Our Team

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The Task Force

Brian Sandoval


Brian Sandoval was inaugurated as governor of Nevada on January 3, 2011 and was sworn in for his second term on January 5, 2015. He currently serves as the 17th president of the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to becoming governor, Sandoval served as district judge for the District of Nevada. He was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush in October 2005, becoming the state’s first Hispanic federal judge.

He also served as Nevada’s attorney general from 2003 to 2005 and was a member of several state boards and commissions, including the Nevada Boards of Pardons, Prisons, Transportation, and Examiners, the Cyber-Crime Task Force, the Council for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Advisory Council for Prosecuting Attorneys. Prior to his election as attorney general, Sandoval served as a member and chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and, from 1998 to 2001, was Nevada’s at-large member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board.

Earlier in his career, Sandoval 
served two terms in the Nevada legislature where he sat on the Judiciary, Taxation and Natural Resources Committees and sponsored 14 bills that became law. Sandoval also has worked as a practicing attorney, where he engaged in litigation, administrative, and adoption matters

Jack Markell


Jack Markell was inaugurated as Delaware’s governor on January 19, 2009 and was sworn in for his second term on January 15, 2013. As governor, his top priorities included economic development, education and workforce training. Markell also focused on increasing state government efficiency, successfully maintaining the state’s AAA bond rating while reforming Delaware’s health and pension systems to make them more sustainable over time.

Markell began his career in the private sector where he helped lead the wireless technology revolution as the 13th employee at Nextel, serving as senior vice president for corporate development. His other business experience includes a senior management position at Comcast Corporation, in addition to work as a consultant with McKinsey and Company and as a banker at First Chicago Corporation.

He was elected state treasurer in 1998, winning three consecutive terms, including his last reelection in November 2006. As treasurer, Markell worked to improve the lives of Delawareans through innovative programs aimed at cutting spending and improving fiscal responsibility. He has been recognized in Delaware and across the country as a leader in promoting policies to help all residents achieve their economic potential.

Markell was born and raised in Newark, Delaware, and graduated from Newark High School along with his wife, Carla. He went on to receive an undergraduate degree in economics and development studies from Brown University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Markell is a Henry Crown Fellow and a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He resides in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife and their two children, Molly and Michael.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Secretary of state, new mexico (D)

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has spent her career as a public official working for greater transparency and ethics in government, fair and efficient elections, and increased voter access. First elected in 2016, Secretary Toulouse Oliver focuses on providing increased transparency in financial disclosure and campaign finance reporting; modernizing the online campaign finance system; encouraging New Mexicans to get registered and vote; and advocating for good government and stronger ethics legislation. She is also president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). 

A lifelong New Mexico resident, Secretary Toulouse Oliver previously served as Bernalillo County clerk from 2007 to 2016. She attended Albuquerque Public Schools and earned both her B.A. and M.A. in political science from the University of New Mexico. She currently lives in Santa Fe and is the proud mother of two sons.

Secretary Toulouse Oliver was an expert witness before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on elections security and cybersecurity issues. She is the president-elect of the NASS, slated to succeed Paul Pate. She has won numerous awards as secretary of state, including FairVote’s Election Administrator of the Year and the Election Assistance Commission’s annual “Clearie” award. Secretary Toulouse Oliver has substantial bipartisan experience related to elections and election security. She helped found the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council, a bipartisan council with several prominent Republicans, including Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. She participates in election-related panel discussions at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Vint Cerf

Google vice president, chief internet evangelist

Widely known as a “Father of the Internet,” Vint Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. In 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology to Cerf and his colleague, Robert E. Kahn, for founding and developing the Internet. In 2004, Cerf was the recipient of the ACM Alan M. Turing Award (sometimes called the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science”), and in 2005 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. 

Cerf began his work at the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), playing a key role in leading the development of Internet and Internet-related data packet and security technologies. 

Since 2005, he has served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google. In this role, he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced, Internet-based products and services. He is also an active public face for Google in the Internet world. Since 2010, Cerf has operated as commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. From 2000 to 2007, he also served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an organization he helped form. Previously, Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society from 1992 to 1995, and in 1999 served a term as chairman of the board. 

