David Dettman is the Communications Director for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Center for Global Programs, comprised of the Rule of Law Initiative, Center for Human Rights, and the ABA’s representatives to the United Nations. He brings nearly 30 years of communications; political campaign; and Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance experience in the U.S. and abroad. Most recently, Dettman served as director of communications and external relations for Democracy International (DI) based in Washington, D.C., following his time as chief of party for DI’s Democratic Participation and Reform in Bangladesh -- a political parties program funded jointly by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.
Dettman has managed and staffed U.S. Democratic Party presidential, congressional, and local campaigns working in field organizing, communications, and campaign management. In the 1990s, he managed two congressional campaigns and worked on former President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996. In 1997, he joined the non-partisan political and public affairs technology firm Aristotle International, in Washington, D.C. There, he consulted on dozens of campaigns for U.S. presidents, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Dettman also worked with member offices in the U.S. Congress, political action committees, and associations -- including as a project lead for the 2000-2002 NAACP Voter Empowerment Project.
In 2008, Dettman joined Progressive Majority as Ohio state director, where he recruited, trained, and helped elect progressive Democrats. He was a part of the Ohio Democratic Party/Obama for America coordinated campaign that helped elect President Obama and power-shift the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio State Board of Education. In 2010, Dettman managed a Democratic campaign for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, which was chronicled in the book Cupcakes and Courage, by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner. After the campaign, he was a political appointee in state government as the special assistant to the secretary of state where he helped manage projects that included the implementation of bi-lingual ballots, improved voter education, and advocacy for reforms of the U.S. banking and financial system. A native of Cleveland, Dettman grew up in a union household IUPAT (District Council 6), where he learned that the power of organizing can overcome even the most entrenched obstacles. As a fan of Cleveland sports teams, he learned the importance of allowing hope to triumph over experience.