Meet Our Team
Rev. Dr. Susan Smith
Belen de Leon
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Membership & Project Manager
Office & Program Associate
Event & Communication Specialist
High School Intern
High School Intern
Board of Directors
Iris Meltzer, President
Iris Meltzer is a member of the Kent League. Iris holds a Master’s Degree in psychology from Western Carolina University and a Master’s of Public Health from the Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health Program, for whom she served as Accreditation Consultant from 2013-2016. Iris retired from Akron Children’s Hospital after 28 years as the Administrator for Adolescent Health Services. Previously she was a founding member and director of Portage County’s first shelter for battered women and their children. She has been a member of the League since 2011 and served as its President for four years. She was also a member of Kent’s MLD team. She has been on the board of the Ohio League for the last three and a half years, serving as Secretary. Iris is a community activist, serving as Vice-chair for the Portage County Mental Health and Recovery Board and as a member of the Kent Free Library Foundation Board.
Deborah Schmieding, 1st Vice President
Deborah Schmieding is a member of the Athens League. She recently retired from a 39-year career supporting kids and adults with developmental disabilities in Athens and Washington Counties. Her passion to advance disability issues did not end at that time, and she continues to find home for this effort with the League. Voting access is very important to her, and she is proud to be affiliated with the premier organization protecting this right for all citizens. She has served on the LWVO board from 2004 to 2011 and again in 2016-2017. Deborah has an undergraduate degree in Communication from Michigan State University, a Masters of Public Administration from Ohio University.
Deb Peluso, 2nd Vice President
Deb Peluso is from the Metro Columbus League. She has a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Organization Development. She owns and operates a consulting firm focused on change management and organization design, along with her husband. Deb currently serves as Secretary for the Metro Columbus League and as a coach for the LWV Ohio MLD program. She has been a league member since 2011.
Gail Pytel, Treasurer
Gail Pytel is a member of the Kent League. She worked as CFO for United Way of Portage County for 25 years and has an MBA with a concentration in finance from Kent State University. She currently serves as treasurer for several organizations including the LWV of Kent, the Rotary Club of Ravenna, and the United Methodist Church of Kent. As a Kent League member, she has served as president, vice-president, VOTER editor, and on more committees than she cares to think about! From 1997-2001, she was Treasurer of the LWVO, and rejoined the board from 2007 to 2011. She has also chaired the state League’s Budget Committee.
Lee McLaird, Secretary
A member since 2004, she has served on the LWVBG Board and as secretary and two terms as president. Her committee activities have included Voter Service and Education. She holds a B. A. in English and Library Science from the University of South Dakota and a Master of Librarianship from Emporia Kansas State University. She worked for 25 years as Reference Archivist and Rare Books Curator at Bowling Green State University, assisting researchers using local government records and the official records of some state legislators and US Congressmen. She is proud to be a third-generation member of League.
Scott Britton, Director
In 2002, Scott became executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. During his three years with the League, he increased member contributions to the annual fund, managed an ambitious judicial independence project, and coordinated direct and grassroots lobbying efforts on multiple good-government issues. In 2006, upon the birth of his son, Scott became a stay-at-home father. He joined the board of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus, where he led the redesign of the League’s website in time for the 2008 election. In October 2010, he returned to work part-time as coordinator of Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a statewide coalition of human service programs, including Public Children Services Association of Ohio, the association of county children services agencies. He joined PCSAO in 2011 as assistant director. Scott manages several grant-funded projects, media relations, website and social media, and human resources. Born and raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Scott is a 1993 graduate of Drew University in New Jersey.
Ana Crawford, Director
Ana Crawford is from the Cincinnati Area League. She is an attorney at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP and has been with the firm since 2013. She focuses her practice in general commercial litigation and is also involved in some voting rights litigation. Prior to Porter Wright, Ana worked at the ACLU of Ohio during a multitude of legislative changes involving election law, and in that role lobbied the state legislature on voting rights and other related issues. Of all of the League’s positions, she is most passionate about voting rights and access to the ballot. Ana has served as both vice-president of program and secretary for her local League.
Martha "Marti" Kleinfelter, Director
Marti Kleinfelter is from the Clermont League. She grew up in Maumee outside of Toledo and received her bachelors degree from Bowling Green State University and master’s from Northern Kentucky University. She was a teacher (Social Studies, English and driver’s ed) for 33 years. She joined the League in 2000 and has served as president, secretary and suffragist dinner chair for the Clermont League. She is a volunteer at the local library, the polls for election day, CASA volunteer and historical society in Clermont County.
