Francys Johnson is Chairman of the Board of the New Georgia Project. He succeeded NGP's founder, Stacey Abrams, and Senator Raphael Warnock in this organizational governance role. The New Georgia Project and its affiliates are power-building organizations aimed at strengthening Georgia's democracy. NGP (501c3) educates and registers the roughly 700,000 eligible (but unregistered) African American, Latino, and Asian American voters, registering more than 250,000 new Georgia voters since 2014.
Francys, a noted trial attorney, pastor, and educator, is a progressive thought-leader on race, equity, and understandings of power in public policy from Statesboro, Georgia. A graduate of the Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia School of Law, he has taught courses on Criminal Law; Constitutional Law; Race and the law; and the Civil Rights Movement. He is partnered with Dr. Meca Williams-Johnson, an educational psychologist and professor. They have three sons, Thurgood Marshall Joshua, Langston Hughes Elijah, and the late Frederick Douglass Caleb. Francys lives by the command of Micah 6:8 to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly.
Takeo Spikes is the CEO of Behind the Mask Media and creator of the award-winning podcast, Behind the Mask. He is also a sports analyst and is well-known as a former National Football League linebacker with 15 years in the National Football League. Spikes was a first-round draft pick, the 13th player selected overall in 1998, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and a First-Team All-Pro.
Takeo received his Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at Auburn and his M.B.A. from the University of Miami. In 2016, he published his first book, Behind the Mask, a collection of intimate short stories and photographs including some of the greatest linebackers to ever play in the NFL.
Nsé Ufot is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project (NGP) and its affiliate, New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF). Nsé leads both organizations with a data-informed approach and a commitment to developing tools that leverage technology to make it easier for every voter to engage in every election. Nse and her team are also developing Georgia’s home-grown talent by training and organizing local activists across the state. She has dedicated her life and career to working on civil, human, and workers’ rights issues and leads two organizations whose complementary aim is to strengthen Georgia’s democracy. Under Nsé’s leadership, NGP has registered nearly 600K Georgians to vote.”
Nsé was born in Nigeria and raised in Southwest Atlanta. She attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in 2002. She then attended the University of Dayton School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor degree. She recently was recognized as one of Glamour Magazine Women of the Year for 2021 as well as being named one of Time’s 100 Next.
Kendra Davenport Cotton is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience building and cultivating relationships to advance a favorable public image and positive strategic agenda for the individuals and organizations that she serves. Kendra is currently the chief operating officer for New Georgia Project, Inc. and New Georgia Project Action Fund. She assumed this role after leaving her position as the campaign manager for a US Senate race. Kendra was the founding executive director of Rep GA Institute, Inc., Georgia’s statewide c3, nonpartisan leadership training HUB, as well as its c4 arm, Represent Georgia Action Network. Before this role, she was the campaign manager for the successful Georgia Association of Educators’ Vote “NO” on Amendment 1 statewide ballot initiative during the November 2016 election cycle. Once a 16-year resident of North Carolina, Kendra was the policy director for the NC State Treasurer’s office under Janet Cowell where she held primary responsibility for leading the office’s education policy agenda. Before joining the Treasurer’s Office, Kendra completed a five-year tenure at UNC-Chapel Hill, serving first as the associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and ending as the Project Director for the university’s Community-Campus Partnership initiative.
A staunch public-school and voting rights advocate, Kendra is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and resides in Powder Springs, GA with her husband Michael and their three children – a daughter Jarah, a Harvard University junior; and two sons Kael, an 11th grader, and Rhys a 9th grader.
Melissa “Missy” Koefod is the Chief Operating Officer at the New Georgia Project & New Georgia Project Action Fund. Prior to this role, she was the Chief Executive Officer of 18.21 Bitters, the Operations and HR Director of TJR Hospitality, and a litigation attorney.
Missy completed both her Bachelor’s in Policy Studies and her Law Degree at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA with continuing education from Harvard University and Babson College. Missy serves of the board of League of Women Voters as the Fundraising Chair and, as a cancer survivor, serves as a mentor for Imerman’s Angels for patients facing rare and life threatening cancers. She is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia and a member of the Stonewall Bar Association. Missy lives in Kirkwood with her wife Kristin, their three rescue dogs and a now tame feral cat and is an avid surfer.
Aklima Khondoker is the Chief Legal Officer at the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing civic participation in Black and brown communities through voter registration, community organizing, advocacy, and litigation.
Before joining the New Georgia Project, Khondoker worked as a Staff Attorney and the Senior Manager for the Voting Access Project at the ACLU of Georgia, a project she created to open pathways to the ballot through effective litigation and advocacy.
