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Leadership

Our Team…

The Keys Democrats are run by dedicated volunteers living in Monroe County to fight for Democratic candidates and legislation.

Bert Sise

Chair

I am a lifelong Democrat, raised by union member parents in the 50’s/60’s. I spent 30 years in the transportation industry here in the Keys and when I retired,  I decided retirement was too boring. I work part-time in accounting, another skill I acquired along the way at Fla Keys Community College. I served as Treasurer of the Democrat party for the last 4 years and have been a precinct captain for the last 5 years. I live in Key West, having moved here in 1978.

chair@keysdems.com

Philip Dodderidge

Vice Chair

Phil Dodderidge, originally from the Washington D.C. area, moved to Big Pine Key eight years ago with his wife Linda to enjoy all the Keys has to offer: sunshine, warmth, beautiful water, gorgeous sunsets, fishing, snorkeling, diving, boating and the Keys life-style. Appalled at the 2016 election results, Phil became involved with the Florida Keys Democrats to help Bert Sise organize the Keys Democrats to reverse recent election trends by getting Democrats get elected to office in 2018 and 2020.

Phil is the Precinct 16 Leader as well as the vice-chair of the Florida Keys Democrats.  He has been instrumental in helping shape the Keys Democrats platform, messaging and developing canvassing materials for all the Precinct Leaders in the Keys. Additionally, he is the administrator for the Keys Dems Facebook page where they are getting over 2,000 page views a day.

With a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Phil is passionate advocate for STEM education, as well as a quality general arts range of subjects. Phil graduated from Roger Williams University in Bristol RI and subsequently worked for EG&G, a high-tech solutions company, and associated follow-on companies as an engineer and executive for 32 years.

Among his varied assignment, He was the project leader providing programmatic and engineering support that modernized the National Weather Forecast Offices for the NEXRAD radar systems. During that time, the NWS had decided to make all the Keys forecasts out of the Miami office which caused a lot of consternation among Keys residents and businesses that depend on accurate forecasts. Phil’s first trip to the Keys was in support of fact finding to determine the need for a local Keys office. His findings contributed to the Keys having its own forecast office on White Street, in Key West. During this trip he fell in love with the Keys and after visiting frequently be retired here in 2010. Phil has been married to his wife Linda since 1977 and has 2 children, Paul and Helen, who also enjoy the Keys when their busy lives permit.

vicechair@keysdems.com

Bill Estes

Secretary

I took early retirement from New York Telephone Co. in 1998 and moved to Key West. I spent the next 15 years as a PADI Master Scuba Instructor and Licensed Boat Captain. I’m now pretty much fully retired, working some part-time jobs, but putting energy into volunteer work in this great community. I’ve been a Democrat since I was 14 years old and handed out flyers for Democratic candidates in Albany, NY. As a Union Steward I maintained my party ties, working to get people elected that strongly supported working men and women. It’s always been Democrats that seemed to be looking out for the working and middle class so I backed them. Being brought up to believe everyone was equal, I also found support for that ideal within the Democratic Party. While Full Equality hasn’t yet been reached, it’s Democrats that are the ones that will keep fighting for that goal.

wdivekeywest@aol.com

Vicki Reeves

Treasurer

Lifelong democrat and reproductive health advocate. I worked as a medical office supervisor, registered nurse, and HIV counselor for Planned Parenthood in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I have worked for local and top of the ticket candidates on political campaigns since 2004.  My medical office bookkeeping skills and love of solving numerical puzzles serve me well in my position as treasurer for the Florida Keys Democrats.