Karen Leith, Director
As a member of the Hudson League since 1981, Karen is currently the immediate past president and chair of Advocacy. She chaired the committee that brought concurrence on the charter school position and has facilitated Great Decisions, the Foreign Policy Association’s program of discussion of our foreign policy, for their local League at Laurel Lake Retirement Center since 1982. Having worked as Director of the Catholic Commission, one of the five offices for justice education and advocacy for Cleveland Catholic Charities, Karen understands many of the issues. She has a BA in Math/Economics from Brown University; MA in Religious Studies from John Carroll University; MA Experimental Psychology and PhD Social Psychology from Case Western University. Her work experience has included educator from elementary through college levels (adjunct in both religious studies and psychology for over 15 years), author, youth minister, pastoral minister, and director of social justice. She is also a volunteer lobbyist.
Susan Murnane, Director
Susan Murnane received her BA at Carleton College in Northfield MN and her JD from the University of Minnesota. She practiced law specializing in tax litigation and white-collar crime from 1978 to 1996. In 1996 she enrolled in graduate school at CWRU where she earned her Ph.D. in American History in 2006 specializing in American Legal History. Susan taught law and history as a visitor at the University of Toledo, Wooster College, and in CWRU’s Sages program. In 2014 she published Bankruptcy in an Industrial Society: A History of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Akron University Press). Since 2014, Susan has become increasingly involved in the League of Women Voters. She was appointed to the Board of Directors of LWV of Greater Cleveland in 2014, and she was appointed to the LWVUS national study on Money in Politics in 2014. She was elected Co-President of the LWV of Greater Cleveland in 2016.
Carolyn Perkins, Director
Carolyn has retired from the aeronautical industry, having worked in leadership roles for the Federal
Aviation Administration and Lockheed Martin. She has a long history of working on voting rights and
youth engagement for the NAACP. Carolyn studied at Lansing Community College and lives in Dayton.
Jocelyn Travis, Director
Jocelyn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Alabama State University and a Master’s of Public Administration from Cleveland State University. She is a Registered Parliamentarian and serves as Vice President of the North Coast Unit of Parliamentarians in Cleveland, Ohio. She is passionate about voting rights, advocating on issues opposing the death penalty, environmental justice and youth. During the past year, Jocelyn has been actively involved in conducting dialogues on the environment to help build an equitable and just transition to clean energy. Jocelyn is Conservation Manager for the Sierra Club, responsible for coordinating Cleveland’s Ready For 100 Clean Energy Campaign. She is a lifelong community activist and involved in many organizations on the local, state and national level. Her daughter, Attorney Joi L. Travis has just been elected to serve on the local and state Board of the Alabama League of Women Voters.
Pam Wilson, Director
Dr. Wilson is a Research Associate at Ohio University’s George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Pam is an accomplished professional with multifaceted educational and corporate experience. Prior to joining the Voinovich School, Pam had over 25 years of industry experience and was a senior manager for IBM Finance responsible for the evaluation of business processes, regulatory compliance, and audit readiness. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, Pam also has experience as a K-8 teacher, specializing in Reading. Dr. Wilson holds an MBA from the University of Dayton and a PhD in Higher Education from Ohio University. Dr. Wilson’s dissertation focused on Ohio’s implementation of a dual credit program. This qualitative case study examined policy implementation and fidelity to legislated requirements. Additional research and policy evaluation conducted includes assessment of state and county social services, poverty programs, educator and administrative shortages, and gifted charter school implementation. Pam is active in the community and seeks to support organizations and programs promoting equity, fairness, and social justice.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, Director
Rev. Susan K Smith is a graduate of Occidental College and Yale Divinity School. She is a communications consultant with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc, a consultant with People for the American Way’s African American Ministers’ Leadership Council, and has served as one of the co-chairs of the minority vote subcommittee of the Nonpartisan Ohio Voter Outreach Committee. She also served as one of the tri chairs of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign and is the founder of Crazy Faith Ministries in Columbus, Ohio.
Venezuela V.T. Robinson, Director
Venezuela V. T. Robinson has over 35 years of experience in teaching/training students and adults also. She holds a short-term substitute teaching license and a long-term substitute teaching license through the Ohio Department of Education. A language arts tutor for over 30 years and has a BA in Business Administration and a MA in Teaching and Learning with Technology. She currently mentors girls and does volunteer work with Ohio PTA, Junior Achievement, Ideastream, and the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Robinson is a widow and has two sons in the United States Air Force. She enjoys spending time with her mom, who is 92 years young – along with other family and friends.
