Arastu Chaudhury is the founder and Executive Director of Cook Out The Vote. He is a partner at Crumiller P.C., a feminist litigation firm, and is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. Arastu left SDNY in 2020 to work in the general election in North Carolina. Inspired by one NC polling site, where local voters had set up a DJ booth, and a cellist showed up to play, Arastu started thinking about how voting is chore for most Americans, and how it could and should be a joy.
An immigrant born in India, Arastu comes from a family of activists who worked alongside Gandhi in the struggle for independence. He understands that it is up to the people to sustain our civic institutions. He knows the deep importance of food as a vehicle for sharing culture, community, and love. Arastu started Cook Out The Vote not just to make voting more fun, but as a powerful rejoinder to those who would seek to weaken or destroy this most fundamental American institution. Cook Out The Vote is here not just to grudgingly fulfill our civic duties, but to celebrate them and to have fun doing them!
Brenden Nance is the Development and Organizing Director at Cook Out The Vote. Brenden brings with him 15 years of experience in non-profit development. Prior to joining the Cook Out The Vote staff, Brenden directed the nation’s largest independent fundraising and advocacy canvass at NYPIRG, where his work was instrumental in shaping landmark state-level environmental policies including New York’s ban on fracking and its regulation of hazardous drinking water contaminants. Brenden attended Wesleyan University and Simon’s Rock College of Bard. Away from work, he is a crossword puzzle enthusiast and amateur crossword constructor, and enjoys playing softball.
Morgan Davis is the Social Media Coordinator for Cook Out The Vote. She studied at New York University, graduating with a B.A. in Spanish and Public Policy. In her free time, she enjoys listening to true crime and pop-culture podcasts and all kinds of music, as well as cooking and exploring attractions and restaurants in New York City.
Board of Directors
Travis Pierre-Louis is an Associate Attorney at Crumiller P.C. where he is fortunate to fulfill his passions in advocating for justice and challenging systemic inequalities in the workplace. Previously, Travis served as an Associate Law Clerk at the New York Supreme Court, Kings County. As a first-generation American, Travis holds a deep admiration for our democracy and political process. As politicians across the country continue to engage in voter suppression, Travis is excited to do what he can to stand as a roadblock to efforts to curtail our essential right to vote. Travis believes we must not only safeguard our democracy but celebrate it.
Kalisha Crawford is the Director of Marketing at Ropers Majewski, having gone the Biglaw route for a few years before her marketing acumen landed her in the C-Suite. Kalisha lives in LA with her two dogs, Samson and Stella. A woman of many talents, her big project at the moment is renovating an RV – including painting the entire exterior with mermaids, stars, fishes, and who knows what else – with her dad.
Thomasin Bentley is a Vice President of Corporate Communications for BlackRock, Inc, a global asset management firm. Thomasin has over 25 years of experience leading marketing and communications teams for global financial firms, including Prudential Financial, Clearbrook Global Advisors, The Hartford, and Credit Suisse. She was also Director of Marketing Partnerships and Media at New York Road Runners, a non-profit organization which produces the New York City Marathon. She is a volunteer and organizer for The Riders Alliance, and has provided consulting services for the NRDC, The Grace Center, Hilarity for Charity, Cinema 16, philanthropist.org, and several other community and non profit organizations. She has produced independent films and web series, including “Out There”, a web series featuring unique cultural experiences in New York City. Thomasin is a musician and vocalist, and performs with the award winning ensemble Cantori New York.
Shannon Pelcher-Rao is a board certified music therapist and licensed creative arts therapist. Shannon attended Temple University for English literature and jazz guitar and New York University for a masters in music therapy. After working from home with her husband, five year old daughter and 9 month old son this past year, she is so excited to celebrate democracy with her neighbors through food and music. As a music therapist Shannon has seen the power of music in connecting communities, building bridges and solving problems.
Laís Washington is an Assistant Vice President, Compliance for Sun Life U.S. Having worked both as a prosecutor in Manhattan and as in-house counsel at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Laís is passionate about civic duty. Laís currently resides in a suburb of Boston where she is an active volunteer on her town’s governance boards. Her hobbies include reading and running around after her husband and three beautiful children.
Evan Crumiller is a graduate of George Washington University, and has spent two decades working in government and politics. Evan has served in a variety of roles over that time, including Executive Director of the Mercer County Democratic Committee, Election Specialist for the Board of Elections, and Confidential Aide to the County Executive. Evan believes whole-heartedly in Cook out the Vote’s mission and is excited for the future of the organization.