HeadCount, the nonpartisan, nonprofit voter registration organization, today announced the appointment of philanthropist and environmental activist Jessy Tolkan as chairperson of its Board of Directors. Tolkan will support HeadCount in furthering its mission to register voters and inspire civic engagement. She succeeds music industry veteran Peter Shapiro, who recently completed his four-year term as board chair and will maintain a seat on the board.
“I’ve spent the last two decades as a fighter for democracy and I couldn't be more inspired and revved up to join HeadCount as their Board Chair during this critical moment in America,” said Tolkan. “HeadCount has been a trailblazer from the very beginning, and I look forward to supporting this organization in its next era of innovation and citizen engagement. ”
Tolkan is currently President & CEO of Drive Agency, a vehicle for decision-makers to influence their stakeholders to unlock transformative social change in the world. Prior to founding Drive Agency in 2021, Tolkan served as Partner at PURPOSE and Co-Founder of Purpose Labs, which developed ground-breaking approaches to campaigning and collaborating with philanthropy to drive change. She remains a collaborator and senior advisor at The Purpose Climate Lab, which has raised and invested over 40 million dollars in climate campaigning infrastructure over the past six years.
She enters the role after a period of unprecedented growth for HeadCount. In Shapiro’s four years as board chair, he helped more than quadruple HeadCount's annual operating budget, and saw the organization register over 600,000 voters – more than half the 1.2M voters the organization has registered since 2004. Recently, HeadCount registered over 207,000 voters for the 2022 midterms, a record-breaking number for the organization during the midterm election cycle. Shapiro has produced multiple benefit concerts to support HeadCount, including performances by Jackson Browne, Questlove, Bob Weir, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, and Phil Lesh. In 2020, Shapiro and HeadCount’s Executive Director, Andy Bernstein, were jointly recognized as “Changemakers” by Billboard.
"Being the Chair of HeadCount has been a life highlight for me, and I look forward to continuing as a Board Member to support voter participation from as many people as possible in our elections,” said Shapiro. “I am super excited that Jessy, who has been a rock star in the broader activism space for many years, will be HeadCount's next Chair. America is a stronger country when everybody votes, and we are going to keep fighting to achieve that goal!"
Bernstein said Tolkan’s appointment marks an opportunity for HeadCount to tap into a broad array of new alliances and support.
“There’s no one better than Jessy Tolkan to take over the role of HeadCount Board Chair this year,” said Bernstein. “She is a true activist, and has shown a lifetime of commitment to fighting for democracy. We’re extremely grateful to Peter and the game-changing dedication he brought to the position. With Peter still being an active member of the Board and Jessy as our new Board Chair, we are incredibly well positioned for the future.”
Tolkan also served as Executive Director of the Energy Action Coalition, where under her leadership, the organization grew a generation-wide movement of millennials to be at the frontlines of a national and international debate on climate change. She then went on to serve as the Co-Executive Director of the Citizen Engagement Laboratory, and Senior Advisor to the Working Families Party. In addition to serving as a HeadCount Board member for over a decade, Tolkan has worked with leading social change organizations across the United States including Progressive Change Campaign Committee, GetEqual, 1sky, 350.org, Groundswell, Web of Change, Wellstone Action, The Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, and Global Witness.
HeadCount is a non-partisan non-profit organization that harnesses the power of music, culture and digital media to register voters and inspire participation in democracy. Since 2004, we’ve registered over one million voters through our work with musicians like Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Dead & Co,, Billie Eilish and Alicia Keys; organizations such as Global Citizen; events including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Pride Festivals, and RuPaul's DragCon; plus partnerships with brands like Spotify, Ben & Jerry’s, and American Eagle. Our award-winning online campaigns have been seen over a billion times, while our 50,000 volunteers can be seen at more than 1,500 live events each year. We reach young people where they already are – at concerts and online – to inform and empower.