Cynthia Peeples, Director
Cynthia comes to LWVO from LWV Hudson, where she focuses on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Advocacy, and Communications. She segued into the nonprofit world 12 years ago while working as a news anchor and reporter in Texas. There, she married her passion for community outreach and activism with her love of storytelling and advocacy. Cynthia has since moved around the country and worked with a number of outstanding nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, San Angelo AIDS Foundation, American Cancer Society, and NAACP, in community outreach, fundraising, events planning, membership, and communications. Most recently, Cynthia helped launch a nonprofit chapter of the American Society of São Paulo, in Campinas, Brazil, to address the staggering disparities in public education, vocational training, and family services in impoverished communities.
Cynthia has three kids, is the proud daughter of a Korean immigrant and US veteran, and grew up in California and Hawaii. She holds a BS in Finance from the University of Akron.
Belen de Leon, Director
Belen de Leon joined the LWVO team in August of 2020 as a Latinx Outreach Coordinator. She earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Studies and French from the Ohio State University. Inspired by her background as a DACA youth, Belen has worked in numerous social justice and community advancement areas in the past, including the Ohio Hispanic Coalition, Ohio State’s LASER program and YWCA Columbus - where she currently works as a program coordinator. Belen is driven by her passion for promoting equity and inclusion in our democratic process and she resides in Columbus with her fluffy cat, Pazuzu.
Sarah Warner, Director
Sarah Warner is a passionate advocate for voting rights, and the rights of survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Her recent work includes leading the Legislation and Policy branch of the Southwest Ohio Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition (End Slavery Cincinnati), voter registration, education, and outreach as a board member of the League of Women Voters of Cincinnati, election protection and election policy work for the League of Women Voters of Ohio, serving as chair of the State Public Affairs committee for the Junior Leagues of Ohio, and lobby work at the Ohio Statehouse surrounding human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault, and poverty bills at the Ohio Statehouse. She is a 2020 recipient of the Cincinnati 40 under 40 for her advocacy work. She has a background in psychology, nursing, and nonprofit leadership and is currently at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law completing a Juris Doctorate, where she also serves as a representative of multiple student organizations including the Public Interest Law Foundation, The American Constitution Society, ACLU, and If/When/How. She is a member of multiple organizations in the community including Cincinnatus, the NAACP, Sew Masks for Cincy, and The Junior League of Columbus. She enjoys collecting and repairing antique typewriters, live jazz, snarky cross stitch, wine, travel, and ballroom dancing. Her go-to pandemic binge watch list includes The West Wing, Parks and Rec, M*A*S*H, and POSE. Her guilty pleasure is international home hunters, because she misses being abroad!
Jen Miller, Executive Director
Raised in small town Ohio, Jen Miller comes to the League from the Sierra Club, where she has served in various capacities since 2008, most recently as Executive Director.
For nearly twenty years, Miller has worked with diverse communities to promote social and environmental justice through positions with Columbus Rec and Parks, the King Arts Complex, Global Gallery, and OSU. Miller earned her Master's in Arts Policy, Education and Administration, a program of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State. She holds Bachelor's degrees in Vocal Music and History and Ethnic Studies from Capital University. Miller is a graduate of the US Department of Energy NREL Leadership Academy.
Inspiring others to participate in civic engagement is her deepest passion. She is a jazz singer and proud mother of one daughter.
Sherry Rose, Inspire! Campaign/Development Director
Sherry Rose joined the LWVOhio team in July 2017 as the Director of Development. While addressing all development needs, Sherry's main focus is to guide and direct the five-year Inspire! Sustainability Campaign.
Ms. Rose has spent over 20 years in sales, marketing, business, economic and community development! Ms. Rose held the positions of Account Executive for GTE Mobilnet (Verizon Wireless) and Marketing Manager for Howard W. Sams, a Bell Atlantic Company, before turning her attention turned to business and economic development. For 16 years, Sherry served as Wabash Valley Power Association's (Indianapolis, Indiana) Director of Community and Economic Development. Ms. Rose worked in over 70 counties in a four state region. She provided facilitation services, development training, marketing assistance, grant research and project management to over 200 communities and businesses; and developed economic and community development plans to attract, retain and expand businesses across the Midwest. After representing Wabash Valley Power on several sales trips with the State of Indiana, Sherry was hired as the Director of Sales for the State of Indiana's Economic Development Corporation. She was instrumental in attracting national and international companies to the State of Indiana. In early 2015, Ms. Rose began her own consulting company providing business development, marketing, sales, economic and community development services to a variety of businesses, communities and non-profit organizations across the US.
