Meet The Team

Crossing Party Lines is led by a group of individuals who are passionate about exploring our unique and shared values as a national community.

Executives
& Board

LISA SWALLOW

KAREEM ABDELSADEK

JESSICA BRAZIER

MARK D. SAN MARINO

ASHLEY SMOLUK

Crossing Party Lines Annual Retreat, Portland, Oregon, July 2019.

Board Bios

Lisa Swallow


CO-FOUNDER
& EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Lisa is a grandmother and a retired training developer and technical communicator. In her 30-plus years in technical communication, Lisa led numerous collaborative efforts with on-site and remote teams, and spearheaded corporate-wide adoption of user-centric approaches to documentation and training. Lisa is driven by her love of family and country to translate her knowledge of communication techniques, learning styles, and nonviolent communication into a process she now teaches to others to help create civil, respectful discourse around the politics of the day. As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Crossing Party Lines (CPL), Inc., she currently manages the day-to-day operations of Crossing Party Lines and develops all of the organization’s training programs. Lisa also facilitates weekly conversations in her hometown of Portland, Oregon and virtually.

“Being an American isn’t about race, religion, or political views. To me it’s about joining together with other Americans to share in the democratic process outlined in our Constitution. And working together begins with the skills and capacity to talk to one another, explore issues from all angles, and honor and respect every American’s needs as we design solutions.”

As a history buff, Lisa proposes we look to our Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln to understand that the diversity of political perspectives in America is one of our country’s integral core strengths. Her contributions to Crossing Party Lines center on teaching members to share their perspectives in constructive ways, listen with an open and curious mind, and appreciate the insights multiple perspectives can provide. Lisa is also an award-winning writer. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and she has a novel, Unwrapped, awaiting publication. Lisa received her B.S. in Information Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kareem Abdelsadek


CO-FOUNDER
& CHAIR OF THE BOARD

Kareem is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Crossing Party Lines. He collaborates on strategy and operations with Executive Director, Lisa Swallow. He also leads Crossing Party Lines at the grassroots level by facilitating conversations in his hometown of New York City. Kareem believes the secret sauce to creating a world of love comes from the building blocks we use to create rich and meaningful personal relationships. “Persistent open dialogue that allows for disagreements gives us all an opportunity to grow together,” he states.

“We have lost the emphasis on humanity in our national discourse. Through Crossing Party Lines, we get back to the basics of truly learning to listen and understand the humanity behind all of our perspectives. We provide a window into the truth behind our politics, our people, our relationships, and our country. Once we start truly understanding one another, the potential for what we can accomplish collectively is limitless.”

As a senior manager for Deloitte Consulting, Kareem’s day job focuses on large scale transformation efforts in the federal government’s civilian sector. He has successfully delivered 15-plus projects resulting in lasting change, improving organizational culture while furthering mission objectives. Kareem’s track record of cultivating high performance teams has enabled him to serve on a highly-selective Managers Advisory Council to the Deloitte CEO. He has also received multiple awards from Deloitte and the federal government for successful project deliveries, and is published in “Deloitte Insights” on how to leverage industry leading methods, including building cross-functional teams to transform large programs and companies for the better. Kareem is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with degrees of a B.S. in Information Science and Technology and a B.A. in Philosophy. He is committed to continuous learning, and a member of the Bleeker and IVY professional networks.

Jessica Brazier


BOARD MEMBER

Jessica is a management consultant who specializes in stakeholder outreach and engagement. As part of Deloitte Consulting’s Government & Public Services Practice, Jessica has helped leaders of major federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in navigating bureaucratic barriers by using strategic communications, learning, and change management techniques to drive to successful results. Jessica is known for providing high-touch, customized service and support to deliver value for clients and their most critical stakeholders.

“I fundamentally believe that if we give ourselves enough time to listen to each other and just for a moment open our hearts and understand where the other is coming from, America would be a much more peaceful and joyful place to live.”

Jessica’s prior professional experiences span various sectors, including the Pittsburgh Board of Education, where she coordinated workforce acquisition and engagement efforts for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Empowering Effective Teachers” urban education reform initiative. She has also worked with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CBS Network, CARE USA, and various radio stations and newspapers. She credits her love for journalism and stories for sparking her “intellectual curiosity to understand our diverse world” and “empathy to widen her circle of compassion.” Jessica is a graduate with degrees of B.A. in Communications and English from Oakwood University, and M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. In her free time, she enjoys singing in a female acapella quartet, making handmade crafts, hosting events, and spending time with her big, boisterous Caribbean family.

Mark D. San Marino


BOARD MEMBER

Mark is a father, husband, and government affairs professional who helps organizations navigate the political and regulatory landscape. Though tempted by the drama of electoral politics, his true passion is public policy.

Mark believes people should engage in thoughtful discussion about difficult issues, rather than avoid them. He believes in the value of intellectual openness and understanding others’ viewpoints though education, discourse, and life experience. Having had success igniting debate around the office water cooler, Mark was inspired to broaden his purpose, leading him to join forces with Crossing Party Lines.

“What resonates most for me is the pursuit of truth. Party politics is a team sport, which is effective for winning elections, but a lousy way to grow as a human being.”

 

Originally from Phoenix, Mark now resides in Chicago’s western suburbs where he spends time with his family. When not working or travelling to DC and various state capitals, Mark enjoys being a dad, working on cars, playing guitar in a band, reading, and having long conversations. Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Political Science from DePaul University.

Ashley Smoluk


BOARD MEMBER

Ashley has a passion for connecting donors to the causes they care about. She has excelled in fundraising and development positions in the nonprofit and public sectors for nearly 10 years. Currently, Ashley works as Director of Development for Evidence Action, a global health NGO that scales innovative, cost-effective development initiatives to improve the lives of millions of people who in live in poverty. Previously, as the Development Director for the United Nations Foundation, she raised millions of dollars for an international development initiative championing women’s rights. Ashley has also served with The American Red Cross and on several political campaigns.

“At the end of the day most people want the same thing. We want to be happy. We want a fair shot at pursuing our dreams. We want an equitable system that works for us rather than against us. I think Crossing Party Lines does a fantastic job of providing a safe space where people can realize these common tenets.”

In the current divisive political climate in America, Ashley believes it has never been more pertinent—for the spirit of a healthy democracy—to sit down and have healthy debate regardless of one’s political orientation. While she considers herself a conservative, she believes mostly in “the party of common sense” and often champions causes outside of traditional ideological ties. Ashley holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business from Penn State University. She is a resident of the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, exercising, baking fine pastries, and playing with her lovable German Shepherd, Phoenix.