A Letter From Our Founder

A fundamental idea behind HeadCount is that young people have the most at stake in democracy and deserve an equal share of power. As a country and planet, it’s our collective duty to take what we build and hand it off to the next generation.

This philosophy also applies to the organization itself.

With that in mind, I am sharing that 2023 will be my final year as the executive director of HeadCount. While I’ll continue to be involved in an advisory capacity, I will be stepping back from day-to-day operations to make room for new leadership, fresh vision, and the type of innovation that only change can bring.

A nationwide search for our next executive director officially begins today.

When Marc Brownstein and I started HeadCount back in 2004, we were just two young voters trying to get fans registered to vote in one corner of the music universe. Now, nearly 20 years later, the organization is reaching more voters than ever through our work with stars like Harry Styles, Lizzo, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish, integration with Spotify and a groundbreaking multi-year partnership with Global Citizen. Never losing touch with our roots, we still have strong alliances with Dave Matthews, Phish and founding board member Bobby Weir, who’s been with us for the whole long strange trip.

In all, we’ve registered over 1.2 million voters (1,217,917 to be exact) with the help of hundreds of partners, over a thousand musicians and tens of thousands of volunteers.

What’s always meant more to me than any number, though, is the human connection driving it all. Collaborating with our board of directors and its brilliant chairs Peter Shapiro and Jessy Tolkan; seeing our volunteers form a community and hone their skills; working with a staff that feels more like a family — that’s what fueled me over the years. We built this thing together, one idea at a time.

If I had to pick one watershed moment from the whole adventure, it’s when we brought 17 different advocacy organizations to our “Participation Row” action village at the Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary shows in 2015, and auctioned a D’Angelico guitar for $526,000 to support them all. At that point it became clear HeadCount and our mission around voting could be a connective tissue between even larger social movements.

A few years later, following the tragic school shooting in Parkland, FL, we jumped into action as the voter registration partner for the March for Our Lives events around the U.S. That summer we brought local community organizations on tour with Beyoncé and JAY-Z. Participation Row became a mainstay at every Dead & Co show. Then in 2020 when the pandemic hit, we pivoted to an all digital campaign called “Good to Vote” that went far beyond music and featured top comedians and YouTube creators.

That sort of constant reinvention has sustained HeadCount for all these years. So with the 2024 presidential election now looming, I believe it's the right time for someone new to take HeadCount into the next era.

We’re looking for a natural leader with a keen cultural radar, a track record of success in the nonprofit or private sector, and a strong connection to the audiences we engage. I’m excited to work with this individual and support them in every way possible (I’m stepping back, not stepping out!).

The intersection of music, democracy and social impact is a pretty incredible place to spend a career. If you know anyone who might be up for the challenge, please click on and share the job description below. And if you’re one of the many people who’ve helped HeadCount get this far, please know you have my utmost, deepest gratitude.


Andy Bernstein
Executive Director & Founder, HeadCount