During the 2020 election, Khondoker worked as the Georgia State Director at All Voting is Local, a campaign of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. While there, Khondoker increased voting access through targeted initiatives, including adding ballot dropboxes statewide, opening early vote sites in communities of color, and advocating for equitable ballot access through effective election administration locally and nationwide.
She serves on the board of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys and is a member of the Gate City Bar Association, the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, and a contributing member of the National Federal Bar Association.
Khondoker holds a B.A. from Stony Brook University and J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. She is committed to local and national initiatives that both serve the community and gives everyone a voice through their vote.
With over 15 years of senior fundraising and nonprofit administration experience, Candice Drummond serves as the Chief Development Officer for NGP. She provides leadership and direction for the organization’s comprehensive philanthropic revenue program. She oversees a team of development professionals who are responsible for digital fundraising, major gifts and institutional giving.
Prior to joining NGP in May 2021, Candice worked primarily for progressive non-profits focused on policy, research, and advocacy efforts. Her experience includes time at D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, the D.C. equivalent of Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, which shapes racially-just tax, budget, and policy decisions by centering Black and brown communities based in research and analysis, community partnerships, and advocacy efforts to advance an antiracist, equitable future.
Candice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy with a concentration in non-profit management at the Andrew Young School of Policy, Georgia State University and a Master of Public Management from Johns Hopkins University. Candice resides in Atlanta with her husband and their two children.
Earvin Hopkins is Director of Human Resources of the New Georgia Project. Human Resources governs the flow of the employment life cycle, ensuring compliance, best practices, and equity in the workplace.
Earvin Hopkins is from out west but previously lived in Marietta, GA working as an HR Manager for ABM Industries in Tucker, GA at a bread manufactory for 2 years. Earvin worked in HR for a total of 15 years with a life purpose of walking with people through difficulties in their life. Earvin got his Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degree while working in HR at various prison systems throughout the United States for 5 years, from the State Pen to the Bureau of Prisons he learned first-hand from inmates how to navigate issues & do follow-ups.
He got his HR accolade (PHR) after meeting his mentor in 2016 from the Human Resources Certification Institute, who helped him begin to navigate strategic HR with two principles: doing good work and paying it forward.
Earvin serves as a board member of the Communications Committee for the Society of Human Resources – Atlanta Chapter for 3 years & plans to take a volunteer Chair seat shortly & expanding NGP’s good reputation amongst the HR community of Atlanta.
Andrew Dinwiddie serves as Chief of Staff of New Georgia Project, shepherding board relations, strategic planning, creative and cultural organizing, facilities, and special projects.
With the Times Square Alliance 2016-2020, Andrew shepherded public art projects across a wide range of disciplines — including works by artists Laurie Anderson, Tania Bruguera, Sophie Calle, Nick Cave, Mel Chin, Chitra Ganesh, Jeffrey Gibson, William Kentridge, Christian Marclay, Wangechi Mutu, and Pipilotti Rist — and was instrumental in the realization of Kehinde Wiley’s monumental equestrian statue, Rumors of War (2019). From 2004-2017 Andrew was a co-everything of the OBIE-winning CATCH Performance Series.
Andrew has additionally worked at BRIC/Celebrate Brooklyn, J.F. Mastroianni & Associates, the MoMA Department of Film, New York Live Arts, the Ralph Lauren Corporation, Rooftop Films, and WNYC / New York Public Radio; and has served as a Contributing Editor to the Movement Research Performance Journal, and a Selection Committee Member of the New York Dance and Performance Awards. An Atlanta native raised in the Southern Labor Movement, Andrew received a BFA from NYU in 2001.
Billy Michael Honor is the Organizing Director of the New Georgia Project. In this role, Billy directs NGP’s commitment to building power through the base building, grassroots leadership development, and issue-based campaigns.
Billy previously lived in Orlando, Fl, where he was a child actor and public speaker. Billy attended Beulah Heights University, where he obtained his B.A. in Biblical Education. He also obtained a Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center and a Master of Theology degree from Emory University. Billy was also a Religion and Racial Justice fellow with the Aspen Institute and selected as one of the 500 Most Powerful Leaders in Atlanta by the Atlanta Magazine in 2021 and 2022.
Elijah D. Grace is the Deputy Field Director for New Georgia Project. Elijah currently oversees the operation of 17 field offices in the state of Georgia, deploying canvassers to conduct civic engagement and voter registration across the state.
Elijah is a Morehouse Alumnus from Chicago, Illinois. Previously, Elijah has held internships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation & City of Chicago and has worked as a political fundraiser in the Metro Atlanta area
Stephanie Jackson Ali is the Policy Director with New Georgia Project where she oversees a team working to educate and engage our communities around issues at the federal, state, and local levels that affect their lives. She also oversees political education work designed to create a better-informed community.
