Assembling grassroots coalitions.
Dan and Akhi met when they both were working with Zuki Ellis’ campaign for St. Paul School Board in 2015, and they partnered again a year later when Dan became Campaign Manager for Ilhan Omar. Destined to be a team—Kitchen Cabinet Strategies was born.
Dan is a St. Paul-based campaign strategist and political organizer who tripped and fell backwards into politics despite his degree in vocal performance. He got his start in 2012 as a field organizer with Minnesotans United for All Families and that was that. Since then, Dan has served in various roles with a wide range of campaigns, from local city council races to coalition work on a legislative campaign in Michigan. In 2016, he led Ilhan Omar’s historic campaign to victory.
While his great love is data-driven strategy, Dan is also an experienced trainer of both organizers and volunteers; he knows how to build relationships and coalitions among candidates and elected officials, unions, party officials, and communities. And finally, he’s a killer karaoke singer.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Akhi is a writer. He works with clients on communication strategy and message development. Most recently he served as Communications Director for Raymond Dehn’s Minneapolis Mayoral bid. Previously, he worked for Ilhan Omar’s 2016 campaign, serving as Deputy Communications Director and later as Communications Director. Before that he worked for Zuki Ellis’ School Board race as Deputy Communications Director.
Akhi also has experience as a grant writer, working in the nonprofit sector. He graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University with a degree in International Relations. He does this work to perennially procrastinate his life goals: writing a series of essays on Deep Space Nine and finishing that novel he started five years ago.
Melissa is a Hoosier-by-birth, Illinoisan-by-raising, Cheesehead-by-college, and a Minnesotan-by-choice. She has been working in politics in Minnesota for over a decade. By day, she helps make her boss’ life run a little bit smoother, while also helping the people she represents. By night, she works as a consultant on a diverse list of projects. Her client list includes candidates for all levels of office, non-profits, a few businesses, and a beagle.
Melissa is a two-time graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, earning a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast & Electronic Communication and Spanish in 2003 and a master’s degree in Political Science in 2006. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (National Political Science Honor Society) and Delta Sigma Pi (National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society).
Outside of work, Melissa participates in a community band, plays video games, and watches bad conspiracy theory documentaries on streaming services. She is also a Slytherin.