Elizabeth Melson

President, Founding Board Member

A native of Ohio, Elizabeth relocated to Virginia in 2004. She now lives near the beautiful Shenandoah National Park with her husband and daughter. After a windy path, including a few hard knocks, she established herself as a successful businesswoman in sustainable agriculture and became motivated to work on the issues facing her community.

 

Initially, she got involved in local level party politics, but is now a self-labeled rural independent. She values transparency in government and appreciates candidates who can debate civilly about the issues. She believes candidates should earn their constituents' votes without divisive campaign tactics. Ranked Choice Voting appeals to Elizabeth because she feels that "Our right to vote is something precious, our citizens should be empowered to fully express their preferences, and the winning candidate should be required to rise to the top with a true majority." Elizabeth has been working with local representatives to introduce ranked choice voting in the Virginia General Assembly since a conversation with Delegate Nick Freitas at the end of 2016.

 

She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology from Northern Kentucky University and a graduate certificate in Business Administration Essentials from Shenandoah University. She serves on Boards of state-wide organizations related to agriculture and marketing, and advocates for a reformative justice system and alternative energy.

Mike Cantwell

Vice President

Mike Cantwell is a 21 year resident of Arlington County, Virginia and an active democracy reform leader.  In 2017, Mike launched the Unite America – Northern Virginia Chapter and was later selected to lead Unite America’s grassroots efforts for the entire East Coast. He organized and hosted dozens of Unite America grassroots events in the DC area and attended the Unite Summit in Denver in August 2018. For the 2018 and 2019 election cycles, Mike actively supported local independent candidates in Maryland and Virginia. Mike is the President of the Yorktown Civic Association and a Board Member for the citizen-led Lee Highway Alliance. Mike is a retired Naval Officer and currently works as a Partner Engagement Officer for the Department of Defense. Mike is a 1987 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He also has a MBA from George Washington University and a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

Rich Gaffin

Treasurer, Founding Board Member 

Rich Gaffin has long believed in the value of third parties, casting his first third-party vote for John Anderson in 1980.  Because of this conviction, he supports voting reforms such as proportional representation and ranked choice voting that make third parties more viable.  Socially conservative, he had voted Republican when no better third alternatives were available, but Trump’s cooption of the Republican Party in 2016 reinforced his conviction that third-party alternatives must be created, and he was energized in 2017 to co-found Fairvote Virginia to advocate for adoption of RCV in Virginia.

Tina Bujno

Secretary

Tina Bujno is an educator and advocate for community solutions.  She is currently working part time with Richmond Public Schools, JC Properties, and Riverside Outfitters in Richmond, VA.  For over 15 years, she has been an educator and worked in Chesterfield Public Schools to help organize the teachers for local and state advocacy campaigns.  Tina held a board position with Chesterfield Education Association as both Treasurer and Legislative Chair.  

 

Through her time in the educational field, she learned much about Restorative Justice and Trauma Informed Practices. Tina holds a B.S. from Appalachian State University in Secondary Education with a Business concentration.  She is a creative writer of poetry, fiction and has a meditation blog at welloflove.com. Additional passions include time in the natural environment and outdoor leadership as well as advocating for environmental stewardship.  

Donald E. "Don" Scoggins

Board Member

Donald E. Scoggins, “Don” has resided within the Washington, D.C. metro area approximately fifty years and in the Northern Virginia community almost thirty years. Over twenty-five years before retiring he was CEO of small real estate brokerage firm which bought, sold, and managed diverse portfolio of investment properties. He also served commercial and residential real estate roles within Federal government, and urban planning at the local government level.

 

Over twenty-five years ago Don helped establish Frederick Douglass Housing Corporation, multi-unit income assisted housing facility in Washington, D.C. Don is board chair, First Home Alliance, and co-founded Veterans Housing Foundation of Virginia. Other civic and volunteer activities include: Prince William Committee of 100, Mid-County Civic Association, Lake Ridge Occoquan Coles Civic Association, Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association and Dale City Civic Association, Prince William NAACP, former member Prince William County Human Rights Commission, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (life member).

 

Don’s also member of American Legion Post 114 (Manassas), immediate past commander; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1503, member; Bronze Star recipient for meritorious service in Vietnam (housing advisor to the Mayor of Danang) and is U. S. Army Reserves retired officer. American Legion Post 114 (Manassas), immediate past commander; Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1503, member. He graduated from Hampton University, B. Architecture and University of Pittsburgh, master’s in Urban and Regional Planning; and attended University of Virginia, Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

Zachary Bird

Board Member

Dr. Zachary Bird is the Founding Consultant of Principled Behavior Consultants out of Roanoke, VA. He has more than 12 years of experience working with a variety of populations including individuals with developmental disabilities and conduct disorders. His expertise is in the assessment and treatment of severe disruptive behavior. He earned his PhD in Behavior Analysis at Simmons College and his Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western New England University. His interest in advocating for ranked choice voting was heightened by the 2016 election. He views ranked choice voting as a way to encourage political civility and engagement, reduce unnecessary polarization, and eliminate the need to vote for "the lesser of two evils".

Nicholas Cote

Board Member

Nicholas Cote is an activist for a free, prosperous, and inclusive society. He works as Director of Donor Communications for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. He currently serves on the board of directors of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and is a former board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  Nicholas graduated from Providence College in 2008 with a B.A. in political science and American studies. He lives in Huntington in Fairfax County with his dog Ollie, a beagle mix.

Austin Sachs

Board Member

Austin Sachs is dedicated to working to create more inclusive and prosperous communities and economies. Austin serves as the Director of Protect US, an economic policy organization working on issues in Virginia. He also works in the audit and assurance line for PBMares, LLP, a regional accounting firm. Austin is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University with a B.S. in Accounting and Economics and is currently working towards a M.A. in Applied Economics at George Washington University. He currently resides in Harrisonburg, VA. 

Scott Burger

Board Member

Scott grew up in Norfolk, went to college in Connecticut, and now lives in Richmond. He and his wife Nina have three dogs and a horse. He has worked in music/radio, as well as corporate IT. He is one of the founders of WRIR and the RVA Environmental Film Festival. Currently he is working with a barter company called TradeBank.com. He has always had an interest in independent politics and is a Green Party member. He has served on numerous neighborhood, City, and nonprofit boards and commissions. 

Trey Gordner

Board Member

Trey Gordner is a digital marketer and civic tech entrepreneur. His company, Koios, helps public libraries and nonprofits appear first in Google search results. When he’s not lost in the Googleverse, Trey can be found foraging for wild mushrooms, working the polls, or nagging his friends to join county commissions. He was also product manager for rankit.vote.

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