Ms. Rose graduated cum laude with a degree in Communication Studies from Kent State University. When not working, Sherry serves as the President of the Delta Gamma Housing Corporation at Kent State University and serves as the Membership Chairperson and Board Director for the League of Women Voters of Kent. She is also a personal trainer, triathlon coach, and Yoga Teacher RYT200. Sherry lives in Kent, Ohio with her two dogs.
Munia Mostafa, Membership & Project Manager
In October 2011, Munia joined the staff at the LWVO. She started as project coordinator for the Clean Air Promise Campaign, and she subsequently assumed management of LWVO communication and publications. Munia enjoys helping League members and local Leagues be a strong voice for good government in communities across Ohio.
Prior to joining LWVO, Munia worked in several other nonprofit organizations including the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations (OANO), the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) and Muslim Aid (a British International Relief and Development Agency). She holds a Master's degree in Communications with a concentration in Organizational Behavior from the University at Albany, State University of New York and another Master's degree in Design Management from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Farnham, England. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design from the University of Sussex, England. Munia is a mother of two children and resides with her family in Upper Arlington, Ohio.
Nazek Hapasha, Office & Program Associate
Nazek joined the League of Women Voters of Ohio staff in 2018. Prior to that, she graduated from the Ohio State University School of Public Affairs with a Master of Public Administration (MPA). Her most recent work experience is as an Intern to the City Manager in Delaware, Ohio, and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, working with undergraduate and graduate students in Public Finance and Budgeting. Additionally, Nazek has worked with the Noor Islamic Cultural Center since 2010 in a variety of capacities and is currently a member of the Board of Directors.
Originally, from the New York metropolitan area, Nazek completed her undergraduate studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication. Currently, she lives in Dublin, Ohio with her family.
Alice Pressler, Administrative Assistant
Alice Pressler joined the LWVO team in May 2020 as administrative assistant. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the Ohio State University, inspired by a summer spent volunteering for the United States Forest Service in the Bridger Teton National Forest. In the 20+ years since, she’s worked for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), where she had the privilege of working on a national campaign to curb drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). She transitioned to the health and fitness industry after having her daughter, working for the past decade as a yoga and fitness instructor. A lifelong central Ohio resident, Alice resides in Worthington with her family.
Kaiyah Taylor, Advocacy Intern
Kaiyah Taylor is a fifth-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with Research Distinction at The Ohio State University. She also received her Associate of Arts in Business at Ohio Dominican University in 2018. Prior to interning at the League of Women Voters, she worked as a canvasser for URGE Ohio, encouraging citizens to vote and petitioning for voter rights and security legislation. Additionally, she completed a fellowship with Population Action Connection Fund, organizing, lobbying, and petitioning in support global comprehensive health care. Kaiyah also participated in student-lead organizations where she petitioned and lobbied in support of early-college high schools and legislation that would aid human trafficking survivors.
Kaiyah spends her spare time reading, watching documentaries, and stressing over her thesis project.
Michael Baron, Event & Communication Specialist
Michael has been a League member since 2013, first as Shaker Heights (Cleveland) Chapter board member and then as program chair and member of the Greater Cleveland board. He has helped produce over 80 issue and candidate forums over that period. He also leads the Social media team for League of Women Voters – Greater Cleveland and for Fair Districts Ohio which is a coalition of Ohio Voters Rights groups. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and an Undergraduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism/Communications at Northwestern University in Evanston IL.
Haanya Ijaz, High School Intern
Haanya Ijaz is a member of the class of 2021 at Hilliard Davidson High School. She has a deep passion for writig and advocacy. Through her experience in social work through journalism and organizing, she has gained deeper insight into student-centered issues, especially those surrounding people of color and minorities. She is also a member of her class Student Council, founder of a local book club, editor for Hilliard Davidson's student-led newspaper, and co-president of the Noon Islamic Cultural Center youth committee.
In her free time, she loves to read, travel, knit and explore new areas around Columbus with her friends.
Ava Brady, High School Intern
Ava Brady is a rising senior at Bishop Watterson High School and is interested in studying political science and public policy when she attends university. Born and raised in Ohio, Ava grew up in a politically conscious household and at the age of 13, started volunteering for statewide and national campaigns. Ava cares deeply about election reform, racial and gender equality, and voting rights in America, and hopes to contribute to the transformation of our country through dedicated public service. Outside her professional aspirations, Ava is a national gold medalist in Olympic Style TaeKwonDo and enjoys reading. She hopes to one day be a part of a real change in American democracy.