Meet All of Our Leadership and Connect!

Ione Townsend, Chair, Hillsborough Co Democratic Party



Ione Townsend, mother of five sons, served as a senior executive in two medical institutions, with many awards and gubernatorial appointments in Maine. She is a double certified nurse practitioner.

In Florida she became involved in politics in 2008 in Pasco County. In 2012 she became 1st Vice Chair of the HCDEC in 2014, and chair in November of 2015. Under her leadership, the party has notched many wins and outraised the Republican Party in fundraising.

She reoriented the HC Democratic Party to a county party, recognizing that 64% of all Democratic voters reside in unincorporated HC.

Photo - Ella Coffee, HCDEC Vice-Chair of Operations, 2023-2024


Vice Chair of Operations

Ella Coffee grew up in Plant City. While her mother served in the military, Ella’s grandparents raised her. It was during her many outings and time spent with her grandmother that she witnessed the importance of service. For Ella’s grandmother, Bessie Lee Wadsworth, service was a way of life.
Ella, has sought change through Elections. Dedicated to voter engagement, Ella worked with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections as the Community Liaison for the African-American community, as well as trained poll workers and assisted in the Vote by Mail ballot count. She has worked on several campaigns, from local to national campaigns.
In addition to her electoral work, Coffee has served on the Board of NAACP Hillsborough County Branch #5139, the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Board, and the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership.


Vice Chair of Outreach

Open at this time

Donna Harwood, Treasurer, Hillsborough County Democratic Party

Donna Harwood


Donna Harwood was born in SE Pennsylvania and raised by Democratic parents who were active union members. She moved south to attend college and graduated from Georgia State University in Atlanta. She worked for 47 years in the commercial insurance industry, moved to Tampa in 2006 and retired in 2017.

Donna became a member of the New Tampa Democratic Club in 2018, was elected as the club Secretary, and joined the HCDEC. Her background in insurance financial auditing has served her well in fulling her duties as HCDEC Treasurer. She became a member of the Hillsborough County Democratic Environmental Caucus in 2019.

Sharon Graham, HCDEC Recording Secretary, 2023-2024
Recording Secretary
Sharon Graham Barrett received her master's degree in music therapy from Florida State University and owns a private healthcare practice. A New Leaders Council Fellow (Tampa 2020), she also received the Changemaker Award from the American Music Therapy Association for increasing access to music therapy services for families relying on Medicaid and expanding outpatient services to veterans in Florida through legislation passed in her tenure as Chair of the FL Music Therapy Task Force. As board chair of an arts nonprofit, Sharon wrote governance policy, strategic plans, and grant proposals. Finally, she has served as a local elections volunteer since 2012, a Precinct Captain, member of the Outreach Committee (where she met her husband), and a board member for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay. Sharon believes that the Democratic Party can adopt a more nuanced and targeted approach to increasing our membership and grassroots outreach, elected officials, and ultimately policy that (1) dismantles white supremacy, (2) establishes equity in justice, protection, representation, and opportunity, and (3) improves the lives of all who call Florida home.
Nancy Sterngold, HCDEC Corresponding Secretary, 2023-2024

Nancy Sterngold

Corresponding Secretary

Nancy Sterngold holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida in photography and printmaking. After graduation, she moved to New York City and became a  publication designer.  She had a career in digital publishing including as a web designer, editor, and user interface designer.
Her goal as first Corresponding Secretary of the HCDEC is to persuasively communicate the goals and principles of the Democratic Party memorably, effectively, and engagingly in a timely manner to our membership-- and to Flip Florida Blue. Other volunteer work has included working for many New York Cares projects in New York, for Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles, and as a Computer Tutor for the Beverly Hills Public Library.

Jose Vazquez, Sgt At Arms, Hillsborough Co Democratic Party

Jose Vazquez

Jose is taking a temporary leave from this position.

Sergeant at Arms

Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, was born a Puerto Rican and raised in Caguas, Puerto
Rico. From 1991 until 1999 he worked in multiple positions of trust appointed by the
Democratic leaders of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico. In 2000 Jose come to
Tampa to visit his veteran father who passed away during that visit leaving Jose in
Hillsborough County. Around 2003/2004 Jose decide return to politics and ran as a
candidate for multiple offices with the goal that Party leaders would pay more attention
to minority voters and that minorities might be motivated to cast a vote in favor of
Democratic candidates. Jose was the branch founder and is the incumbent President of
the Hillsborough County Caribbean Democratic Caucus of Florida. He also serves as a
Board Member of the Caribbean Democratic Caucus of Florida, elected Precinct
Committeeman in Hillsborough County, and in 2022 the first Sargent at Arms of the
Hillsborough County Democratic Party. Jose is a past Sargent at Arms of the
Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus. He is the oldest of eight, father of
six, a grandfather, a small business owner, a private security officer and first responder.

Vanessa Lester, State Committeewoman, Hillsborough Co Dems

Vanessa Lester

State Committeewoman

Vanessa Lester was born in Jacksonville, and spent her formative years in Ocala.  Following in the footsteps of her uncle, she joined the US Army. After retiring from the military, she opted to reside in Virginia until 2006 when she returned to Florida to care for her grandmother.

