June 30, 2019/Blog

Meet Our 2019 Summer Fellows

Please welcome our 2019 Summer Missouri Democratic Party Fellows, whose information and bios are below! Based in St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City, our 2019 Summer Fellows are an integral part of our Officer & Staff leadership team. Because we strive to practice what we preach, our Fellows are paid employees. The Fellowship program is one of the tenants of MDP’s Building Blue Program. Building Blue, launched in the spring of 2019, is a MDP Program that is investing in long-term training and bench-building by creating a candidate, activist, party member, and staff pipeline.

Other progressive organizations are working on initiatives to help keep progressive staffers employed post-election, but MDP’s part of the greater progressive pipeline building project is to get new people involved, keep them engaged, and train them to run campaigns. For years, Missouri Democrats have seen future candidates, campaign managers, strategists and movement builders leave Missouri for other states and opportunities. Leaders in the MO progressive political movement have long identified a shortage of staff talent and qualified people to run campaigns, especially at the down-ballot level.

The Building Blue Fellowship Program’s goal is to give young people who may want to work on campaigns and in the progressive space the opportunity to get paid to build high level skills necessary to be an effective campaign or progressive organization staffer. They learn fundraising, organizing/field, data, digital, research, etc. They will leave the program equipped to run a school board, county commission, or state representative race, and better equipped to run for office in the future themselves.

The goal is for Building Blue to raise a minimum of $65,000 in seed money in 2019 to fund the Fellowship Program, give modest grant funding to the College and Young Democrats of Missouri, and organize 8 in-person trainings in the state. After we surpass $65,000, our next goals are to provide enhanced digital and organizing tools to our local clubs and county committees and hire a full time Training and Campaigns Director. Please help us by supporting the Building Blue program with a contribution made directly to the program at www.missouridemocrats.org/BBSupport

Claire Cunningham is originally from Chicago, and has spent the last four years getting acquainted with Missouri at Saint Louis University.  While in school, Claire spent time as both the Public Relations Chair and the Grassroots Coordinator for the SLU College Democrats. As a community organizer, she developed a sexual assault crisis hotline on campus, served as the Head of Development for Ceasefire STL, and the Missouri Coordinator for the Campus Election Engagement Project.  She recently graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Theatre, and is thrilled to be spending the summer working to elect Democrats in Missouri.


David DePriest, a Kansas City native and lifelong progressive, has been working on behalf of Democratic politics since he was a child. As a high schooler, David organized a Politics Club that ran voter registration drives, mock elections, and GOTV efforts aimed at encouraging his peers to vote. In college, David was director of his student association’s political outreach, running voter registration and education efforts that ultimately got more than 1,500 students to cast their ballots. Alongside this work, David also interned at the Center for American Progress, Priorities USA, and in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s DC office. David will start law school at Washington University in St. Louis this fall.


Salaam Enani was born in Columbia, MO. He grew up in Saudi Arabia where he received his BA in Political Science. After graduating, he moved back to Columbia. Since then, Salaam worked in refugee resettlement as an Education Coordinator, Missouri Faith Voices as the Data Coordinator for the Clean Missouri and Minimum Wage campaign, and was a staff member on the Della Streaty-Wilhoit for Columbia School Board campaign.  The issues most important to him are healthcare, human rights, and political participation.


Izzy Essman is a native St. Louisan and former barista who just finished her freshman year at Tufts University in Boston, where she is on the board of the campus Democrats and Tufts JumboVote, the campus voter registration group. She plans to major in English and is considering a double in American Studies. She likes cooking, reading, speaking French, and drinking iced tea, but her first love is voter registration. She learned to canvass working for Cort VanOstran, learned to register voters volunteering with Headcount and JumboVote, and is currently mastering the art of phonebanking with Show Me Integrity. She is passionate about fighting climate change and empowering young people’s political voices.


Maddie Jackson, a St. Louis native, is a rising sophomore at Loyola University Chicago where she is double majoring in political science and communication studies. She is also a member of the College Democrats and the Women’s Rugby Club. In the past, Maddie has worked on the campaigns of Chris Koster, Jason Kander, Claire McCaskill, and J.B. Pritzker. Last summer she interned at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment where she worked with St. Louis Alderwoman Heather Navarro. Maddie hopes for a future in politics and is excited to be a fellow for the Missouri Democratic Party this summer.


Sadie Jess is a senior studying sociology at the University of Missouri. She serves as president of the Mizzou College Democrats and communications director for the College Democrats of Missouri. Sadie is a proud Kansas Citian and lifelong Missourian who is passionate about improving her home state. The issues dearest to her heart are reproductive rights, immigration reform, higher education, and criminal justice reform.


Izabella Vadovicky is a senior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City. There she is majoring in political science while also focusing on health sciences and women and gender studies. Bella is the President of College Democrats at UMKC and is the Director of Development for College Democrats of Missouri. Bella originally got started in politics when she took an entire week off of school to attend the DNC when she was only 10 years old. Hopeful for the future of politics, Bella can’t wait to expand her knowledge while working for the Missouri Democratic party this summer and fall.