People

Cory Suter, Chief Steward

Founding Principal of BioNeighbors Sustainable Homes, Executive Director of a Mennonite Gift & Thrift, Economics Ph.D. Student, and Campaign Manager with Teach For America

An American job-creator who loves his family and country, Cory lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, birthplace of American Independence.  Cory is currently the Treasurer of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, and was a business major, family studies minor at James Madison University.    Born in Iowa to parents in voluntary service, Cory moved to Ohio, then grew up in Virginia.  His Dad has made metal parts for 30 years at Excel Steel, and his Mom raised five children before becoming a Nurse.   Cory has a unique blend of perspectives from a year at the conservative evangelical Honor Academy in Texas to a summer with a progressive non-profit teaching Middle School in an inner-city.    Raised low-income, Cory worked years in Construction and earned scholarships so he could afford to start a small business.  He and his beloved wife, a doctor at UPenn had their first son in June of 2012. Cory Suter wants to give back to his national community by serving Direct Congress.  He believes that “Freedom comes from an engaged and educated public.  Congress should make laws in the nation’s best interests, instead of unfairly helping the well-connected.  My Christian roots inspire my work for justice and stewardship.  I don’t identify fully as Republican, Democrat, or Independent, but am proud to be an American.”

Rabbi George Stern, Founding Board Member

Civil Rights Leader and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (’02-’11)

Rabbi Stern is happy to provide another voice for people of Faith in the leadership of Direct Congress.  For 27 years, George served as rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Upper Nyack, New York, where he established strong social justice and community outreach programs as the congregation grew from 65 to 425 families (1200 individuals).   Rabbi George is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in American Civilization.   He has Master of Arts and Doctor of Divinity degrees as well as rabbinical ordination from New York’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Among many community activities, Rabbi Stern served multiple terms as president of the Nyack Interfaith Clergy Association, organized interfaith support of black churches during the 1990s, and led a significant lobby effort in the New York State Legislature.  From 1984 to 2001, he was an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY.  Rabbi Stern and his wife, Deborah, the Library Director at the Rabbinical College in Wyncote, have two adult children and two grandchildren.  In 2009 he was awarded the Community Leadership Award of the Philadelphia Community College for Outstanding Contributions to Education.

Richard Tweedie, JD, M.S., MBA, Founding Interim Board Member

Captain of the Port of Philadelphia, U.S.Coast Guard (retired), & Attorney

After Richard graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1967 his tours of duty consisted of various  ship board tours including a year in Vietnam, Commanding Officer of the Marine Safety Center, and Captain of the Port of Philadelphia.  During his time in the U.S. military, Richard earned a Law Degree from George Mason University, two  Master of Science degrees from M.I.T., and a Master of Business Administration from the New York Institute of Technology.   He provided technical assistance to Congress during the drafting of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and saw first hand how Congress drafts legislation.  He has been  a maritime attorney for many years.  Born into an ordinary farming family in upstate New York, this Captain’s life is the epitome of the American Dream.  Richard is honored to endorse the vision of Direct Congress.

Steven Williams, Founding Board Member

Executive Director of the Partnership Community Development Corporation

Steven Williams is an important innovator and leader in Community Development in New York and Philadelphia. After earning a degree from Columbia University, Steve worked with Columbia’s Urban Technical Assistance Project (UTAP) for two years.  He then served as the Director of Real Estate Development for Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc. for four years, before becoming their Vice President.  Steve compiled and analyzed demographic information and economic trends for the Bradhurst section of Harlem.  In 2006, Steve became the Director of Urban Planning for Abyssinian Development Corp., a large Nonprofit Management firm.  Since 2008, Steve Williams has served as the Executive Director of Partnership CDC where he has generated lots of news for his strategic vision and innovative work in creating jobs in vegetated roofing, green house farming, and cool roofing.  Steve is honored to endorse the vision of Direct Congress.

Jeff Hornstein, Ph.D.,  Founding Board Member

History Professor, Philadelphia City Council Candidate, &  Labor Advocate

With a degree in Political Science from M.I.T, a Ph.D. in History from the University of Maryland and a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Direct Congress.  Jeff is the author of  “A Nation of Realtors”, (Duke University Press 2005), a history of the real estate industry and the American dream of home ownership.  He has been a life-long advocate for American workers and a strong Middle Class.  Jeff served as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Southeastern PA Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and ran the  ‘GET-UP’ campaign (Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania) from 2001-2004 for the American Federation of Teachers.  Jeff has led legislative campaigns for prevailing wages for property service workers and janitors, and for inclusionary zoning as leader of the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice.  Jeff is known and respected for his honesty in politics and community organizing.

Louis Rodriguez, Founding Board Member

CEO of Rodriguez Consulting, a mid-sized Civil Engineering firm.

