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, first 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. COTV is here not just to grudgingly fulfill our civic duties, but to celebrate them and to have fun doing them!
Morgan Davis is the Social Media Coordinator for Cook Out The Vote. She is currently a senior at New York University, and will graduate in May 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 (pandemic-dependent!).
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 COTV 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.
Board of Directors
Susan Crumiller is the founder of Crumiller P.C., a feminist litigation firm dedicated to fighting harassment, discrimination, and abuse. Susan attended Tulane University and NYU Law, where she met Arastu. Eighteen years later, they share a marriage, two daughters smarter than either of them, and a love of both democracy and food. Susan’s political activism hearkens back to her childhood, when her chores consisted of delivering flyers organizing against a neighborhood development project. Susan is most excited about the prospect of showcasing her favorite online foodies and luring them – or at least their dishes – to the friendly faces at her local polling place in Brooklyn.
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.
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.
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.