Disruptors

Champions for change in Washington

Ady Barkan


Ady Barkan
Cofounder, Be a Hero PAC

Speaking is more difficult than ever before for progressive activist Ady Barkan, but the more ALS riddles his body, the louder his voice is heard. 

Barkan emerged on the national scene in 2017 after an airplane confrontation with then-Sen. Jeff Flake went viral. In the video, Barkan implored the Republican to “be a hero” and vote no on the proposed tax cuts at the expense of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Flake ended up voting for the cuts, and Barkan capitalized on his fame by launching the Be a Hero campaign, which champions progressive causes…


Carlos Mark Vera
Executive Director and Cofounder, Pay Our Interns 

When Vera was interning in the House, he had to work another job (on top of taking six classes at American University) in order to make ends meet. The biggest struggle for him, he says, was keeping his eyes open at his desk on Capitol Hill. He thought he’d made it when he accepted an internship at the White House, before realizing that he owned only one suit. His family pitched in to get him another at J.C. Penney. 

With that experience fresh in his mind, Vera realized that there was nobody advocating for interns in Washington. Along with Guillermo Creamer, a classmate of his at American University, he launched Pay Our Interns in October 2016…

Jon Cohen


Jon Cohen
Chief Research Officer, SurveyMonkey

But over the past 20 years, including his last six as chief research officer at online-polling company SurveyMonkey, Cohen has witnessed—and often been on the forefront in responding to—a sea change in polling spurred by rapid technological advances and societal shifts.

Though politicians and the public often demand one number to understand a race, Cohen said the industry must strive to explain the possibilities in its data. As a committee member for the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Cohen is working to develop language to do just that… 

Josh Ginsberg


Josh Ginsberg
CEO, Zignal Labs

“Anybody can be an influencer, and anybody can amplify a story. And how those things take hold is vital to understand,” Ginsberg said. “Trust comes at a premium nowadays.”

Through AI analytics, [Gingberg’s] company, Zignal Labs, is able to present clients with a real-time picture of how their brand—whether it’s a political campaign or a Fortune 1000 company—is performing and interacting in the digital space. Processing billions of social-media posts, traditional media stories, and other forms of media that bubble up online, Zignal Labs products help identify how a narrative transforms and grows…

Linda Singer


Linda Singer
Head of Motley Rice’s Public Client Practice

Singer celebrated a victory in the opioid lawsuit when four companies reached a $260 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties very shortly before going to trial. 

“The proposed settlement will make significant progress to abate the epidemic by providing resources for and applying funds directly to necessary opioid-recovery programs,” said the co-leads of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in a statement, adding that the communities had “revealed facts about the roles of the opioid industry that created and fueled the opioid epidemic.”…

Tim Hwang


Tim Hwang
Founder and CEO, FiscalNote

Tim Hwang’s email had a simple-enough subject line: “Changing Government.”

It was the vision he laid out in that email for dragging government into the digital age that caught entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s attention, spurring him to cut a six-figure check to the newly born company that Hwang promised could get it done, FiscalNote…

Tom Manatos


Tom Manatos
Vice President of Government Relations, Spotify

Drop Tom Manatos’s name around Washington and you’re bound to get a reaction—though it may not have anything to do with internet policy or the music business, despite his nearly four-year stint as one of the top lobbyists for streaming giant Spotify.

The reaction will likely be more along the lines of “Tom Manatos got me my job!”…