our team


Mehrdad Azemun is Senior Strategist at People’s Action. He has been organizing for over 20 years, with deep experience in community organizing, electoral politics and the immigrants rights movement. 

At People’s Action, he helped build and execute a groundbreaking immigration Deep Canvass experiment in the fall of 2019 that targeted rural voters and persuaded them on pro-immigrant perspectives. He also helped lead a second Deep Canvass operation in three states in 2021 during the federal immigration debate.

Ella Barrett has a deep love for building dynamic teams and innovative systems to create measurable social change. Her passion for social justice and teambuilding began in the woods of Timber, Oregon, where her family built a large community home around the core value of radical acceptance. 

Ella’s earliest organizing focus was on developing innovative tactics to recruit, train and retain large, dedicated volunteer teams with the Oregon Student Association at the University of Oregon. Ella then managed the Leadership LAB project at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where a team of more than 1,000 volunteers and staff collaborated to innovate new methods of voter persuasion and prejudice reduction and apply them on the ground to help win LGBT rights campaigns across the country. 

Most notably, Ella led the LAB’s collaboration with SAVE, Miami-Dade’s leading LGBT group, to develop and measure a deep canvass model that could reduce transphobia. David Broockman and Josh Kalla’s measurement of this project’s impact become the landmark study that brought deep canvassing into the national spotlight, proving that it had the power to lastingly reduce prejudice.


Steve Deline has been organizing around the methodology of deep canvassing, across multiple movements, for 13 years. As part of the LA LGBT Center’s groundbreaking Leadership LAB team, he helped create the original deep canvass approach. 

In 2012, Steve embedded with the Minnesotans United marriage equality campaign, which mobilized over 14,000 LGBTQ and ally volunteers to have more than 220,000 deep canvass conversations on the phones, contributing to a first-ever ballot box victory that many thought impossible. 

Since 2018, as the cofounder of the New Conversation Initiative and the New Conversation Institute, Steve has been a key partner in the development, rigorous testing, and implementation of deep canvass programs on issues from climate to immigration and policing. He is deeply passionate about the superpowers of vulnerability and non-judgmental curiosity that we all carry within us, and the political and personal transformations that occur when we use those powers to bridge fear and difference.

Susmik Lama is a one-and-a-half generation Nepali immigrant to the United States, born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, who now calls Philly home. In 2020, Susmik moved to New Hampshire to work as a field organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

In New Hampshire, Susmik reached out to immigrant and refugee communities in the state, which has a particularly high number of Bhutanese refugees from Nepal.

Susmik now works on People’s Action’s National Field Team, supporting deep canvassing and movement politics work.


Matthew Rodriguez Matthew is an organizer from El Paso who believes the only way we fight against the systems of oppression is by building collective power.

Matthew’s career as an organizer started in on the west side of San Antonio, where he worked with other students to push back on the absurd amount of debt first-generation immigrants like himself were having to take on to have a chance at a college degree. 

 Since then, Matthew has organized around disaster relief in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, and worked as a regional field director for the Bernie Sanders Campaign in Northern Nevada.

Since joining Peoples Action, Matthew has been a part of two of the largest deep canvass campaigns ever run. He ran a phone program in the 2020 general election that canvassed over 15,000 people in battleground states, and also led the deep-canvassing phones program in support of the Minneapolis public safety charter amendment in 2021. That campaign completed 3,000 conversations, and persuaded over 40 percent of those people to support the amendment.

Heather Schmucker is an organizer, trainer, and the Program Manager for the Deep Canvass Institute. She began her career as a theater artist working at the intersection of arts and social justice as a producer for an LGBTQ+ theatre company in Chicago, where much of her work focused on oral history-based storytelling. 

Heather began working full-time as an organizer in 2017 and knocked her first door as a deep canvasser in 2019 after being trained by the New Conversation Initiative, LLC and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She brings experience deep canvassing on abortion and immigration and served as a volunteer leader with PA Stands Up supporting their voter engagement deep canvass work in 2020. She joined the Deep Canvass Institute full-time in 2023.


Eboni Taggart has over 15 years of experience in community-building, she has maximized the leadership skills of community members, teachers, youth, and parents to advocate for transformative systemic change on issues that impact their lives. 

In Pennsylvania and beyond, Eboni has also supported organizations on outreach, strategy, program management, leadership development and political education.

Danny Timpona is Movement Politics Field Director for People’s Action. His deep canvassing career and vision took off in rural North Carolina, where he helped change hearts and minds in our groundbreaking immigration deep canvass with Down Home North Carolina. 

He continues to lead on integrating deep canvassing into powerful and leaderful field programs while hiking and shooting hoops in his free time.