Meet Your Candidates for the 2020 YDWA Elections

The Full List

In alphabetical order, by position:

YDWA President

Spencer Lively
Derek Richards

YDWA Executive Vice President

Capri Holden
Kevin Phan

Vice President of Operations

Eric Fejeran
Nicole Palczewski

Vice President of Membership Engagement

Mark Carlos
Bennett Massey-Helber

Vice President of Government Affairs

Lillian Ferraz
Matthew Lang
Hannah Oliver

Vice President of Communications

Gwen Beebe

Eastern Region Director

Christopher Jackson
Ava Sharifi

Southern Region Director

Gloria Lopez Avina

Western Region Director

Ian Nickel
Elijah Rakha-Sheketoff

Written Statements & Videos


Spencer Lively

Name: Spencer Lively (he/they)
Position: President
Relevant Experience:
YDWA President (2019-Present)
YDWA VP of Membership Engagement (2018-2019)
YDWA VP of Communications (2018)
YDWA Current Affairs Director (2017)
YD Skagit County Chair & Co-Founder (2016-2018)
YDUW External Affairs Director (2017-2018)
ASUW Director of Legislative Affairs (2019-2020)
Washington Student Association VP of Legislative Affairs (2019-2020)
Washington Student Association VP of Communications & Outreach (2018-2019)

Track Record:

  1. Coordinated YDWA’s 2018 Endorsements over 100+ hours, interviewing 60+ candidates
  2. Provided direct support to YDWA’s 2020 Endorsements
  3. Created an ActBlue to more easily receive one-time and monthly donations
  4. Created the YDWA Forum on Facebook
  5. Successfully advocated for YDWA’s 2018-2019 VoteBuilder access 
  6. Provided direct support to YDWA’s 2020 lobby day with Planned Parenthood
  7. Coordinated marketing for YDWA’s 2018 and 2019 conventions
  8. Helped fundraise, plan, and market YDWA’s 2018 Paint the Town Blue in Skagit County
  9. Supported and marketed YDWA’s 2019 Paint the Town Blues in Clallam and Yakima
  10. Authenticated YDWA’s Facebook page to run advertisements for membership outreach
  11. Created form for people to express interest in joining or starting a chapter and advertised this form on Facebook and Instagram
  12. Assembled templates for chapters and caucuses to charter with YDWA
  13. Drafted and revised YDWA’s memo in condemnation of Matt Shea
  14. Assembled YDWA’s 2019-2020 budget
  15. Planned and led YDWA’s 2019 General Board Retreat


  1. Rally our organization towards our common goal of supporting younger people in their advocacy and helping them find jobs
  2. Rollout fundraising infrastructure, including merchandise
  3. Use new revenue to advertise our membership form and resources
  4. Support progressive candidates through continuous campaign activities
  5. Organize legislative days of action with other progressive organizations
  6. Create an organization welcoming to newer and younger members
  7. Ensure fair representation of young delegates in Washington’s National Delegation
  8. Update the WSDCC Code of Conduct to clarify language on underage drinking in relationship to more heinous behavior 

Written Statement:

Hello! My name is Spencer and I’m asking for your support again this election. This year has been hectic and with the current epidemic, unfortunately, months of effort in planning our annual convention and everything that entails were stalled. This was not just a blow to myself, having worked to develop the branding, marketing, fundraising, venue, and programming infrastructure but also for everyone else who had helped and our organization as a whole. There is much that we were unable to do, including rolling out our inaugural actblue account and merchandising which would have gone on to fund things like more advertisements across Washington to increase awareness of our organization and our resources. I am asking for your vote once again because I believe there is still much left for us to do for young people in Washington and much more for me to give to this effort. Thank you for your consideration and for everything you do. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

