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Charlene “Char” Coates is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago with dual degrees in Political Science and Sociology. Prior to joining Thematic, she worked as a legislative intern for Illinois State Representative, Kelly Cassidy and was a political intern for Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s re-election campaign, where, among other things, she led a successful youth rally and managed logistics for a state-wide bus tour.
With a genuine passion for politics and a commitment to promoting diversity, Charlene aims to support the expansion of people of color in political leadership roles. She is eager to contribute her rising skills to the Thematic team as an Executive Assistant.
Currently residing in Chicago, she enjoys being a “plant mom” and indulging in her love for cooking.
Eric Calderon’s strategic vision and leadership continue to redefine standards and exceed expectations in the ever-evolving world of content production.
Eric secured his first producing opportunities at ARF & Co. with its Owner/Director Alex Fernbach, whose client list included Wendy’s, Fisher Price, Duncan Donuts, Folgers, McDonald’s, Warner Brothers, and Paramount. While at ARF, Eric aided in starting up the company’s Visual Effects arm, PAWS & Co., which provided VFX support on several Hollywood Feature Films such as Die Hard With A Vengeance, Preacher’s Wife, First Wives Club, and Batman Returns.
In addition to his work in the production industry, Eric has been a key contributor to numerous high-profile political campaigns. He was the lead content producer for two U.S. Presidential campaigns, pivotal in crafting the visual narrative and messaging that successfully engaged millions of voters nationwide. This was a testament to Eric’s ability to discern what resonates with diverse audiences and adapt the content to fit their needs. His work extended to several Senate and House races, his work was instrumental in delivering key victories.
In his personal life, Eric embodies the same energy and passion displayed during his career. Residing in New York City with his wife and two children, he finds joy in coaching Flag Football, and mentoring the next generation.
With over 30 years of diverse political media experience with Thematic, Debra Schommer Klein is a seasoned and skilled expert in political media planning and buying—creating and implementing effective paid media plans and buys based upon campaign strategy, budget and the coalescence of political and media research, providing timely competitive information and analysis, and securing fair treatment according to FCC regulations.
With widespread experience in buying Broadcast TV, Cable TV, Radio, Print and Internet advertising, Debra has an impeccable reputation in the media community along with being known for her passion and commitment to politics. She has established extraordinary working relationships with stations and reps locally and nationwide which effectively facilitate the overall advertising strategy. Debra has managed numerous successful media plans/buys for AKPD including mayoral, gubernatorial, senatorial, congressional, presidential and political advocacy campaigns.
Born and raised in Chicago, and now based out of the Los Angeles area, Debra graduated with a B.A. in Psychology/Marketing from Lake Forest College. Prior to coming to the Thematic team in 1987, Debra was a Broadcast Advertising Club of Chicago Scholar recipient and completed a fellowship at Foote, Cone & Belding and then worked as Assistant Director of Media Buying at Kelly, Scott, & Madison in Chicago.
Sandra has worked at the center of some of California’s historic and competitive campaigns over the past twenty years. As a campaign manager, she has led several statewide candidate and initiative campaigns and local measures, and candidate campaigns for Congress, State Senate and Assembly.
Her expertise includes running large-scale campaigns with a skilled hand in campaign strategy, communications, endorsements and fundraising. Highlights of her work are defeating Proposition 27 in 2022 with California tribes in an historic defeat; electing the second woman in California history to hold statewide office; electing the first woman and the first African-American District Attorney of Los Angeles County; and, passing a city-wide measure in Anaheim to raise the minimum wage of Disneyland workers to $15 per hour.
She also led the strategy for a statewide education and media campaign to end child poverty in California, a statewide education and legislative campaign to conserve one million acres of land in California to help address climate change, and a statewide coalition to protect 30% of California land and coastal waters by 2030.
Sandra has worked extensively with Labor coalitions on both statewide and local measures, as well as internal communications and organizing campaigns. After the debilitating grocery worker strike in 2003, Sandra co-led the campaign strategy and communications team with the United Food and Commercial Workers union that resulted in higher wages for all Southern California grocery workers in their 2007 contract negotiations, and avoided another strike.
Derek Renfeld has extensive experience in crafting and executing high-impact digital strategies designed to establish a strong online presence, amplify messaging and connect with audiences. Over the years, he has worked with a diverse range of clients at the local, state and national level, including political campaigns, independent expenditures, advocacy groups and non-profit organizations.
Derek joined Thematic in 2010 and has since become the “Swiss Army Knife” for the firm. Beyond digital strategy, you’ll find him driving research projects, assisting in non-digital media purchasing and placement, and managing day-to-day operations of the organization. Prior to Thematic, Derek worked on numerous political campaigns and organizations throughout the Midwest and across the country, including those for President Obama, Senator Tom Harkin, and the Iowa Democratic Party.
Derek lives in Chicago with his husband, Abe. If he’s not talking politics or Iowa Hawkeyes, you can find him at Wrigley Field. Go, Cubs, Go!
Tyler Law has led communications and media strategy on some of the most competitive and high-profile campaigns across the country. At Thematic, Law was a member of Pete Buttigieg’s paid media team, creating breakthrough TV ads that helped propel him to a win in the Iowa caucuses and impressive finishes across the early states. He has crafted memorable TV, radio and digital ads for candidates, statewide ballot measures, independent expenditures, and public affairs clients.
Prior to joining Thematic, Law served at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) as the National Press Secretary and an original member of the team that won back the House for the first time since 2006 and flipped the most seats from red to blue since 1974.
