2014 Year of Service Fellows

IsaacAmbrusoIsaac Ambruso is a recently graduated student of Political Science from Pacific University in Forest Grove. He thoroughly enjoys a good chess game, good company and a good book in equal measure. He is an avid policy enthusiast and he loves a good debate on almost any topic and is a huge history buff.  He loves to speak in any languages he can, which are English and Chinese for the time being. He likes to use his second language whenever possible in order to improve. He looks forward to working with PolitiCorps this year and can’t wait to start learning more about the world of politics!

MaggieDuffyOriginally from Dallas, TX, Maggie Duffy is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Anthropology, Latino Studies, and Peace Studies. After taking Border Issues seminar during my sophomore year, she became deeply interested in immigration from Mexico. Since then, she has interned with an immigration lawyer through the National Immigrant Justice Center, volunteered with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, and returned to serve as the student leader for the same Border Issues seminar that first ignited my passion. She hopes to find a career in which she can continue to be an advocate for immigrants and for human rights. Her ideal day would be spent backpacking through southern Chile, but she’s just as pleased with good music, good friends, and some good grub.

DinahFoleyDinah Foley grew up in Olympia, Washington and moved to Portland in 2006. She’s moved away from this city twice; once to work on farms in Hawaii and Southeast Asia and once to teach English in Taiwan. She’s close to completing a BA in Political Science at Portland State University and hopes to focus her future education and work on the promotion of social and environmental justice and improving access and equality in the political system. One of her early adulthood indiscretions was the participation in competitive unicycling, but since then she’s (mostly) abandoned her dreams of mastering the circus arts.

DillonHarveyFrom moving out as a teenager while living on Long Island, NY and his experience at Brandeis University, Dillon C. Harvey (AKA Dil) has consistently seen the beauty of “paying it forward.” Without the kindness and mentorship of others he certainly would not have benefited from or known about the opportunities presented to me in the past. As a recent graduate with an independent interdisciplinary major in Critical Race and Sexuality Studies alongside a minor in Legal Studies, Dil is now searching for a new environment so that he may continue to give back in a way that engages his passion to provide safe spaces and access to currently underprivileged communities, particularly queer homeless youth. Through the recognition and embrace of both his racial and queer identities, Dil has ascertained new levels of self-love and acceptance and learned how crucial such things are to be a complete and sustainable individual. His goal is to cultivate and share resources and opportunities for those who have also come from and currently face struggles that hinder self-discovery and active communal and political participation.

DavidLefflerA native of Austin, Texas and a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, David Leffler has finally discovered a city rad enough and an organization meaningful enough to draw him away from his hometown. His two loves in life up to this point have been sports and writing, which he was able to roll up into one big, beautiful package during his two years as a sports columnist for UT’s newspaper, The Daily Texan. Although he’s a little on the inexperienced side when it comes to politics, he couldn’t be more pumped for the summer and becoming a part the Bus Project family! He’s excited for an adventure.

GusWolffGus Wolff is a 21 year-old from Greenwich, Connecticut (though you will often hear him say he’s from the “New York Area”) who graduated in May from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in Political Science & Gender Studies. He is the only Gus that he has ever met who was born as simply ‘Gus’, which means he finds Gustavs, Augustuss, Gustavos, and Anguss to be impostors. In school, he co-created a Queer Resource Center, co-ran the 33rd Gender Studies Symposium, and he has been given honors such as an Emerging Leadership award nomination from the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement. In the greater world, he has served as a senatorial intern in Washington D.C., an operations intern at Cascade AIDS Project, and a policy intern at the City Club of Portland. He is excited about bicycles, wine, television, and graduating from being a perpetual intern to being a PolitiCorps fellow!


Call your li’l heart out for Tuition Equity

After a hearing with hundreds (yeah, that’s right: hundreds) of up-and-coming Oregonians at it, Senate Bill 742 Tuition Equity is coming up for a vote in the Oregon Senate this week.

Now we need you to call a few legislators and ask them to vote yes.

