Julie Verratti is running for Lt. Governor of Maryland, and she couldn’t be more suited for the job. A champion of small businesses (in fact, a co-owner of Denizens) and overall badass, Julie disrupts the status quo in order to make it more progressive and inclusive. She has zero tolerance for inefficiency and mean people. She is dedicated to her work and her family. She makes no apologies for aggressively fighting for what she believes in, as anyone who reads through her resume will immediately notice. Her political bona fides, as well as her social justice advocacy, are the stuff of hard work and perseverance. Julie is the real deal.
Born and raised in Maryland, Julie is well-versed in the ups and downs of life. Her parents separated the summer she and her twin sister Kathleen turned 8. She transferred in and out of schools throughout middle- and high school, which taught her how to enter brand new environments and develop relationships quickly. It’s not like Julie was a saint in her younger years, though, and she had a tendency to cause trouble by pulling pranks and generally not following all the rules. Adversity, however, is no match against those who have the drive to be and do better. Let’s just say that Julie was never going to let the odds stack against her. She began working hard at school, at jobs, at sports, and basically at life. She qualified for the Junior Olympics in swimming when she was 10, was a varsity soccer, tennis, and lacrosse player throughout all four years of high school and was an All-American singles and doubles tennis star at Montgomery College. In fact, she led the women’s tennis team to bring a national championship to MC in 2001. She later earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Brandies University with a triple major in Politics, History, and Philosophy and a minor in Economics. She also played varsity soccer there while working full-time. She drove the campus van on the late shift so she had time for class and soccer. She was a manager at Starbucks and even started her own gourmet coffee catering company. After college, she worked in politics across the country, but mostly in NYC and Massachusetts, where she helped protect Marriage Equality. Julie eventually came back to the DC area to attend law school, and she graduated from George Washington University. Her drive to work towards social justice never ceased and while in law school she worked for Equality Maryland (now known as FreeState Justice), the Human Rights Campaign, the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, and GW Law School’s Small Business and Community Economic Development Clinic.
When she was 18 years old, Julie came out to everyone…except her parents. That step took about 4 more years and her parents were very supportive. Her journey to self-identify as a gay woman brought her a sense of self-confidence and a realization of how much love and support there was in her world. It also crystalized how little support and love others have in similar situations, for a variety of social/religious/interpersonal reasons, and that has been a driving force in Julie’s professional career ever since: Making people, society, and laws more open to and accepting of people for being exactly who they are.
Throughout her life, Julie has worked on diverse issues that overlap because, in every instance, she’s fighting for the underdog. Small businesses. The LGBT community. The environment. These are more than pet projects for her; these are lifelong passions to see justice and equality applied evenly across the board. Julie was a Presidential Management Fellow and Senior Policy Advisor for the Small Business Association during the Obama Administration. She knows small business because she owns one: In 2013 she co-founded Denizens Brewing Company with her wife, Emily Bruno, and brother-in-law, Jeff Ramirez. And she’s immersed herself in that work by serving on a multitude of local- and statewide councils. She was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Brewers Association and is also the Association’s Chair of the Diversity Committee. Locally, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Brewers Association of Maryland and is a founding Board Member of the Democratic Business Council of Maryland. Julie was a former member of the Montgomery County Food Council where she helped launch the “MoCo Made” branding initiative and local business directory, both of which promote local businesses in Montgomery County. Julie is also a former member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and is a former Board member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, she was named to Washington Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40”. Julie has testified before the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, the Maryland State Legislature, Montgomery County Council, and DC Council on matters affecting small businesses, the beer industry, and LGBT rights. In 2017 she served on the Reform on Tap Task Force that analyzed beer laws in Maryland and advised how they can be adjusted in order to grow businesses. And, she was the driving force behind allowing small breweries to self-distribute their products into Montgomery County while bypassing the Department of Liquor Control in 2014. Her advocacy has led to 9 more breweries opening or in planning to open in 3 years.
Coming full circle back to why this discussion about Julie is so important – her campaign for Maryland Lt. Governor. She agreed to be Alec Ross’s running mate because she saw he had ideas about all of these issues that go beyond the usual platitudes from long-time politicians. She thinks Alec is bright, empathetic, and most of all, unconventional. He has a firm grasp on the importance of technology in reaching the public (his 360k Twitter followers can attest to that) and he considers the needs of the public overstuffing the government’s coffers. He promotes gun control, supports ways to grow small businesses, and advocates for human rights and equality. Sound familiar? It’s a good match, and Julie hopes to take it all the way to Annapolis.
Julie lives in Silver Spring with her wife Emily and their dogs, Lola and Jolene. She still plays soccer on the weekends and rides her motorcycle whenever the weather and her schedule permit. If you like what you’ve read about Julie, and you want to get involved in the campaign, please visit alecross.com/about-julie.