Meet some of the up-and-coming organizers who are participating in our Data BootCamp this spring!
Las Vegas Class
Nebraska Democratic Party
American Pacific Legal Center
Tanzila ""Taz"" is a writer, community organizer and policy researcher based in Southern California. As an organizer, she has been working to create a political voice through the power of the vote. At the age of 25, she founded South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), a national organization that organizes South Asian American youth to have a political voice and get involved in the electoral process. In 2008 while working at the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), she managed a three county-wide, eight language, six ethnicity, voter education and mobilization campaign in the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Southern California. In 2010, she was the campaign director with Jennifer Pae for Oakland City Council in a community driven campaign.
With a Master in Public Policy degree with concentrations in Asian American policy and racial/ethnic policy from UCLA's School of Public Affairs, she was part of a student led initiative to bring Critical Race Theory into public policy. While at UCLA, she' had the privilege of working as a researcher in the Asian American community on various community projects, such as the Asian American Youth Vote report with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), and the Los Angeles taxi workers. Her thesis project entitled Barriers to Student Voting examines the various barriers that students in California face when exercising civic engagement for her client the University of California Student Association (UCSA). An experienced campaign trainer, Taz has led workshops with the EnviroCitizen, the League of Young Voters, and Campus Camp Wellstone.
An avid essayist, blogger, and poet, her writing developed around creating a counternarrative for the communities that she belonged to, whether youth, Muslim, South Asian or counterculture. Since 2006, she's been a contributing blogger at Sepia Mutiny.com, the largest South Asian American blog, where she writes about pop, music, politics, and anything tied to a Desi identity. Her writing has been featured on The Nation, Left Turn Magazine, Angry Asian Man, MTV Iggy, Taqwacore Webzine, Mideast Tunes, The SAALT Spot, Wiretap Magazine, Alternet, IMOW, PopandPolitics, Kahani, Falling Star Magazine and has been published in the books Mirror on America and Storming the Polls. Additionally, Taz has also released two self-published chapbooks with collections of her poetry, Secret Confessions and Diamond in the Rough. She is currently working on a non-fiction memoir about her personal journey on finding purpose, love, poetry and familial revolutionary history.
I have been on the field side of organizing for the past 3.5 years. My specialties include micro-targeting, voter turnout, and I have achieved Jedi level turf cutting status.
The best work I have done was to successfully register 12,000+ low-efficacy voters for early voting in Arizona and then have a 50% turnout among those voters.
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV)
Rebecca Concepcion Apostol is the Capacity Building Manager for Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV), a California non-profit, multi-ethnic coalition of grassroots organizations that builds power and capacity of immigrant communities through electoral engagement. She was raised by Philippine immigrant activists who shared their commitment to social justice and equality with their daughter by taking her to her first demonstrations while still in the womb and taking her on her first of many precinct walks at the age of nine. Upon graduating from UCLA, she joined the leading political communications firm MSHC Partners, Inc. for the exciting 2008 election cycle. Over the next years, she managed and consulted on numerous campaigns throughout California. She was an active student organizer at UCLA, working on a variety of issues- diversity and affordability of the UC system, sexual violence, women's and Queer issues. Rebecca serves as the National Field Director for KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress, working to move the Filipino community toward progressive change and helping train, support and elect leaders to fill the political pipeline. She is also a proud alumnus of the New Leaders Council Fellowship.
Brendan is originally from Los Angeles, and has worked as a volunteer and a paid organizer throughout California on various Democratic political campaigns. He became involved with political campaigns when Kevin Beiser, a gay mathematics teacher, decided to run for San Diego School Board. In 2011, Brendan organized in two historical elections: the CA-36 Congressional District Race, which was the first of California's post-Prop 14 open primary system congressional elections, and the San Francisco Mayoral Election, San Francisco's first ranked choice mayoral election that resulted in the city's first elected Chinese-American mayor.
Brendan graduated cum laude from UC San Diego with a bachelors in Economics and Political Science. While in college, Brendan worked with California Western Law Professor Glenn Smith advocating reform to the California initiative process that would increase deliberation. He was inspired to study the initiative process due to the inflexibility of the system and the various negative policies it has enacted. Brendan and Glenn's work is published in the California Western Law Review.