Please call your State Senator today and ask them to pretty please support Tuition Equity. If you need to find out the # or name of yer Senator, go to http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/.

A few talking points, if we may:

  • Please support Senate Bill 742 (duh)
  • Tuition Equity is a great investment in Oregon’s 21st century economy by keeping top talent here
  • Tuition Equity makes sure our K-12 investment doesn’t go to waste
  • Tuition Equity requires students to pursue citizenship
  • Tuition Equity will help create the educated workforce Oregon needs to compete
  • Please support Senate Bill 742 (so right, you should say it twice)

After you call your State Senator, hit up one the undecided Senators below below and talk them off the fence, because a bunch of people’s futures actually depend on it.

Senator Monnes Anderson (D- Gresham) 503-986-1725

Senator Winters (R-Salem) 503-986-1710

Senator Verger (D-Coos Bay) 503-986-1705

Senator Boquist (R-Dallas) 503-986-1712

Senator Girod (R-Stayton) 503-986-1709

Senator Johnson (D-Scappose) (503) 986-1716

Senator Olsen (R-Albany) 503-986-1415

Senator Telfer (R-Bend) 503-986-1727

Senator Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls) 503-986-1728

Alright folks, let’s do this.

Millions of saucy people, out to change the world.

It’s not about age; it’s about the age we live in. Our generation has grown up in a time of major change and it’s made us want to keep changing things—for the better.

Nationally, our generation—The Millennials—is the whoppingest generation in US history, more than 80 million strong. Heard of the Baby Boomers and how they’ve driven politics for decades? The Millennial Generation is WAY bigger than them and we are on the cusp of changing the world.

The Millennials were born after Elvis died (1977), and before 9/11/2001. This was all after global warming was discovered (and denied), but before Uggs came back (and were unfortunately not denied). All told, Millennials will be 36% of the voting age population in 2016.

The story is the same – but more so – at the local level. In Oregon, the next generation is by far the most diverse generation in state history. That means Oregon has a lot of work to do to create equity of opportunity, access, and social outcomes.

Here’s the kicker: It’s better than a giant mass of people. It’s a giant mass of people who give a sh**.

  • Marriage equality? We heart it (by a double digit majority, nation-wide)
  • Climate chaos? We know its a BIG problem and we want to fix it now, through innovative solutions (social entrepreneurship, anybody?)
  • Jobs? Oops! We’re the largest unemployed age-group, and this has major lifelong implications for us and the nation.
  • Immigration? Well, 20% of us are either immigrants or the children of immigrants … so you do the math.
  • Voting? We do it. All we need to know is when, where, and how. (But come on people—we can get a credit card online, surely we can get our friends to register to vote there too?)

Don’t take our word for it. Learn more about the rising generation here and here.

On the Bus. Going Places.

Great people who come through the Bus go on to do great things – for Oregon and a world.

Here’s a snapshot of where Bus brains, brawn, and bravery can be found now and have been found over the last couple of years:

(We know this is an incomplete list. It’s hard to keep track of all you wonderful people. If you want us to include where you work on here, let us know.)

In Oregon Government:

  • The Office of Governor John Kitzhaber
  • The Office of Senator Jeff Merkley
  • The Office of Senator Ron Wyden
  • The Office of Senator Gordon Smith (obviously a few years ago)
  • The Office of Secretary of State Kate Brown
  • The Office of Attorney General John Kroger
  • The Office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer
  • The Office of Congressman Peter DeFazio
  • The Office of Congressman Kurt Schrader
  • The Office of Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (some years ago)
  • The Office of Senate President Peter Courtney
  • The Office of Co-Speaker of the House Arnie Roblan
  • The Office of Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum
  • The Office of Democratic Leader Dave Hunt
  • The Office of Portland Mayor Sam Adams
  • The Office of Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith
  • The Office of Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel
  • The Office of State Senator Suzanne Bonamici
  • The Office of House Co-Speaker Pro Tempore Tina Kotek
  • The Office of State Representative Ben Cannon (a Bus alum himself)
  • The Office of State Representative Jefferson Smith (The Bus Founder)
  • The Office of State Representative Chris Harker
  • The Office of State Representative Michael Dembrow
  • The Office of State Representative Margaret Doherty
  • The Office of State Representative Peter Buckley
  • The Office of State Representative Greg Matthews
  • The Office of State Representative Betty Komp
  • The Office of State Representative Tobias Read
  • Portland Public Schools

