Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Biographies of candidates for election to national DAT Executive Committee

Bios of Candidates for Office -- DAT Executive Committee

Lola Clayton-Rainey

Lola Rainey is a relative newcomer to Thailand. She's still learning her way around Bangkok, a bustling city of 14 million people, which means she brings a “fresh pair of eyes” to some of the longstanding problems facing American expatriates living abroad. Last year, she had the good fortune to attend the Democrats Abroad (DA) Regional Meeting in Phnom Penh. The DA Asia Region has a very talented and dedicated group of men and women who serve in leadership positions. Over two days, she received a crash course on the fundamentals of Dems Abroad history, organizational structure, core objectives and political platform. She left with a renewed commitment to the Democratic Party and a desire to serve the DAT. Ms. Rainey has been involved in grassroots organizations since she was a teenager. She learned about the two faces of America, one prosperous and hopeful, and the second, broken and despairing, while working in summer youth programs funded by federal anti-poverty grants in the 1970’s. She's been involved in local efforts to promote social justice in her home state of Arizona ever since. She's served on numerous boards and commissions in Arizona, including: Arizona Town Halls, the City of Tucson’s Human Relations Commission, the City of Tucson’s Women’s Commission, Tucson Children’s Museum and the Tucson Association for Childcare (TACC). She has also worked tirelessly for Democratic candidates and causes in Arizona.

Ms. Rainey is an attorney by profession. She's worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in the city, state, federal and tribal courts in Arizona and California. She holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctorate in law and an LLM. in International Trade Law from the University of Arizona and the University of Arizona College of Law. She is also a published children’s author.

Peter du Pont

Peter has lived in Thailand since 1989, speaks fluent Thai, and is firmly committed to promoting the interests of Americans here through engagement with the U.S. government and political process. Among the issues he sees as important are practical issues such as making it easier to vote from abroad; improving the get out the vote effort; Medicare and health care access abroad overseas citizens; favoring residence based taxation; and increasing access to government services abroad.
During the 2008 campaign, Peter worked with other DAT members to organize a fundraiser in Bangkok that raised $5,000 for the Obama presidential campaign, and also worked with DAT colleagues to organize phone banks that reached 900 of the 1,300 DAT members living in Thailand.
Peter has worked in Thailand and throughout Asia, in NGO, private-sector, and government-sector organizations to design and advise on the implementation of clean energy strategies and initiatives. He currently leads a major regional US program in Asia promoting clean energy options to improve energy security and mitigate greenhouse gases, the USAID ECO-Asia Clean Development and Climate Program.
Peter has a BA in Environmental Biology from Yale, a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Delaware.

Vice Chair

Austin Arensberg

My interest in Democrats Abroad Thailand stems from previous experience working closely on the 2004 Presidential Campaign at the University of Colorado where I coordinated campus election activities and served as my Precinct Captain for my neighborhood. Our precinct exit polls showed a 98% voting record for Kerry. On campus we registered over 8,000 students setting all-time records.

For the 2008 election in Bangkok, I helped organize two campaign fundraisers in Bangkok and helped organize with a team of DAT volunteers various events revolving around the Presidential debates at Roadhouse. I also attended the DA regional meeting in Phnom Penh in February to help with planning and coordination. Having only been involved with DAT for a bit over a year I am
inspired by fellow volunteers and excited to build last November's incredibly election. As for my professional background, I have been living in Bangkok for 4 years and currently work at a renewable energy investment fund.

Elizabeth Gray Boname

Elizabeth has served as First Vice-Chair of Democrats Abroad Thailand for the past two years. Prior to moving to Bangkok, she was active in Democrats Abroad Bosnia and Herzegovina, where her husband Andy served as Country Chair from 2004-2006 and they lived for seven years. Elizabeth has also been involved in other community and volunteer organizations, serving on the board of the International Women’s Club of Sarajevo, as well as publishing a cookbook with her best friend, the proceeds of which ($4000 USD+) were earmarked for victims of human trafficking.
Elizabeth is a former journalist who worked as a broadcast news reporter, and was subsequently employed as a police department spokesperson and then as a court’s public information/special projects officer. Most recently, she has worked as a freelance writer.
Besides being a political news junkie, Elizabeth is an avid Bridge player, loves to cook and entertain, and enjoys non-fiction books. She and Andy have two children, Lauren (10) and Nick (5).