Lou Rodriguez, a talented Civil Engineer, brings essential technical skills to Direct Congress’ leadership.  As the first Rodriguez in his family born in the United States, Lou represents the American Dream.  He has spent much of his life working to make sure America has long-lasting  infrastructure.  With a degree from Widener University, Lou is a licensed engineer in Pennsylvania & New Jersey with over 20 years of experience in program/project management, business process re-engineering, municipal engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), and information management.

Lou started his career at the Philadelphia Water Department, where he was responsible for designing water/sewer capital projects. Lou was PWD’s first GIS Program Manager and oversaw the contract for aerial mapping impervious surfaces.  His work is the foundation of Philadelphia’s acclaimed storm-water plan.  Lou has been honored as a 2010 Minority Business Leader by the Philadelphia Business Journal, 2010 MED Week business leader by the City of Philadelphia, and one of the “Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latino Leaders” by Impacto Latin.  Lou is an avid runner who has completed nine marathons including: Philadelphia, Walt Disney World, Atlantic City, and New York City.  He enjoys spending time with his family.

Linda Hahn, MSW, Founding Board Member

Executive Director of the Computer Technology Institute and Metropolitan Career Center

Linda Hahn is a strong leader and fireball of energy in her life’s work to support families, women and good jobs.  Linda earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.  She currently leads the Metropolitan Career Center, an urban institute focused on helping those with limited access to resources get job-ready skills.  MCC has a history of placing students in sustainable careers that lead to economic independence.  Prior to this, Linda was the CEO of a family health organization for fourteen years.

Andrew Smith, Ph.D., Founding Interim Board Member

Author, Political Philosophy Professor & Associate Director of Philosophy Program at Drexel

Andrew teaches courses in social & political philosophy and ethics at Drexel University.  His current work focuses on democratic theory, including evaluating what should motivate citizens to engage in public deliberation when faced with deep disagreement; assessing how to overcome psychological, cognitive, and institutional inhibitors to deliberative engagement; and considering how to promote more effective and efficient democratic governance in the face of entrenched special interests.  Andrew wrote: The Deliberative Impulse: Motivating Discourse in Divided Societies (Lexington Book, 2011), along with numerous articles for academic journals.

Scott Gallagher, Ph.D., Founding Interim Board Member

Director of Management Department, James Madison University College of Business

Scott Gallagher is a well-loved and respected faculty member at James Madison University who is dedicated to the success of his students and University community.  With a Ph.D. in Organization Management from Rutgers University, School of Management, and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University, J.F.K. School of Government,  Dr. Gallagher provides an incredible wealth of knowledge to the development of Direct Congress.  Dr. Gallagher has published a variety of articles including “A strategic response to Friedman’s critique of business ethics.”  His most recent paper appeared in Technovation and is on the recently concluded standards battle between Toshiba’s HD-DVD and Sony’s Blu-ray.

Dr. Gallagher’s first teaching job was as an adjunct government professor at Lamar University where he also served as Assistant to the Chancellor.  He was named the College of Business Distinguished Professor in 2008, voted College of Business Outstanding Professor in 2009 and was the school’s Madison Scholar for 2010-11.  He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Business Strategies and is a commissioner for the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Four More Board Members; Coming Soon!

We are currently approaching and interviewing a diverse group of honorable and experienced individuals to oversee our work.  If you or someone you know is  interested and uniquely qualified, please send us your recommendations.

Direct Congress Staff

YIKES, Inc, Web Development Team

YIKES is a Philadelphia web design and development company dedicated to sustainable business practices. Founded in 1996, YIKES is a women-owned business observing the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. YIKES is committed to building more socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable local economies.

YIKES is proud to have earned B Corporation Certification and is a member and sponsor of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia.

The YIKES office is located in a green (soon to be LEED certified) building and is powered by 100% Renewable electricity through The Energy Cooperative. YIKES recycles and composts office waste and prints promotional materials on recycled paper with soy ink. The YIKES office uses green cleaning and paper products. YIKES is also a 100% Replanted office.

YIKES was honored to receive the 2011 B Corporation Award “Most Inspirational Project,” and was a recipient of a Triple Bottom Line Award at the 2005 Social Venture Institute in the service category.

YIKES is a certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Minority and Women Business Opportunities and City of Philadelphia Minority Business Enterprise Council now known as the Office of Economic Opportunity.

YIKES employees donate a percentage of the firms’ profits to non-profit organizations every year.

Eyes Habit, Chief Graphic Communications Developers

Eyes Habit is a modern creative team based in Philadelphia, PA. They craft engaging visual solutions that clarify important messages, generate awareness, and drive humans to make positive change. And sometimes, they make awesome things just for the fun of it.

Mark Adams & Jason Killinger are graphic design professionals dedicated to the  success of Direct Congress.  As the founders of Eyes Habit, they provide the visual communication skills Direct Congress needs to communicate the ‘DC’ vision to all Americans.