Nancy Gibbs

harvard kennedy school, director of the shorenstein center

Nancy Gibbs is the director of the Shorenstein Center and the visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics, and Public Policy. Until September 2017, she was editor in chief of TIME — directing news and feature coverage across all platforms for more than 65 million readers worldwide — as well as editorial director of the Time Inc. News Group. Gibbs was named TIME’s 17​th editor in September 2013, the first woman to hold the position, and remains an editor at large. Under her leadership, TIME’s digital audience grew from 25 million to 55 million, video streams passed 1 billion a year, and TIME won a primetime Emmy award for its two-part “A Year in Space” documentary, produced with PBS. During her three decades at TIME, she covered four presidential campaigns and authored more cover stories than any writer in TIME’s near-100-year history, including the black-bordered “September 11” special issue, which won the National Magazine Award in 2002. 

Gibbs has also served as a consultant to CBS News and an essayist for PBS NewsHour. She is the co-author, along with Michael Duffy, of two best-selling presidential histories: ​The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity (2012), which spent 30 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, and ​The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House (2007). Having interviewed five U.S. presidents and multiple other world leaders, Gibbs lectures extensively on the U.S. presidency, including at the Bush, Reagan, Carter, Johnson and Truman libraries, the Aspen Institute, the Dallas World Affairs Club, the Commonwealth Club, and the National Archives. She is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. 

Gibbs was born and raised in New York City. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale with honors in history and has a degree in politics and philosophy from Oxford, where she was a Marshall scholar. She has served as the Ferris Professor at Princeton twice, where she taught a seminar on politics and the press. 

Reta Jo Lewis

Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Reta Jo Lewis is the German Marshall Fund’s Director of Congressional Affairs. Lewis draws on her immense experience and GMF’s resources and European networks to connect Congress and GMF. She joined GMF in January 2015 as a senior fellow with Leadership Programs, where she focuses on leadership development, outreach, programming, and thought pieces on global engagement strategies to strengthen the next generation of transatlantic leaders. Lewis has also worked with TLI to develop the Transatlantic Subnational Diplomacy Initiative (TSDI) to enhance diplomacy at the state and local levels.

Previously, she served as the State Department’s first-ever special representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs under secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry from 2010 to 2013. Lewis led the office charged with building strategic peer-to-peer relationships between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. state and local officials, and their foreign counterparts. In 2013, she was awarded the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award.

Prior to her time at the State Department, Lewis worked in senior positions in the public and private sectors, including political appointments in the Clinton administration. She was the director for business outreach for the Obama-Biden Transition Team, vice president and counselor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and director of the Chamber’s effort focused on small business and outreach to women and minority-owned businesses. Lewis also served as the special assistant to the president for political affairs in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1995 and the director of the Northeast and Southern Regions. She was of counsel at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP prior to joining the Obama Administration, as well as a 2014 mayoral candidate in Washington, D.C. Lewis holds a BA in political science from the University of Georgia, an MA from American University, and a JD from Emory University School of Law.

Task Force Advisers

Geoffrey Cowan

University professor; annenberg family chair in communication leadership; Former USC Annenberg Dean

Throughout his career, Geoffrey Cowan has been an important force across a spectrum of communication and public policy arenas — as a lawyer, academic administrator, government official, best-selling author, distinguished professor, non-profit executive, and Emmy Award-winning producer. He is the author of the new book ​Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary​ , which was released in January 2016.

In 2010, the trustees of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands appointed Cowan as the first president of the trust, where he served until August 2016. He carried on the Annenberg legacy by developing Sunnylands into a world-class venue for important retreats for top government officials and leaders in the fields of law, education, philanthropy, the arts, culture, science, and medicine. 

From 1996 to 2007, Cowan served as dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he was named a university professor, the inaugural holder of the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership, and director of USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He holds a joint appointment in the USC Gould School of Law and teaches courses in communication and journalism.