In Solidarity,

Spencer Lively

Derek Richards

Hello Young Democrats of Washington, I am Derek Richards and I have been involved in the Young Democrats for nearly a decade. I am running for President because right now as Young Democrats we have important roles to play in what is going to be an incredibly volatile year in politics. This organization is unique in that it combines groups of local chapters from all over the state which with the right coordination can be incredibly effective in making the changes we want to achieve. I am running for President because I have always worked incredibly hard in my roles and believe I can help provide the coordination. Last year as chair of King County Young Democrats we had 10 members elected to local offices, grew the membership above 110 members and raised thousands of dollars. It was one of the greatest years for the King County Young Democrats and I want to help bring that same success to YDWA

In operations we need a fundraiser, years ago Young Democrats of Washington put together fundraisers for the organization, we need to bring those back, during Corona Virus won’t have large gatherings, but we can still do online auctions and trivia contests through Zoom, raising money is important because when we have in-person conventions and Paint the Town Blues again we want as many people to be able to attend and cost should never be a barrier to young people wanting to make positive change. I also want to pay for Anti-Racism training, we need to move past just saying the right things and instead doing the right things and we should have annual anti-racist training. I also want to continue supporting Mike DeVine and Kurt Price who are working on an app to make access even easier for Young Democrats.

In Government Affairs, we know budget cuts are coming, and the cuts in 2008 hit young people and low income people the hardest, one of these was in the form of tuition increases and cuts to public education, we need to organize together to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That means we want local chapters to be in contact with their elected officials for more than just lobby day and we’ll make sure to set up the appointments, we also will make sure the annual lobby day is known far enough in advance so people can make the time for it.

For communications we need to increase our presence on social media and use our social media platform to advocate for causes we care about and to promote local chapters and highlighting the great work that they are doing. Increasing the functionality of our online presence will help all the membership coordinators do their jobs during what will be a tough time to expand membership and mostly a fight to maintain the membership we currently have because of the pandemic.

Thank you for considering me for President and I hope I have earned your vote.

Executive Vice President

Capri Holden

I am running for EVP because I believe our organization can do more and be more. I believe that I am a good fit to help us accomplish that by holding our board accountable to not only saying the right things but doing the right things.

My personal strengths are in organization and interpersonal communication. I believe these traits are key to the smooth function of our organization. So much of what Young Democrat leadership is about is helping other young democrats find their place in the world of politics. I am a strong believer in providing that support for new democrats to find the space where they can grow and thrive in our organization.

During the past two years, I have had the pleasure of traveling around the nation for YDA meetings as one of YDWA’s National Committee Representatives and as the YDA Pacifc Region Director. I have learned much from our national membership and look forward to the chance to continue to grow those relationships and impart our shared knowledge with everyone here at home.

Roles: YDA Pacific Region Director, YDWA National Committee Representative, Secretary YDA Rural Caucus, Vice-Chair Stevens County Democrats, Executive Director Washington State Democrats Chairs Organization, Former Vice-Chair 4th LD Democrats, Former Communications Director Spokane County Young Democrats, Former Vice-Chair YDWA Nerd Caucus

Kevin Phan

Who am I: Kevin Phan (He/Him)
Position: Executive Vice-President 
Relevant Experience:
Snohomish County Field Coordinator – Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen – Present
Snohomish County Young Democrats – Vice-chair 2017-19, Chair 2019-Present
Everett Youth Advisory Council – Present
Everett Housing Authority Board of Commissioners – 2019
Board of Directors of Everett Housing Services – 2019
Snohomish County Council – Legislative Aide – 2019 
Future Generations – Treasurer – 2020

  • Organize younger delegates to pass progressive planks on the state party platform.
  • Update the WSDCC code of conduct in order to ensure everyone is able to come forward with their stories regardless of if they were intoxicated.
  • Increase lead time/communication on YDWA events (Phonebanks, Lobby days, etc.)
  • Bolster local chapter membership by promoting chapters during relevant events.
  • Push for hosting YDA Convention in WA.
  • Have a more active role in supporting the work of the President, Party Affairs, and the Executive board
  • Lead the Constitution Committee through a thorough audit of our constitution.

