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Our Team

Founders

Jon Favreau

Founder
Jon Favreau served as Barack Obama’s head speechwriter from 2005-2013, a role that was far more senior and influential than Jon Lovett’s. Since leaving the White House, Favreau has written and spoken about politics and speechwriting to audiences throughout the world. In 2017, he co-founded Crooked Media, where he’s a co-host of Pod Save America and host of The Wilderness. Jon grew up outside of Boston, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Emily, their son Charlie, and their dog Leo.

Jon Lovett

Founder
Jon Lovett is a former presidential speechwriter, as well as a TV writer, podcast host, and straight shooter WIDELY respected on both sides. In 2017, he founded Crooked Media with Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, to build a progressive media network with shows, analysis, and sweet, sweet content that informs, entertains, and inspires action. There, he co-hosts “Pod Save America” and hosts “Lovett or Leave It,” two of the most popular political podcasts in the country. Before Crooked, he served as a presidential speechwriter in the Obama White House, co-created a comedy on NBC called “1600 Penn” (which was cancelled after one perfect season), and wrote speeches for Hillary Clinton. Jon was also once named “Washington’s funniest celebrity” before he left the nation’s capital forever.

Tommy Vietor

Founder
Tommy Vietor is a cofounder of Crooked Media, cohost of Pod Save America, and the host of the foreign-policy focused Pod Save the World. In a past life, he worked for President Obama for nine years, including a stint as White House National Security Spokesman. Originally from outside Boston, Vietor now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Hanna and their dog Lucca. He tweets too much.

The Crooked Team

Tanya Somanader

Chief Content Officer
Tanya is an alum of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter/digital-whatever for Nancy Pelosi. She roots for every team in Cleveland’s factory of sports sadness. Slow walker. 33/f/los angeles.

Sarah Wick

Chief Operations Officer
Sarah spent the last five years building digital audiences at Maker Studios / Disney, where she most recently served as the general manager of an entertainment, gaming and philanthropy vertical called Revelmode that had more than one billion aggregate monthly views and raised a million dollars in 2017 for charity. She wishes she didn’t have to use the term “vertical” but that’s just what it was called. Sarah went to Harvard where she was on the Harvard Lampoon, which is why this bio is so funny.

Neil Varghese

Chief Financial Officer
Neil is a native NYer, having 14+ years of experience operating in various finance and accounting capacities. He joins Crooked from Dreamscape Immersive, where he served as the Head of Finance. While Neil loves VR, he is excited to join the real world in its resistance. He is an avid consumer of: news, plane tickets, sneakers, hoodies, HBO, and fine foods.

Priyanka Aribindi

Brand Marketing Manager
Priyanka went from writing Crooked’s daily newsletter to overseeing Crooked’s #brand. What does that entail, exactly? Editing, partnerships, Vote Save America, content, cooking with Lovett on Instagram... truly everything under the sun. After stints at TIME and Real Simple, she swapped coasts because Lovett slid into her DMs about Crooked (at first she thought he got hacked). One time Dan Pfeiffer said she was the best tweeter at this company and that’s honestly all you need to know.

EJ Baker

Senior Manager, Political Campaigns
EJ is Very Online, a decision she sometimes regrets. She’s probably emailed you, texted you, or tweeted at you at some point during her time at EMILY’s List, the Democratic National Committee, or working with various congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns. Prior to the Trump administration, she was a proud alum of the University of Pennsylvania, now she’s just an alum. EJ is a native of Rochester in the great state of Upstate New York and in her free time enjoys yoga, spinning, theater and other activities where you’re not allowed to have your phone out.

Juliet Beckstrand

Research Coordinator
Juliet is a Minnesota native, a Wake Forest University graduate, and a Washington DC expat. After spending two years working in the United States Senate for Sen. Klobuchar, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion of helping people realize that their voice matters in politics—and she’s happy to follow that dream at Crooked Media…where doodles come first, snacks come second, and Twitter fights are always productive.

Brian Beutler

Editor In Chief
Brian Beutler cut his teeth in the crooked media for 12 years before finally dropping all pretense and joining a company that embraces its Crookedity. He was a senior congressional reporter for the news site TPM for five years, where he covered all the major reforms of the Obama era, and the conservative backlash that ultimately gave rise to Donald Trump. He was a columnist for Salon, and comes to Crooked Media from The New Republic, where he was senior editor, wrote a daily column and hosted the podcast Primary Concerns. Brian studied physics and astronomy at U.C. Berkeley, where he graduated without particular distinction in 2004.