UNITE HERE! Local 631
Jason is a member of UNITE HERE Local 631 in Phoenix, Arizona. He has worked extensively on partisan municipal election campaigns in Phoenix, as well as non-partisan voter engagement campaigns with Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy (CASE). On these campaigns he did everything from walking doors to strategic planning, logistics and data management. He also does research for CASE and UNITE HERE on economic and electoral issues.
I worked on my first campaign last year. It was agianst on of the toughest anti-immigrant sentator in Arizona. I worked with Promise Arizona since then. I liked the idea of community organizing so I will continue to learn more about organizing. I am a college student, transferring to a university to complete my Bachelors degree in Business Managment.
Maricopa County Democratic Party
Bernie Bergmann describes himself as a "field guy." That's because he's been organizing neighbors talking to neighbors for over six years, in seven states, on over ten campaigns, almost non-stop. Starting with Sherrod Brown's successful race for United States Senate, Bernie has managed a series of local races, jumped from state to state with Obama, and was the field director for the first ever Phoenix Coordinated Campaign. Bernie has been the Deputy Director at the Maricopa County Democratic Party for the last two years and has been instrumental in building the organization that will finally retire the infamous "Sheriff Joe."
When he is not googling random polling and research data on field organizing, he is mixing classic cocktails and listening to vinyl.
A former NOI bootcamper, Rakim was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He received his B.A. from Brown University and his M.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Rakim is now the Ed Baker Fellow for Democratic Values at Demos, where he writes about poverty, social policy, and American political ideologies. He also works for his City Council Member as Director of Communications and the new host of "The People with Rakim Brooks," which airs on WBAI 99.5 FM NY and can be heard online at WBAI.org.
Interested in healthy living and an active mind, Rakim loves spinning, traveling, and reading BusinessWeek, the Nation, and local blogs focused on NY state politics.
Evergreen Habitat for Humanity
Melissa Carson is currently a Volunteer Coordinator for a non-profit in Vancouver, WA. She has been involved with non-profit organizations since graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 with a degree in Policy and Management. Melissa has worked for several different organizations in various positions such as VISTA Research Analyst, Data Assistant and Certified Trainer. She knows that accurate data is a core component of quality programs.
Through her experience in working with non-profits, Melissa observed that those most impacted by policy decisions and community programs often do not have a voice in shaping those decisions and programs. So, she decided to become part of a program that can affect those decisions and programs through political involvement. She had her first experience working on a political campaign as a Field Organizer for a 2010 congressional candidate. Though the candidate did not ultimately win the race, Melissa felt her work was a success, because she brought people together and was able to raise awareness about community issues.
In Melissa's spare time she enjoys taking mini-vacations, cake decorating, and reading. She has lived in several different states and enjoys finding what makes each community special and unique. Melissa is looking forward to learning more about how to use data to assist in a political campaign. Her goal is to become a bridge between the people who need help and the people who can provide the help. An indispensable tool to meet that goal will be to use data.
Polichix LLC, Ready to Work!
I'm a Georgia Peach and a Southern-Fried Politico with a Concede No Ground Work Ethic! My favorite Political Strategist is Harriet Tubman. I'm a Corporate America Dropout and a Special Education Lead Teacher in Bibb County, Macon, GA. The love of my life is man named Kwaku and I am in search of a new pet.
Dawn D Collins
Cogent Concepts and Project Management
Dawn's professional experience began in the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) where she implemented the smooth decentralization of outreach strategies and application processing. During her service at DHH, she also gained expertise in data management through collaborative efforts to develop software for agency specific needs.
Her desire to empower families soon led Dawn into the world of organizing, and she became a Staff Field Organizer with Obama for America during the 2008 presidential election. Currently, she fights alongside policy advocates for the rights of women, children, the disabled, the aging, and many others.
