Liz Schrayer serves as President & CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a broad based coalition of over 500 businesses and NGOs that advocates for strong U.S. global leadership through development and diplomacy. Under her leadership, the USGLC has grown to a nationwide network of advocates in all 50 states and boasts a bipartisan Advisory Council, which includes virtually every living former Secretary of State, and a National Security Advisory Council consisting of nearly 200 retired three and four-star generals and admirals.
Ms. Schrayer currently serves on the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s Development Advisory Council, USAID’s Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACFVA), as well as several advisory boards and committees for the University of Michigan, including the Ford School of Public Policy. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In addition to running the USGLC, Ms. Schrayer serves as President of Schrayer & Associates, Inc., a nationwide consulting firm founded in 1995, which works on a wide range of domestic and international issues.
Jason Gross serves as Executive Director of the USGLC, tapping over 20 years of public policy, Capitol Hill and Presidential campaign experience to oversee day-to-day operations of the nationwide coalition. Prior to rejoining the USGLC, Gross served nine years as Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut. Gross launched Courtney’s office in the House and led the office from a razor-thin 83 vote victory in 2006 to four strong reelections and Courtney being named Congress’s 8th highest over-performing Democrat by the Cook Political Report in 2014. Previously, Gross became the USGLC’s first full-time employee in 2001 and contributed to the organization’s growth from nascent coalition to established organization in six years as Managing Director.
Emily Benovitz serves as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. She joined the USGLC in 2011, most recently serving as Program Director, overseeing the organization’s events and programming in DC and across the country. Prior to joining USGLC, Emily spent two years at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee managing activity for AIPAC’s top political activists, and has previous experience working at an education non-profit and on Capitol Hill. In her community life, Emily is a member of the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, a premier young leadership development program that educates and connects the next generation of global Jewish leaders and philanthropists. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and co-chaired many programs and initiatives. Emily is a native of Louisville, KY and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan.
Mariam joins the USGLC after working as the executive assistant to the Ambassador of a foreign diplomatic mission in Washington D.C. A top-performing executive assistant, she is experienced in the development, organizing, planning, and coordination of data to ensure appropriate management of day-to-day operations for executive support. Prior to that, Mariam has worked with Customs Border Protection (U.S Homeland Security) for five years as an interpreter processing international passengers’ arrival into U.S soil. She holds three bachelor’s degrees in international relations, foreign languages, and international trade. She also obtained a master’s in international public policy from University College London (United Kingdom). She has lived in 8 countries, visited 29, is multilingual in 5 languages. Her hobbies are traveling, understanding local-international politics, and reading. She is currently writing two fiction books.
Ariana joins the USGLC with nearly ten years of federal government experience working on foreign policy and national security issues. Most recently, Ariana served as the Director of Senate Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs. In this capacity, she advised the Department on how to advance U.S. foreign policy, national security, and development priorities in Congress and managed the Department’s relationship with the U.S. Senate. Prior to joining the State Department, Ariana served as the Foreign Policy and Defense Advisor to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) responsible for the Senator’s foreign policy, national security, and related appropriations portfolios. A native of Syracuse, New York, Ariana spent a year studying in Paris, France, before earning her bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in French Literature from Johns Hopkins University.
Parker joins USGLC from the International Republican Institute (IRI), where he served in various roles, including Resident Program Director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Living in Jakarta and Dili, he served as IRI’s senior in-country representative and implemented democracy and governance programs funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, State Department, and US Agency for International Development. He has lived in six countries and worked on 13, with experience across government, policy, and politics. He started his career as an aide to then-House Speaker John A. Boehner and working on political and public affairs campaigns in his home state of Ohio. He holds a Master’s degree in Political Management and Global Politics from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University.
Rodney joins the USGLC with bicameral and Congressional leadership work experience. As an aide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rodney worked on a diverse set of policy priorities including maintaining robust support for international aid programming like education, food, and economic assistance. Most recently, Rodney served as the Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant to Representative Colin Allred, leading his work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In this role, Rodney worked to advance a legislative agenda focused on democracy building, global good governance, and humanitarian assistance. Born in Kampala, Uganda he holds a Master’s degree in International Economic Development from the George Washington University and a Bachelor’s in International Affairs from the University of Georgia.