Giancarlo Bizzarro

Head of Sales
Giancarlo tries to convince the team to sell out. When he can’t, he tries to find brands that align with Crooked’s vision and leading content. When he’s not pulling a nice organic host-read out of a wood-fired oven, Giancarlo curates the finest selection of pre- and mid-roll cheese. Paired with a nice newsletter makes a mighty fine campaign! Giancarlo is very sensitive about his Italian heritage, don’t bring it up. Prior to joining Crooked Media, Giancarlo was Director of Sales at Endeavor and Cadence13. Before that he oversaw emerging media on the advertising side at Oxford Road, and a long time ago was a humble field-organizer on the ’08 Obama campaign. Domestically, Giancarlo roots for Cleveland, a town he’s only been to once, but his heart belongs to SSC Napoli and gli Azzurri.

Elijah Cone

Director, Digital Content
Elijah Cone has spent his career in Los Angeles hand-crafting authentic, GMO-free, farm-to-table content experiences for a variety of faceless corporations and brands. After a breathtaking series of content home-runs at Fox Sports, Cone joined the world of political podcasting. “Touchdown.” Growing up in North Carolina, Elijah pivoted to video before he could walk. He graduated from Wesleyan University and continues to credit himself for other alums’ achievements to this day. Enjoy the #content everyone! Like and subscribe.

Matt DeGroot

Director of Production
Matt combines his love of cinema and politics to bring you video content—allowing the Crooked hosts to prove they’re more than just a pretty voice. After surviving childhood in the Steve King district of Iowa and five years in D.C.—where he became as comfortable producing an animated short about civil service reform as he was being shoved into a broom closet with Oliva Newton-John by secret service escorting Laura Bush through the Kennedy Center—he escaped to Los Angeles, where he spent the next five years at Buzzfeed trying on rompers, convincing Rob Lowe to be a TV court judge, and traveling the world meeting Olympians and eating ridiculously expensive food. To counteract the hours spent watching movies with his husband, Patrick, he gets his heart racing by hiking with his dog, Jolene; playing on a Hogwarts-themed dodgeball team; and watching far too much MSNBC.

Alison Falzetta

Manager, Development and Production
Alison joins Crooked as penance for 3 years spent between Fox and Amazon. Her first job in television was as an NBC page, where she relished the opportunity to wear many hats (and one ugly uniform). She’s very excited to help bring Crooked into the TV and Film world and to finally work for a company that pays taxes (right?)

Nikki Fancy

Head of Marketing
Nikki Fancy doesn’t like jokes about her last name. Don’t sing that song. Don’t tell her she looks fancy. Don’t do any of it. Okay? OKAY? Okay. Before coming to Crooked, Nikki was the Head of Programming at artist-to-fan app Bkstg (Scooter Braun, Live Nation). Prior to that, she served as the VP of Programming Strategy and Operations at Maker Studios, and awarded Forbes “30 Under 30 Hollywood” in 2015. Also, she thinks she came on a little too hot up top about the Fancy stuff.

Joel Fowler

VP, Commercial Marketing and Creative Strategy
Joel is a media publisher, producer, advertising person, paramedic, and Atlanta native by way of NYC. He joins Crooked as the VP of Commercial Marketing and Creative Strategy, and brought his dog Iggy along to join the crew of Crooked pups. He’s settling into Los Angeles and Crooked, anxiously awaiting an open mic in the big studio to remind everyone that Andre Iguodala was robbed in the 2006 All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. He is slightly taller and slightly less funny than Jon Lovett.

Yale Fried

Producer, Video
Yale used to be a Hebrew School teacher but now he’s a Producer, which he views as a positive step forward in life and hopes his family does too. He comes to Crooked after a series of brief stints making t shirt commercials, music videos, GIFs, and a lot of YouTube videos. Yale went to film school at Emerson College but before that, he grew up in Buffalo, New York where he learned the value of loving a team that loses a lot (Go Bills)—a skill he’s come to need as a Democrat. He spends his days scrolling twitter and his nights rewatching the West Wing and perfecting his brisket recipe.

Sabine Gedeon

VP, People and Culture
Born in Haiti and raised on the nearly identical island of Connecticut, Sabine realized at a young age that she could be a resource, and perhaps even for humans. She comes to Crooked with nearly 13 years’ HR experience, supporting leaders and professionals within Fortune 100 companies. She left corporate America behind after realizing she’d be a more valuable resource with a greater impact on a personal level, coaching individuals, before arriving at Crooked. She champions the self-actualization of all Crooked employees and expects to be done by Q3.