Prior to becoming dean at USC Annenberg, Cowan was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve the nation as the director of Voice of America, the international broadcasting service of the U.S. Information Agency. During his leadership, VOA increased the number of language services; started the first regularly scheduled international daily call-in talk show, Talk to America​ ; and begun transmitting TV and radio shows through direct-broadcast satellite. He also served as associate director of the USIA and as director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, with responsibility for WORLDNET TV and Radio & TV Marti.

Adam Clayton Powell III

Senior Fellow, Executive director, USC Election security initiative

Adam Clayton Powell III is director of Washington, D.C., programs for CCLP, directing USC’s initiative on election cybersecurity, which provides training in all 50 states to reinforce election integrity and build defense against digital attacks. He also coordinates CCLP’s Washington, D.C., monthly public forums on such subjects as public diplomacy, national security, and the future of communications.

Before his move to Washington, D.C., in 2010, Powell served as USC’s vice provost for globalization, opening new USC facilities in Shanghai and Seoul and promoting the university throughout the world. Powell previously worked as director of the USC Integrated Media Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center located in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Earlier in his career, he was vice president of technology and program for the Freedom Forum and the Newseum, creating a global Internet education program; a Working Group member at the Internet Policy Institute, helping develop briefing papers for the president and other policymakers; executive producer at Quincy Jones Entertainment; and vice president for news at National Public Radio.

Powell spent 16 years at CBS News and at CBS-owned TV and radio stations in New York City, working as a reporter and producer at WCBS-TV. Powell later served as news director of all-news WINS radio, during which time he oversaw its rise to the No. 1 radio station in New York City before returning to CBS network news as manager of news operations.

Dan Schnur

Professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications

Dan Schnur is a professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies. He founded the USC/LA Times statewide political poll, previously worked on four presidential and three California gubernatorial campaigns, and served as the national director of communications for the 2000 presidential campaign of US Senator John McCain.

USC Staff Researchers

Abby Hartstone

Special Projects Editor, Voter Communications Task Force and USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative

 Abby Hartstone is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience in journalism and publishing. She has long been a contributing editor to the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, editing over 50 research projects since 2013. She is currently the Center’s lead editor and a contributing writer for the multi-year “Platforms and Publishers” research series investigating the intersection of social media platforms and journalism. Her other recent collaborations include a 2019 anthology of essays by experts on AI and fairness with the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University and editorial consulting on research reports about disinformation for First Draft News.

Abby was formerly the interim publication and web editor for the Tow Center’s vertical at Columbia Journalism Review and the U.S. editor for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded tech and innovation website How We Get to Next. She has worked in the tech startup world for Brooklyn digital publisher Atavist, and got her chops in print as the managing editor of two professional photography magazines, Rangefinder and AfterCapture. 

She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2012, and attended Brown University for her undergraduate education, where she studied English literature and graduated with honors in creative writing. Extensive world travel throughout Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, Australia, and parts of Europe — and her volunteer work at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico — inspire her emotional commitment to exposing untold stories and mobilizing dialogue through the storied word.

Tiffany Shackelford

Staff Director, Voter Communications Task Force; Head of Outreach and Partnerships, USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative; Executive Director, Society for News Design; Former Chief Strategy Officer for the National Governors Association

Tiffany Shackelford has worked within communications, media and journalism organizations throughout her career, including the Pew Research Center, the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, and served as the Executive Director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for more than five years. Most recently, she served as Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Communications of the National Governors Association. 

Shackelford also served as director of communications and marketing at Phase2 Technology, where she built and oversaw a robust publishing practice. From 2007 to 2010, she served as executive director of Capitolbeat, the association of capitol reporters and editors, a group she helped found in 1999. 
She helped found Stateline.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news site affiliated with the Pew Center on the States that reports on emerging trends and issues in state policy and politics. While at Pew, she incubated several prominent research projects and helped shape the web and outreach strategy. 

In addition, she has done consulting for multiple media and nonprofit organizations, including The Fulcrum, Massive Science, National Association of State Budget Officers, United Press International, News21, KQED and the International Women’s Media Foundation. In her free time, she founded Online News Association’s first local chapter, in Washington, D.C., which now boasts more than 1,000 members. She also acts as an advisor for multiple nonprofits and startups.

For media and other inquiries

Contact Tiffany Shackelford at tshackel@usc.edu