Dawn's training and leadership includes work with national organizing agencies such as New Organizing Institute (NOI) and Democracy for America (DFA). As one of a 30-person cohort chosen from 500 applicants, Dawn participated in NOI's 2010 New Media Bootcamp. She received immense instruction from leading practitioners in Washington, D.C. to enhance campaign strategy by integrating New Media into political and issue based campaigns.
Dawn collaborates with other local activists to provide grassroots trainings and events to Louisianians. Dawn wears other hats as well. She is chairwoman of the local East Baton Rouge Parish Young Democrats; founder and chairwoman of The Louisiana Movement, a progressive coalition of activists; and serves on the board of Louisiana Connections Academy, as well as on the board of Common Cause Louisiana.
Cogent Concepts exists to empower a more progressive and inclusive community by developing more effective issue-based and political campaign strategies and contributing to more productive non-profit and small business organizations.
I'm from Las Vegas. I've worked for SEIU for the last 2 years. I look forward to improving my skills through this training.
I am an unemployed paralegal whose volunteering for politicians goes as far back as the Mark White for Texas Governor Campaign in 1982.
Marisa Garcia currently works as the Office Manager for Move LA, a transit advocacy non-profit group based out of Los Angeles, CA. Growing up living near two major freeways, she is all too aware of the harm that overdependence on cars has caused many Los Angeles area residents. It is because of this that she feels that access to alternative modes of transportation is very important. Since joining the Move LA team in August 2011, her commitment to helping transform the Los Angeles County transit system has strengthened significantly and she can't wait to see what the future holds for the local community.
In addition to her work with Move LA, she is also a long time drug policy reform advocate. She has over 10 years of experience working with numerous drug policy reform organizations, including: Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance. She also currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Flex Your Rights Foundation, an educational non-profit which strives to educate the public about how basic Bill of Rights protections apply during encounters with law enforcement.
Whether she's working on transit issues, drug policy reform or teaching people how to flex their rights, Marisa is committed to continuing to doing her part to help make the world a better place to live (and commute) in.
Since January 2011, Jason has held the position of Targeting Strategist with the Field Information Services (FIS) Department where he works with the public division to offer worker outreach targeting and data sets in support of the divisions organizing campaigns. Before joining FIS, Jason served as a Policy Analyst for the Healthcare Division for two years. During this time, he worked closely with the Legislative Department to launch an aggressive lobbying campaign to block Federal money for dialysis clinics that were overbilling Medicare and Medicaid. This was followed by working as a State Government Relations Advocate with the Government Relations Department for two years. While there, Jason built and maintained relationships with state elected officials and their respective organizations to push SEIU's pro-worker agenda.
Jason was born in New York City to Jamaican parents and spent the majority of his childhood in Jamaica before returning to the US to attend college. Before joining SEIU, Jason held a wide variety of positions including serving as the Director of Finance for the National Youth Connection, a small Atlanta based non-profit organization; as Accounts Manager for a South African based non-profit organization; a paralegal of a Washington D.C. law firm; and as a Legislative Assistant for a member of Congress.
On a personal note, Jason's first experience with unions came at the age of five when he joined his grandmother on a picket line with her fellow 1199 members who were striking for higher wages. Currently, Jason lives in Maryland with dust mites.
Kentucky Democratic Party
Kentucky Democrat looking for new tools in order to help get Democrats elected all over the country.
Linda "Hawj" Her
MidWest Solidarity Movement
Linda "Hawj" Her is a writer, poet/spoken word artist, hip hop emcee, and filmmaker from Twin Cities, Minnesota. She is also a community organizer where she unites arts and activism to speak about her Hmong American Lesbian/Queer experiences to evoke social equity. Linda organizes for social justice, and champions progressive social, political and cultural changes in her communities. She co-leads MidWest Solidarity Movement, a Queer Southeast Asian collective that focuses on developing leadership, communication, fundraising, and organizing skills. And fosters creativity, resources, access, and community.
Please Hire Me!
