DFL Party Leadership

The Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party elects its Chair, Vice Chair, Outreach Officer, Secretary, and Treasurer at its Business Conference every two years. The Finance Chair is appointed by the State Party Chair and confirmed by the State Central Committee. The state party officers also include Minnesota’s Democratic National Committee members and sixteen directors who are elected at the state conventions. For a directory of the DFL Party Staff click here.

State Party Chair

Ken Martin

255 East Plato Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55107
(651) 293-1200
chair@dfl.org

Ken Martin has a long history of involvement in campaigns in Minnesota and around the country. It was during his senior year at Eden Prairie High School that Ken started his political activism having been inspired by a Carleton College professor’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Like many people, Sen. Wellstone inspired Ken to a life of organizing for social justice, electing progressives, and building electoral power.

To this day Ken believes strongly that we can change the world through electoral politics. As Chairman, Ken has rebuilt the DFL party restoring confidence amongst donors, elected officials and party leaders by showing that the party has a plan and vision to win elections and advance a progressive agenda forward.

Inheriting a party deeply in debt and coming off of bruising defeats in 2010, Ken raised records amount of money both retiring the debt and building successful and permanent campaign infrastructure. Because of this work, the DFL party had one of the most successful election cycles in the party’s history in 2012 – winning majorities back in both legislative chambers, winning the seat in the 8th congressional district, and playing an instrumental role in defeating both divisive constitutional amendments. Under his leadership, the DFL Party now sits at the apex of political power – holding more electoral power than at any other point in the DFL party’s history.

Before his election as Chair, Ken spent the past two decades working for several elected officials and managing a variety of issue and election campaigns. In 2010 Ken worked to elect a DFL governor as the Executive Director of WIN Minnesota and then as the Director for Governor Dayton’s recount efforts. In 2008, Ken ran the Vote Yes campaign to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a ballot initiative to dedicate funding to Minnesota’s arts, environmental and historical treasures. It is the largest conservation finance measure in the nation to ever become law.

For many years Ken has helped our candidates here in Minnesota and around the country. His extensive campaign experience includes playing leadership roles on the following campaigns: Hatch for Governor in 2006, Kerry for President in 2004, Humphrey for Secretary of State in 2002, Gore/Lieberman Minnesota in 2000 and various other races at the national, state, and local levels. Ken served as the Political Director for the Minnesota DFL in the 1998 cycle and as the Field Director for the Kansas Democratic Party in the 1996 cycle. He has served on the DFL Party as a member of the State Executive Committee, Budget Committee and other Party offices since 1997.

Ken holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Kansas. He and his wife, Jennifer O’Rourke, currently live in Eagan, MN with their two sons, Sam and James, and spend most of their time attending numerous school and athletic activities.

State Party Vice Chair

Marge Hoffa

255 East Plato Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55107
(651) 293-1200
vicechair@dfl.org

Marge is a native Minnesotan who has been heavily involved in the Minnesota DFL Party for the past two decades. She grew up near Duluth, where her father raised cattle and worked for the railroad. She attended high school in Northfield and Prior Lake, and then went to Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Marge first got involved in politics by volunteering on Paul Wellstone’s first senate campaign. Her experience there inspired her to continue fighting for progressive causes and candidates, and so she began volunteering on campaigns at every level – from school board to state legislature to Congress to President.

She has served as a precinct chair, senate district chair, delegate to the Democratic National Convention, a caucus convener, and has been Chair of the third congressional district since 2006.

Marge is a true “boots on the ground” activist. She has knocked on doors and made countless phone calls for campaigns at various levels all over the state, served on numerous task forces and special commissions within the Party, and acted as political director of the DFL Feminist Caucus.

Marge and her husband, Steve, live in Minnetonka with their two daughters, Jana and Julia. Steve works at a local paint company and is a proud union member. When she’s not working for the DFL, Marge is a travel agent for Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

State Party Outreach Officer

Shivanthi Sathanandan

255 East Plato Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55107
(651) 293-1200
outreach@dfl.org

Shivanthi Sathanandan is a young Asian American DFLer of Indian and Sri Lankan descent.  She grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of immigrants who came to this country seeking the promise of the American Dream for their family.  Her mother was a nurse and proud MNA member, who instilled strong union values in Shivanthi.  Her father worked in accounting, and came from a family that lived the belief that political engagement should be a central part of every community member’s life.  Shivanthi is a graduate of St. Paul Central High School and the University of Minnesota.  She is currently the Managing Director of Outreach for a non-profit organization.