Michelle Bekkering currently serves as National Engagement Director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Prior to joining USGLC, Bekkering was nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and equality, Bekkering was a leading architect of the White House led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP); a whole of U.S. Government initiative to economically empower 50 million women by 2025. Bekkering was awarded a Superior Accomplishment Award by USAID for her leadership.
Liza joins the USGLC’s National Engagement team as a recent graduate of Kenyon College, where she majored in Anthropology with concentrations in African Diaspora Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies. Building on her interest in international relations and her passion for human rights advocacy, Liza spent time abroad in Copenhagen studying international human rights law, transnational human trafficking, and modern-day slavery. Originally from Chevy-Chase, Maryland, Liza is now based in Washington, D.C., and excited to be working with the USGLC.
Alex joins the USGLC from the National Association of Broadcasters’ Political Action Committee (NABPAC), where he served as Senior Manager. At NABPAC, his responsibilities included expanding the visibility and size of the PAC, recruiting new donors, managing communications, and working with leaders of the broadcast industry to engage with key stakeholders. His previous experiences include serving as Campaign Manager for a congressional campaign in Indiana during the 2012 cycle, as a PAC Compliance Specialist at Vocus, Inc., and as Finance Director and Legislative Aide for Congressman Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ-09). A native of Rustburg, Virginia, Alex received his Bachelor of Arts in government & international relations from George Mason University, and holds a Master of Professional Studies in political management from George Washington University.
Jeremy comes to the USGLC from the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). During his tenure there, he focused his efforts on military affairs outreach, directed the Military Academy Nominations Program and served as the Senator’s liaison to various groups and organizations. In addition, he was involved with Department of State issues and organized and directed major events. To date, he has worked for two U.S. Senators and has been a part of several federal campaigns, including the historic election of Tim Scott, who became the South’s first African-American Senator since Reconstruction. He is a graduate of Clemson University where he served as the Governmental Affairs Director and advocated for higher education on behalf of Clemson’s undergraduate student body. Jeremy is a proud native of Greenville, South Carolina.
Luke Wenz joined the USGLC team in 2018 and currently serves as the Deputy National Outreach Director, Western Region. In addition to his work with USGLC, Luke serves as the Vice President of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, sits on the Advisory Boards of Global Ties Arizona and WorldPix, Inc., and is the President of Big Stick Consulting, LLC – an Arizona-based strategic consulting firm focusing on a broad range of public relations and government affairs consulting. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and was previously a fellow at the Shafik Gabr Foundation’s “East-West: The Art of Dialogue” initiative and the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project.
Nezar joins the USGLC from Twitter’s public policy team where he focused on the company’s nationwide work around the 2020 Election. Earlier, he worked with Facebook’s public policy team on global elections and government outreach and has held numerous internships including at the Atlantic Council, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and companies in the UK and Jordan. Nezar holds a master’s degree in international economics and American foreign policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and received his bachelor’s degree in international studies from American University. Originally from Northern California, and having spent time living in Europe and the Middle East, Nezar is happy to call Washington, D.C. home.
Emily joins the USGLC from Finseca, a national trade association representing the country’s top life insurance agents and financial advisors. As a Political Affairs Manager, Emily worked with a portfolio of Finseca advocates to educate lawmakers on financial security issues and to expand and strengthen the organization’s advocacy network. Previously, she served as a senior staffer for former Chairman Sharon Bulova of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Northern Virginia. A proud native of Leesburg, Virginia, Emily received her B.A. degree in Government from the College of William & Mary and M.P.P. degree from George Mason University.
Kiersten joins the USGLC from the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, where served as Director of Programs, designing and coordinating public speaking engagements to educate the North Texas community on global issues. She first joined the Council’s staff in 2018 following an internship with the programs department. A Dallas area native, Kiersten attended Louisiana State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and international relations, with a minor in religious studies. While in school, Kiersten studied abroad in Morocco and focused her studies on the Arabic language and women in world religions. She was a proud member of The Golden Band From Tigerland and is an alumni member of Kappa Kappa Psi and Sigma Alpha Iota. Kiersten is currently based in Dallas, TX.