Stephanie has worked in progressive politics in Georgia since 2010 holding jobs advocating for reproductive justice, consumer safety reform, immigrant justice, HIV medication access, and – most consistently – voting rights and voter access.
Stephanie is a triple Dawg with undergraduate degrees in English and journalism and a Masters of Social Work in Community Empowerment and Program Development. When she isn’t working, Stephanie is dedicated to her son, her husband, her dogs, and her comic books.
Ranada Robinson is Research Director of New Georgia Project. Ranada is responsible for designing and moving forward NGP's mission-driven research agenda and transforming research findings into strategic insights that inform the organization's efforts.
Ranada previously worked as an economic development consultant and has worked for clients ranging from Cheyenne, Wyoming to St. Petersburg, Florida, and even in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Ranada’s overarching goal for everything she does is making historically disadvantaged communities better for future generations. Ranada holds a Master of Science in Urban Policy Studies with specializations in policy analysis and economic development and planning and a Master of Science in Risk Management and Insurance from Georgia State University. Ranada is also a graduate of Tougaloo College, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and computer science.
Vanessa Kelly is the Director of Digital Marketing for New Georgia Project. She manages NGP/NGPAF digital campaigns, including website and social media, and various forms of digital content creation.
Pre-COVID, Vanessa served as the Marketing Manager for GES, a global live events company. As the world shut down, GES employees spent months furloughed and many, including Vanessa, were eventually laid off. Always looking for ways to give back, Vanessa signed up as a poll worker during the pandemic and through this work, connected with NGP leadership and found a new home where she was able to combine her marketing experience with her passion for serving her community.
Vanessa attended the University of Alabama Birmingham where she received her BA in Graphic Design in 2010. In 2013, she attended Georgia State University where she graduated from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business with a Master of Science in Marketing. She has spent years volunteering with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals and Urban League Guild, where she served terms as Public Relations Chair for both, was a member of the Junior League of Atlanta and is an alum of New Leaders Council. A native of Brunswick, Georgia, Vanessa enjoys freelance photography and being a dog-mom to her pup, Harlem.
Jen D. Rafanan is Design Director of New Georgia Project. Originally from California, Jen has now been a Georgian for almost 20 years.
A renaissance woman, she is both artist and activist, with 22+ years of creative experience of which the latter half has been focused in the progressive political and non-profit advocacy space. She merges her creative talents with her passion for advocacy, utilizing this combination to help amplify the voices of those who struggle to be heard. Jen is equally known for her activism and leadership in Georgia and national politics, and her work as both artist and activist has been recognized locally and nationwide.
Jen is passionate about life, creative engagement, building community and helping others. She and her partner of 13+ years, Al, expanded their family in 2018 when they adopted Agapi, the sweetest rescue pitbull ever. She’s obsessed with Japanese stationery and you can always count on Star Wars as a great icebreaker when meeting her for the first time.
Brittany Bengert is IT Manager at New Georgia Project. As a member of the Technology Department, she assists each team member in transforming and enhancing our collective technology footprint to better engage with the communities we serve.
Brittany previously served in IT as a Project and Program Manager before coming to the New Georgia Project. Brittany has a bachelor's in Political Science from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Political Science from American Military University, and a Masters in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington School of Political Management. Her favorite movie is My Cousin Vinny, and she believes the day after the Academy Awards should be a holiday.
Annie Lipsitz is Senior Writer for New Georgia Project. She is responsible for developing written collateral and messaging that amplifies NGP’s work and impact.
Annie grew up in Atlanta and previously lived in Washington, DC where her multifaceted career included a short stint on Capitol Hill, years as a nonprofit fundraiser, and more than a decade as a Leadership Team member and camp counselor with Girls Rock! DC, which she co-founded.
As an advocate and public servant, Diamondhasbuilt her career around addressing systemic issues that affect communities of color. With strong roots in community engagement andstrategic solutions,she foundher niche in thenonprofit sector as a development professional. Over the past ten years Diamond hasworked in various capacitiesincluding programming, volunteering,directing, consulting, lobbying, and fundraising for nonprofits domestically and internationally.She is a certified grant writer with an award pipeline of $2.5 Million across government, foundation, and individualgiving. As aDevelopment Consultant, she has successfully diversified funding for organizations addressing disparities in healthcare, education,criminal justice, animal welfare, voteradvocacy,and gender equality.
Diamond’s distinguished record,organizationalleadership, and commitment to serving allow her to be a collaborative and valuable resource forinitiativesthat promote social equity. Joining the NGPA/NGPAF teamaligns with her vision of being a change agent and she is thrilled to be a part of themovement.