Mike Carroll (William Michael Carroll)

Statement of Policy: 1) Promoting Regional Expansion - If elected, I will give voice to the future of Democrats Abroad Thailand, the Northeast / Isaan and Laos chapter “in formation”. In fact, as Thai NGOs do, it is more practical to organize a northern Isaan/Laos chapter and a southern Isaan chapter based more around members in Khon Kaen/Ubon/Korat. Northern Isaan would mainly encompass Nongkhai and Udorn. The Isaan/Laos chapter in formation has continued as such due to some lethargy in organizing Democrats in this area spread over a wide geographic area with many members coming from retirees in Isaan and a younger base of development and business people in Laos. Neither group is readily able to meet often together but we should promote on line, “virtual encounters” for Democrats and more public policy advocacy to attract and retain members. Phil Robertson has worked tirelessly on our behalf but his and our dedication is not in itself sufficient. We need new ways to organize, advocate, and involve our membership. DAT Arms should be take place outside of Bangkok and/or on line. We need to use better technology. Indeed this election should be conducted online or by email.
2) Public Policy Advocacy – I run on a platform committed to strongly advocating on US and Democratic Policies, which effect Americans living abroad in Thailand and nearby. DAT needs to move from a “organizational centric” inward looking organization to one that advocates strongly and publicly, in the Democratic Party, with the Congress, with the Obama Administration, and at the state and local government levels for our interests. And our interests include the advocacy goals of many NGOs, businesses and the private sector. We should build more alliances with other Americans Abroad organization in advocacy. For example, there should be a strong DA push to include American abroad in any health care/insurance reform efforts in the US. Medicare abroad should cover older citizens and younger Americans should be covered by health and accident insurance, wherever we live. Private insurers are global, why not USG policies? We also reform for the citizenship rights of Americans abroad.
3) Rallying Visiting U.S. Members of Congress/staff to Meet with Democrats Abroad – We need to increase our contacts and outreach with Congressional visits to Thailand and the region to give our members access to Democratic office holders and “make our voice hear!” The Democrats Abroad group in Laos recently was able to meet briefly with Senator Jim Webb of VA on a visit to Vientiane, through dogged local efforts. We appreciated the support and eventual contacts from Democrats Abroad in DC and the International Chair but it is clear that the organization is not savvy or geared up to put visiting members of Congress / staff in touch with Democrats Abroad. “Door Knocks” with the Congress and Administration advocating for our issues should be done worldwide, 365 days a year, all the time, not just a few days a year in DC.
U.S. Birthplace/Residence: Born/raised in Peoria, Illinois, now resident of Sacramento, CA.
Address: 14/4 Soi 8, Phaholyothin Road, Bangkok (apartment)
Work address: Program Manager, Law Enforcement and Narcotics Section, US Embassy, LPDR
Resident or/rental address in Thailand: 1975-2009 (worked in Cambodia, China, and Laos)
Background: Peace Corps Thailand, 1975-77, NGO development worker 1977-1991.
Profession: BA and MA (political science), MBA, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Founding committee/group, DAT, 1985, Bangkok. Registered DAT as country committee.
Chair, DAT, 1986-90, D.A. Asia, DNC Member, 1992-94, Delegate Dem National Conv, 1992.
DA International Meetings: Paris, Athens, New York, Washington, Singapore, Hong Kong.
Career: international development, mainly with NGOs, since 2003, U.S. State Department.
Philosophy: “Look outward not inward, open, inclusive, participatory, think out of the box!”

Jennifer Haluptzok Erickson

My roots in the Democratic Party go back to interning for then-Congressman and now-Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. I actively campaigned for Tim Johnson and Clinton/Gore in the 1996 elections. I was privileged to serve in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Vice President as a White House Intern. Following my internship, I continued to work with former Vice President Al Gore and his staff on public policy initiatives in education.
In the years following my graduation from college, I served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, attended law school on a full tuition scholarship, became a lawyer in Wisconsin and Texas, litigated federal cases ranging from intellectual property to bankruptcy, and moved to Thailand with my husband.
In Thailand, I serve as the Co-Chair of the Community Projects Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and am a member of the Advisory Task Force for Junior Achievement – Thailand. I also assist expatriates with legal matters as a Senior Advisor with Siam Legal and have represented (pro bono) persons seeking refugee status before the UNHCR.

