Ohio Democratic Party
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
— Harriet Beecher Stowe
Meet the Chairman:
David Pepper was unanimously elected Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party on December 17, 2014 and began his term on January 1, 2015.
Knowing that the strength of the Ohio Democratic Party has a direct impact on the outcome of national, state, and local elections, David is committed to creating the most robust party infrastructure possible, supporting and implementing policies that improve Ohioans’ lives, and recruiting and assisting the next generation of public servants as they run for office at all levels and helping them make a difference once they get there.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, David is a fifth-generation Cincinnatian. David was first elected to public office in 2001 when he served on the Cincinnati City Council, finishing first out of a field of 26 candidates, and was reelected for a second term in 2003, again leading the pack in votes. David came to the Cincinnati City Council as riots, a severe crime wave and a public safety crisis rocked the city.
Amid this turmoil, David’s leadership was key in the successful push to improve police-community relations, and he ultimately served as the Chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee. David played an instrumental role in negotiating a historic collaborative agreement between the police, the community, and City Hall, which healed long simmering tensions while setting the stage for improved safety. David also played leadership roles in economic reforms, new investments, and progressive policy changes that helped spark a decade-long renaissance that continues in Cincinnati to this day.
In 2006, David was elected to the three-member Hamilton County Commission. He served as the Commission President from 2009-2010. During David’s tenure at the County, Hamilton County won 19 National Association of County Awards for outstanding management practices, more than all other Ohio counties combined. David focused particularly on cleaning up the very poorly managed government that he inherited: adding much-needed transparency, championing greater disclosure and higher ethics, eliminating wasteful spending, and rebuilding the County’s reserve fund. Independent ratings agencies praised the County’s fiscally responsible policies.
David was nominated by Ohio Democrats to run in statewide elections twice. In 2010, David ran for the office of Ohio Auditor campaigning on a platform of increasing efficiency and transparency in government while ending the gerrymandering that has poisoned politics in Columbus and Washington. His platform gained him the endorsements of virtually every major Ohio newspaper. And, in 2014, David ran an intense campaign to unseat the incumbent Attorney General, calling for greatly improved transparency and integrity in that office. Although both years proved to be wave years against Ohio Democrats, David set records (for a non-incumbent) in fundraising for both offices and received praise for running aggressive, substantive campaigns.
David earned his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and later earned his J.D. from Yale Law School. In 1999, David clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Since 2000, David has also worked in the Cincinnati offices of major law firms Squire Sanders and Blank Rome, focusing his practice on commercial and business litigation, and appellate litigation. David also teaches election and voting rights law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
David is married to Alana (Swartz) Pepper. Alana grew up in Adams County, graduated from the University of Cincinnati, and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Northern Kentucky University. Alana has spent her career helping those faced with mental illness.
Last May, David and Alana welcomed their first child, Jacob “Jack” Hamilton Pepper, into their family.
Meet the Vice Chairwoman:
A Dayton native, Rhine McLin has a long history of active community involvement, which attests to her commitment to public service. In 2002, she became the third African-American Mayor and the first female Mayor in the city’s history. She previously served six years in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1988 to 1994, and was then elected State Senator for the 5th Ohio Senate District, serving Montgomery and Miami Counties. When elected in 1994, she became the first African-American woman to serve in the Ohio Senate. In 1998, McLin was elected by her peers to serve in leadership as the Minority Whip. Two years later, she was elected again to serve in the Senate leadership as Minority Leader.
McLin has over 20 years in the political arena and more than four decades of educational expertise. She has served on numerous boards and committees in various positions. These include:
• AIDS Resource Center of Ohio
• Dayton Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors
• Dayton Art Institute, Board of Directors
• Dayton Public Radio, Board of Directors
• Democratic National Committee
• Downtown Dayton Partnership
• ISUS, Board of Directors
• Keep Montgomery County Beautiful, Board of Advisors
• Kettering Medical Center Advisory Board
• Local Corrections Planning Board
• Montgomery County Family & Children First Council
• National Advisory Council on Women’s Educational Programs
• National Conference of Democratic Mayors, Secretary
• Northwest Weed & Seed Steering Committee
• Ohio Democratic Party, Vice Chair
• Rhythm n’ Shoes, Board of Directors
• Think TV Board of Trustees/Education Committee
• U.S. Conference of Mayors
• U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Board of Advisors
McLin earned a B.A. in sociology and secondary education at Parsons College in Iowa and a Master of Education in guidance counseling at Xavier University in Cincinnati. She also has an associate degree in mortuary science from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. She currently serves as an instructor at Central State University West, where she teaches Criminology; Race & Ethnic Relations; and Juvenile Delinquency: Social Problems.
During the 2016 DNC Summer Conference held in Minneapolis, Vice Chair Rhine McLin has been elected as the Midwest Vice Chair of the Association of State Democratic Chairs. Congrats Vice Chair McLin!
ODP Leadership and Staff:
HQ Staff – ODP Main Line: 614.221.6563
- David Pepper, Chair
- Rhin McLin, Vice Chair
- Bridget Doherty, Chief of Staff
- Greg Beswick, Executive Director
- Sarah Ross, Human Resources Director
- Kirstin Alvanitakis, Communications Director
- Colleen Lowry, Women’s Caucus Director
- Nelson Devezin, Political Director
- Lynnie Powell, Deputy Political Director
- Chris Myers, Main Street Campaign Manager
- Maggie Dart-Padover, Voter File Manager
- Liz Shirey, Director of Party Engagement
- Rachel Rossi, Finance Director
- Zach West, Operations Director
- Bill DeMora, Secretary of the Party
Ohio Democratic Senate Caucus – 614.280.1835
- Zac Kramer, Executive Director – 608.512.6095 (cell); Senate Caucus – x1137
- Carrie Arblaster, Finance Director – x1395
Ohio Democratic House Caucus – 614.280.1835
- Aaron Fisher, Executive Director – x1137
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus – 614.341.6912 x1106