Written Statement:

My name is Kevin Phan and I am running to be your Executive Vice-President of the Young Democrats of Washington. I would be honored to earn your support. I first got involved with the Young Democrats in 2017 when I joined the Snohomish County Young Democrats as First Vice-chair with the goal of rebuilding the organization from the ground up. At the 2018 YDWA Convention, our hard work was recognized as we were honored with the Chapter of the Year award. This past year I’ve been serving as the Chair of SCYD while working first as a Legislative Aide for Snohomish County Councilmember Brian Sullivan, and now as the Snohomish County Field Coordinator for Congressman Rick Larsen’s re-election campaign. I’m proud of the work we’ve done as a chapter organizing with local candidates and legislative districts, community clean-ups, voter registration drives, hosting our own annual winter socials, and spaghetti feeds.  I hope to bring a new voice to the executive board, one that pushes us to collaborate and be more understanding of one another. I would be honored to earn your support to be the next Executive Vice-President of YDWA.

Vice President of Operations

Eric Fejeran

Thank you for considering me for Operations VP. Although I have only been with YDWA since December 2019, I have been active in the State and Local Party for a number of years including time spent as county chair and campaign manager for many successful elections. I am currently serving as Executive Director for my local United Way organization, and want to use my skillset to create robust and repeatable internal processes that will lead to many successes for YDWA down the road. Due to the nature of this organization’s election cycle (every year), I feel that the long term vision and goals (developing a sustainable fundraising model) of our organization  are not as focused on as compared to short term goals ( i.e. yearly convention). As your Operations VP I will continually be focused on big picture and long term goals and making YDWA an agency of support for all Young Democrat organizations in Washington State. Thank you and please reach out with any questions!

Nicole Palczewski

Hello! I am a native Ballardite and super policy nerd with a career in professional fundraising and database management in nonprofits alongside my volunteer positions on policy committees, 36th Legislative District and King County Platform Committees, advocacy across a wide range of civil rights and “minority” issues, and a penchant for liking all systems working at their most efficient and in proper order. I am running for VP of Operations so that the board will have someone dependable to keep up their data hygiene, execute local and statewide outreach efforts that keep us relevant to the party despite being underrepresented in our current electoral system, and to build out an intensely involved data system and processes for our board and prove to the national and local Young Dems chapters that Washington is one of the greatest Democratic strongholds in our nation!

As a previous Legislative Director and current Events Director of the King County Young Democrats, I have seen how hard coronavirus has hit our local and state economic sectors, and want to be able to serve the statewide board by fundraising for and communicating consistently with our membership, centering them in a strong base of fellow Democrats who are going to be the most hard-hit financially and physically for the foreseeable post-coronavirus future. I have a vision for YDWA as an organization that can lift up the progressive values of the younger generation, and plan to help our next board do so with a concentrated fundraising strategy, expansive technological outreach, and clear, concise documentation for those who follow after me to keep us connected in community. I also believe we can strategically help to those in our membership who need it most – specifically, the rural Democrats who often feel outnumbered during major election years, and College Democrats who are graduating in to a bleak economy – by creating specific asks for our membership’s needs. We are always stronger united, and I hope to be able to implement systems that will benefit YDWA solidarity for years to come. Thanks for your consideration!

Vice President of Membership Engagement

Mark Carlos

Hello, I’m Mark Carlos the Outreach Coordinator of the Spokane County Young Democrats, and I’m running to be your Vice President of Membership Engagement.

First I want to ask, what kind of space should your chapter be? Personally, as a Queer Person of Color, a DACA Recipient and a lifelong Democrat I totally understand what it’s like to be under siege under the occupant in the White House and my chapter has been an affirmative and positive space where my voice and my talents were nurtured and I work at Spokane City Hall because of that support. Our chapters should feed not only into the local party, but also great leadership positions.

Democrats strive to build a World where everyone can reach their full potential not just those with the right socioeconomic status, gender, orientation, et al. As part of this convention’s Constitutional Committee, I fought to add the “best faith effort clause” so you get the right to vote even if access to Internet is not guaranteed, because high speed Internet even in 2020 is a privilege. As your Vice President I will help your chapter not only be this affirmative and nurturing space, but one that engages with your local partners like Sunrise Movement, Students Demand Action, NARAL and other places that are a great way to find potential members and allies. I will do health checks and check-ins with not just me but my Regional Directors so you will stay in the know with YDWA and YDA so you will benefit from the whole buffet of our organization not just the scraps that you find when you need them.

