The Bernards Township Democratic Committee (BTDC) is dedicated to bringing our community together, to making our town a better place to live and work, and to solving local issues with transparency, balance and compassion.
The committee is made up of a diverse group of conscientious and engaged residents: men and women in our community, representing a broad range, among other attributes, of cultural backgrounds, races and ethnicities, religions, ages, education and professional experience. We offer Bernards Township another option at the polls for a new perspective on local government. We are dedicated to bringing a balanced democracy and transparency to the township committee. We work for the people of Bernards Township by listening and responding to their concerns for the betterment of our community.
The Executive Committee
Elizabeth Graner, Chair
Elizabeth Graner, a lifelong Democrat, is honored to serve as the BTDC’s new chairperson. She has been a public school educator for 20 years and lives in town with her son Patrick, a rising senior at Ridge. Graner grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, PA as a first-generation Irish-American and the eldest of five siblings. She has been a BTDC Committeewoman since 2018 and has an extensive background in volunteering for Democratic campaigns in Union and Hudson Counties. She enjoys books, cooking, live music, and humor.
Catherine Santaiti, Vice Chair
Catherine Santaiti is a 14-year resident of Somerset County, and has lived in Bernards Township for 8 years with her husband, Matt, and their 2 children. After the 2016 election, sitting around a dining room table Catherine worked with a small group of Bernards Township women to reinstate and reform the Bernards Township Democratic Committee. She currently serves on its executive board as vice chair, and previously served as the secretary and communications chair. She is the Democratic county committee person for Bernards Township voting district 21. Catherine is driven to bring Democratic values and representation to her local government. In the community, Catherine is also a current member of the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Drugs and Alcohol. She served as the Mount Prospect School PTO co-president (2017-2020) and vice president of fundraising (2015-2017).
Formerly, Catherine was a social worker and elementary school teacher. After graduating from Lafayette College, she volunteered with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Arizona for one year, working full time at a domestic violence shelter as an advocate for women and children. For the next two years she continued working at the domestic violence shelter with children through play, music, and art therapies. Catherine returned to New Jersey to be closer to her family, and earned a masters degree in education from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She taught second and fifth grade in the Livingston school district for 7 years before staying home to raise her children. In her free time, Catherine enjoys playing the guitar, being outdoors with her family, and crocheting!
Fred Douglis, Treasurer
Fred Douglis is a chief research scientist with Perspecta Labs in Basking Ridge, working on high-performance computing. He has lived in Bernards since 1998 and was on the BTDC in the early 2000s before it disbanded, rejoining when it restarted in 2017. He served as treasurer for Sophia Chadda’s 2019 campaign. He and his wife Lisa have two grown children. Fred is an avid bridge player and welcomes new partnerships.
Jane Conklin, Secretary
Jane Conklin has lived in Basking Ridge since 2005. She also works in town for the Bernards Township school system. She has been teaching in the district for five years and has worked at Mt. Prospect, WAMS, and Ridge. Jane has served on the Democratic Committee for about four years and was involved with all of the town and congressional campaigns since 2016. Currently, she serves on the Environmental Commission in town. She has two kids who attend WAMS and Ridge and both are very involved with the fine arts department. She enjoys going to see all of the stellar musical and theater performances at both WAMS and Ridge.
Sara Nichols, Media Chair
Sara Nichols is the Bernards Township Democratic Committee’s District 20 representative and Media Chair. She manages the BT Dems website and social media for the committee and campaigns. She has lived in Bernards Township for 8 years with her husband Neal Eisenstein, and their two children along with a lovable pup named Ellie.
In 2019, Sara executive produced and directed a two hour documentary on child marriage in the United States for A&E. When filming started, only one state (Delaware) had completely banned child marriage. Seeing firsthand just how much leadership in government at all levels matters, Sara joined the BTDC and put her skills as a filmmaker to use.