Robert S. Gold

Technology Director

Robert S. Gold has been a progressive activist since 2008, when he was accepted into the Obama Organizing Fellowship program. Following extensive training, he accepted an out-of-state summer campaign assignment to enable a deep-red rural county in deep-red Indiana vote for Obama. That fall, he was a full-time volunteer for the Obama campaign in Key West. He was subsequently a full-time volunteer with Florida Keys Democrats and national Democratic campaigns in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Elsewhere in the Keys, he is a graduate of the City of Key West Ambassador’s Academy and Community Foundation of the Florida Keys‘ Leadership Success Academy, is a member of the boards of directors of Southernmost Homeless Assistance League and Friends of the Key West Library, and was previously a director at FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe). In 2016, Bob was honored by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys as an Unsung Hero. He also volunteers in support of Old Island Restoration Foundation and Equality Florida.

In nearly three decades of executive-level management consulting, Mr. Gold has advised and enabled the leaders of over one hundred global and national corporations and organizations in such disciplines as strategic planning, business performance improvement, and information technology management. He earned his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Debra Walker

State Committee Woman

Debra Walker is a lifelong Democrat originally from central Illinois. Currently she is co-chair of the Upper Keys Democrats, a position she agreed to take toward the end of 2017, following the last presidential election. She has lived in Key Largo, Florida, since one week before Hurricane Andrew, with her husband of 36 years, Marshall. They have two children, Mary 31, and Daniel, 19.  Walker has been involved in local politics since shortly after her arrival in the Keys. She served four terms (1994-2010) as an elected member of the Monroe County School Board, where she advocated for strong math, science, arts, and second language education. She also coordinated a 2000-2001 campaign, sending coconuts to legislators that read “We’re going nuts without nurses in our schools.” A subsequent county-wide referendum served to fund the nurse-in-every-school program, which continues to the present day. An ardent advocate for science and evolution education, Walker also served on Florida’s 2007-2008 Science Standards Revision Committee which brought state science standards from 0 to 16 mentions of “evolution” in the K-12 curriculum.

In addition to politics, Walker is a Registered Professional Archaeologist, specializing in the ancient Maya and pottery analysis. She has undertaken research in Belize (Cerro Maya 1993-1995), Guatemala (Naachtun 2004-2007), and Mexico (Yaxnohcah 2011-present). After earning a Ph.D. (1990) at Southern Methodist University, she taught in Texas and Minnesota as well as at Florida International University. Currently she is a research curator at the Florida Museum, on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, where she curates a large collection she brought to the museum from Cerro Maya, Belize. Her recent edited volume on the topic “Perspectives on the Ancient Maya of Chetumal Bay,” was published in 2016 by the University Press of Florida. She is currently editing a second volume, this time on the earliest pottery making peoples of the lowland Maya region.

debraswalker@gmail.com

Dakin Weekley

State Committee Man

Born and raised in Key West, Florida, I have spent most of my life in the Keys. I completed my BA in political economy at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. My first experience in politics was during the 2008 summer as a Field Organizer in charge of eight counties across southwest Washington for Governor Chris Gregoire’s re-election campaign. I then spent a legislative session as a policy intern with State Senator Eric Oemig and the last thing I worked on before leaving Washington was Denny Heck’s Congressional campaign in 2010. This fueled my interest in and understanding of politics, leading me back home to the Keys where I have been able to channel my experience into being a part of the Democratic Party since 2011. As Chair of the Henry Woods Memorial Democratic Club I organized a Democratic Candidate’s Speaker Series over the spring and summer leading up to the 2012 elections. I have also contributed to the local community in a myriad of ways, including serving as a member of the Key West Sustainability Advisory Board, being the Treasurer of the Florida Keys chapter of the ACLU, helping my family to run the oldest local-business in Key West, Fausto’s Food Palace, and pioneering Key West in Solidarity.