I was the Club Liaison of my college, and I worked with not just struggling clubs but clubs that want to revamp and try new things. It starts with listening, then looking into the past at what was successful then trying things that fit well with those discoveries. That is that I’m asking from you, trust me with your vote and we’ll go discover new opportunities not only for your chapter but for you as well. Thank you!

Bennett Massey-Helber

Who I am: Bennett Massey-Helber, (He/Him)

Position: Vice President of Membership Engagement

Relevant Experience:

YDWA Western Region Director (2019-Present).

YDWA Endorsement Committee (Secretary, 2019-Present; Member, 2018-Present).

YD Skagit County Chair (2018).

Associated Students of Western Washington University Director of Legislative Affairs

YDWA General Board Member (2018-2020).

Washington Student Association General Board Member (2019-2020).

Deputy Field Organizer for the Whatcom County Democrats (2019).

Campaign Staff to Carrie Blackwood for 40 th LD Senate (2019).

Campaign Staff to Rep. Debra Lekanoff for 40 th LD House (2018).


Providing access to DNC Votebuilder to local chapters to help them reach more

Having regular (at least quarterly) meetings with local chapters to build organizational
cohesion and to provide resources and advice to chapters that need help.

Hosting a campaign event every weekend from now until the 2020 election to help
strong, endorsed Democrats win elections from the Governor’s Office all the way down
through the State Legislature.

Written Statement

My name is Bennett Massey-Helber, and I am running for the Vice President of Membership Engagement of the Young Democrats of Washington because I have the experience and vision to help our organization thrive. As a former chapter chair, student-lobbyist, campaign staffer, and organizer, I am excited to get to work leading YDWA’s Membership Department in our efforts to empower local chapters and elect strong, progressive Democrats across the state. I hope to have earned your support, and if you have any questions or comments, please reach out through Facebook or email (

Vice President of Government Affairs

Lillian Ferraz

My name is Lillian Ferraz and I’m running to be your VP of Government Affairs. I chaired the Pierce County Young Dems, and left for two years to get my Masters in Public Administration. I’ve moved home as fast as I could get out of Seattle and I’m glad to be back! I’m ready to use my organizing skills at the state level, working with people across this state. My main ethic to this position is that I will prioritize policies which are endorsed by organizations who represent black, brown, native nations, queer, the economically disadvantaged, (dis)abled, victims of abuse, and women’s reproductive rights. Please see my video for more detail.

I want to make goals and plans with each group I’m with, and here is a plan I have for this year that I will edit with the Executive and General Board if elected during the first month of my work.

  • Coordinating Chapter Concerns & Champions: Monthly check-ins of your bills/actions/legislative interests, who your legislative/organizations are that you trust, and how we can connect those across the state.
    • Deliverable: Check-in document showing who’s working on common issues
  • Strong, Clear Platform: My main questions this year are how we deal with the upcoming budget cuts of recession? What will we fight to defend at the state level in the coming session?
    • Deliverable: Legislative Agenda
  • Clear Champions in Leg & Senate: Who are we counting on, and we can uplift in the work they are doing? During election season, working with caucuses to organize around candidates we’ve endorsed who are champions for their issues.
    • Deliverable: Create Champions of Causes media which highlights all of our caucus champions
  • Clear Lobby Day Prep & Training: Access for new members to Lobby Day, ability to attend for all with fundraising specifically for members who are far from Olympia, or financially unable to attend, virtual trainings in advance
    • Deliverable: Handouts on how to attend & access Lobby Day: six months out, two months out. Listserv & Facebook event specifically for lobby day

Hannah Oliver

Who am I: Hannah Oliver (They/Them)
Position: Vice President of Government Affairs
Relevant Experience:

