In advance of the Southern region DNC Future Forum, the Michael Blake for DNC Vice Chair Campaign announced that DNC Members Carlos Odio, Akilah Ensley, President of the National Democratic County Officials and the Honorable Councilwoman Arlanda Williams, Rick Wade and John Verdejo will serve as the first set of #LeadershipForTomorrow campaign Southern Region Co-Chairs.
“It is an honor to take on the role of Southern Region Co-Chair for Michael Blake’s campaign for DNC Vice Chair,” said Akilah Ensley. “Michael has demonstrated a commitment to the Democratic Party throughout his impressive career as an organizer for President Obama’s campaigns, in the White House and now as an elected Assemblyman. I believe in his platform for the Party and will happily work to help him become Vice Chair of the DNC.”
In response, Blake said, “I’m very excited to welcome Akilah Ensley, Carlos Odio, John Verdejo, Rick Wade and Councilwoman Williams to the Campaign’s leadership team. I share their passion and commitment to supporting strong county and state parties and building the base using proven grassroots organizing, as they have done in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. The southern region of the country represents an opportunity to ensure the Democratic Party’s message resonates far and wide.”
Carlos Odio is a managing director of the Florida Alliance, a political network in South Florida helping to develop new leaders, new voters and new ideas. He is a veteran of the President Obama White House having served as Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Political Affairs from 2009 to 2011. He also played a key role in the President Obama’s 2008 campaign as the Deputy Latino Vote Director.
Akilah Ensley, a native of North Carolina, is a dedicated community organizer and political advocate. Professionally, she has held many positions including Regional Field Director for Erskine Bowles for Senate, Partnership Specialist for the US Census Bureau, Deputy Political Director for Kay Hagan for Senate and is Principal Consultant for ERA Management and Consulting, LLC. Ensley was recently elected Democratic National Committeewoman for the Young Democrats of America (YDA).
President of the National Democratic County Officials and Councilwoman Arlanda Williams is serving her second full term as the elected representative of District 2 on the Terrebonne Parish Council and has been re-elected to serve her 3rd term on the Terrebonne Parish Council. Ms. Williams was the first female elected to serve as chair of the Terrebonne Parish Council and has served three times as chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council. Ms. Williams is currently President of the National Association of Democratic Officials, in her third term on the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee as the 2nd Vice President. She is also an executive member of the Democratic National Committee and served as a super delegate for the 2016 Presidential election. She is graduate of the University of South Carolina at Columbia and holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University.
John Verdejo is currently a member of the Democratic National Committee representing North Carolina. He holds leadership positions in the North Carolina Democratic Party, the Wake County Democratic Party, the Hispanic Democrats of North Carolina, the Young Democrats of America and other progressive organizations. He earned his degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs at North Carolina State University.
Rick Wade is a DNC Member At-Large from Washington, D.C. and native of South Carolina. A former president of Harves Investment Group, Rick is currently president of The Wade Group, a global business development firm. He was also Senior Vice President at Green Tech Automotive where he developed global strategies for the manufacturing of energy efficient vehicles. Before leading these ventures, Rick had an impressive career in public service at the federal and state levels. After serving as a senior advisor to President Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign and transition team, Rick served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In his home state of South Carolina, Rick worked as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet as the State Director for the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Drug Services, as Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Nick Theodore and as a Research Analyst for the South Carolina House Ways & Means Committee. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Harvard University.