Board of Directors
Heidi Heitkamp is a former senator from North Dakota. She was the first female senator ever elected from North Dakota and took the oath of office on January 3, 2013 and served until January 2019.
Senator Heitkamp grew up in a large family in the small town of Mantador, ND. Alongside her six brothers and sisters, she learned the value of hard work and responsibility, leading her to choose a life of public service. As a crime-fighting attorney general, she battled drug dealers, protected senior citizens from scams, and worked to keep sexual predators off the streets and away from kids, even after their prison terms are up.
Her reputation as an advocate for the people grew when she served as a leader in the national settlement with the tobacco companies that required them to tell the truth about smoking and health, and pay restitution to the states.
As a former senator from one of the most rural states in the country, Senator Heitkamp saw firsthand the slow erosion of rural support for Democrats, which led to a landslide victory for President Donald Trump. She joined the One Country Project to re-open the rural dialogue between voters and Democrats and help remind Democrats that rural voters have traditionally been part of the Democratic coalition.
Heidi lives in Mandan, North Dakota with her husband, Dr. Darwin Lange, a family practitioner. They have two children, Ali and Nathan.
Joe Donnelly - Emeritus Board Member
Joe Donnelly is a former senator from Indiana. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 and remained in that position until January 2019.
Joe was born in Massapequa, New York and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. As president of the local school board, he showed the leadership needed to create a bright future for the next generation of Hoosiers and brought people together to find commonsense solutions. In 2006, he brought that perspective to Washington when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Indiana’s Second District.
Senator Donnelly relied on that same philosophy when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. He focused on finding bipartisan solutions that will grow Indiana’s middle class and has worked to maintain his connection to the state and listen to Hoosiers’ concerns.
He lives in Granger, Indiana with his wife Jill, whom he met while attending Notre Dame. They have two children, Joe Jr. and Molly.
A 5th generation Iowan, J.D. Scholten is a two time congressional candidate in Iowa’s 4th district who ran a creative, grassroots campaign that drew national attention for how Democrats can compete in rural areas. In 2018, his campaign lost by just 3% —fewer than 11K votes—in a district with 70,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and where Trump won by 27% in 2016.
In 2020, Scholten took his campaign RV to all 374 towns in the district and was one of the few non-incumbent candidates to outperform the top of the ticket.
The Sioux City native attended college and played baseball at Morningside College and the University of Nebraska. After college, he played baseball in 7 different countries. He then went on to work as a paralegal before he launched his congressional campaigns. Currently, J.D. is a rural advocate raising awareness of issues that often don’t make the headlines in national publications.
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels represents the state’s 53rd district, located in Huntsville. During his first term, Daniels was elected to serve as the leader of the House Democratic Caucus, becoming the youngest and first African American to hold the position.
Daniels was raised by his grandparents in rural Midway, Alabama a small community in Bullock County. They were sharecroppers on a former plantation but later purchased their own land in Midway. For generations, his family has planted on the same land and continued a proud legacy that began with his grandparents. Daniels credits his family and small-town roots for his strong drive and work ethic.
Daniels graduated cum laude from Alabama A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in special education. He also completed a certification in education fundraising from Case at Dartmouth College in 2012.
The following year, Anthony was elected as chairman of the National Education Association (NEA) Student Program. After his term as chairman ended, Daniels returned to Alabama and taught for a number of years before running for office 2014.
Under his leadership, House Democrats are helping Alabama become more competitive in education and economic development. In 2015, Daniels was named Alabama State Legislator of the Year by the House Democratic Caucus.
Daniels continues to advocate for quality public education for all students. His legislative goals include passing a criminal justice reform package, increasing funding for pre-K, and expanding access to rural health care through Medicaid expansion.
Daniels owns and operates two small businesses with his wife, Dr. Teneshia Daniels. He has two daughters, Madison and Abigail, and a son, Anthony.
Ashton Clemmons has always had a passion for serving the people of the state she proudly calls home. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill as a NC Teaching Fellow, she taught school in Durham and Guilford counties, and went on to earn her Master’s in School Leadership from Harvard University, and her Doctorate in Education from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Her commitment to education led her to serve as principal of schools in Rockingham and Guilford counties, where she led the turn-around of one of the state’s lowest performing schools. While serving as an educational leader, Ashton was selected one of the Triad Business Journal’s “40 Leaders under 40” and has also been honored by the United Way with its Human Rights Advocate award.
Ashton Clemmons was recently elected to serve in North Carolina’s 57th House District for her second term. While serving in the legislature Representative Clemmons led on education issues as well as voting rights, criminal justice reform, and environmental issues. The mother of three young children, Ashton is an energetic and passionate advocate for better schools and job training programs, as well as policies that protect our health care, environment and voting rights. She lives in Greensboro with her husband Bryan Clemmons.
Mike Espy has been a trailblazer throughout his career. He began his career in public service as the Assistant Secretary of State in Mississippi, where he helped reform school finances to increase funding for rural public schools. He went on to serve as the Assistant Attorney General and the Director of the Mississippi Consumer Protection and Medicaid Fraud Divisions until 1986 when he became the first African American elected to Congress from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era.
As a member of Congress, Espy served on the Agriculture, Budget, and Select Committee on Hunger and wrote critical economic development legislation that benefitted rural communities, among other accomplishments achieved through working collaboratively with both his Democratic and Republican colleagues.
After six years in Congress, Espy was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. He was the first African American to hold this position, where he expanded trade markets for farmers and worked to ensure rural America’s priorities were addressed in Washington and abroad.
In 2018, Espy was a run-off candidate in the Special Election for U.S. Senate in Mississippi and became the Democratic nominee for the same seat in 2020. In the 2018 run-off, he received 46.4% of the vote, which was the largest percentage for a Democratic candidate in Mississippi since 1988. In 2020, he garnered the highest number of votes of any Democrat in Mississippi’s history for a federal race.