Democracy Initiative Announces Charly Carter as New Executive Director

Monday, May 17, 2021

For Immediate Release:
Amy Shenker,

Democracy Inititiave Announces
Charly Carter as New Executive Director

Veteran policy advocate and campaign strategist to lead broad-based labor, environment and civil rights coalition.

Washington DC – The Board of Directors of the Democracy Initiative (DI) announced that Charly Carter, a woman of color with a track record of successful advocacy and leadership development, will join the organization today as its new executive director. 

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 labor, civil rights and environmental organizations representing more than 45 million people. The DI and its member groups are currently active in campaigns to expand voting rights, address climate change, bring fairness to U.S. workplaces, limit the role of big money in politics, and confront the legacy of strategic racism.

“After an exhaustive and rigorous national search, we found the ideal candidate to lead the Democracy Initiative at this crucial moment,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause and co–chair of the DI Board of Directors. “Charly has a proven track record of effective organizing and concrete wins for children and working families. She is a perfect fit to build on the DI’s strong foundation of grass-roots mobilization in defense of our democracy.”

"I am honored to join the Democracy Initiative at such a pivotal time. Never has it been so important for every person to be engaged in the fight for our democracy. I look forward to working with the team and coalition partner to mobilize our 45 million members in the fight for the soul of our nation. Together we will rebuild the infrastructure of our democracy." said Carter.

During a public interest career stretching over three decades, Charly Carter has been an effective force for change in Maryland and a fierce advocate for working families and communities of color across the nation. As Executive Director of Maryland Working Families, she was a leader in the fight to end wage discrimination, expand voting rights, win paid sick leave for 700,000 workers and expand childcare to thousands of low-income families.

As part of ACLU of Maryland, Carter led a successful campaign to win a record $1.2 billion to build 21st Century Schools for schoolchildren in Baltimore City. In 2018, Carter founded Step Up Maryland, an organization dedicated to ending structural racism and transforming the culture of state and local government by turning active citizens into progressive leaders. She launched the nationally-recognized New Leader Boot Camp that trains newly elected legislators to work collaboratively as progressive caucuses.

“We’re very excited that Charly has accepted our offer to lead the DI team,” said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and also a co-chair of the DI Board of Directors. “She is a battle-tested organizer with a deep commitment to the leadership development we need to build a progressive movement for the long haul. I’m especially looking forward to working with her on DI’s Bayard Rustin Fellowship, which creates a pipeline of talent and a pathway to inclusion for BIPOC and LGBTQ people.”

Carter is a native of New York State, where she attended Cornell University. She later became one of the first graduates of the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). Charly calls Baltimore City her “hometown by choice” and is active in the communities that our institutions have left behind.


The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.