Sara has created more than 600 hours of television for MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, ABC, E!, Oxygen, NBC, Discovery, SundanceTV, Bravo, and TLC. Her directing work includes music videos and image campaigns for artists including Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwen Stefani.
In addition to her work in television and music, Sara was a programmer for the first two Women In The World summits for the Daily Beast featuring several high profile activists from around the world. She is on the Producers Council and member of the Producers Guild of America, and holds dual degrees from Syracuse University.
Sara loves old homes and has restored and renovated two. The first, was her 1893 home in Maplewood, NJ and the second (which her husband hopes will be their last whole house project!) was in her current home built in 1835 right here in Bernards Township.
Jennifer Kluger, Voter Engagement Chair
Jennifer Kluger is the Bernards Township Democratic Committee’s District 24 representative and voter engagement chair.
Over the past couple of years, Jen has spearheaded a vote-by-mail initiative that contributed to Democratic wins in the 2018 congressional, county and local races. Largely because of a surge in mail-in ballots, a Democrat joined the all-Republican Bernards Township Committee for the first time in decades, beating her Republican opponent by a margin of more than 500 votes.
Believing that voter participation is key to a strong and thriving democracy, Jen has devoted herself to voter registration efforts all over Somerset County. She made a special effort to encourage young people to become fully engaged and knowledgeable voters, participating in numerous voter registration drives and classroom visits at Raritan Valley Community College. Separately, and on behalf of the Democratic party and its candidates, she has enlisted numerous allies to assist her in ensuring that all Democrats are not only registered but turn out to vote in all elections.
After graduating from the University of Connecticut, Jen put her skills to work as a paralegal, preschool teacher and an interior designer. When her two now-grown children were young, Jen often could be found volunteering in the local schools. She was class parent, served as secretary of the Ridge High School PTO, and spent six years as vice president and president of the Ridge High School Band Association.
Jen lives in Bernards Township with her husband, Jeff and her dog, Rowdy. In her (rare) spare time, Jen indulges her love of music by playing saxophone in the Raritan Valley Symphonic Band.
Nancy D’Andrea, Chair Emeritus
Nancy D’Andrea, as well as many other women from Bernards Township, marched in Washington DC back on January 21, 2017. After coming back from such an empowering event, she decided to see what she could do for her own town. Bernards Township had no active Democratic Committee. The ballot would only have one column to choose from for local elections. Nancy, along with others, wanted that to change.
After learning about local politics from the Somerset County Federation of Democratic Women in February 2017, Nancy, along with the help of the Bernards Township Progressive Women, formed a local elections task force. She met with the Somerset County Democrats and with their guidance, she learned about township civics, how to form a Democratic Committee, and how to get candidates on the ballot. It took exactly one month to make this happen. And on March 27, 2017, the first meeting of the Bernards Township Democratic Committee was held. At that meeting, Nancy was elected Chair.
Bernards Township has 24 voting districts and when Nancy found out how many districts reps were already signed up as Democrats, it was a disappointing 6. Now, through the hard work of both men and women, the committee has 38. She is still working hard to fulfill those last 10 spots to form a complete Democratic Committee for her town.
In 2018, for the first time in 20 years, a Democrat was elected to the Township Committee. Since then, Joan Harris has been an excellent representative for our Democratic values. And Nancy and the rest of the BTDC hope to bring more open minded, honest, respectful elected officials to the town and County.
After 3.5 years as Chair, Nancy will remain very active with upcoming projects to help fulfill the missing positions on the BTDC and will continue her work with the campaign team each year. She will continue her position as Recording Secretary for the Somerset County Democratic Committee.
How To Get Involved and Active
- Become district rep. There are two in each district. Currently we have openings in Districts 1,7, 12, 13, 18, 19, and 23.
- Attend monthly meetings and events.
- Volunteer on a BTDC Subcommittee – teams that work in a variety of areas to advance our mission. Subcommittee areas include: Fundraising, PR & Communications, Research & Issues, Community Service, and Campaign Team 2020.
- Become a County Committee Person.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns.