George Linzer

Founder | Publisher | Executive Editor

George has spent much of his career keeping the public informed and educated about issues that shape our lives. After knocking on doors for two grassroots organizations and starting a communications company that helped the US EPA launch its Energy Star program, he focused his attention on the web as an ideal medium to reach the public with critical need-to-know information. For almost 14 years, he served as the founding executive producer and editor of Lab Tests Online (links to an archived 2012 view of the site), a patient education site that grew to reach 2.5 million patients and professionals each month and served as the cornerstone of a global network of sites in 17 countries and 14 languages. This site, which gathers the best available knowledge on lab testing, served as a model for George as he conceived The American Leader, which he developed to address the news media’s vulnerability to distraction, distortion, and obfuscation of the issues that matter most.

At various times throughout his career, George has also consulted to consumer media and mission-driven organizations, including PBS Online,, Global Fishing Watch, and the Gates-funded Design for Learning. George received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, where he studied intellectual and cultural history.

Steve Brody

Board Member

Steve is an MIT-educated rocket scientist who spent 20 years at NASA before becoming Vice President of North American Operations for the International Space University (ISU). While at NASA, Steve participated in the Discovery Program of planetary science missions (e.g., Lunar Prospector, Genesis, Deep Impact, Kepler), the SOFIA Airborne Observatory, and the International Space Station Program. For ISU, Steve’s principal activities have included service on ISU’s Executive Committee to help guide and further the University’s development, maintaining and enhancing ISU’s relationships and support to public and private organizations and individuals in the space community, and supporting alumni affairs and the conduct of ISU’s current programs. Steve has a passion for communicating with the public about the excitement of space exploration and development as well as its relevance to societal challenges such as climate change. As a faculty member for ISU, he has focused on Space and Society topics including the role of space for K-12 education and the intersection of space, spitrituality, and interfaith dialogue.

Judge John Mott

Board Member

John recently retired after 22 years as a judge on the District of Columbia Superior Court, before which he served as a trial lawyer at the DC Public Defender Service and then prosecuted hate crime and police brutality cases with the Civil Rights Division at the US Department of Justice.

Steve Nicholas

Board Member

Steve has spent much of his career focused on urban sustainability solutions. He most recently served as Vice President of the U.S. Program for the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), where he launched ISC’s U.S. Program and created the Sustainable Communities Leadership Academy (SCLA). SCLA has provided capacity-building and technical assistance focused on sustainability to more than 500 US communities. Prior to joining ISC, he was Director of the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment for eight years, where he led several urban sustainability initiatives related to climate change. He co-authored Seattle’s first-ever climate action plan, as well as the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which sparked a national movement of more than 940 mayors taking local action on global warming and demanding stronger federal action.

Steve recently co-authored The Guide to Greening Cities which uses success stories from across North America to show how to turn a green city agenda into reality. Steve holds a Master of Public Policy from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A. in Public Policy from Colby College.

Judson Reis Jr.

Board Member

Judson retired in January 2020 after 29 years at Gorton’s, the frozen seafoods company.  He served as President and CEO for his last 11 years there. In his retirement, Judson sits on three other non-profit boards: the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, which he founded and currently serves as treasurer; Pathways for Children, a community-based organization serving children and their families; and Kijabe Children’s Education Fund, which provides educational opportunities to under-privileged children in Kenya. He is also Managing General Partner of Sire Family Management Partners, a multi-generational family investment fund.

Judson is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received his MBA from Columbia University Business School.


David Hawkings

Senior Editor

David has been covering federal policy and politics for more than three decades. He was most recently founding editor-in-chief of The Fulcrum, a not-for-profit news site focused exclusively on issues weakening American democracy. During his 23 years in newsroom leadership at CQ Roll Call, he created the “Daily Briefing” email newsletter and the “Roll Call Decoder” videos and podcast series, directed legislative and political coverage and was managing editor of CQ Weekly for six years, when the magazine won two Dirksen Awards for Distinguished Reporting of Congress. He was also editor of Politics in America, a biannual book profiling every member of Congress. Earlier in his career he was Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and a reporter, columnist and editor at the San Antonio Light.

Jenna Spinelle


Jenna Spinelle is a writer and podcaster based in State College, Pennsylvania. She created the podcast series When the People Decide, which looked at how ballot measures have shaped American democracy.

