AMISHA UPADHYAYA, Founder
Professionally, I’ve had a circuitous route that led me to public service. As a Columbia graduate, I’ve been a journalist, then worked as a producer and a writer for TV, film, and stage and later incorporated content production and strategy. My projects included fiction and social justice issues: women’s access to public health, HIV in India, oral cancer, LGBTQ rights in the Muslim community. This inspired me to work full time on legislation and policy.
The belief that every child deserves to live out their potential and a dedication to education has been instilled in me since birth. I’m a child of immigrants who worked multiple jobs and got scholarships to get to where they are. Some of the neighborhoods I grew up in only aspired to be middle class. I also come from a long line of family members dedicated to public service: a grandfather who fought for India’s independence and a father who fought to retain basic democratic rights in 1970s India.
What I’ve most admired about our country is its unfailing commitment to the Constitution and its belief in the power of the law — even when those laws were turned upside down, even when we went through wars, division, and social justice fights both violent and nonviolent. But the Constitution and democracy are social contracts. We can ensure the legal and judicial systems, and politicians do their part — as long as we do our part! Citizens, Rise!
ESTHER SELK, Co-founder and Educator
Esther Selk is a storyteller, a listener, an educator, a reader. She is a mother, a dancer, a cancer survivor. Graduating from UC San Diego with a BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, an MS in Biology, and a Minor in Theater, Esther has since immersed herself in middle school education. She is a Teach for America, ‘96 Corps Member, and is currently the Drama Teacher and Alumnae Affairs Director at The Girls’ Middle School in Palo Alto.
Esther ran for public office for the first time on January 8, 2017. She lost the election and gained a new set of skills and passionate friends. She deeply believes in building community and making connections. Esther considers growth mindset the most powerful tool for both teachers and students, of all ages and subjects. She brings this conviction to middle school math and drama classes, adult dance classes, community theater productions, and now to her engagement in democracy. Esther knows that if we can each embrace a growth mindset as individuals, we can embrace it as a community and as a nation.
MANSI GOEL, Co-founder and Strategist
Previously a tech executive, Mansi is currently a consultant, board member, or volunteer at non-profit organizations engaged in work such as refugee resettlement, domestic violence victim advocacy, and meditation practice.