during the fall of 2013. Prior to that she worked as a communications associate for the Hon. David M. Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General, and the nonprofit organization he founded, the Comeback America Initiative, which advocated for fiscal responsibility. Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Elon University in 2012 with a B.A. in strategic communications and communication science.
Blake Wright, Research co-Director –– Blake Wright raised in Asheville, NC recently achieved his Bachelors in Economics with a minor in Political Science from Appalachian State University. He has previously worked in campus organizing with Americans Elect and founded Rootstrikers' National Campus Program for Harvard Law's Lawrence Lessig. In addition to his work in nonpartisan advocacy, Blake has a background in web programming and graphic design.
Joe Belsterling, Research Associate –– From Milford, PA, Joe is currently a junior at the College of William & Mary, studying Finance and Government. He has professional experience with an investment boutique, a FinTech Startup, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Americans Elect, and the National Youth Association. His political experiences range from lobbying to field organizing to drafting policy briefs to district research and analysis, and many things in between. His primary political interest lies in the concern he has for his generation's and future generations' fiscal outlook, both publicly and personally.
Tanvir Faisal, Research Associate –– From Matamoras, PA, Tanvir is currently a junior at Vanderbilt University studying Political Science with a specialization in International Relations and minoring in Corporate Strategy. Tanvir is a 2011 graduate of Delaware Valley High School, where he was actively involved in both the local community and school district. His political experience includes involvement with Americans Elect, a nonprofit organization that sought to place a third presidential ticket on the 2012 ballot via the nation's first ever online convention. From 2012 to mid 2013, Tanvir was selected as the Program Director for the American chapter of the United Nation's International Youth Council.
Michael Montemarano, Research Associate –– From Shohola, PA, Michael is a junior at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Finance with a minor in history. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Michael moved to Milford, PA as a toddler and graduated from Delaware Valley High School. During his senior year, he contributed to the reelection campaign for incumbent Representative Chris Carney. Following high school, Michael interned at New York's Eastern District United States Federal Courthouse. Currently, Michael is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity and is the Vice President of Finance for Students Consulting Nonprofit Organizations. Additionally, Michael is heavily involved in Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance MaraTHON.