Flannery Wiest

Copy Editor

Flannery is an editor and writer based in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Simmons University with an MA and MFA in Children’s Literature, where she was awarded the 2019 Writing for Children Award; previously, she earned a BA in English, Linguistics, and Book Studies from Smith College. She has contributed to the editorial teams of numerous literary agencies and publishing houses, and her book reviews have been published in The Horn Book Magazine.


Integral to our mission is introducing the next generation of leaders, communicators, and participants in our democracy to the discipline required to sift through the volume of information available on a given topic and identify and connect the most relevant pieces. Like the union of states itself, we don’t claim to get it right all the time but we aspire to be “more perfect” as we go along. Learning to remain focused and persistent in what amounts to a very humbling meta analysis of available information are lessons we want each intern to take with them.

Zoe McGuirk

Researcher/Writer (Summer 2022)

Zoe McGuirk is a student at Dartmouth College who participated in Dartmouth’s First-Year Fellows program in Washington, DC in the summer 2022. She volunteered to draft an article exploring the issue of viability and personhood as they relate to abortion. Her research and insights provided important contributions to the final article, Abortion Access is Frontline in Church-State Struggle.

Penelope Spurr

Researcher/Writer (Summer 2021)

Penelope is from Lake Oswego, Oregon, a suburban city south of Portland. She was a First Year Fellow at The American Leader in 2021. She plans to major in History and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College, where she has already worked on the school’s Digital History Initiative, written for the campus newspaper, and written for and edited Spare Rib, an “intersectional feminist zine at Dartmouth”. She is also a member of Dartmouth’s Outing Club and was the freshman representative to the executive board of Dartmouth Hillel.

Margaret Bone

Researcher/Writer (Summer 2021)

Margaret hails from Nashville, Tennessee and was a First Year Fellow at The American Leader in 2021. At Dartmouth College, she plans to double major in Government and Studio Art, with a minor in Public Policy. She regularly volunteers for political campaigns in New Hampshire and her home state. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and pursue a career that connects her interests in international affairs and public policy.

Natasha Raman

Researcher/Writer (Summer/Fall 2020)

Natasha Raman hails from Plano, Texas, and is currently a sophomore at Dartmouth College. She is interested in history, government, and Asian studies. At Dartmouth, she is on the Political Economy Project Leadership Council and is a member of the Parliamentary Debate team. In addition, she is actively involved with the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact. In her free time, Natasha likes to bake, read, and listen to music. Natasha was a First Year Fellow in 2020.

Colin Fennelly

Researcher/Writer (Summer/Fall 2020)

Colin is a senior at Dartmouth College majoring in Government with a minor in Quantitative Social Science. At Dartmouth, he does work in the surrounding community through his previous role as the co-chair of the tutoring program America Reads and as the current Training Officer for the Dartmouth Ski Patrol. Colin is originally from nearby Warren, Vermont and is hoping to pursue a career in law. In his free time, he enjoys trail running and backcountry skiing. Colin worked for the Leader on a 2020 internship funded by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College.

Sophia Guan

Researcher/Writer (Summer/Fall 2020)

Sophia is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, where she majored in English and minored in International Studies and French. She was a managing editor of the Dartmouth Law Journal and hopes to pursue a career in international law. Sophia is originally from Newton, Massachusetts. She enjoys reading, drawing, and dancing in her free time.

Kyle Mullins

Journalist (Winter 2020)

Kyle is from sunny St. Petersburg, Florida and is currently studying in chilly New Hampshire at Dartmouth College. There, he is pursuing a history major modified with economics and a minor in public policy. Following his freshman year, he was named a Global Scholar by the College’s Dickey Center for International Understanding. He is a news reporter for The Dartmouth, the on-campus newspaper, and served as an associate managing editor his sophomore fall. He is also the secretariat assistant for DartMUN XV (model UN), a public programming assistant for the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, and a member of the climbing team.

