"Voting is the foundation of our representative democracy. Participation makes it work."
—Patricia Timmons-Goodson, January 6 Project Senior Advisor
and Former NC Supreme Court Justice
The January 6 Project is an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to registering and educating new voters throughout the state of North Carolina in the run-up to 2022. Like millions of Americans, we were deeply troubled by the Capitol riot's attack on our systems of free elections. As we sat glued to our screens that day, watching the events unfold, we realized that we can no longer take these institutions for granted. We realized that the most surefire way to strengthen our democracy is to shore up its foundations. The best way to do this? Voting.
That's why we are determined to expand access to the ballot across our state. We focus on unregistered voters, new voters, young voters, voters of color and other historically disenfranchised groups, and voters moving into the state. We make a concerted effort in rural areas, which we know to be challenging -- but critical.
We are dedicated to furnishing North Carolinians with the tools and resources to make their democracy work for them. Our goal is to encourage these new voters to understand that their participation is the key to improving their lives and the lives of their neighbors.
North Carolina has become a swing state. In the last four presidential elections, no candidate has exceeded 50.4 percent of the vote.
Additionally, in November 2020, three down-ballot statewide elections were decided by less than two percentage points--essentially a margin of 1 voter in every 100. Cycle after cycle, North Carolina is a jump ball for some of the most important races in the nation, and 2020 only cemented our reputation as a perennial battleground state.
The time has come for strategic, deliberate, and focused action to ensure everyone in the state exercises their right to vote.
And we need your help to do it.
Meet our Team
Ryan Byrley, Executive Director
Ryan Byrley grew up in Sulphur, Louisiana––Cajun territory. He joined the Navy at age 17, where he spent four years cranking wrenches as an aviation mechanic. It wasn’t until he studied political science at Thomas Nelson Community College that he realized how much a vote could impact his life. When his daughter was diagnosed with ASD in 2009, the stakes became higher. The vote’s ability to determine access to healthcare became as clear as day.
Byrley threw his hat into political organizing afterwards, and has never looked back. He comes to the January 6 Project with over ten years of experience working alongside canvassers, activists, and political candidates, speaking with constituents everywhere from bus stations to rural schools. Most recently, he served as the North Carolina Organizing Director for NextGen America, where he successfully registered over 14,000 voters.
Stephanie Dorko Austin, Fundraising Director
Greensboro native Stephanie Dorko Austin started working on political campaigns during high school. As a college student, she interned at the White House. After she graduated, she returned to North Carolina, where she has led fundraising campaigns for dozens of political races throughout the state. She has also consulted for organizations of all sizes, ranging from small non-profits to multinational corporations. She comes to the January 6 Project with 20 years of experience in finance and development, as well as a passion for its mission. "Working to help others exercise their right to vote," she says, "is core to who I am."
Austin is currently the president of the Stough Elementary PTA. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of North Carolina and is a member of the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity College in Washington, DC, Stephanie and her husband live in Raleigh with their daughter and very nervous Maltipoo.
Sarah Pybus, Deputy Director
Sarah Pybus was introduced to campaign and advocacy work as a sophomore political science student at Virginia Wesleyan University, where she volunteered on a local campaign. She was elected president of both her university’s Young Democrats Chapter and Marlin Votes, the non-partisan voter registration organization on campus. During her senior year, she was invited to Ohio to organize on college campuses for the 2016 presidential campaign. Over three months, she registered over 11,000 students to vote.
Sarah attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she specialized in human rights issues. She spent summers interning for non-profits and NGOs, and spent the 2020 election cycle working as a state coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation, where she ran the campus voter registration program in Michigan. After graduation, Sarah moved to Kosovo as a Fulbright Scholar to conduct legal research for a human rights nonprofit. Now back stateside, Sarah has made North Carolina her home, where she is expanding access to the ballot through her work at J6P.
Leonard T. Jernigan, Jr.
Leonard Jernigan grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and has been practicing law for over forty years. He has authored N.C. Workers’ Compensation: Law and Practice (5th edition), and in 2014, received the John B. McMillan Award, the highest award issued by the North Carolina State Bar for exemplary service to the legal profession.
Jernigan has always been deeply invested in education. For over twenty years, he taught as an adjunct professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law. He has also received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the N.C Advocates for Justice, and currently serves as Chair of the History Committee of the Wake County Bar Association.
Judge Wanda G. Bryant
Wanda G. Bryant was born and raised in Brunswick County NC. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her J.D. from North Carolina Central University.
Excepting brief stints in private practice, Wanda’s legal career has been in public service. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in eastern North Carolina, an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in Washington, DC, and as Senior Deputy Attorney General in the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. She was appointed to the NC Court of Appeals in 2001, successfully ran two statewide elections, and retired from the court December 2020.
Wanda has served continuously on many boards and commissions, and has given many presentations in legal, civic, and religious communities. She has received numerous honors and awards throughout her legal career.
Ann Robertson, a native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is the founder and senior attorney at Robertson Immigration Law Firm. She has practiced immigration law for 30 years, and since 2000, has been certified as a specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization of the North Carolina State Bar. The same board honored her in 2016 with its leadership award. She has provided immigration advice at the Mexican Consulate that serves Mexican citizens in North and South Carolina for 20 years. Between 2019-2024, the Mexican government designated her its consulting attorney for immigration matters.
Ann Robertson was awarded undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate from Duke University. She has served on the board of directors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and chaired the Carolinas AILA chapter for two years.