Sarah Geismer

Head of Creative Development and Production
Sarah Geismer is a creative executive who has spent more than a decade developing TV shows for Netflix, Fox Television Studios, Fox 21 Television Studios, and Twentieth Century Fox Television (but not Fox News!) Of course, Sarah will always be best known for her brief tenure as an associate producer of the hit MTV docuseries “True Life.” She is a graduate of Brown University, proud Bostonian, and an accomplished napper.

Carlton Gillespie

Producer
A Southern Californian to his core, Carlton loves sports, movies, and tv, but not necessarily in that order. After college he abandoned his plan of becoming a psychologist and came to LA to work in show biz. As a line producer he worked on commercials and promos for clients such as McDonald’s, Mattel, and Capitol One. He eventually gained his live television and audio content chops at places like ESPN and Complex, but has always been driven to pursue content that blends the world of culture and sports. To this day he still can’t understand how the game winning play in Remember The Titans was successful.

Madison Hallman

Executive Assistant
Madison started Crooked Media at a super chill, laid-back time - the month before the 2020 election. She's still not sure if the team only hired her because she's a millennial from a swing state with relatives who were still 'undecided.' When she's not assisting Jon, Jon, and Tommy, she's binge watching old movies, belting out musicals, and is happiest when doing both at the same time... (Funny Girl get anyone else through the pandemic? No? Just her?) She's told she's an old soul and is pretty sure most people mean it as a compliment.

Justine Howe (She/Her)

Chief of Staff
Justine Howe has been to 25 countries, 45 states, but unfortunately only 1 planet. She loves being the chief. Of stuff. Think: culture, project management, event planning, a little bit of interior decorating, a little HR, and a little IT. But mostly everyone thinks of her as the person who bought the office plants and plans the parties. Justine was born in Minnesota, went to the University of Pittsburgh and worked for Tory Burch in New York before realizing she’s a Californian yogi at heart and moving to LA. Also, she had someone else write this bio because she was very nervous about it.

Sonia Htoon

Assistant Producer, What A Day
Sonia is an audio freak. She came from producing for radio stations in beachy SoCal cities. At one point, she woke up at 3 a.m. every day (night?) to produce for NPR’s Morning Edition. Now, she gets to sleep in until 8 a.m. to produce on Crooked’s What A Day. Her best work is a 2008 Facebook quiz titled “Who Has a Crush on You?”. Don’t try to look that up, it’s been deleted.

Mellani Johnson

Social Media Producer
A Compton Native who refuses to say she’s straight out of it, MJ is a content queen, or you know, a Creative Producer for tax purposes. Formerly a tattoo artist, she’s a self-taught jack-of-all-trades who has a pension for the classic Jurassic Park movies and loves working with her close personal friend, the Adobe Creative Suite, to tell stories. And in case you were wondering, she would much rather animate this bio than write it.

Milo Kim

Assistant Producer, Video
Milo was sort of an intern at Crooked, and then one day he wasn’t. Now that he’s officially on the video team, he helps create that sweet, sweet content that you know and love. Milo is an avid board sport enthusiast, and dreams of one day living on a ranch in the California countryside.

Roshni Kolachalam

Ecommerce Manager
Roshni comes to the best coast by way of New York and Atlanta with an aggressive knack for all things merch. Not an Obama White House alum, but by golly she voted for the man–twice. She came to the west coast after a 4-year stint in New York working in fashion at companies like Kate Spade & Fab.com. She’s officially a Los Angeles convert after experiencing that HIIT training is more a lifestyle obligation rather than…well…an option. She was also born and raised in Atlanta (Respectfully, the hip hop capital of the world and not interchangeable with ‘Hotlanta’). Her past roles include spearheading and strategizing online sales for Rachel Zoe and First Media so she will sell the hell out of Crooked Media merch. Also… click this.

Charlotte Landes (She/They)

Audio Engineer and Sound Designer
Charlotte is a good buddy who craves the rush of a flawlessly smooth edit. Before coming to Crooked they worked as a ladder climber, a cocktail server, a paralegal, and a vox editor on The Sims. Now they edit and mix What A Day and various other Crooked projects. Charlotte’s hobbies include changing their hair, pushing people’s politics further left, and still winning after getting blue shelled. They have the power to make it sound like you said you hate ice cream but they try to use it responsibly.

Sarah Lazarus

Associate Editor
Sarah is a DC insider who worked at White House Gifts for six pivotal weeks in 2010. Her uniform was a polo shirt with the Declaration of Independence on it. Since then, Sarah has written for the New Yorker, NPR’s Ask Me Another, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Now she writes Crooked’s What A Day newsletter! She lost the shirt in college and regrets it very much.

