About us

Building Progressive Power Since 2016

We are a grassroots organization that aims to build enduring progressive power in state legislatures across the country, to improve people’s lives and support Democrats by filling critical gaps at every point in the political life cycle. Proudly founded and led by women, including women of color, Sister District has grown to 50,000+ volunteers nationwide and has supported nearly 100 candidates, winning more than 70 races thus far!

What Does Sister District Do?

  • Win elections
  • Develop Legislators
  • Support Organizers
  • Educate and Empower Communities

Our flagship electoral program works to get Democrats elected to strategic state legislative seats by supporting campaigns with grassroots action. We “sister” volunteers from deep blue districts with carefully targeted races in swing districts, where flipping control of the state legislature will advance progressive policy. Our volunteers canvass, phonebank, write postcards, textbank, and fundraise for candidates. We welcome volunteers and candidates of all genders.

Since launching in the wake of the 2016 elections, Sister District has grown to over 50,000 volunteers across the country. Our volunteers have raised over $3.6 million in small-dollar donations directly to candidates, and reached out to over 3 million voters via phones, doors, postcards, and texts. For a more detailed look at our work, check out our 2020 Impact Report. In 2021, Sister District focused exclusively on districts in Virginia. Please check back for an updated Impact Report. 

We’re also proud to be an organization founded and led by women, including women of color. Four out of five of us quit our jobs to be with Sister District full time.

group photo of the five Sister District founders Candis Mitchell, Rita Bosworth, Lala Wu, Gaby Goldstein, & Lyzz Scwegler
Sister District Co-Founders Candis Mitchell, Rita Bosworth Lala Wu, Gaby Goldstein, and Lyzz Schwegler in 2017

Mission

Sister District activates the passion, creativity, and resources of volunteers to win elections and build progressive power in state legislatures.

Vision

Sister District envisions a country where every person is welcomed and served by its government at all levels, and state legislatures are at the vanguard of progressive policy. In this world, Sister District directs engaged volunteers to help state legislators win and serve in governing majorities that reflect the diversity and viewpoints of the people they represent. This world is free of partisan and racial gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other policies and practices that diminish democratic participation.

Values

  • Integrity: We believe in doing what is right even when nobody else is looking.
  • Strategy: We are thoughtful and deliberate in forming our plans, setting our priorities, and deploying our resources, always ensuring that they advance us toward our goals.
  • Kindness: We work collaboratively and treat people both inside and outside our organization with respect and generosity.
  • Creativity: True to our scrappy beginnings, we encourage innovation and ingenuity at all levels.
  • Tenacity: We move forward with a curious and problem-solving attitude, and we do not give up.
  • Equity: We know that our mission is inextricably linked to achieving equity for all people, and we commit to dismantling white supremacy and structural oppression in everything we do.
We are still a small, lean startup non-profit, and we do not take a cut of the money we raise for our candidates. We don’t even have an office – we do all of our work remotely (spending a lot of time on video conference!). Your donation helps us keep running; paying staff to recruit new volunteers, work directly with campaigns, develop partnerships, and expand our services for volunteers and candidates. Thank you for being a part of our movement!

Racial Equity At Sister District

Sister District’s mission to build progressive power in state legislatures is inextricably linked to our vision for racial equity and justice in America. Racism and discrimination are embedded in our government infrastructure as well as the laws passed by our legislative bodies. In order to dismantle structural racism, we must organize at the grassroots level to elect progressive representatives who will enact policies that are unapologetically anti-racist. We must also ensure that we are electing officials who represent all the voices in our communities.

The bedrock American principle of “equality and justice for all” has never applied to everyone in this country, nor does it today. In one breath, the same founding fathers who declared “all men are created equal” also decided that slaves counted as only 3/5ths of a person. State governments have always played an outsized role in denying equal rights to people of color.

