Bert Brandenburg

Bert Brandenburg


Bert became President of Appleseed in August 2015. For more than a decade he was the Executive Director of Justice at Stake, a national, nonpartisan partnership to keep courts fair, impartial and independent. Bert was the U.S. Justice Department’s Director of Public Affairs and chief spokesperson under Attorney General Janet Reno, where he supervised media strategy and press relations for the Department, the FBI, DEA, INS, and 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices. He served in policy and communications positions for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the National Performance Review, the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and presidential transition team, Congressman Edward Feighan, and the Progressive Policy Institute. Bert also serves as President of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, on the board of the Loth Roth Endowment, and as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He holds a J.D. and B.A. from the University of Virginia.

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Karyn Cassella

Karyn Cassella

Operations Manager

Karyn joined Appleseed in November 2015 with more than twenty-five years experience in nonprofit and program management. Most recently, Karyn managed a portfolio of 70 faith-based partners in the Catholic Volunteer Network AmeriCorps program, backed by a federal grant. With the award-winning Community of Hope, Karyn was responsible for programming for individuals and families experiencing housing instability, including: financial literacy, medical case management, parenting support, mentoring and academic enrichment. She has served on several nonprofit boards, helped to develop teen leadership programs and is an established leader in volunteer management and service-learning. Karyn earned her M.A. and B.A. from American University, where she built their ranked Community Service Center. She is currently an adjunct professor in Human Services and Social Justice at George Washington University.

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Annette LoVoi

Annette LoVoi

Director, Financial Access and Asset Building Program

Annette LoVoi was selected in 1996 as the first Executive Director of Texas Appleseed, a position she held for 10 years. Under her leadership, Texas Appleseed spearheaded the passage of indigent defense reform, hailed as the most important reform of its kind in 25 years, as well as the design of the immigrant access to financial institutions project that has evolved into one of National Appleseed’s signature projects. Annette was previously appointed by the Governor of Texas as the State’s first Ombudsman to execute projects leading to policy and management change in government practice. She also represented the State Comptroller in the final implementation of what was then the largest government benefits electronic transfer program in the United States. Annette holds a Master of Public Affairs and was the commencement speaker at her 1980 graduation from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

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Elisa Ortiz

Director of Network Collaboration

Elisa Ortiz joined Appleseed in December 2016 with 15 years of experience developing and leading advocacy campaigns, organizing and facilitating social justice coalitions, and leading project teams. She has worked in a variety of movements including tobacco control, transportation equity, low income housing, and reproductive rights. Most recently, she worked at Justice at Stake as the Deputy Director of State Affairs working with state partners, outreaching to new constituencies, and managing the annual conference of the judicial selection reform community. In addition to her work, Elisa also volunteers her time with Homeward Trails animal rescue organization and with Standing Up for Racial Justice, Northern Virginia chapter. When she’s not working or volunteering, you can find Elisa digging in her tiny garden, taking long walks with her husband and their dog, or playing softball.

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