The Empower Engine Story
Julie Goldberg and Noah Glusenkamp co-founded Empower Engine, because they saw maps as a vacuum in progressive tech just waiting to be filled. Maps tell a story. There's a reason it's a cliche that “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Empower Engine initially focused on Washington State, where the co-founders both live. In 2015, they expanded into Minnesota and then went international to work with the Liberal Party of Canada.
In the spring of 2016, Noah left Empower Engine for health reasons, and their only employee with campaign experience left for Hillary for America. Julie doubled down for her clients in Washington and Minnesota, because she would never leave clients in the lurch. She planned to wind down Empower Engine between Election Day and President Hillary Clinton’s inauguration.
We all remember the tragedy of that election day. In the aftermath, everyone was looking for tools that were new and somewhat proven, revitalizing interest in Empower Engine. A partnership with Catalist convinced Julie to keep the company and its products alive.
In 2018, Empower Engine 2.0 has emerged with clients big and small, national and local. We hope to be a part of your team as America turns the tide for a progressive, Democratic future for all.
Meet the Team
Julie Goldberg, Principal
Julie got her start in politics working for Howard Dean's presidential campaign in Washington State and for Kerry/Edwards in Pennsylvania. She gravitated to political tech, because she has been programming since high school. She got her BA in computer science and linguistics from Cornell University and subsequently worked as a software engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratories. She moved to Seattle in 2000 to earn her masters in computer science at the University of Washington.
In 2007, she joined Voter Activation Network as their first remote employee, when their staff was less than 20 people and Votebuilder was just being built. She left NGP VAN in early 2013 and co-founded Empower Engine. She has been running the business solo since 2016. Outside of politics and programming, she bikes around town, attends lots of Broadway shows, and organizes Seattle's Lesbian Literature Meet-Up group.
Ejike Obineme, Software Engineer
Ejike, originally from Baltimore city, is a graduate of Xavier University and currently lives and works in Washington, DC. From the age of 18, Ejike has held key roles in various social justice organizations including Black Youth Project 100. He eventually became one of the leading organizers of various social justice campaigns including Take 'Em Down NOLA, #JusticeForEricHarris and #FightFor15.
Coupled with a passion for social justice, Ejike also has a very strong technical background. He got his start in tech at Apple shortly after finishing undergrad, where he took on various roles that included software training and troubleshooting UNIX-based operating systems. He would later go on to provide tech solutions to various non-profits before accepting the role as Data Director + IT Manager at Voice of the Experienced, an organization that specializes in both electoral campaign work and criminal justice reform. In the 2018 election cycle, he served as the National Reporting Director at For Our Future Action Fund. Ejike also works as a coach and trainer for re:power, formerly known as Wellstone Action, where he teaches computer programming to people doing political work.
Michael Piel, Director of Business Development
Mike joins the Empower Engine team with more than 10 years experience in the progressive space, juggling a career in political data and fundraising. His experience on the campaign trail goes back to 2004 when he was first staffer for the Bob Bacon for State Senate campaign, testing the limits of canvassing in the Colorado sun. After moving to Washington, DC in 2005, Mike got his start in the data world as an analyst for the National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), where he learned political data from the organization that invented precinct targeting. As a member of the NCEC staff, he was sent out on the trail in 2006 and 2008, working with the Colorado Coordinated Campaigns, making him a first-hand observer of the evolving campaign world. Beyond the NCEC, he worked to raise money to support the progressive cause, working at well-known organizations, such as the Center for Community Change, as well as the New Organizing Institute, giving him a well rounded understanding of all the elements necessary for making change happen.
Now in his late 30s, Mike maintains a fierce love of politics and the goals that define a progressive cause, but he also enjoys golf, and relaxing on a beach. His favorite president is still Harry Truman...and he’d like the world to know that he is afraid of birds, and you should be, too.
Lisa Vo, Software Engineer
Lisa is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Her experience in the political space began in high school when she began attending rallies, such as Black Women Speak, which was held in her hometown of Tacoma. She is a strong advocate for #BlackLivesMatter and its goal to expand civil rights and recognition for people of color. Last year, she marched in the Seattle Pride Parade, and participated in the BlackLivesMatter march to the Space Needle. She strives to further remove taboos that set women and people of color back.
Aside from being a software engineer, she hopes to use her technical background to educate, and alleviate systemic inequality. She’s passionate about breaking down barriers to educational success. One of her goals in the future is to implement more up-to-date technology in the classroom to meet modern-day educational goals. She wants to expand the focus on STEM and accessibility to modern subjects such as computer science.. Outside of school, she likes to hike, kickbox, and attend concerts.
Elaine the Owl
Our logo is a wise old owl. Its big eyes fit with our focus on data visualization -- using maps to communicate data and make it approachable. Our owl’s primary colors are blue, because blue is the color of the Democratic Party.
We named Empower Engine’s owl Elaine in honor of the unsung hero and political pioneer Elaine Noble. Elaine Noble was the first openly gay elected official at the state level. She served in the Massachusetts State Legislature from 1974-1978 and declined to run for a third term.
Rep. Elaine Noble’s time in office correlated with huge protests in Boston over bussing to integrate the schools. She fought hard for integration and was the only white elected official to ride the busses with students.
Elaine Noble has been retired from politics for decades, and she now lives in Florida.
For more information on Elaine Noble, please read this Medium piece and/or watch the short documentary made during her time in office. https://medium.com/queer-history-for-the-people/elaine-noble-political-pioneer-9bf5b5bddc96