October Member of the Month: Malena Llanos.

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Malena Llanos is no stranger to being told that she is too young to be concerned about world events, elections, and policy. However, she has always known that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As a young girl, Malena actively sought to be more educated on current events and policy because she intimately knew its effects on her life. She grew up watching her father – an immigrant from Peru – go to the ends of the earth to provide for his family despite the roadblocks and the insults thrown at him. It was during these times that Malena learned that not only was she not too young to care, but that she must care.

The first Presidential election she remembers was in 2004; she would patiently wait in line, wearing a John Kerry button, as her mother cast her vote. It wasn’t long until she dove into campaign work. Malena attended weekly phone banks with her mother on the campaign to elect President Barack Obama in 2008, and in 2012, she happily volunteered herself to re-elect him. Since then she has remained very active in electing Democrats at every level of government and has lent her voice as a patient advocate for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

Malena is currently studying Political Science, with a concentration in Civil Rights, at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is on the executive board of the Young Democrats at VCU, and serves as the Women’s Caucus Vice Chair for Virginia Young Democrats. Malena is President of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at VCU.

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August Member of the Month: Bryce Robertson.

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Bryce Robertson is an active member of the Metro Richmond Area Young Democrats and our August Member of the Month.

Bryce is a Richmond native and an award-winning immigration attorney at Dyer Immigration Law Group. He has been on the front lines of the fight to protect immigrant children and families from deportation and separation from their loved ones at the hands of the Trump administration.

Bryce is also a Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellow and Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar, as well as a board member of the Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls, and a mentor with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber’s Pasaporte A La Educación.

He is currently campaigning to ignite change in Richmond Public Schools as a candidate for 7th District School Board Representative.

July Member of the Month: Shannon Kane

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It’s not surprising that Shannon Kane is a marathon runner, given her tenacious support for the Democratic party. We’re proud to name Shannon July’s MRAYD Member of the Month.

Shannon began her organizing with the College Democrats at University of Richmond. She helped recharter that chapter and served as the chapter’s president. While at UR, Shannon worked with the City of Richmond and the University’s administration to establish a polling precinct on campus. Her work made the ballot more accessible to over 1,500 University of Richmond residents.

She did not just organize on UR’s campus. Shannon also organized with the national College Democrats of America, serving as that organization’s Deputy Field Director.

Shannon also formerly served as the Northern Regional Field Organizer for Abigail Spanberger and is an emphatic supporter of Abigail. In September, Shannon will start managing Veena Lothe’s State Senate campaign.

On top of all that, Shannon created Ready for Terry, a grassroots movement supporting former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for President in 2020.

Shannon was born to a military family but claims Providence, Rhode Island as her hometown. She runs marathons in her – limited – free time.

For all her work on the Democratic party’s behalf, we’re honored to name her as our July Member of the month.

May Member of the Month: Avohom Carpenter.

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If you recognize the name Avohom Carpenter, it’s probably because he’s knocked on your door before. This month, we’re proud to name Vo Carpenter as our MRAYD member of the month.

Vo was born the sixth of seven kids in Hartford, Connecticut and moved to Hampton Roads when he was in second grade. His mom – a single mother – raised him in Section 8 housing in South Norfolk. Vo graduated from Hampton University, where he double majored in Political Science and History.

Vo’s interest in politics began during the presidential election of 2000. Watching the debate over Bush v. Gore continued his interest in politics. Vo helped as a canvasser for Senator Kaine’s campaign for governor in 2005. However, he saw then-Senator Obama’s campaign for president in 2007 as a call to action. That year, he helped found a Students for Obama chapter at Hampton University, where the group traveled to several states during the primary season to support President Obama’s campaign. In 2008, Vo was made the campus coordinator for the Obama campaign at Hampton.

Since President Obama’s first campaign, Vo has been involved on numerous campaigns. In 2009, he interned with Brian Moran’s campaign for governor and then as a fellow on Senator Deeds campaign. In 2011, he became field director for Connie Brennan’s campaign for the House of Delegates in Nelson County. In early 2012, he became the canvass coordinator for John Delaney’s campaign for Congress in western Maryland.

In 2012, Vo finally found his home in the metro Richmond area. That year, he joined the Obama campaign as a field organizer in the Petersburg office. In 2013, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters hired him as their deputy field director. From 2016 to this February, he was a regional field director and Interim State Field Director of New Virginia Majority. Now, Vo has found his home as director of civic engagement with the Virginia League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Outside of work, Vo serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Commission on Youth. He also serves as chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee in ChesterfieldCounty and as the magisterial chair of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee for the Bermuda district.

Vo was also recently named a 30 under 30 honoree by iPower Richmond 92.1.

But politics isn’t everything for Vo. He’s a husband, a father of three, loves sports (the Red Sox and the Indianapolis Colts, in particular), and serves his community by partnering for four years with the Church of God and Saints of Christ and their annual back to school drive to donate clothes, school supplies, shoes, and toys to families in Church Hill. On top of that, he’s working with the Church of God and Saints of Christ to launch a program in July to provide food for the homeless!