Shivanthi has been involved with the DFL since 2006.  Since that time she has served as Vice Chair of the 4th Congressional District, State Director, CD4 Director, a Delegate to the National Convention, a member of the State Outreach and Inclusion Committee, co-chair of the Personnel Committee, co-chair of the State Nominations Committee,  co-chair of the State Credentials Committee,  a board member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus, a board member of the Minnesota Asian Democratic Association (also a constituency caucus of the DFL), a member of the Simon-Rest Committee, and as a member of several other advisory committees.

Shivanthi believes that activism begins in neighborhood communities and that successful electoral politics depends on direct person-to-person communications.  She has spent countless hours mobilizing volunteers, knocking doors, working the phones, and talking to voters for DFL campaigns at various level of government, including city, county, state and federal races.

State Party Secretary

Jacob Grippen

255 East Plato Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55107
(651) 293-1200
secretary@dfl.org

02.09.15.JacobJacob, the son of two educators, and the grandson of another, grew up in Caledonia, MN the County Seat of Houston County in southeastern Minnesota. Jacob graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from New York University in Social Studies Education.

Jacob has always been interested in history and politics, but found himself becoming very active in DFL party politics in the run up to the 2008 Presidential election. In the time that Jacob has been involved in the DFL he has amassed a wealth of experience. Jacob has served on the Executive Committee of the Houston County DFL, Winona County DFL, and First Congressional District DFL. He has also served the DFL at the State Level on the Affirmative Action Commission, (now the Outreach and Inclusion Committee), where he also spent time as its Secretary. Along with his current duties as State DFL Party Secretary, Jacob also sits on the State Constitution, Rules, and Bylaws Committee as an at-large member.

As a professional politico, Jacob has worked as a Field Organizer in southeastern Minnesota, as well as southwestern Minnesota, and he also had the unique and historic experience of being Recount Staff for the 2008 US Senate election, as well as the 2010 Governor election, where he worked under the leadership of Ken Martin. Jacob organized southeast Minnesota to defeat the hurtful marriage amendment as a staff member of Minnesotans United for All Families in 2012, and worked the historic 2013 Legislative Session for the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Jacob’s family instilled in him a dedication to volunteerism (his father Lee was the 2014 Volunteer of the Year for Houston County), and Jacob has not shied away from the family tradition, spending his time helping in a variety of ways –  as volunteer for the DFL, as well as other organizations such as being a Commissioner on the Winona Human Rights Commission, and as the Vice Chair of the Board of Mid West Music Fest in Winona, MN where he resides.

State Party Treasurer

Ron Harris

255 East Plato Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55107
(651) 293-1200
treasurer@dfl.org

Ron grew up in a strong, African-American family and currently lives in Minnesota’s 6th congressional district.

Ron began his political activism in 2008 as a student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, volunteering for then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and continued that work in college working against the voter suppression amendment and the anti-marriage amendment, as well as Rick Nolan’s 2012 congressional campaign.

After college, Ron went on to work for the City of Minneapolis in the Civil Rights Department as well as the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, helping the growth of small businesses and increasing economic diversity in the metro area. In this work, Ron managed the contracts of over $100 million in new development, and implemented technological and strategic interventions to ensure quicker and more responsive outcomes at City Hall.

Ron’s activism continued by his service on the DFL Executive Committee as DFL State Director, and helped the party grow by recruiting new delegates and drafting resolutions. In August, Ron made an inspiring run to represent the DFL as a Democratic National Committee member, coming up just 8 votes shy of victory.

Ron just finished working on a very successful senatorial campaign for Senator Al Franken where he was employed in the political department and played a large role in securing the involvement of major supporters. In this role, he was a staffer to the senator at events, managed both grassroots and grasstops relationships for the senator, and helped craft clear communications on key issues throughout the election.

Ron is currently a public policy fellow for the Wilder Foundation’s Community Equity Pipeline working on building a pathway to greater legislative advocacy and representation at the State Capitol.

Other State Party Officers

  • State Party Directors

    Christina Bowstring
    Rachel Myers
    Josephine Myers-Kuykindall
    Lil Ortendahl
    Tawana Overton
    Shanti Shah
    Karen Wills
    Yemesrach Yohannes
    Frank Brown
    Joel Heller
    Del Jenkins
    Justin Lewandowski
    Dan McConnell
    Keith McLain
    Tim Velde
    Daniel Yang

  • Democratic National Committee Members

    Elly Zaragoza
    Ron Harris
    Lori Sellner
    J.P. Barone

State Party Standing Committees