 

Melinda Guinn, Content Development

Melinda serves as a creative critic and idea foundry for Direct Congress and her other business clients.  With a background in science and engineering, her focus is on critical functional analysis, pondering and developing solutions to problems, making ideas a practical reality, assessing needs and resources, studying end user needs and streamlining ideas, products, tools and communications so that they are clear and functional.

Passionate about supporting entrepreneurship, Melinda assists business owners and entrepreneurs with the development and refinement of new ideas, products and services developed to meet the needs of her community, her country and the global community at large.  She values civic duty, community involvement, elegant solutions to problems, public welfare, cooperative and mutually beneficial arrangements, open dialogue, fact finding, sharing ideas, sharing knowledge, sharing perspectives, soliciting feedback, tolerance, the expansion of thought and enterprise, stimulating polarity in debate and well developed solutions to problems that meet the needs of the majority, if not all, of the identified stakeholders.

Melinda’s contributions to the Direct Congress initiative stem from her values and wishes to see in her lifetime, the continual evolution toward a more perfect and participatory democracy that is reflective of the ever changing needs of the diverse population of citizens of the United States of America.

Keshar Ghimire, Volunteer Director of Database Management & Promotions

Keshar is a PhD student in economics at Temple University, and committed solutions creator. Before volunteering with Direct Congress, Keshar teamed up with some enthusiastic friends to form www.ICanAfford.org, an organization which makes micro grants to the poor in developing countries.  He has a BA/MA (Magna cum laude) in economics from Hunter College of the City University of New York and a BS in Environmental Sciences from Trichandra College of Tribhuvan University.  After college, Keshar worked as a secondary level science teacher in various schools in Nepal, earning multiple Teachers’ Achievement Awards.

As a responsible person from a young age, 12 year old Keshar managed his family business for over two years in a small village of Western Nepal.  He then went on to score an honorable third position in the nationwide board exams in 12th grade.  Keshar’s responsible nature, keen intellect, and strong interest in helping society serve Direct Congress well.

Ryan Farrell, Washington DC Associate

Ryan Farrell is a graduate of James Madison University’s College of Business, majoring in management. Immediately after graduation, Ryan worked as a research associate in the federal division of INPUT, a market research company that monitors and analyzes government contracting opportunities.  In early 2011, Ryan began work as a Business Analyst at P3 Partners, a small business specializing in program management and acquisition support for federal agencies.  While still working full time, Ryan is teaching himself HTML and CSS in hopes of creating his own website aimed at improving government in the near future.  Ryan is excited to help Direct Congress launch what he knows will be a powerful medium for encouraging citizen participation in government.  He currently lives in Annandale, VA, a short drive from Washington, D.C.

Oliver Gingrich, Esq., Legal Filings, Advice, & Support

Our Team of Developers Includes Dozens of Volunteer Contributors:

Danie Greenwell (Non-profit Consulting), Patricia May (Public Relations), Adam Sharp (Political Consulting), Monica Hennessy, Esq. (Advise), Emily Shockley (Marketing) Aaron Greenspan (Leadership), Michael Simons (Strategic Review), Jay Sand (Community Engagement), Matt Forsyth (Web development), Nadedja Hristova, Ryan Farrell (Business Consulting), Jesse Blosser, Lauren Mandel, David Walthour, Hans Burkholder, Chet Denlinger, Maria Surratt, Paul Heinsdorf, Nathan May, H. Bishop Dansby, Esq., Luke Keller, Greg Johnson, and many others online. Sites such as www.psdgraphics.com who provided free icons and individuals such as lashr1999 at IgoUgo who posted a picture of the U.S. Capital also contributed to the rapid development of this website.

Message from ‘DC’s Chief Steward:  I cannot adequately express how appreciative I feel.  Thank you so much to all the friends and acquaintances who generously donated their time to provide the feedback and suggestions that have transformed a rough idea into a powerful union of good governance and social networking.  You have made Direct Congress.  Without the loving support and focused criticism of my best friend and wife, Allison,  I never would have been able to create this model.  Furthermore, I can’t say enough good things about the extra time YIKES, Inc. has donated to develop this professional website.

To those friends who have been enthusiastic endorsers, thank you for helping me to feel more confident in dropping two of my Economics Ph.D. classes  in order to create this website.  My family, Rory Stout, Nathan Daschle, Akbar Siddiqui, Mae Reinford, Brenden Mason, Micah Shapiro, Keya Dannenbaum, and many others have been helpful confidence boosters.  And last, but not least, I feel appreciative to my friend and fellow ‘DC’ staff member, Keshar Ghimire, who is fully committed to Direct Congress’ success and believes that we’re creating something of Zuckerberg proportions.