In Oregon organizations

  • The Oregon Student Association
  • Basic Rights Oregon
  • Oregon AFSCME
  • The Urban League of Portland
  • Our Oregon
  • The Oregon Nurses Association
  • 1000 Friends of Oregon
  • The Black Parent Initiative (Founder)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon
  • Oregon AFL-CIO
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters
  • Common Cause Oregon
  • SEIU Local 503
  • Coalition for a Livable Future
  • The Bicycle Transportation Alliance
  • Upstream Public Health
  • Focus the Nation
  • The Xerxes Society

In Public Service Work Around the Country:

  • The White House (I know, right?)
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • SEIU
  • Harlem Children’s Zone
  • The New Organizing Institute
  • Teach for America
  • AmeriCorps
  • M+R Strategic Services
  • WinningMark
  • MoveOn.Org

In The Corporate World

  • Google
  • Twitter
  • Apple
  • Intel
  • Nike
  • 3Degrees
  • PopArt, Inc (Founder & CEO)
  • Arcimoto (Founder & CEO)
  • Education First Consulting
  • Boy Ranger LLC
  • McKinstry
  • Ivey

And on way too many campaigns to name.

Same deal, different states

The idea for the Bus started in Oregon, but like any good infectious thing, it’s spread to different states.

Here are our Busses from another mother:

Forward Montana Foundation

New Era Colorado Foundation

The Washington Bus

Chicago Votes

MOVE San Antonio Foundation

Ohio Student Association

All the Bus Federation Civic Education Fund members do volunteer-driven democracy, but they all do it with a different twist.

For more info on the Bus Federation Civic Education Fund

Democracy, done right.

The Bus Project Foundation engages new folks in democracy, builds a great future and empowers great people to lead it, right here in the great state of Oregon.

We know that the issues we love—things like keeping it green, ramping up the equality, robust health outcomes for all communities, sane economic policies, smart schools, and more accessible & effective government—can be fundamentally transformed at the state level. Which also happens to be where we can make the most difference (and provide an example for the country/world/galaxy). So that’s what we do. Oh yeah, and and did we mention that you can play a leading role?

Driving votes.

Democracy works better when more people do it, so we make that happen. We register hella voters (especially underrepresented folks like young people & people of color) all year round, then we pull out all the stops to help them get their ballots in come election time.

Driving leaders.

Oregon needs a new generation of leaders and we think you’re probably one of them. Bus people are building a network of do-gooders who look out for each other, learn from one another and keep each other from selling out. Because we try to develop leaders in whatever we do, we put the power in your hands. You make democracy happen. You learn how to do it better. And you figure out how to run things, because pretty soon you’re going to have to.

Driving change.

Our democracy can make life better for regular people, but it takes a lot of work. There is a bunch of money and power out there and not much of it is working for the side of good. But when passionate people get together and get organized, we can make our communities stronger, fairer and more sustainable.

We’re workin’ hard to build a democracy that is accessible to every one of its citizens, supports equality amongst its people and is bold enough to think ahead & build a tomorrow that is better than today.

To do that, we get people talkin’ about the biggest issues of the day, support future-minded policy and do democracy’s greatest, hardest work: having meaningful one-on-one conversations with thousands upon thousands of voters.

And about that Bus…

Yes, you can totally ride on it.




Not your gramma’s political bootcamp.

PolitiCorps Summer is the Bus Project’s 10-week fellowship consisting of hands-on campaign skills training, innovative public policy intensives, and real-world applications of leadership skills and campaign savvy.

PolitiCorps Fellows come from every state in the nation, and from a wide variety of experiential and cultural backgrounds. They learn new ways to think about the world, but PolitiCorps is not just a school of thought. It’s a place where Fellows learn by doing, and make a real difference every day. PolitiCorps Summer Institute includes tutorials, trainings, mentorship, and field work that has tangible results: voters registered and educated, communities organized and mobilized, and campaigns won.