When slavery was abolished, southern states quickly enacted laws such as the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and literacy tests to prevent Black people from voting. As far back as 1850, anti-immigrant sentiment drove states to subject Asian-Americans to unequal taxes, bar them from public schools and hospitals, and prohibit them from serving on juries or testifying in court. When the Voting Rights Act went into effect, states restricted the Hispanic vote by making voting accessible only in English, and suppressed the Native American vote by, for example, requiring that voters have a mailing address. Today, states continue the legacy of structural racism through a myriad of facially race-neutral policies that have a disproportionately adverse effect on communities of color, such as voter ID laws, lengthy incarceration for non-violent offenses, gerrymandering, attacks on reproductive rights, and dismantling the social safety net.

To root out structural racism and address the centuries of oppression inflicted on communities of color, Sister District will conduct its programs and operations to make concrete and tangible gains toward racial equity:

  • We will build a portfolio of candidates who are not only running in strategic, winnable races, but also who represent all voices and will fight for progressive change.
  • We will cultivate a community of volunteers who are representative of the nation as a whole, as well as knowledgeable, curious, and intentional about how their work is connected to racial justice.
  • We will seek partnerships with allies who are incorporating equity into their work and holding themselves accountable to it.
  • We will conduct research that advances racial equity.
  • We will seek to achieve racial justice within our organization and create an organizational culture that is welcoming and inclusive. We are committed to viewing our work through a racial equity lens to assess the impact of all our internal policies and practices, including hiring, promotion, staffing, and budgeting.

We will hold ourselves accountable to this statement as we move forward, and we commit to constantly assessing how we can improve our efforts to serve the communities we aim to support.

What is Sister District Action Network (SDAN)?

Sister District Action Network (SDAN) is Sister District’s affiliated 501(c)c4, which runs programs in the areas of political research, civic engagement, and state legislator support. SDAN conducts experimental research on topics like the efficacy of postcards and social cohesion among grassroots volunteers, supports Sister District’s electoral work by leading SDP’s race targeting work, partners with movement organizations across the country through the State Bridges Program, invests in the progressive candidate pipeline through the Future Winners Program, and provides governance and reelection support to state legislators in competitive districts through the Purple District Network. 

Meet the team

Headshot for Lala Wu, Director of Engagement and Partnerships

LALA WU

Executive Director

Co-Founder

headshot of cofounder Dr. Gaby Goldstein

GABY GOLDSTEIN

Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

(SDAN)

Co-Founder

headshot of cofounder Lyzz Schwegler

LYZZ SCHWEGLER

Director of Communications

Co-Founder

headshot of Director of Development Lindsay Wolff

LINDSAY WOLFF

Director of Development

headshot of Head of Technology Catherine Robinson

CATHERINE ROBINSON

Director of Technology 

Headshot of Jarvis Houston, Organizing and Political Director

JARVIS HOUSTON

Organizing and Political Director 

Head shot of Dr. Mallory Roman of Sister District Action Network

MALLORY ROMAN

Associate Director of Research

Sister District Action Network

Headshot of Neal Morgan, Head of Organizing

NEAL MORGAN

Head of Organizing

Headshot of Sarah Mercy, Head of Creative

SARAH MERCY

Head of Creative

Headshot of Debbie Winstead, Head of Operations

DEBBIE WINSTEAD

Head of Operations

headshot of Leif Warren, Sister District Head of Organizing

LEIF WARREN

Organizing Manager

Headshot of Ori Obiwumi, Program Associate

ORE OBIWUMI

Program Associate

Headshot of Taylor Hogeland, Sister District Field Manager

TAYLOR HOGELAND

Field Manager

Headshot of Ariana Rodriguez, Sister District Social Media and Content Manager

ARIANA RODRIGUEZ

Social Media & Content Manager

Headshot of Mara Helmke, Operations Associate at Sister District

MARA HELMKE

Operations Associate

Headshot of Sister District Organizing Manager, Madison Thomas

MADISON THOMAS

Organizing Manager

headshot of cofounder Rita Bosworth

RITA BOSWORTH

Founder & Special Advisor

Interested in working for Sister District?

The Sister District is a grassroots political startup, and we hire for remote positions. Work to get Democrats elected from anywhere in the country!

Zoom Gallery view of all 16 HQ members of Sister District