Peter Fischbach

Originally from New York City, I am a lifelong liberal Democrat, and have been an active member of Democrats Abroad Thailand for 18 years, including three previous terms as Vice Chair. When I first joined Democrats Abroad in 1991, DA Thailand was a small but active group of US citizens who appreciated the importance of keeping in touch with US politics and of providing an avenue for other like-minded people to do the same. Then, as now, one of our primary functions was to help facilitate voter registration, and I have been actively involved in that effort ever since, organizing registration tables at the annual US Independence Day picnics and various American Chamber of Commerce events and, together with many other dedicated volunteers, helping literally hundreds of US voters throughout Thailand, one-on-one, with their individual problems in obtaining and using absentee ballots. I am standing for re-election to the DAT Executive Committee because I am willing to continue contributing significant time and energy to those efforts.
In addition to voter assistance, I have participated over the years in most of the activities typical to maintaining an organization’s well-being: drafting by-laws, discussing strategy, planning events, building membership, raising funds, writing newsletters, etc. In 2007-2008, I took an active role as part of the Democrats Abroad Global IT Team, helping to coordinate the complete overhaul of the organization’s IT systems for use by all DA country committees worldwide. Following the unexpected departure of a vendor, I became the de facto global “project manager” for this effort, organizing the activities of volunteers around the world during the two months leading up to the 2008 Global Primary. By helping ensure that the Democrats Abroad database and systems conversion were successful, we were able to run the Global Primary without incident, not only enfranchising tens of thousands of new Democratic voters, but helping to more than double Democrats Abroad membership. I continue to be involved with the global IT Team in an advisory role.
My wife and I live with our two children in Bangkok, and I run a small but successful company here providing IT recruitment services. I am active in the local business community, and have served on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, and also as chairman of the Chamber’s IT committee. Not being the quiet sort, my progressive politics are by now well known to most in the American community here! I look forward to the continued opportunity to serve Democrats Abroad.

Jeffrey M. Wachtel, Ph. D.

As reported in The Nation the day after Super Tuesday (February 6, 2009) …”Dr. Wachtel a leadership advisor is from Florida and has lived in Thailand since 2001. He met and almost found himself working for George W. Bush, Jr. before he was elected president.” Starting out as an intern for his Congressman, he ran several campaigns in New York. From 1994 to the year 2000, Dr. Wachtel was an informal strategy and leadership speech advisor to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, United States of America and was named to Who's Who in America, Year 2000 Millennium Edition.
Admittedly a “Blue Dog” Democrat with some leanings across the aisle to liberal republicans, Jeff worked on the Marketing Committee of DA Thailand. In the words of the Vice-Chair he served as her “wing man,” by customizing DA’s advertising and placing the advertisements in Pattaya and Chiang Mai newspapers.
Dr. Wachtel holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts, Political Science from SUNY Cortland, an M.A. in Political Science, IR and Comparative Government from SUNY Albany, an M.S. in Hotel, & Food Service Management from Florida International University and a Ph.D. in Business Administration Organizational Behavior & Strategic Management with a related field in Marketing from Georgia State University. He is the father of a six month old son Dylan and enjoys playing with his son, jogging and going to movies. He is currently working on his first novel.


Richard E. Graves

Rick has served DAT as secretary from 2007 to the present. Rick is an attorney (licensed to practice in Washington State), but he has not actually practiced law since the early 1980's. His official status in Thailand is retired. His main careers were in medical software and manufacturing (Rick and his wife, Sharon, have a factory in China, and Rick helps part time). Rick earned a BS in Physics from MIT and a JD from Columbia Law School. Rick and Sharon have a son, William, who is now 17 months old and is being raised as a Democrat.


No candidate, write-ins accepted under rules to be explained at meeting.

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