Our Team

Derek Johnson

Derek Johnson, J.D.

Managing Director

Derek Johnson is the Managing Director of Research Collaborative. He has over 15 years of experience bridging full-spectrum advocacy initiatives, brand and narrative strategy, social movement infrastructure, and people-centric organizational design. Alongside his work at RC, Derek is a member of the Munich Young Leaders group of next-generation experts working on new approaches to foreign and security policy, as well as the European Young Leaders group, which aims to bridge the gap between citizens and political elites and rebuild trust in democratic institutions. Prior to joining RC, Derek served as Managing Partner of Global Zero, a Nobel-nominated initiative for nuclear disarmament backed by hundreds of world leaders, luminaries, and experts. He also co-founded Beyond the Bomb, a US-based grassroots operation focused on centering justice for impacted communities in the nuclear advocacy field. In 2021, the National Iranian American Council named Derek one of 40 under 40 Iranian Americans who have “inspired, trail-blazed, and made a lasting impact in the world.”

Tara Buss, PhD

Tara P. Buss, Ph.D.

Research Director

Dr. Tara P. Buss is the Research Director of RC. She has over a decade of experience conducting public opinion research in the US and Mexico. While at RC, she has overseen 160+ focus groups, 30+ surveys, multiple RCTs, and other special projects. Before joining RC, Tara worked as the Research Director for the Mexico office of an international consulting firm, directing polling for presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial campaigns. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at UC Berkeley, focusing on the effects of perceptions of violence on public opinion and voting behavior in Mexico. Outside of her work at RC, Tara volunteers as an alumni mentor at her alma mater, UC San Diego, and serves on the Board of Directors for AgLantis Charity Farm. She enjoys traveling, eating dim sum, and collecting antique maps.

Danielle Lemi, PhD

Danielle Lemi, Ph.D.

Senior Research Manager

Dr. Danielle Lemi is a Sr. Research Manager at RC. She has about a decade of experience conducting mixed methods research on race and ethnic politics in the United States, and she is the coauthor (with Nadia Brown) of Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites. Before joining the progressive movement, she taught courses in American politics at Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining RC, she served as the Sr. Meta-analysis Research Manager at Analyst Institute, where she worked with an interdisciplinary team to produce a major meta-analysis of past research on voter behavior. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at UC Riverside and her BA in Political Science at San Jose State University, where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and also studied Arabic intensively. She enjoys learning new things and loves Texas, most importantly the people. 

Chelsea Carrier

Sea Carrier

Engagement Associate

Sea started their career as a Field Organizer for President Obama's reelection campaign in their home state of Florida. After they graduated from Mount Holyoke College, Iowa became a second home for them as they went on to work there on several more campaigns, including for Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and President Joe Biden. Before joining the team, Sea most recently worked to combat disinformation in Wisconsin during the 2022 and 2023 elections. They love taking dance classes, being outdoors, and spending time with their beloved dog.

Thomas Mande

Thomas Mande

Research Associate

Thomas Mande is a Research Associate at RC. He is experienced creating effective progressive communications in diverse political spaces. Before RC, Thomas spent time with environmental justice group Dogwood Alliance, as an intern in Congress, and doing grassroots electoral organizing in North Carolina. He holds a B.A. in Public Policy Analysis from Duke University. Thomas spends his free time playing soccer, enjoying the outdoors, and counting down the days until he gets a dog.

Matt Easton_Cropped

Matt Easton

Research Assistant

Matt Easton is a Research Assistant at RC. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Political Science at UC Berkeley, where he studies political behavior, US polarization, and public opinion. Matt has previously worked in democratic campaigning, public opinion polling, and social policy research. He holds a BA in Political Science from Brigham Young University, where he interned at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. He is passionate about advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community and enjoys skiing, playing piano, and adding stamps to his passport.

Tan Mahmud

Tan Mahmud

Data & Analytics Intern

Born, raised, and educated in New York City, Tan Mahmud is a Data & Analytics Intern at RC. Their interest in civic tech bloomed in 2020, when they volunteered their web development and data visualization skills to mobilize community activists in a newly remote world. Tan recently graduated from CUNY Hunter College, where they received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a focus in mathematics, statistics, and data science. When they’re not wrangling data, they can be found reading—either code or fiction. 

Our advisors

Anat Shenker-Osorio

Expert Messaging Consultant

Anat Shenker-Osorio is RC’s expert messaging collaborator and consultant, key to the development of strategic race-forward messaging guidance for the progressive movement. Anat is host of the Words to Win By podcast and Principal of ASO Communications. Her work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Boston Globe, Salon, The Guardian and Grist, among others. She is the author of Don't Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.

Mike Podhorzer

Founder + Board Chair

Mike Podhorzer has worked in progressive politics for the last forty-five years and in the labor movement for the last thirty years, including ten years as Political Director of the AFL-CIO. He founded Research Collaborative (ISRC), Analyst Institute, and the Polling Consortium, and helped found America Votes, Working America, For Our Future, and Catalist. He serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Research Collaborative and the Analyst Institute. Podhorzer was recognized as an early leader in evidence-driven politics in the book The Victory Lab. In 2020, he played an important role in preparing for Trump’s attacks on the election and his attempts to overturn the results.

Our researchers