Eric Moorer joins USGLC after serving as Deputy Canvass Director for the Grassroots Team’s DC office, fundraising on behalf of Amnesty International. Previously, Eric interned for a U.S. Senator’s state operation and served as a Catholic Community Connection fellow for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Earlier, Eric worked as a political campaign coordinator for a Cleveland City Council candidate and as the executive assistant for an Ohio gubernatorial campaign. A native of Northeast Ohio, Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Notre Dame College, where he served as the college student representative to the Propel Ohio Collegiate Leadership Summit and was a 2-time conference champion for the college’s track and field team. Eric is a proud Cleveland sports fan and excited to manage outreach efforts in the Ohio Valley.
Zane joins USGLC from the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership (SCCDP) where he served as Development & Government Affairs Director. In this capacity, Zane’s responsibilities included advocating for SCCDP’s public and private sector partners at the local, state, and federal level, and creating programs and leveraging partnerships to address housing and workforce development needs across Seward County, Nebraska. His previous experiences include service as a District Representative for a member of the Nebraska Delegation where he assisted in district operations and managed casework for issues involving U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. Earlier, he served as intern in Washington, D.C. for both the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Zane is a native of Alamosa, Colorado and attended Concordia University, Nebraska where he received B.A. degrees in history and criminal justice and a minor in philosophy. Zane will be based in Nebraska as he manages USGLC’s outreach efforts in the Central Region.
Evan joins the USGLC from Global Ties Arizona, where he served as Operations Assistant, aiding the local implementation of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Previously, he served as a field organizer for a successful City Council campaign in Phoenix, and as Project Supervisor for an international nonprofit in Panama. Since joining the USGLC, Evan has been selected to join the Foreign Policy for America’s 2023 NextGen Cohort and participated in the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy Emerging as a Global Leader Experience (EaGLE) program. While in school, Evan held numerous internships including with the Official Trade Representative for the City of Phoenix to Mexico, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Dorn Policy Group. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Evan attended Arizona State University where he obtained Bachelors of Science degrees in Political Science and Sociology, and a minor in Spanish Literature. Evan is currently based in Washington, D.C. as he executes USGLC’s outreach efforts in Oklahoma.
Rose joins USGLC after working with the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Department for Social Inclusion. Prior to her time at the OAS, Rose was an English teacher for three years in Madrid, Spain, where she also earned a master’s degree in international relations from Instituto de Empresa (IE University). A native of Massachusetts, Rose received a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Simmons University in Boston. She is thrilled to continue assisting in outreach efforts for USGLC.
Gretchen arrives at the USGLC with outreach experience gained from the National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) in Columbus, Ohio and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Ohio Charities. While serving as the Veteran Outreach Coordinator at the NVMM, Gretchen worked to build and engage the museum’s veteran network, partnering with community, veteran service organization, and business leaders to create successful programming locally, across the state of Ohio, and nationwide. At VFW Ohio Charities, she supported veteran service and fraternal organizations in meeting their charitable giving and legislative goals. Gretchen is an Air Force veteran, an Ohio State Buckeye alumna, a 2017 Pat Tillman Foundation Military Scholar, and previously a member of the USGLC’s Veterans for Smart Power network.
Benjamin Suarato joined USGLC as Communications Director in 2023, bringing over 15 years of communications, legislative, and advocacy experience from Capitol Hill and the nonprofit sector. Prior to USGLC, Benjamin led communications at Dream.Org, a bipartisan social and environmental justice nonprofit. Benjamin’s experience in the House of Representatives began with Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) and then continued for eight years as the Communications Director for Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) where he built an award-winning social media presence, worked extensively with the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses through the Tri-Caucus, and helped lead communications around movements like #StopAsianHate. He also served as a foreign affairs legislative assistant. In addition to experience on Capitol Hill, Benjamin has years of organizing experience through his time with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), an umbrella organization of national and local Jewish advocacy groups where he helped create a communications department and organized efforts around foreign aid, poverty, climate change, and gun violence. Benjamin is a native of upstate New York who graduated from Colgate University.