Previously, Law was a regional press secretary at the DCCC where he led communications strategy on House races in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada and Utah. He also served as communications director to California Congressman Ro Khanna and on the staff of Senator Tim Kaine’s first senate race.
Law currently lives in Oakland, CA with his wife, son and chocolate lab.
Whitney Larsen is a seasoned campaign strategist with over a decade of experience winning tough races across the country. She comes to Thematic from the DCCC, where she helped elect nearly two dozen members of congress in more than 20 states. During the 2022 cycle, Larsen served as the National Political Director for Recruitment, driving the historic programs that led to the strongest midterm performance by House Democrats under a first-term Democratic president in six decades. In the 2020 cycle, Whitney oversaw some of the most competitive Frontline and Red to Blue House races as the DCCC’s Mountain West/Great Plains Political Director.
Before joining the DCCC, Larsen worked across the country on some of the most competitive and high-profile campaigns of the past decade, including managing targeted Congressional races in Colorado, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Illinois. She got her start in politics working on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in the battleground state of Nevada.
Whitney is a proud Wisconsin Badger, a Chicagoan, and goes hiking every chance she gets.
Larry has worked in Democratic politics for 40 years, as a campaign staffer and manager and as a media strategist.
Larry served as Director of Paid Media and Opinion Research for Obama for America and Obama-Biden 2007-8, and in the re-election campaign of 2011-12.
A leading campaign advisor in California, Grisolano was media consultant to Karen Bass smashing victory for Los Angeles Mayor, defeating an opponent who set a spending record for that office.
Grisolano has been a general consultant and media strategist in some of California’s most highly charged ballot measures. In 2022, he was co-lead consultant for NO on Prop. 27, helping a coalition of Native American tribes crush a sports betting proposal by out of state operators, in what became the most expensive ballot measure in U.S. history. In 2020, he was lead consultant and media consultant for YES on Prop. 15, Schools and Communities First, which fell just 2% short of reforming Prop. 13, previously thought to be the untouchable third rail of California politics.
A native of Iowa, Larry was an avid spectator of presidential campaigns growing up. He served as a senior message strategist and media consultant for Pete Buttigieg’s historic presidential run in 2020. Previously he had senior roles in Clinton for President 1992 and 1996, Gore 2000 and Kerry 2004.
Rhea worked as Production Coordinator and Editor for the Democratic National Committee in 2020, supporting video production for prospective members of Congress running in battleground states, and organizing video campaigns to get President Biden elected to office.
Rhea Dudani is an aspiring filmmaker with a passion for feminism and politics, who specializes in creating female-centric narratives to break the glass ceiling. Her passion for film and politics lead her to this role as Associate Producer at Thematic.
While working at the DNC, Rhea executed new scripts, creative briefs, and videos. She scripted and administered the production of a myriad of voter education videos that were targeted towards 17 different battleground states and ensured that the team made these videos accessible to everyone. With the help of her team, she set and reached their goals for increased representation and inclusivity for the disabled community, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, senior citizens, and more. There, Rhea and her team managed to produce 70 videos in the span of three months.
Rhea has always used her platform to tell the stories of the people that have often been silenced in our world. She strives to document the stories, share the voices, and represent the people that helped create the new Democratic constituency.
With a background in Film and TV, Rhea’s film, FLOWERS, has been nominated for a showcase and her editing and camera work for a variety of films have been in showcases at Tisch. Rhea has production credits for THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT (2022), STORM LAKE (2021), PURE (2021), ads made by the DNC for the 2020 Election, for PBS’s POV on Season 33 (2020) and 34 (2021), and HBO’s ATLANTA’S MISSING AND MURDERED (2020). Her projects mean a lot to her, each one stemming from a personal passion or perspective.
Rhea has her BFA in Film and Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, with a double major in Political Science.
As a Production Coordinator on the Biden for President campaign, Shanice coordinated workflows for the fast-growing, cross-country digital video team. There, she pushed content to all social platforms and managed shoots for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Michelle Obama.
Shanice’s direct involvement in the 2020 election cycle has led her to Thematic where she is enthusiastic to work with more Democrats.
Shanice’s passion for politics blossomed in her role as a Production Coordinator on the Biden for President campaign, where she coordinated workflows for the fast-growing, cross-country digital video team. There, she pushed content to all social platforms and managed shoots featuring key figures like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Michelle Obama. Shanice continued her 2020 presidential election work on the 59th Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) with the incredibly unprecedented first-ever virtual inauguration. As a member of the social video team, she produced a wide array of inspiring and engaging content to energize the country ahead of and during Inauguration Day.
Currently located on the east coast, Shanice has been working in video production since 2015. Previously working for media companies such as BuzzFeed News and TED, Shanice coordinated and hosted innovative, culturally relevant video projects ranging from entertainment shows to news videos, on all digital platforms. Shanice has a passion for organization and enabling production teams to run smoothly and efficiently.
Shanice graduated with a BA in Television Radio and Film from Syracuse University-S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Isaac Baker has spent nearly two decades advising Democratic candidates and progressive causes across the country.
Baker has led message development and media campaigns for top congressional, mayoral, gubernatorial and senate candidates during his 13 years at Thematic, electing more than a dozen members of Congress, multiple governors and the mayors of Phoenix, Chicago, Boston and Columbus.
In 2012, Baker served as the Deputy Director of Paid Media and Message on President Obama’s re-election campaign, writing and producing numerous television, web, and radio spots and coordinating messaging across departments.
Before joining Thematic, Baker served as a spokesman for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Ohio Communications Director for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.