dakinweekley@gmail.com

Sandy Haas

Fundraising/Events Chair

After 60 plus years of dealing with winters in Cincinnati and other northern locations, I happily re-located to Big Pine Key in 2015, after “trying out” the Keys for several years on vacation. My partner Gary and I feel so fortunate to enjoy the climate, the oceans and the beauty that surrounds us; I am committed to do what I can to help protect it for my children and soon- to- arrive grandchild. I have been a life-long Democrat and was pleased to be part of the initiative that helped deliver Ohio twice in President Obama’s elections. I am a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University. I spent over 25 years in a fundraising career with three different organizations, ending with being the Major Gifts Director for the Arthritis Foundation, covering OH, KY, MI, WV and western PA. A favorite area was planning and executing events, an area that gave me the opportunity to host Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; Al Jarreau; Susan Stamburg of NPR; Rory Kennedy and Carrol Spinney…the man inside Big Bird!!

sandyhaas849@gmail.com

Laurie Swanson

Officer – Middle Keys Precincts Leader

George Bush made me a Democrat and the current president made me a protester! Having spent a great portion of my adult life as an expat in Saudi Arabia, I was out of touch with politics in the United States. We could only vote in presidential elections. A somewhat redacted Time Magazine along with the 5-minute noontime AP radio broadcast were our main sources of news. On shortwave we could sometimes tune in the BBC, but Radio Moscow, in special English, had much less interference.

I grew up in a small, all white town in Western PA where my father was the Republican mayor. I grew up rooting for Ike and Nixon, but Kennedy and my mother, who was always a closet democrat, demonstrated to me that Democrats were more in line with my core beliefs. 

Republicans today are not the party of my father or the people. They are bent on taking this country down and obliterating our democracy in favor of an autocracy and fascism. We have become a country of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation where wealth is power. It is time for me to stand up against the Republicans and all they stand for.

Growing up a girl and wanting to play sports, I was relegated to the ballet lesson. I had to move to Saudi Arabia to learn to play softball! As a kid I volunteered on a dairy farm in northern NY and swam across the St Lawrence River to Canada without a passport and spent idyllic weeks at Lake Erie bathing alongside reams of dead fish that had succumbed to the unregulated chemicals pumped into the lake in the 50’s. I articulated at William and Mary. I remember writing a college essay on segregation with almost no first hand knowledge. In college, I witnessed segregation first hand in Virginia but did nothing.

I’ve lived in the Keys since 2007 first setting foot here in 1969. I still recall my first ride down the Keys—the intense beauty of the ocean vistas is vividly etched in my mind. It is time to stand up for my beliefs. Last Thursday, I volunteered to be the Middle Keys Democrat Co-Chairman. Dems stand for my beliefs: public education is the key to the US future; universal health care is the basic plank in any way forward for this nation; major changes in the criminal and social justice systems are mandatory for our country to back out of its racism; a green new deal will address climate issues, but we need a grassroots groundswell to overcome the denier momentum; big money needs to be erased from our government and politics; voter suppression and gerrymandering need to be stopped; gun registration and regulation without NRA calling the shots is a no brainer; white supremacists need to be stopped; lying politicians should be prosecuted; the internet needs to be regulated; an immigration system similar to Canada’s needs to be made the law of the land. 

Helen Dodderidge

Web Strategy, Design & Programmer

Although Helen is based out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, she’s a longtime visitor and was once a resident of the Big Pine Key. She is also the daughter of Phil Dodderidge, Keys Dems Vice Chair (see above). As a seasoned marketer, she developed the new keysdems.com to better serve the needs of the Monroe Country Democratic Party and blue voters. Helen is committed to seeing a change in office come November so she frequently advises on marketing strategy for the Dems.

After 10 years in New York City and numerous brand and campaign launches, Helen set off on a solo trip around the world. Two years and over 40 countries later, she’s hiked to heights greater than 18,500’, jumped out of a plane at 15,000’, and dived 100’ below the surface. When she landed back in the states, Helen decided to start the rest of her adventures from the base of the Teton mountain range. She has over a decade of hands-on, strategy-driven account management and creative development skills to build, launch, and grow brands across all media with a focus on digital and production. Helen is currently an Account Director for New Thought Media and is also the Communications Director at Turner Fine Art in Jackson Hole, WY.

Photo credit: Katie Cooney

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