Shawn joins USGLC from Brookings, where he served as a senior advisor providing strategic counsel, guidance, and leadership to the Brookings Community by helping advance high-quality, fact-based research and policy recommendations to shape U.S. and international policy debates. Prior to joining Brookings, Shawn served as the Communications Director for Congressman Adam Putnam (R-FL) and Director of Media Relations for the House Republican Conference under Chairman J.C. Watts, Jr. (R-OK). Shawn is a native of Rochester Hills, Michigan and received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science Pre-Law from Michigan State University and his master’s degree in Political Management from The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. He lives with his wife, Megan, daughters, Maddie and Ellie, and their mini goldendoodle, Bailey, in Fairfax, Virginia.
Megan Pleasanton joined the USGLC as the Data/CRM Senior Manager on March 15. With over 14 years of experience in marketing, including six in database analytics and CRM Strategy, Megan most recently served as the Manager of CRM Strategy with PENN Entertainment, Inc. There, she established and managed the CRM strategy of eight casinos throughout the northeast. Previously, she worked as a Membership Marketing Specialist for the AAA Club Alliance in Wilmington, DE where she helped grow their membership base and create new marketing efforts. Originally from Delaware, Megan earned her B.S. in Marketing from Wilmington University. She now calls Reston, VA her home where she lives with her family.
Alex joins the USGLC from the Washington Post where she primarily focused on digital advertising campaigns and optimizing their performance to meet client KPIs. She’s been in the digital advertising space for 3 years now, having worked at Government Executive Media Group prior to the Washington Post. Before working in digital advertising, Alex spent some time at SOS Children’s Villages – USA as a Digital Marketing Fellow where she developed digital strategy and increased their social media presence. She also worked with the SOS Children’s Villages Headquarters to overhaul their USA website. Originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, she has called the DC area home since 2018. Alex earned her B.A. in International Relations from James Madison University and is excited to be joining the USGLC team to build on her passions for international development.
Madison joins the USGLC after graduating from the George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs concentrating in Conflict Resolution. Most recently, Madison worked as an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives for Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA). Originally from Boston Massachusetts, Madison has lived in Washington D.C. for the past four years. She is thrilled to be joining the USGLC team to pursue her passions for communications and international development.
Sidney joins the USGLC after a decade of experience in communications, policy and advocacy in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. He most recently led the national press outreach and digital campaign efforts on immigration and refugee issues for Church World Service’s DC office. Prior to returning to DC, he worked in the international humanitarian and development sector in Geneva with the ACT Alliance, after which he was based in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Thailand with Church World Service. A DC native, Sidney received his undergraduate degree from American University and more recently earned his Master’s in international peace and security from the War Studies Department at King’s College London.
Emily came to the USGLC in 2012 as a Program Assistant and today serves as the organization’s Program Director. Prior to joining USGLC, Emily held various roles in communications and event management at The British Embassy, Vital Voices, and Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Emily received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from American University, where she specialized in U.S. foreign policy and national security, and spent four months studying in St. Petersburg, Russia. A native of Burlington, Vermont, Emily has called DC home since 2007.
Kelcey McClung began her career as a business reporter in Colorado but transitioned into freelance writing and later higher education at MIT Sloan School of Management, where she worked before joining USGLC. Kelcey is originally from New England and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill after studying political science, journalism, and history. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Chris brings over 15 years of national security experience from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and the private sector to the USGLC. Chris began his government career at the State Department, serving as Special Assistant to the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and continuing his work as Senior Advisor in the Department’s European Affairs bureau navigating counter-ISIS operations. As a Senior Foreign Affairs Officer at State, Chris co-founded the Native Americans in Foreign Affairs affiliate group as part of the Department’s DEI initiative and helped establish Office of Data Analytics for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. In 2018, he resumed his public service career with USINDOPACOM, augmenting partnerships with Asia-Pacific partners while promoting economic development, and most recently served as federal relations lead for the White House and State Department at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chris earned his undergraduate degree in history from the State University of New York at Albany and his master’s degree in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Alexis joins the USGLC after a decade of experience in human capital development focused in private, public, and non-profit sectors across multiple continents. A recent graduate of Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Alexis received a master’s degree in International Economics and American Foreign Policy studying in Bologna, Italy and Washington, D.C. Before SAIS, Alexis spent four years working in East Africa for One Acre Fund, four years with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. serving the U.S. federal government, and two years with Smith College Executive Education. A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Alexis completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College in Sociology and French Studies, where she spent her junior year studying and working abroad in Paris and Rabat, Morocco.