  • YDWA, VP of Communications (2019-Present)
  • YD Skagit, County Chair (2019-Present)
  • WA-SEN, Statewide Coordinator (2019-Present)
  • HRC, Political Action and Community engagement co-chair (2017-Present)
  • YD CWU, Vice-chair (2018-2019)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Eastern Washington Organizing Intern (2018-2019)
  • Planned Parenthood CWU Generation Action Coordinator (2018-2019)


  • Plan an impactful lobby day
  • Keep YDWA members informed on issues and legislation
  • Help chapters get connected to their policymakers.
  • Partner with other organizations

Written Statement:
Hello, My name is Hannah and I am running for YDWA VP of Government Affairs. Connecting with policymakers is extremely important and next year I will make sure all chapters have a chance to not only educate and lobby their policymakers in Olympia and at home but also connect with other chapters while doing so. It was really unfortunate that we were unable to have our own lobby day this year but our event in support of Planned Parenthood was a great idea. We should continue partnering with more organizations to support more of the issues we care about. I am currently the Statewide Coordinator for the Washington Student Engagement Networks and It is my job to plan advocacy days in Olympia and train young people on educating policymakers. my work is to promote equity in higher education by educating legislators on the needs of students. Just like many other resources that help people provide for themselves and achieve their goals, education needs to be affordable, equitable, and accessible to all. I know the work well and I would love to be able to do this work for the Young Democrats of Washington. I love being involved with YDWA and I hope you vote for me.

Matthew Lang

Hi there, my Name is Matthew Lang, and I would be honored to continue on as your Vice President of Government Affairs. 

My guiding philosophy is that a boots on the ground approach through authentic community connection is the path to progressive policy victories centered around tearing down inequitable institutions, aiding those who are the most vulnerable in our state. 

The Government Affairs Office will: 

  1. Bring on a government affairs staff of four including a Legislative Director, Caucus and Outreach Director, Policy Director, and Lobbying Director. By joining my staff, you will be committing to the above theory of change, and I will provide every resource at my disposal to ensure its execution. 
  2. I will be proposing a constitutional amendment at convention that will replace our current lobby day program with a more community centered approach. As a predominantly white organization, we must get behind and support the work already being done by communities of color and most vulnerable communities in Washington. 
    1. Instead of a singular “flash in the pan” YDWA Lobby Day, we will perform necessary outreach to affected communities and support their goals as they align with our YDWA Platform. This will give YDWA a more consistent presence in Olympia in 2020, creating more exposure points for our members. 
    2. This prolonged presence will bring the voices of Young Democrats to the table in meaningful ways engaging in community and with our state officials. Our solidarity will lead to more jobs for our members in organizing and legislative work. 
  3. There is a great divide among our organization currently. If I have learned anything in the past months working on the front lines of mutual aid and relief for those facing struggles due to COVID-19 and in the struggle for Black lives, it is that we as young people are much stronger together than apart. Our generation is the difference. Healing those divides will be the first step in unlocking our united voice. I commit to stepping back and listening and being a bridge builder for all our members throughout the state. 

Thank you for your vote. Stay safe.

Vice President of Communications

Gwen Beebe

I have worked at Council for the Homeless for three years and currently do reporting, analytics, and technical training for Clark County’s homelessness crisis response system. In 2017 I was elected the youngest-ever chair of the Young Democrats of Clark County and became the longest-serving person in that position, which also sits on our county executive board. I have served as a member of the NARAL Washington PAC since June of last year, and over the last year I donated to several 2020 presidential candidates. I also opened my home to serve as the west Vancouver campaign base for Warren staff and volunteers starting in mid-January (but I’m now all in for Biden, don’t worry!).

It is fantastic that we have an active newsletter, and I will absolutely ensure it is continued. I am also excited to branch out into new ways of connecting with our membership—I have experience developing high-engagement automated texting systems, and I’m excited to implement that tool at the state level and empower our local chapters to use it. Part of that effort will involve working closely with our tech director to continue the process of bringing our membership rosters together into a unified system. I’m a bit of a technocrat, so I’m excited to use the tools we have available to fully identify who our members are and how we can best reach them!

