Our story

Public Democracy is a mission-driven company with over a decade of experience building communities to advance the common good. We got our start in political communications and organizing and we succeeded where others had failed by listening to the communities we were tasked to mobilize and persuade. We understood that the best way to get people to engage was to understand what mattered most deeply to our audience and provide them with something of value.  

This understanding served us well as we expanded our focus from politics into broader advocacy, entertainment, and community building. Our strategy of seeking to shape our engagement offering to meet our audience’s need – as opposed to merely pursuing ways to get our audience to meet ours –  allowed us to rapidly expand our reach and effectiveness.

As the volume of engagement and the amount of data we collected grew faster than we could have hoped, we shifted our focus to build and develop proprietary data tools to help us manage campaigns and further improve engagement opportunities for our users. These tools have evolved over the years into a powerful resource, and our values and behavioral database (and the predictive behavioral models that grow from it) are now Public Democracy’s most significant asset.

From our earliest days when we began by storing our data in maxed-out Excel spreadsheets, we anticipated a time when computers would have the processing speed to put that data to use.  From the beginning, we recognized the value of data as a ledger of historical actions with the power to create new insights that could help shape the future in meaningful ways.

We understand that each data point represents a moment when we connected with a real person – where their willingness to engage provided a glimpse into their values, hopes, and sometimes fears. Every engagement recorded in our database reflects a point when a person believed that something we were offering them could make a difference and that their participation could matter.  

That is a precious resource, a loadstone with great enough value to businesses, political leaders, and social institutions that they would bend toward the intent of the tens of millions of people who built it as those institutions sought to harness its value.  We have known for many years that we could sell our data for a lot of money, but we believed that the paths to realize that revenue would undermine the data’s true commercial value and not reflect the purpose of the users who generated it. 

We believe that the market is shifting in ways that allow for a more fully-realized value of psychometric and values-based data like ours along with an acceptance of those of us who believe we need to better steward these resources and treat the individuals data represents as partners, rather than products. This shift, combined with a move in corporate space toward more attention to brand over product and the increasing recognition of the need for businesses to consider their stakeholders rather than merely their shareholders, has convinced us that the time is right to explore ways to open our data up to a curated and broader use.

We see a bright future ahead, as we seek to firmly establish our approach to data and business in the broader marketplace and further develop our values-based models and audience segments. As we do so, we will also continue to explore the unique capabilities of the blockchain as a way to stake the value of our database into a tokenized ecosystem built to trade a new currency of engagement as a new tool for empowering people and democratizing the use of data and more justly sharing the benefits of its creation.

 

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ERIC SAPP

President, Co-Founder, & Board Member

As an entrepreneur, faith leader, and political advisor, Eric Sapp has spent his career supporting communities all over the world in their efforts to promote the common good. 

Eric co-founded Common Good Strategies, later the Eleison Group, which led outreach to faith and rural communities for top Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2008. He has since pioneered the use of new technologies in successful campaigns on issues ranging from international peacekeeping and human rights to grassroots efforts supporting veterans and protecting victims of terrorism. Through these efforts, his team developed one of the largest voter response databases and most sophisticated digital advertising platforms in the country, which in 2018 became a Public Benefit Corporation called Public Democracy.

Eric graduated from Davidson College and earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife and their son and daughter.

 

 
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ERIC GYORS

co-FOUNDER & Board Member

Through his long and diverse career in music, business, politics, and journalism, Eric Gyors maintained and developed a deep passion for inventiveness and social justice. He played blues music professionally, ran his own theatre-restaurant, and started highly successful businesses in software and international trade.  As a community activist, Eric has worked developing and implementing practical systems that have allowed citizens to exert influence on decisions at local and state levels.

His business success exposed him to inherent injustices and inefficiencies he traced back to broken political systems. This led Eric to spend much of the last twenty-five years in politics, working to transform the political systems in which he found himself into fair institutions that could successfully deliver social justice. He also became Chairman and host of a major local radio show in his community specializing in political news. Eric is formally trained in psychology, philosophy and computer science, is fluent in 5 languages, and worked for many years in I.T., specializing in systems analysis and RDBMS (database) design and implementation.

 
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GARY DAVIS

co-FOUNDER & Board Member

Through his family office’s investments in education, compliance, new tech, media, and oil and gas, Gary has played an entrepreneurial role in around 30 IPO’s in markets around the world.  Along with his formal training in law, economics, film, and engineering, his experience in compliance and corporate structure has allowed him to make significant contributions at the Board level to a number of organizations over the last 30 years. 

 

Gary has spent his career pursuing opportunities to simplify complex systems into practical and feasible business models that support individual integrity, specific outcomes, and an understanding of communal connection. He has facilitated Australian Government policy development, advised governments on global economic and technology policy, founded an independent school in regional Australia, created a protective strategy for wild horses, and been a pioneer in developing thought around data-backed currency and the applications for micro-distributions of wealth afforded by blockchain technologies.

 


 
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ROB LALKA

BOARD MEMBER

Rob Lalka serves on the board of Public Democracy, where he leads partnership development and advises on technology strategies to empower communities in pursuit of the common good.

Rob is Professor of the Practice at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Executive Director of the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Prior to Tulane, he served as Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Propeller, a New Orleans-based startup accelerator and community development fund. He served in that same role at Village Capital, a global startup accelerator and seed fund. He is the co-founder of Medora Ventures, a consulting firm that supports investments with returns for shareholders, the local community, society overall, and generations to come.

Rob moved to New Orleans from Washington, DC, where he was a senior advisor at the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and a Presidential Management Fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships. He also served on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff, where he coauthored the president’s cross-sector partnerships strategy. Rob graduated from Yale University, cum laude, and earned a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. He, his wife, and their son reside in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood, where he serves as a Commissioner for the Broadmoor Improvement Association.


 
Erica Savage Wilson   Director of Outreach

Erica Savage Wilson

Director of Outreach

Leduan Reina   Manager, Information Technology Systems

Leduan Reina

Manager, Information Technology Systems

 
Shannon Brennan Collins   Director of Design

Shannon Brennan Collins

Director of Design

Haley Fernandez   Director of Digital Communications

Haley Fernandez

Director of Digital Communications