As founder of 1VoteCloser, Frances Berman brings a limitless passion for education to every aspect of the nonprofit’s operations. Classically trained in music, the Texas native received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Texas at Austin and later relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the music industry. She soon took the helm at Mika (an independent label distributed through PolyGram), later joining the management team for such artists as George Michael, Jody Watley, and Karyn White.
Now working in development with songwriters, her diverse background also includes experience in publishing (at SBK Music), recording (EMI Writers Studio), distribution (WEA), and merchandising (Giant Merchandising).
After a number of years in the entertainment industry, Berman transitioned into studying elementary education at California State University, Northridge. She later applied her educational acumen to such endeavors as co-creating the curriculum for Hispanic Heritage Day at Village School in Pacific Palisades. She is honored to currently sit on the UT Austin Fine Arts Advisory Council. A longtime philanthropist, she’s supported a wide range of charities and causes over the years, including LA Family Housing, Cedars-Sinai’s cancer research programs, Beit T’Shuvah, Planned Parenthood, the Crossroads School’s Equity & Justice Institute, and a music endowment at UT Austin.
Motivated by the meager turnout in the 2016 presidential election (a 20-year low), Berman founded 1VoteCloser in an effort to expand every citizen’s understanding of the crucial issues at hand. With the support of her two daughters and husband (Interscope Geffen A&M Vice Chairman Steve Berman), she’s worked to provide thoughtfully simplified education on how those issues might personally affect each constituent. In the end, the nonpartisan initiative strives to illuminate and empower, so that voters can make their decisions with the utmost of clarity.
In her role as co-founder of 1VoteCloser, Maddy Kennell executes the nonprofit’s vision with passion, precision, and tremendous ingenuity. Contributing to everything from content creation to social media strategy to everyday operational functions, Kennell builds on her varied background in advocacy work to ensure that 1VoteCloser fulfills its mission of empowering voters to make more informed and educated decisions in each election.
Based in Los Angeles but raised in Virginia, Kennell graduated with a degree in psychology from Antioch University and recently started a master’s program in clinical psychology (also at Antioch). With a specialization in psychological trauma studies and intentions of becoming a family therapist, she previously served as an executive assistant for Angels at Risk—an L.A.-based nonprofit focused on prevention of drug and alcohol use among children, teens, and families.
Since joining forces with 1VoteCloser founder Frances Berman in launching the nonprofit, Kennell has played an instrumental part in bringing Berman’s vision to life with clarity and innovation. Through her outreach efforts, she’s helped to facilitate what’s become a cornerstone of 1VoteCloser’s content: a series of videos in which members of the national constituency candidly share their thoughts on the issues that matter most to them. Tapping into her wealth of knowledge on social media participation trends, Kennell has also worked to grow 1VoteCloser’s online presence and, in turn, amplify those voices across a host of highly influential platforms.