Katie Long

Executive Producer, Daily News
Katie listens to all the podcasts, on double speed. Katie got her start in news as a producer and editor at Marketplace. Her work was focused on helping people understand a broken economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis. At Crooked, she helps people understand what’s going on in politics at a time when it’s broken — and ways to fix it.

Shirley Ma

Senior Designer
Shirley is a designer with a background in visual communication, UX/UI, and other designer-y stuff. She graduated from Art Center and worked in advertising before she finally joined the world of podcast. Shirley is having a hard time explaining what ‘podcast’ is to her Chinese grandma to this day.

Jazzi Marine

Associate Producer, News
Jazzi Marine came to Crooked after working at the TODAY Show in New York, where she learned that time is a social construct. An LA native, Jazzi is thrilled to return to her hometown to work for the only place that gave her hope in her early 20s and to hopefully prove to her parents that producing podcasts is a real job. She loves the beach, weddings, sharing funny tweets in group chats, and her dog Juno.

Michael Martinez

Executive Producer, News
Michael Martinez came to Crooked after spending a decade in public radio, where he acquired enough tote bags to last the next ten lifetimes. He brought his news and audio chops to Los Angeles all the way from his hometown of Washington, D.C., as well as his passion for the Baltimore Orioles and good snacks.

Shaniqua McClendon

Political Director
Shaniqua McClendon used to work at Domino’s Pizza but unfortunately she’s now Crooked’s Political Director. Domino’s had way more free pizza. While she was born in Queens, she was raised in North Carolina and because of that, is obsessed with Tar Heel basketball. She went to UNC and Harvard, was a staffer for both former Senator Kay Hagan and Rep. Alma Adams on the hill, and has a twin. She doesn’t know which one is the evil twin. It’s probably not her. Probably.

Jesse McLean

Creative Director
As a designer, Jesse was naturally drawn to podcasting – the most visual medium. He worked as a Creative Director at GLOW in New York and as an Art Director for TBS in beautiful downtown Burbank. Sometimes Elijah needs a graphic. Sometimes Lovett needs a graphic. Sometimes Tanya needs a graphic. Elijah, do you need another graphic? Brian, I already made that graphic. Yes it can be blue, no we can’t make it bigger. Here’s the Facebook version of that graphic. Where’s my chair?

Narineh Melkonian

Producer, Video
Narineh Melkonian is a video producer who has worked on everything from mini docs to comedy webseries. Despite having studied business at Berkeley, she dodged the lure of “the ABCs” (accounting, banking, consulting) to pursue visual storytelling. Narineh is a California patriot and native.

Jon Millstein

Writer and Producer, What A Day
Jon Millstein is a guy who’s written for Funny Or Die, Clickhole, and the show “Buddy System” on YouTube Red. He most recently worked as head writer for an app called Down To Shop, now he’s head writer on the daily podcast What A Day. He’s done lots of live sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and is known for posting videos online. Using milk, he developed strong bones. He has two sisters and one brother.

Roman Papademetriou

Political Operations Coordinator
This is Roman’s first real job, which means he’s trying hard not to mess anything up. Roman is a part of the Political Team at Crooked, where he does research and outreach for Vote Save America. Roman studied politics at Princeton, where he did everything in his power not to become the next Ted Cruz. In college, he was a legal intern at Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic, and worked for a summer as an Arabic interpreter for refugees entering Europe at a health clinic in Athens. He’s a good guy.

Dayanita Ramesh (She/Her)

Social Media Manager
Dayanita is a California native, UC Davis and Johns Hopkins alum and former inside the beltway swamp-dweller. At Crooked she does internet, that’s as specific as she’d like to be. Prior to Crooked, she was at Free Press and Media Matters for America. When she’s not desperately begging people on the internet to fulfill their civic duties, she’s hugging her two senior rescue dogs or asking her husband what’s for dinner.

Sydney Rapp

Assistant Producer
Sydney is a native Coloradan who is doing her best to enjoy the city life. Before coming to Crooked, she spent her days in grassroots organizing on the frontline for the environmental crisis. When she’s not booking guests and doing research for Crooked’s Development and Production team, you can probably find her at the beach or climbing a mountain. Sydney is also one of the first people Pundit runs to when arriving in the office and she takes a lot of pride in that.

Alexis Reliford

Social Media Associate
Her parents could afford a car, though they still named their daughter Alexis. It’s okay. She likes her name and also really wants to own a Lexus some day. Besides dreaming about her future car, Alexis likes to reminisce about her days as a magazine editor at publications like Health and Good Housekeeping before joining the Crooked team to create #content on social. She’s from Louisiana, which means she adds Creole seasoning to everything and when she’s not working she spends a lot of time at the movie theater, reading romance novels, and dancing in her bathroom mirror to Whitney Houston’s greatest hits.