PolitiCorps is building a deeper, more inclusive bench for the public good. Since 2005, PolitiCorps has graduated 129 young people, catapulting them into careers of public service. PolitiCorps graduates now work in every level of government, staff the halls of leading non-profits and businesses, and run campaigns that change the world.

To learn more, visit politicorps.org

Like the Jedi Council, but without the robes.

Somebody’s gotta make the big decisions that guide the Bus & it’s these people. You probably know a few of them from their various other lives as community leaders and superheroes.

The Bus Project Foundation Board of Directors:


Amy Sample Ward, Co-Chair

CEO, Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN)



Sara Ryan, Vice Chair

Coordinator, Oregon Labor Candidate School



223565_10150232526374002_6011138_nEvyn Mitchell, Treasurer

Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Bonamici



joshJosh GoldbergSecretary

Policy Assistant for Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown



Maurice Rahming

President, O’Neill Electric Inc.



Linda Sarai RomanLinda Sarai Roman

Health Equity Policy Coordinator, Oregon Latino Health



Gerik PhotoGerik Kransky

Advocacy Director, Bicycle Transportation Alliance



486601_10151351676748471_1650548760_nCyreena Boston Ashby

Program Director at Portland African American Leadership



Nolan Lienhart

Urban Designer with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects



163292_10150127260876830_4034383_nAmy Ruiz

Communications Director at Basic Rights Oregon


Volunteers are the heart & soul of the Bus, but these are the people who are pulling the levers at Bus headquarters everyday. Come hang out with us!









Nikki Fisher, Head Honcho
(Executive Director)

A Portland native, Nikki Fisher attended the University of Tampa where she obtained her B.A. in Government and World Affairs. After college, she worked for the ACLU of Florida on immigration reform, reproductive rights, LGBT campaigns and a variety of other issues. Nikki has experience in Oregon politics as well, including managing Sara Gelser’s successful state senate campaign in 2014 and serving as Chief of Staff for State Senator Sara Gelser in 2015. Her passion is driven by a focus on criminal and social justice reform, LGBT issues, reproductive rights, economic and racial justice, education and veterans’ issues.

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Amy Kessler, Youth Empowerment Extraordinaire
(Leadership Development Coordinator)

Amy Kessler is a transplant from Montana.  She studied political science and policy analysis at Montana State University, which is where she first fell in love with progressive politics.  After helping to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in her hometown, she wanted to continue on with grassroots organizing and empowering other young people around the nation.  Portland has always been her dream city, and she is so excited to educate and cultivate young Oregonian leaders!  On the rare occasions where she is not rattling on about civic engagement, you can find her singing NSYNC karaoke, taunting her cat with a laser pointer, or dreaming about powder days.








Aaron Brown, Man about Town
(Outreach Coordinator)

Aaron Brown is the Outreach Coordinator for the Bus Project, a nonprofit organization that works to get young people involved and engaged at politics and a local and statewide level. Aaron is passionate about getting young people involved in local politics, and believes that youth organizing and engagement in politics provides a lot of hope for the future of a more equitable, prosperous country. Aaron first volunteered for the Bus Project at age 15, as a sophomore at Sunset High School, and returned to work at the Bus after studying Urban Geography at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Aaron has previously worked at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Groundwork Portland, and has served as board president of Oregon Walks, the statewide pedestrian advocacy organization, since 2013. Aaron’s writing has featured The Oregonian’s editorial pages and in the features section of Willamette Week, and helped conduct the 2012 Portland Afoot low car voter’s guide. Aaron spends his free time pining for the Oregon Coast, searching for the perfect food cart burrito and losing his voice in the Timbers Army.

Contact Us

Hit. Us. Up.

We want to talk to you. No, we need to talk to you. So drop us a line.

On the phone: 503-233-3018

On the e-mail: info@busproject.org

On the in-person: 333 SE 2nd Ave. Portland, OR

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