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Board and Staff
Casino-Free Philadelphia Board of Directors
Shandra Bernath-Plaisted is originally from Michigan. She came to the Philadelphia area six years ago to attend Swarthmore College, and moved to West Philly after graduation. In college, she majored in social movements and was also involved in student organizing around environmental issues and single-payer healthcare. Shandra first learned about Casino-Free Philadelphia her senior year in college when working to compile a database of social movement case studies as a research assistant for George Lakey. Shandra currently works in the PhillyGoes2College office, providing Philadelphians with information on college. She enjoys biking, reading and pottery, and occasionally misses cornfields.
Dan Hajdo grew up in Columbia, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington D.C. As an undergraduate, he developed a passion for political philosophy and went on to earn an MA in political science from the University of Iowa and a PhD. in political science from the University of Maryland. He moved to Philadelphia in 1999 to teach at Temple University in the Intellectual Heritage department, a program developed to teach Liberal Arts and Humanities through reading original works. For the next ten years, Dan taught a variety of classes in political science and presented research at regional and national conferences on political philosophy, urban economic development and political participation. What unites these diverse topics for him is a concern with individual autonomy, justice, and the classical republican vision of a good regime. Currently ensconced in West Philly, Dan enjoys sculpting, yoga, live music, and Phillies baseball (with no disloyalty to his beloved, but long-suffering Baltimore Orioles).
Jethro Heiko is an organizer, artist and activist from Massachusetts. Following the death of his father, he founded and ran REFLECT, the five-college bereavement support program for college students. He worked for Boston’s Fenway CDC for seven years organizing the successful effort to renovate rather than demolish Fenway Park. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2003, he has been working on affordable housing, urban planning, tenant rights, and casinos. He was the Organizing Director for Iraq Veterans Against the War and the National Organizer and co-founder of Turn Your Back on Bush. He wrote DontThinkofADonkey.com. He founded Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront and Casino-Free Philadelphia in 2006. He is a partner in the Action Mill, a five member strategic design studio based in Philadelphia. Jethro lives with his wife Chelsea, daughter Hazel, and son Orson in Fishtown.
Maria Rodriguez is a native New Yorker who came to Philadelphia with the innocent intention of taking a short break before graduate school. Upon her arrival, however, she liked it so much that she decided to hang out for five years and counting! Maria has used her time in Philly to solidify her intention to work for transparent, equitable, and efficient democracy for and by all people. She recently earned a Masters in social work from the University of Pennsylvania (focusing on Macro practice) and is currently working on admission to a PhD program in political science. Beyond her commitment to helping Casino-Free Philly become a a self sustained powerhouse of all things anti-casino and pro-healthy Philly, Maria enjoys working with other organizations in the Philadelphia area looking to improve life quality through community organizing, including the Women's Community Revitalization Porject, Proyecto Sol, ACT UP Philadelphia, and a few others. Some of her fun-time interests include practicing and teaching Yoga, riding her bike all around Philly, cuddling with her dog Manjushri, and reading super-old political philosophy.
Bryant Simon is a professor of history and the director of American Studies at Temple University. He the author of numerous books and articles, including the award-winning, Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America, which explores, among other things, the destructive impact of casino gambling on Atlantic City.
Kaytee Riek (ex-officio staff member).
Casino-Free Philadelphia Staff
Kaytee Riek, director, came to Casino-Free Philly with a decade of experience organizing people to challenge decision-makers and win campaigns to improve their lives. Prior to Casino-Free, she led a campaign to pass federal legislation authorizing the U.S. government to spend $48 billion on global AIDS over five years. She volunteers with ACT UP Philadelphia, an AIDS advocacy group fighting to expand access to housing in Philly, and also works for Training for Change, an activist training organization. In her "non-activist" time, she's a freelance graphic designer and photographer.
Ivan Boothe, communications consultant, is the creative director of Rootwork.org, working with nonprofits and social change groups in similar capacities. He is the online communications associate with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and co-founded the Genocide Intervention Network. Ivan helps facilitate Philadelphia NetSquared, which brings together nonprofits and tech experts for discussions about using social technology for social change. He has presented on technology and activism at the U.S. Social Forum, Nonprofit Technology Conference, New Organizing Institute, Internet Advocacy Roundtable, Peace and Justice Studies conference, DrupalCon and the National Press Club, and authored a chapter in the textbook Online Social Networking. Ivan has a degree in peace and conflict studies and authored a thesis on third-party nonviolent intervention. He also serves on the board of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the American Friends Service Committee Nobel Peace Prize committee. He is a professional handbell ringer and an enthusiastic member of his local member-owned food cooperative.
Lily Cavanagh, past organizing director and administrative volunteer.