Rebecca first learned of community organizing during a summer internship with Just Cause Oakland (now Causa Justa :: Just Cause). After that summer, she became passionate about social justice with a particular focus on housing rights. In addition to housing rights, she has also worked on LGBTQ rights. Rebecca has also done work with SOMCAN, FIERCE!, and Make the Road New York. It was through her work at SOMCAN, Causa Justa :: Just Cause and the John Avalos Campaign for Mayor (of San Francisco) that she truly learned to appreciate the importance of databases for organizations. When she is not getting excited about how data can be used, she loves to bake. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is looking for her next way to fight for social justice.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC)
Kristin is the Director of Online Strategy at Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and has over 6 years of experience in reproductive health grassroots online outreach and supporter data management in California. To see current campaigns and take action, visit: http://www.ppactionca.org
When not crafting data and online strategy, you'll find Kristin playing with her 2-year-old daughter, cooking with her husband, and doing lots of gardening. She also has a garden blog at: http://www.graphicgardener.com
When I'm not working at the restaurant, helping out at the brewery or spending time with my friends I'm organizing locally with MoveOn.org.
I am a first generation immigrant from Guerrero, México. As an immigrant and woman in the U.S., I have witnessed first hand some of the struggles our communities have to overcome to be successful. I discovered my passion for community change when I was in high school and plan to continue to be involved and give back to my community for as long as I can! I graduated from San Jose State University with a double major in Sociology and World Languages and Literature. I will start my Masters degree in Spring of 2012 and looking forward to graduate 2014.
David Pechefsky has over fifteen years experience in government and politics. Most recently, he has been consulting with the National Democratic Institute to help establish a legislative budget office for national legislature of Liberia. He is an active member of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, a neighborhood based political club, and ran for New York City Council himself in 2009. Prior to that he worked in NYC government for 12 years, mostly with the City Council on housing policy. For the last two years, when not in Liberia he has been busy being a home dad. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Brooklyn, NY and is to the best of his knowledge the only owner in Brooklyn of a bicycle pedicab strictly for non-commercial use.
Studied economics, finance, international affairs. Work and consulting in these areas, plus journalism and media production. Lived and traveled worldwide. Enjoys politics, statistics, analysis, forecasting. Hobbies: tennis and swimming.
Mark Ristaino is the Operations Manager for the CREDO Politics Team, supplying technical and moral support to the CREDO Action campaigners over literally hundreds of campaigns.
Mark got his start as the Communications Director of Music For America, where he helped politicize music communities across the country, and was instrumental in relaunching the AlterNet.org website as AlterNet's Technology Director.
Originally a creative writing major, Mark has been a line cook, a car salesman, a barista, an organizer, a youth marketing consultant, a copy editor, an online media consultant for bands like Death Cab for Cutie, a groundskeeper and a pizza man, and he does his best to stretch himself to meet the needs of the organizations he works with. Mark currently specializes in email marketing for social change organizations.
Marjorie is a web developer and nutrition educator from Baltimore, Maryland. She authored the book, "Drupal 5 Views Recipes," but is now happily building websites in NationBuilder, a powerful advocacy tool. While working for the Baltimore Office of Recycling, she developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) for assisting citizen callers. She recently helped to launch the Hopkins CLF Farm Bill Budget Visualizer. At Connecticut College, she received the Betty Flanders Thomson Prize for Excellence in Botany. Marjorie has been known to sing her testimony at city counsel meetings and a state Senate hearings.
Engage San Diego-San Diego Civic Engagement Table
Levin Sy is the Executive Director of Engage San Diego a regional network of organizations working in historically underrepresented and socially responsible communities coming together to exchange ideas, share resources and cooperate to win policy and civic engagement victories for change. Engage San Diego facilitates groups leaving their narrow issue silos to come together by providing the necessary infrastructure to foster real collaboration and success including:
Cutting-Edge Technology Tools: Engage San Diego share tools, best practices and test new strategies. Collaboration allows organizations to maximize scare resources and provides smaller groups access to advanced tools and knowledge that they could not acquire on their own.
Comprehensive Planning and Evaluation: Engage San Diego partners come together to agree on a plan and hold each other accountable to achieving the goals necessary to win.
