Our Board (501c4)

Common Defense’s 501c4 Board of Directors and background biographies

Board of Directors

Photo of Common Defense Chair | 501c4 Board, Judith LeBlanc

Judith LeBlanc

Chair | 501c4 Board

Judith LeBlanc is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and Director of the Native Organizers Alliance, a national Native training and organizing network. From 2002 to 2015, Judith was a leader in the U.S. peace movement organizing numerous campaigns and mobilizations as a National Co-Chair of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and as National Field Director of Peace Action. She is the mother of one daughter and a recent grandmother. She lives in New York City.

Photo of Common Defense Secretary | 501c4 Board, Jonathan Smucker

Jonathan Smucker

Secretary | 501c4 Board

Jonathan Smucker is Political Director and Co-Founder of Pennsylvania Stands Up. He is the author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (2017) and America Is for All of Us (2020). Jonathan has worked for more than two decades as an organizer, trainer, and strategist in grassroots social movements. As a doctoral student in sociology at UC Berkeley, he researches collective action, collective identity, and politicization processes in the U.S. He lives in Lancaster, PA.

Photo of Common Defense Treasurer | 501c4 Board, Julie Oliver

Julie Oliver

Treasurer | 501c4 Board

Julie Oliver is a healthcare finance expert who ran two aspirational, 100% PAC-free campaigns for the US House of Representatives in Texas’ 25th congressional district and was proud to receive the endorsement of Common Defense in her 2020 bid for Congress. In addition to her new role as Executive Director of Register2Vote, a national voter registration nonprofit, Julieserves her community by volunteering weekly at a local food bank and in volunteer board positions for DivInc and the Texas Blue Action Democrats. She has two decades of healthcare finance and tax law experience and received her undergraduate degree in Accounting from UT Arlington and a law degree from UT School of Law. Julie lives in Austin with her husband, Matt, five cats, a dog, and their kids.

Photo of Common Defense 501c4 Board, Shailly Gupta Barnes

Shailly Gupta Barnes

501c4 Board

Shailly Gupta Barnes is the Policy Director of the Poor People’s Campaign. She is also the Policy Director of the Kairos Center. Shailly has used her background in law, economics and human rights to work with and for dispossessed communities for more than 15 years. In 2020, she coordinated a groundbreaking study on the impact of poor and low-income voters, Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. Through the Kairos Center, she also produced a compilation of resources on militarism, Stop the War on our Poor: Combatting US Militarism and the War Economy (2020), and writes regularly on key issues around the inter-related crises of poverty, systemic racism, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of Christian nationalism.

Photo of Common Defense 501c4 Board, Qasim Rashid

Qasim Rashid

501c4 Board

Qasim Rashid is a human rights lawyer, author, and public speaker. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, his Juris Doctorate from Richmond Law, and served as a fellow at Harvard University. Qasim has published extensive peer-reviewed legal scholarship on racial justice, civil rights, and international human rights, and is the author of the children’s book, Hannah and the Ramadan Gift (2021, Penguin Publishing). Qasim is a Truman Project National Security Fellow and sits on the boards of various non-profit organizations working on issues ranging from civil rights to international conflict resolution. He is also the host of The Qasim Rashid Show on SiriusXM Urbanview Channel 126 and his social media handle is @QasimRashid across all platforms. Qasim was born in Pakistan and raised in the Chicagoland area. He and his wife Ayesha have three children.

An avid runner and marathoner, he dreams of one day walking on another planet.

Photo of Common Defense 501c4 Board, Billy Ray

Billy Ray

501c4 Board

Billy Ray wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Captain Phillips, for which he won the WGA award. He also wrote, directed, and executive-produced Showtime’s “The Comey Rule,” which had the biggest debut of any limited series in that network’s history. Ray’s films as writer, co-writer, or writer-director include “The Hunger Games,” “Richard Jewell,” “Shattered Glass,” and “Breach.” He serves on the AMPAS Board of Governors, and the boards of Big Sunday and Common Defense. He believes in democracy, justice, and the Dodgers.

Photo of Common Defense 501c4 Board, Jeff Blum

Jeff Blum

501c4 Board

Longtime community organizer. Former Executive Director of USAction and Founder of Pennsylvania Citizen Action. Jeff has served on the board of several progressive organizations advocating for health care, and peace and justice issues.

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