Eastern Region Director

Christopher Jackson

Eastern Washington requires noise and legwork. While it shouldn’t have to be said I find myself raising this point every election and once on the floor at last years convention. Eastern Washington needs a spot at the table and the Greater Seattle area and democratic establishments don’t give a fuck about us. I want to get a bit loud and organized in spaces where we need democratic presences. We have almost charted Stevens and Okanogan Counties with no help from out current director and will be working toward chartering others. The biggest frustration from potential members in our area–and it is a massive area—is that our voices do not matter; no one lives here right?! More importantly, where is the tribal membership? The Colville reservation represents the largest tribal land area in the state and the second highest tribal population density outside of Yakima. We have to power share with our POC friends and now. It starts with a willingness to be here, in the area, with us.

A single convention in Eastern Washington wouldn’t kill anyone…but our members certainly feel like current leadership thinks it would.

Ava Sharifi

Name: Ava Sharifi (she/her)

Position: Eastern Region Director

I finished my last class at the University of Washington only a few days before the coronavirus pandemic, missing graduation. However, I strangely didn’t miss it, emotionally speaking. It took a number of quarantined months to realize just how incredibly exhausted I was, in body and soul, from the crushing politics of our world, to the point where I felt relief when I missed graduation. I believe any person who has worked in politics and activism for even a short amount of time can relate to this crippling feeling. I am running for this position to bring awareness to this commonality and create a community of people that equally wish to fight the political apathy that grows within and advocate for change.

I’ve lived in Spokane since I was 10 years old. Throughout the years of protests and rallies, I have met the most unexpected allies; Republican Bernie supporters, old radical grandmas, and socialist army veterans, to name a few. It’s exactly why I am confident that I can manage the often-conservative beast that is Eastern Washington — I live by the motto that unexpected allies can be found everywhere.

In my year-long term, I will ensure at least one point of contact and one event related to elections and activism per city. Generally, I will prop up the grassroots foundation that is the community of unexpected allies I wish to discover and connect around my region to fight political apathy and systemic injustice.

Southern Region Director

Gloria Lopez Avina

My name is Gloria Lopez Avina and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’m running to serve as the Southern Region Director to Rally YDWA. I’ve been involved with YDWA since the inception of the chapter for Central Washington University in 2018. In that time, I’ve served as a club representative and have been involved in its executive board. I’ve participated in recruiting for the chapter, teaching members how to canvass and phonebank, and promoting the chapter. I’ve participated in the YDWA endorsement process, getting to know different candidates and gauging whether to endorse them or not. I’ve helped to pinpoint the policy foci of the CWU chapter. I’ve been involved in a committee that oversaw the activities of the legislative affairs office within the CWU student government. I’ve lobbied with members of the chapter for various bills, including K-12 sex education, undocumented student loans, and for the new Washington College Grant. Along with the CWU chapter of Young Democrats, I’ve met with congressional candidates for WA-08 and participated in voter drives to get more of the student population at CWU registered to vote and to vote on Election Day. I want to be more involved in trying to get Democrats elected at the state level and I want to develop my skills and relationships within YDWA. Beyond that, I would also like to apply the skills I already have to grow in the position and to work with others to elect Democrats. I hope you will vote for me!

Western Region Director

Ian Nickel

None submitted.

Elijah Rakha-Sheketoff

None submitted.

Since You’re Here….

We Want You!

Your voice, your values, and your experiences are powerful tools. You don’t have to have previous political experience to make a difference! Immediately after concluding our Virtual Elections, our new Vice Presidents will start seeking Directors to fill out their Departments. Keep checking back on our website or social media for more info!

Join us for Virtual Events!

Whether we are training the local community to use vital democracy-saving tools or just getting together for a game of Jackbox, you’ll find it on our events page.

Start a Caucus!

Whether you’re passionate about a cause or want to engage Young Democrats with similar interests, starting a caucus is a great way to take collective action! A caucus is a group of YDWA members united to promote an agreed-upon cause. Caucuses re-charter every year, starting right after elections.

For more info, click here.

Mike DeVine

Mike DeVine

I'm great in small doses!

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