She is also Vice-President of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay (DPCTB).

Her goal as 1st Vice Chair is to ensure the HCDEC’s membership is as inclusive & diverse as the communities it serves and to increase voter turnout through voter education in 2020 and for future generations.

MARCUS KLEBE, State Committeeman, Hillsbrough County Democratic Party

Marcus Klebe

State Committeeman

Marcus Klebe joined the HCDEC after the 2016 election and is currently proud to serve as State Committeeman. Marcus has served the HCDEC in various other capacities, most recently as HCDEC Legislative Chair, as well as Kennedy – King Gala 2020 Co-Chair. Marcus previously served as Deputy Regional Director for the FDP / Andrew Gillum Coordinated Campaign in 2018, where he helped oversee the field program in Pinellas County. Marcus is an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay (DPCTB), and he sits on the Board of, and has raised funds for, the Florida Progressives Political Committee (PAC) under the leadership of Susan Smith. Marcus spent many years working as a successful corporate attorney, during which time he discovered an aptitude, and love, for community mediation.

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BENJAMIN GEIGER Constitution and Bylaws

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Finance Committee

Julie Ford, Credentials Committee, Hillsborough Co Democratic Party

JULIE FORD Credentials


Julie Ford is a lifelong Democrat, volunteer for local, state, and national candidates since 2006. She currently is the HCDEC Credentials Chair, and HCDEC Treasurer (2014-2019) and Temple Terrace Democratic Club Treasurer (2010-2014). She has served as Temple Terrace Precinct 651 Committee Woman since 2008.

Julie was born and raised in Southern California. She was a “Democratic Politics Geek” from an early age, inspired by Bobby Kennedy, Jerry Brown, and Jimmy Carter.

Julie has been a pediatric nurse for over 30 years, working with children and families from diverse socioeconomic/cultural backgrounds. She worked for 15 years at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in Diabetes Education and Research. In 2002, Julie relocated to the Tampa Bay Area. She worked for Tampa General Hospital Clinics as a Clinical Educator, and since 2009 at USF Health Informatics Institute as a Project Manager for an NIH funded type 1 diabetes clinical trials consortium.

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Legislative Liason

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Candidates and Campaigns

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Patty Cohn, HCDEC PR Chair, 2022-2024



Getting Democrats elected and spreading the Democratic message is crucial at this time in our history. I've been working in Hillsborough County since 2014 to elect and keep Democrats in office. I've served in several capacities for the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, primarily working on public relations and social media.

My career as a Journalist put me on the front lines of so many of the issues we, as Democrats, are working to change.  We can't turn away from doing what we can to care for our communities. Working on Social Media helps us to focus on what needs changing and to reach new audiences for our message. 

We are always looking for dedicated volunteers to work on our Social Media and PR efforts. Contact me if you want to help out!

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Catherine joined the Hillsborough County Democrats Social Media team in 2020 after her retirement in 2019 from the US State Department, where she served as an American diplomat for 34 years.  Catherine spent most of her career overseas, including postings in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East where she focused on economic, development, health, and environmental issues. Her last assignment, Foreign Policy Advisor to the CENTCOM Commander, brought her to Tampa in 2017 with her husband and son.  Catherine is a graduate of Colgate University and has a master’s degree from the US Army War College, where she also taught National Security Studies 2016-2017.

Photo - Sylvia Adams, HCDEC Outreach Coordinator, 2023-2024


After retiring, Sylvia took time to reflect on the next chapter in her life. She decided she would prioritize spending time on the things she is passionate about which includes the fight for affordable health care, voting rights, preserving reproductive rights and expanding opportunities for women. A lifelong Democrat and super voter, Sylvia has always been engaged. She canvassed for President Barack Obama in 2012 and volunteered to help various other state and local candidates. After the 2016 election she knew she needed to take her activism for Democratic policies to the next level. She became a Precinct Captain, Secretary of the Temple Terrace Area Democrats and Chair of the Community Outreach Committee.  The goal of the Outreach Committee is be an involved, engaged partner in the community year round, not just at election time. They actively seek opportunities to be of service while raising the profile of the party and are always ready to welcome enthusiastic volunteers.

Nina Tatlock, HCDEC Platform Chair, 2023-2024



Nina started serving on organization director boards in the year 2000 as a founding board member and Vice President for Art IN Hand Gallery, an Artist Cooperative Gallery in Zionsville, Indiana, which she is happy to say is still in existence today.  After moving to Florida, she was elected to the South Shore Arts Council in 2008, serving multiple terms in the positions of Secretary, Treasurer (currently), and Vice President.  In 2010, she became a founding board member of the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin, FL and continued to serve on that Board for several years.  She has been Secretary, Vice President and President of her Apollo Beach Homeowner’s Association. Nina has a BSc from Purdue University in Consumer and Family Sciences and an Associate of Science from Indiana University in Optometric Technology. She has spent a number of years working as a Fiber Artist, exhibiting and teaching fiber art techniques. Nina is currently a professional volunteer, political activist, and an elected Precinct Committee Woman.  Nina was elected President of The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay March 28, 2019.