Jack joins the USGLC from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he served as an intern assisting with USAID oversight and general committee operations. Prior to his work on HFAC, Jack interned at InterAction, working on the government relations and public policy team. He recently graduated from Georgetown University, concentrating on international development, and is particularly interested in Eastern European politics. Originally from Cabin John, Maryland, Jack is excited to continue working in the D.C. area.
David joins the USGLC after graduating from American University, where he received his B.A. in International Studies specializing in Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolutions and completing an internship as a Diplomacy Lab Researcher at the U.S. Department of State. David has also interned at the Institute of World Politics, Atlas Corps, and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. Coming from a family of career diplomats from the Philippines and having lived and travelled abroad before calling Washington, D.C. home, David is passionate about international development, and peace building and diplomacy through cultural intelligence and engagement.
Dana joins the USGLC with over ten years of non-profit management experience. Most recently, Dana served as a managing consultant for then-Governor Nikki Haley’s One South Carolina Flood Fund where she developed the protocol to manage and distribute funding to the disaster relief organizations. Dana was the Executive Director for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Palmetto Chapter in Columbia, SC for over seven years, where she was responsible for the geographical growth of the chapter to include national advocacy, fundraising and events planning. Dana holds a graduate degree in international relations from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in Spanish from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.
Dana lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her two daughters.
Haniz graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in International Relations. She served as the Executive Director for the World Affairs Council Columbia, SC chapter where she also managed the sister city relationships for the City of Columbia. She also became involved in the Somali Bantu Refugee Program where she was responsible for over a dozen refugees and their integration into US society. After several years Haniz moved to Doha, Qatar where she directed INJAZ Qatar, an NGO that focuses on youth development, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. A dedicated volunteer, she has over ten years of supporting, building, and giving back to the local Northern Virginia community for boards, schools, and political efforts where her three children attend school. Prior to joining USGLC as a senior development manager, she served as a consultant for USGLC for over a year.
Julian joins the USGLC from previous experience as a frontline advocate for the D.C. Statehood movement serving the District of Columbia Government within the Douglass Commonwealth Statehood Coalition. Previously, he served within grassroots campaigns, local & national non-profits, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, worked with several elected officials at the local & federal levels in addition to providing project support at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Julian has managed direct support of field and advocacy operations; logistics; review financial data information for a large academic institution and planned onsite event production. Lastly, Julian provided direct support for constituent services and case specific research for a Senior member of the U.S. Democratic Leadership. Julian holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from Howard University and is a proud DC native.
Dular Niyangoda serves as the Chief Financial Officer at the USGLC and is responsible for the organization’s finances, accounting, human resources, technology, contracts and administration. Prior to joining USGLC, Dular was the CFO for Optica (formerly The Optical Society) where he led finance and customer service departments. For over twenty-five years, Dular has served as a trusted business partner and advisor for not-for-profit entities to strategically align finances and operations to maximize impact of key programs and initiatives. Prior to returning to the not-for-profit sector, as an entrepreneur, Dular worked with farmers around the world to introduce sustainable organic agricultural products to the US and EU markets. Dular lives with his wife and two children in Washington, DC.
Jessica Garrison joins the finance team as the Staff Account and will be assisting the Chief Financial Officer in the organization’s finances, and accounting. Jessica brings more than 8 years of accounting experience to the team, with specialties in Accounts Payable, account reconciliation, and US GAAP standards. She has worked for public and private corporations in the technology and retail industries. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a B.S. in Agriculture Education and is currently a graduate student in the Master’s of Professional Accounting program at Colorado State University Global. Originally from Idaho, Jessica now calls the DC Metro area home along with her husband and two children. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys quilting, ice hockey, playing board games, and outdoor activities.
Grace joins the USGLC as the Senior HR Business Partner, with over 15 years of private sector and non-profit human resources experience. Most recently, she served as the HR Manager for a private regional professional services firm, the Calibre CPA Group. Her background in HR management includes leadership, benefits administration, process improvements, and employee relations. Grace earned her bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY). She also holds the SHRM Certified Professional credential. Grace is originally from the island of Jamaica and now considers the DC area her home.