Past Contributors

Eric Seaborg

Journalist and Author

In 30 years as a freelance writer, Eric Seaborg has covered topics ranging from health care to hiking and travel to atom splitting. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Lab Tests Online, Endocrine News, Kidney News, Sierra, Backpacker, American Hiker, Boys’ Life, World Book Health and Medical Annual, and Uncommon Wealth: Essays on Virginia’s Wild Places (published by the Nature Conservancy). His collaborative books include Adventures in the Atomic Age: From Watts to Washington, written with his Nobel-prize winning father, Glenn T. Seaborg. Library Journal said: “‘Page turner’ is a term not usually applied to a science memoir, but this compelling portrait of a major scientist is an exception.” Written with Ellen Dudley, American Discoveries: Scouting the First Coast to Coast Recreational Trail received the Barbara Savage Award for adventure travel writing.

Shawn Griffiths


Shawn Griffiths is a nationally-recognized expert in political reform and voting rights, with a decade of journalistic experience in the field. He wrote hundreds of articles and edited thousands more as chief editor of Independent Voter News, and is a host of his own podcast on political reform called “Toppling the Duopoly“.

Robin Stevens Payes


Robin is a Maryland-based science writer, and consultant in social marketing specializing in health, science and education. She’s written for Discovery Education, the National Institutes of Health, the Dana Foundation and Johns Hopkins Medicine.  She’s also the author of the new teen time travel adventure series, Edge of Yesterday  and creator of EOY Media’s interactive “learning through story” platform.

Anna Luo


Anna is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She studied Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and has a keen interest in the role of local and state politics on our communities.

Ciara McLaren


Ciara McLaren is a freelance writer based in Chattanooga, TN. After graduating with an MA in Political Science from the University of Florida, she worked in conservation and education before transitioning to writing full-time. Her work has appeared in HuffPost, Business Insider, and elsewhere.

Peter Friederici


Peter Friederici is a journalist, essayist, and film producer focused on science and the environment. Peter’s work has appeared in OrionAudubon, and High Country News, among other periodicals, and his reporting has been recognized with an award from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the managing editor of Carbon Copy, an online literary journal focused on climate change, and the author of several books, including (with photographer Peter Goin) A New Form of Beauty: Glen Canyon Beyond Climate Change. He also teaches science communication at Northern Arizona University.

Mary Jane Gore


Mary Jane is a writer based in Charlottesville, Va. She has written about medicine and health care,  government affairs, and on a variety of topics for local news organizations.

Forrest Stewart


Forrest Stewart recently graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA with majors in environmental policy and sociology. During his undergrad, he worked on both local and national political campaigns, conducted research on community resilience, hitchhiked over 1,000 miles in the Patagonian wild, started a bluegrass band, and wrote his senior capstone paper about the implications of combining environmental and social policies as in the Green New Deal. Forrest now lives in Denver, CO where he works at a law firm—he plans to attend law school in the near future. Forrest hopes that The American Leader will allow readers to spend less time trying to understand the confusing world that we live in and more time organizing to make it better.

Joe Lanane


Joe Lanane is a lifelong community journalist with more than 15 years of industry experience. Most notably, he spent 8 years at Community Impact Newspaper, working his way up the editorial ladder from market-level editor to regional managing editor. From 2017-20, he led the company’s editorial operations as executive editor.

J. Michael Deal


Michael is a freelance journalist with a particular interest in issues surrounding voting rights and money in politics. His articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Citizen, Next Avenue, the Solutions Story Tracker, and on his website By highlighting compelling stories of ordinary citizens standing up for common sense solutions, his writing strives to motivate others to become involved and make democracy work for their communities, states, and the nation as a whole. He is a member of the Solutions Journalism Network. Michael is also an international development leader, having served in a number of executive management positions in the non-profit, business, and government sectors, with professional relationships in over 40 countries. His career included 28 years with USAID as a Foreign Service Officer. He continues to advise several international nonprofits.

Technical Reviewers

We are grateful for the contributions of our Content Partners’ editorial liaisons and the following individuals:

William Gale

William Gale is the Arjay and Frances Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy and a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of Fiscal Therapy: Curing America’s Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future (Oxford 2019).

Lisa Palmer

Lisa Palmer is a journalist and author. Her award-winning coverage of science, climate change, and sustainability has been published by The Guardian, Scientific American, The New Republic, Yale E360, Slate, the Nature journals, Climate Connections and The New York Times. She is the author of HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: The Fight to Stop a Global Food Crisis in the Face of Climate Change. She is a senior fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, a two-time grantee of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, and was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center 2014-2015.