A proven grassroots organizer and community leader, Levin fights for the political empowerment of communities of color and youth and served as the founding Project Director of the APIA (Asian Pacific Islander American) Vote! Project. After the 2000 Census, Levin organized community support for a fair and inclusive redistricting process in his hometown of San Diego, California. He mobilized a broad coalition of African American, Latina/os and Asian Pacific Islander Americans to impact School Board, City Council, County and State redistricting efforts. Levin's efforts to enforce bilingual ballot provisions of the Voting Rights Act in San Diego County led to the Department of Justice Voting Rights Section's Memorandum of Understanding with San Diego County ensuring the availability of Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino and Vietnamese language voting materials. The bilingual language advisory committees were created as a direct result of his work to ensure continued Section 203 enforcement.
As the founder of the San Diego Alliance for Asian Pacific Islander Americans, Levin built a coalition of nearly forty organizations dedicated to advocating for the rights and empowerment of the Asian Pacific Islander American community. Levin also co-founded the Southwest Center for Asian Pacific American Law (SCAPAL), the first nonprofit legal service provider in San Diego focused on serving the diverse APA community.
Levin was recently the State Community Outreach Director for Working Families United for New Jersey, a statewide grassroots coalition created by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO which consisted of labor, religious, community, civil rights, student, women, and retirees groups collectively committed to building a better life for all working families in New Jersey. Working Families United for New Jersey is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to increasing participation in the civic process, issue education, and grassroots outreach to the diverse communities of New Jersey, by building a non-partisan grassroots civic organization to engage communities who are directly impacted by legislative policies and yet have not been involved in the civic and legislative process.
Levin was formerly the Organizing/Political Coordinator for the Engineers & Scientists of California Local 20, International Federation of Professional Technical Engineers (IFPTE). Levin spearheaded efforts to organize healthcare professionals in Northern California and developed Local 20's political program. In four years, Levin developed a member funded PAC, increased the participation of members in the legislative process at the federal, state and local level and recruited, trained and mobilized members for targeted legislative campaigns and developed a systematic and strategic process of engagement to build power for members.
Levin served as the National 2nd Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and on the Executive Boards of the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and APALA Alameda County Chapter, in addition to the San Mateo County Workforce Investment Board.
Levin received his Bachelor of Arts in Asian American Studies and Political Science at UCLA and attended UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research pursuing a Master of Arts in Urban Planning.
Tommy is the program manager at API Equality-LA where he directs ongoing research and oversees communications activities. At API Equality-LA, Tommy has designed and implemented the first study of its kind on the attitudes of Chinese and Korean Americans toward LGBT people.
Since 2003, he has worked for labor unions, political campaigns, and other issue campaigns, including AFSCME International Union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, and Congresswoman Judy Chu's election campaign.
He has served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Harvard Journal of Asian American Policy Review and Editor for the LGBTQ Policy Journal of Harvard Kennedy School. His research interests include LGBT human rights, public perception of LGBT people, and Asian American political participation.
Tommy received his Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and his Bachelor of Arts in political science from University of California, Los Angeles. He was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley and studied for a semester at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
Minnesotans for a Fair Economy
Chris Vaaler currently works as the Deputy Data Manager for SEIU's campaign Minnesotans for a Fair Economy. This is apart of SEIU's national campaign "Fight for a Fair Economy" which works with various other groups to point out the economic inequality in this country.
He first started out in politics as a volunteer for Obama and Al Franken in 2008. He later interned in the Minnesota State Senate and worked for the Minnesota Democratic Party's Senate and House Caucus' campaign in 2010.
When he is not busy with politics he likes rooting on the Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves. He also enjoys disc golf, finding a delicious beer and has recently gotten into rock climbing.
Please Hire Me!
Enrique hails from the East Side of San Jose, CA. He earned his community organizing chops as a high school student, working with Californians for Justice to ensure that his peers had access to a quality education. In 2009, Enrique was a Summer Academy Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. There he undertook a research project to study longitudinal voter registration rates amongst Latinos. Through that study, Enrique discovered that voter registration levels are low amongst some Latino sub-groups. He wants to build on that knowledge and mobilize low-registered and historically disenfranchised folks in the upcoming elections. Enrique's professional interest include data and information as agents for change, political mobilization, the study of immigration as a global phenomenon, comprehensive immigration reform, human rights, and community empowerment. Enrique is passionate about mental and physical health, Mexican folklorico dance, black and white film photography, hip hop, and coffee. His next goal is to concoct his own flavor of "mole poblano", a complex, yet delicious sauce that originates from the state of Puebla, Mexico.