Caroline Reston

Producer, Current
Before making the move to Crooked Media, Caroline worked at The Jim Jefferies Show, Throwing Shade and Grey’s Anatomy. Caroline produces Keep It, Hysteria, Hall of Shame and quality controls Pod Save America. Her interests are totally normal and not all weird. When she’s not knee deep in her fifteenth read of Helter Skelter, she likes to unwind by hate watching Sean Hannity. Caroline misses Bethenny and hopes she returns to the franchise soon.

Kyle Seglin

Lead Engineer and Audio Operations Manager
Kyle, like all audio engineers, is a former psychotherapist. And like all former psychotherapists, Kyle loves to listen. You could say that’s what inspired him to study sound. You’d be wrong though. It was early 2000s Long Island punk music that did it. (Obviously.) Kyle got his undergrad at UVA and his masters at Hunter College in NYC. He soon began working as a full-time psychotherapist while simultaneously recording bands in his Brooklyn-based recording studio. From there, he mixed for various TV shows, recorded and produced bands, post-mixed films and Internet media, and sound designed as a freelancer and staff engineer in both NYC and LA. In 2016 Kyle moved to the west coast to become a full time Californian. Kyle is also an avid TV-watcher, news-reader, dog-haver, and, totally without bragging, has a lot of plants.

Brian Semel

Associate Producer
Brian left the glamorous world of Hollywood, where he was an assistant, to join Crooked in the glamorous world of podcasting, where he was also an assistant. Now he produces, and doesn’t plan on being of assistance to anyone ever again. When he isn’t being vehemently unhelpful, you can find him asleep on a couch or in a park. Feel free to wake him up.

Jordan Silver (He/Him)

Director of Marketing
Jordan Silver is a Los Angeles native (if you count the Valley). After he graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Media Studies, he began working in marketing with lifestyle brands like Good American, Rachel Zoe, and Popsugar. When he’s not watching Bravo with his dog Ginsburg, he’s in Palm Springs, or spending his entire salary on concert merch that he has no room left for in his drawers. In case you were wondering, Jordan Silver is his real name and not a stage name.

Jamie Skeele

Graphic Designer
Jamie Skeele is a graphic designer (follow him on insta @jamieskeele) who got his BFA in graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He enjoys fresh Big Macs (his insta is @jamieskeele) and designing chairs. Sometimes you can catch him on the metro (once again, insta handle is @jamieskeele) which he uses to commute to and from work. If you see him with his dog Griffin (his insta is @pupgriffin) feel free to say hi and expect to be greeted with a warm hello. If you don’t see him in person you can follow him on instagram at @jamieskeele.

Lyra Smith

Story Editor
Lyra Smith (pronounced like Tyra Banks-Smith) is the Story Editor at Crooked. She got her start in podcasts as the fellow at This American Life. Lyra has since worked on lots’o’pods such as S-Town, Bitch Sesh, The Dream, and Get Rich Nick. She likes trivia, bowling, fire pits, and way too much television.

Olivia Vangieri

Senior Account Manager
Olivia worked on ad strategy teams for major movie studios on some small titles you may have never heard of like Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, It and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that earned over $2B in the box office. Then, she worked in tv advertising for Season 5 of Schitt’s Creek on CBS’s Pop TV. Now, she tailors effective ad strategies for every type of brand – from scrappy start-ups to socially-inclined corporations – through Crooked’s network of premium pods.

Jordan Waller

Producer, News
Jordan spends her days doing research, which sometimes ends up as the riveting show notes that she knows you definitely read. Before joining Crooked as an associate producer on Pod Save America and Pod Save the World, she worked in Uzbekistan for a year. Jordan is an alum of the Fox News nightmare that is Brown University.

Leo

Chief Executive Doodle
Leo Favreau dropped out of puppy school to join the #Resistance. He is a grassroots organizer and grasstops pooper who greets every visitor to Crooked Media with two paws and a full heart. Leo is fighting for better toys, more string cheese, longer walks, and a political revolution that will deliver social and economic justice for all. He believes in the power of one voice to change a room, like when his half-sister Pundit barks during Game of Thrones.

Lucca

Foreign Pawlicy Advisor
Lucca believes in belly rubs, trips to the dog park and preserving the liberal international order. A fan of soft power and hard foods, her dream is to poop on all 1,092 of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

Pundit

Chairdoodle of the Board
Pundit is an angel.