Meet the DeanTeam staff
Richard oversees all aspects of the Phillips for Congress campaign—ensuring Dean’s vision is clearly communicated and that everyone feels heard and invited.
Read Richard’s story
Before joining this team in February 2018, I’ve been working on campaigns in Minnesota and around the country since I was a college student at Saint John’s University in 2000. In fact, I really liked John McCain back then—but when he was beaten by George W. Bush in the Primary Election, I started working with the College Democrats to get Al Gore elected and have never stopped supporting the Minnesota DFL.
Now I look back and wonder what I was thinking . . .
After graduating from Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s in May 2004, I was elected Mayor of St. Joseph, MN that November. I was re-elected in 2006. After serving as Mayor, I went to work for Congressman Tim Walz in the First Congressional District. After helping Congressman Walz win in 2010 during the Tea Party wave, I then went on to manage the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign for marriage equality from 2011–2013. We built the largest grassroots campaign ever in Minnesota and made our state the first to ever defeat a hurtful constitutional amendment and then the 12th state to legalize marriage just six months later.
I believe in the power of grassroots and deeply relational organizing. I believe that voters seek hope, inspiration and still sometimes vote out of fear. Figuring out how to connect with voters, authentically, is the key to our success in this campaign.
Erin manages our campaign office and delivers critical administrative support to our campaign team.
Read Erin’s story
My husband, Adam, and I live in Maple Grove and love to travel— our favorite place so far is New Zealand. I grew up in San Diego and attended San Diego State University and earned a BA in Social Science for Single Subject Teaching.
Prior to joining the campaign, I was the Executive Director for the Minnesota Jaycees and have worked at other non-profits in programming roles. One of my favorite parts of the Phillips campaign is the people—we have an awesome team of staff and volunteers who are giving 110% to re-elect Rep. Phillips.
Darby powers our campaign fundraising, ensuring we have the resources to re-elect Dean to Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District.
Read Darby’s story
Hey there! My name is Darby Cusack and I just started working for the campaign early this year. As the Fundraising Coordinator, my job is to ensure that our campaign has the resources needed to perform its critical functions. I began work in Minnesota Politics with United Strategies in January 2018. Since then, I’ve been involved in the successful fundraising efforts of candidates seeking election to local, state, and national offices.
In the summer of 2018, I took on the role of Deputy Finance Director with Joe Radinovich’s campaign for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th congressional district. Two years later, in 2020, I helped with the fundraising operations of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Thissen, Hennepin County Commissioner Kevin Anderson, and the Ranked Choice Voting advocacy group More Voices MN PAC.
I was raised in Rosemount and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in political science and history this past May (2021).
As a Minnesota DFL employee working on behalf of Dean—and Democrats throughout Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District—Yahye engages with immigrant and POCI communities, welcoming them into the campaign and providing voter and volunteer support.
Read Yahye’s story
I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. From a young age, I developed a strong passion for soccer, a passion that I still maintain today. After immigrating to the United States in 1999, I moved to Minneapolis and graduated from Edison High School in 2003. I have expertise in Health and Disaster Management, and my previous work includes stints with the American Red Cross and FEMA.
Before joining the Phillips campaign, I volunteered or worked on numerous DFL campaigns for candidates such as Lindsey Port, Erin Maye Quade, and Ilhan Omar. I have a unique knack for connecting with new people and making those I’ve just met feel like lifelong friends.
Sarah manages DeanTeam volunteers—not to mention volunteers across Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District—and she delivers the programming and materials that ensure they feel successful and supported.
Read Sarah’s story
I have the best job, working with our DeanTeam volunteers. I grew up in St. Louis, MO, went to the U of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and lived in Kansas City, LA, and NYC before landing in Minnesota. My background is graphic design, publishing, and community work. My family and I were politically active for years, and then the 2016 election and Dean’s campaign inspired me to completely change my career to work full-time for Dean.
Nowadays, you’ll find me in an old yellow house on Galpin Lake in Excelsior, where I live with my husband Andrew, three daughters (Aberdeen, 20; Georgia, 18; Virginia, 17), our sweet barky dog, and neurotic cat. Our house is brimming with protest signs, teenagers, good coffee, and radical hope for the election
Sarah crafts digital campaign content and strategy, and she implements creative on the Phillips for Congress website.
Read Sarah’s story
I’m Sarah O’Neill, digital content strategist and writer. I originally hail from Rosemount but crossed the border to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where I got my degree in Wildlife Ecology, and I never crossed back. I now live in Hudson.
In my first job out of college, I served as a human Swiss Army knife on Dan Buettner’s interactive Quest and BlueZones expeditions. There, I researched conservation content, coordinated logistics, and developed curriculum resources with National Geographic on the good days—and orchestrated medivac flights from the Peruvian Amazon on the bad. I then tried my hand at freelance copywriting for Target and MNSCU before joining the Firebrand team, where I am now a digital content strategist and senior writer.
In my nearly ten years at Firebrand, I’ve written for local nonprofits, Fortune 50s, tech start-ups, and colleges and universities, including the U of M’s College of Liberal Arts.
I’m an avid baseball fan, I know my way around a kitchen, and I’m active in local politics. In fact, I currently serve as the communications chair for the St. Croix County Democratic Party.
As part of the Phillips for Congress campaign, I contribute to digital strategy, ideation, and content creation. Linking arms with the people who are a part of this campaign—the staff, interns, and volunteers who bring such infectious energy and passionate commitment to this work—make the job a joy.
Clara nurtures political relationships for the Phillips for Congress campaign, and she manages our field program.
Read Clara’s story
I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, before moving to a small town in Wisconsin for middle and high school. After graduation, I attended Macalester College in St. Paul for a year before transferring to the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. While obtaining a degree was ultimately not in my future, I’m working my dream job right here on the Phillips for Congress Campaign.
Anyone who knows me will know that I’m obsessed with animals. I own chickens, four dogs, three cats, and some fish. When I’m not taking care of my fur crew, I’m spending time with my husband and 2 year old son, Jude.