Midwest Solidarity Movement & Mankato State University
If there was a word to describe me, I would say that it is "tough." Most people perceive me as "tough," because of my strong charismatic personality; others describe me as "tough," because of the multiple layers of oppression I face as an individual with multiple [minority] identities. Being the oldest child, the most precious thing I longed for is individualism; therefore, I often find myself struggling between several worlds-the world that I was taught, the world that I never knew, the world that I grew up in, and the world that I created. Throughout my whole life, I tried to live in all worlds that held my existence. However, I often found that when I lived in one world, another world of mine would become non-existent.
This was similar to my coming out experiences, because when I came out as a Hmong Thai American, my identity as a Queer individual remained in the closet. However, when I came out as a Queer individual, my identity as a Hmong Thai American went into the closet. I often found myself struggling between two different worlds-I was either fighting against racism as a Queer Asian American, or I was fighting against homophobia as a Hmong Thai American Queer. As a result, this has made me very hostile, because I was internalizing about who I truly was; rather than stop being who I was not. I would always say that, "I would rather be the problem than be a part of the solution, because being the issue was easier than trying to solve it."
I always thought I was the only individual who was both Hmong and Queer living in this world. Throughout 16 years of my life, I have sought methods to escape and reasons to rationalize why I am the way I am. Fortunately, on one cold day, during the Hmong American New Year, in December, at the Twin Cities Metrodome, I met Her. It was unsual, because she spoke in the same tongue I spoke; she ate the same food I ate; and she shared the same identity that I once claimed, "the only one in the world." Her name is Linda Hawj, and she was probably one of the most fortunate person that could ever be in my life. I knew that meeting Linda Hawj that day was going to be the end of my life; because every end is a new beginning.
Currently, I am a Junior at Mankato State University. I am majoring in Gender and Women's Studies with a minor in Political Science. In addition, I plan to have a focus specifically on Asian American identities and the social construction of the Asian American experience. My main interests are practical theorizing, feminist pedagogy, eco/global/post-colonial feminism, and civic engagement-but these are only a few of my top favorite interest. I identify as an emerging Queer Hmong Thai American Refugee Male Student Survivor Activist; and the pronoun I prefer is male pronouns-such as he and him-but, feel free to use gender neutral pronouns-such as ze and hir. Aside from my professional lifestyle, I am a vegetarian-transitioning into a vegan-and I enjoy dancing away in the Queer nightlife whenever I get the chance. The "tough" guise is only beyond who I really am.
My name is Paris Walker and currently work for AFSCME's Political Action Department in the Central Region. I lam originally from Georgia, but live in Indianapolis and have enjoyed being a political organizer in a variety of cities including DC, Miami, New Orleans, and all over the great state of Ohio.
Alaskans for Energy Freedom
Carly Wier is the Associate Campaign Director for Alaskans for Energy Freedom, a campaign working to prevent the impacts of Alaska's vast coal resources on our global climate and the lands, water, and people of Alaska. Before moving to Alaska, Carly was the Executive Director of the High Country Conservation Center, a community based organization in Summit County, Colorado. Carly got her start in community organizing on the CU-Boulder campus where she volunteered and worked for the Environmental Center. When not saving the planet from impending doom, she enjoys exploring Alaska's wilderness in all seasons, and the occasional bluegrass festival.
Michael is a 7 year campaign veteran who has worked on a wide range of races from Senate to Statehouse. Most recently he was the Data Special Projects Director at We Are Ohio, the coalition that came together to stop Senate Bill 5 in a historic victory for workers rights.
Besides politics and campaigns, Michael´s other passions include (but are certainly not limited too) cooking, brewing beer, a recently acquired mandolin, Bruce Springsteen, and traveling the country with his dog, Bruce.