News

Board Chair Larry Cohen Joins Board of Our Revolution

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Democracy Initiative Board Chair Larry Cohen was selected to join the Board of Directors of a new organization Our Revolution. The group is working to reclaim democracy for average Americans by revitilizing our democracy, empowering progressive leaders, and elevating political consciousness. Read the statement about the new board here.

Tags: 

Ben and Jerry's Releases Video on Voting Rights and Congress of Conscience

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ben and Jerry's released a video on August 5 focusing on the importance of protecting the right to vote and ensuring the integrity of voting. The video was filmed during Democacy Awakening's Congress of Conscience Day of Action and features Democracy Initiative Board Member and NAACP President & CEO Cornell Brooks putting the fight for democracy into a historical perspective. Watch the video below!

Larry Cohen Joins DNC "Unity Reform Commission"

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Democracy Initiative is proud to announce that our Larry Cohen, our Chair, will be serving as Vice-Chair of the new "Unity Reform Commission" of the Democratic National Committee. The Commission is the result of grassroots efforts to enhance voter representation by protecting and expanding voting rights and reducing the role of money in politics.

Larry will help lead it in producing recommendations to increase voter participation and inclusion.  This election has illustrated the effectiveness of Americans when they fight collectively to change our system for the better. The Commission is mandated to eliminate about 2/3 of the super delegates from effecting presidential nomination results beginning with the 2020 election cycle. In addition, it will address key elements to enhancing the democratic process by increasing inclusivity and representation as well as broadening the donor base of the Democratic Party in order to weaken the influence of corporate money. The creation of this commission is both an accomplishment for our democracy and a recognition of Democracy Initiative allies who testified before the DNC Platform Committee in June.

Tags: 

Wendy Fields Announced as New Executive Director

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Democracy Initiative board has been conducting a search for a new Executive Director. It was a rigorous search and we received 30 applications over several weeks. There were many qualified applicants and it was inspiring to see the excitement from those we interviewed.  This is a tribute to the important work we are all doing together.

The board is very pleased to inform you we agreed to offer the position to Wendy Fields, and we are thrilled that she accepted. Effective immediately, Wendy is our Executive Director! The timing of the transition to full time is still being worked out. Wendy will keep you informed as she moves into this role.

Most recently, Wendy was the Vice-President for Campaigns and Strategic Partnerships at Common Cause.  Previously she was Chief of Staff at the United Auto Workers International Union, after 20 plus years there organizing and coalition building.  Wendy’s deep history organizing workers and communities, experience building and driving effective coalitions, commitment to democracy and social justice and all-around positive energy are a wonderful permanent addition to our team.

 

Please join me in welcoming Wendy.

Larry Cohen Chair, Democracy Initiative Board

 

Job Announcement: Campaign Manager

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

          Job Announcement

Citizen Funded Elections Campaign Manager 

Organizer:

Fair Elections Howard is seeking a Campaign Manager for our ballot measure to win citizen funded elections for Howard County. Under the direction of the Executive Committee, the Campaign Manager will work with consultants, campaign vendors, campaign staff, as well as staff and leadership of supporting organizations to execute a comprehensive campaign plan on a day-to-day basis. The Campaign Manager will staff the campaign, and work with the legal/compliance structure, if necessary.

 

The Manager will oversee the day-to-day aspects of the campaign plan, including:

 • Ensure effective communication and coordination between all elements of the campaign.

 • Identify potential obstacles to success early on and troubleshooting.

 • Engage grass-top and political leaders as stakeholders in support of the campaign.

 • Create a transparent campaign environment with an emphasis on professional communications between all stakeholders.

 • Develop and execute a voter contact field plan.

 • Develop and engage coalition partners.

 • Identify and manage earned media and social media opportunities.

 • Ensure all reporting is completed accurately and on time.

 • Represent the campaign at events.

 • Develop and run trainings for staff and coalition partners.

 • Lead GOTV activities.

 • Other duties as assigned.

 

 Desired experience:

 • 2-5 years of senior level campaign experience

 • Experience managing coalitions

 • Demonstrated ability to successfully manage competing, time-sensitive priorities in a high-pressure environment.

 • Strong political instincts.

 

Salary will be based on experience. The position will be based out of Howard County Maryland and will require irregular hours. 

Please send resume, cover letter and salary expectations to jbd@commoncause.org, email subject should be titled "Campaign Manager- Fair Elections Howard"

Together: CWA Verizon Strike

By mobilizing together Verizon workers were able to make change happen.
Friday, June 3, 2016

Illinois House Passes Automatic Voter Registration SB250

Friday, June 3, 2016

just democracy.png

Caption: 

Illinois House Passes Automatic Voter Registration SB250

SPRINGFIELD (May 31, 2016) – Up to 2 million Illinoisans could be added to the voter rolls thanks to an Automatic Voter Registration bill that moved to the threshold of passageTuesday in the Illinois legislature. The measure passed with substantial bipartisan support, gaining a total of 86 votes.

“With today’s House approval of SB250 and scheduled action today in the Senate, Illinois will move to the forefront of a national effort to make our democracy more accessible and more inclusive,” said Trevor Gervais, lead organizer for Common Cause Illinois. “This bill makes voter registration convenient and simple by adding qualified citizens to the rolls automatically when they do business at Drivers Services and other state agencies.”

SB250, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), passed the Senate with bipartisan support on May 19. It will return today to confirm the final language. The bill will then move to Governor Rauner’s desk for his signature.

“During such a crucial time for immigrant communities, Automatic Voter Registration will change the process of registering to vote from being a barrier to creating a gateway to civic engagement. This will provide more opportunities for voter education to ensure that our communities are well informed about the issues while they engage in the democratic process. Our hope is that Gov. Rauner signs the bill so that we can begin to implement this bipartisan supported proposal to ensure that diverse voices are heard in Illinois.” said Celina Villanueva, Civic Engagement Manager, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

"This legislation was carefully crafted and has the support of the Secretary of State, State Board of Elections, and many local election authorities," said Abraham Scarr, Director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. "We encourage Governor Rauner to sign this commonsense, bipartisan proposal to improve our democracy."

"The voices of Black communities, through disenfranchisement, often go unheard. Allowing voters to be automatically registered not only clears a path for healthy civic engagement, but also allows communities to come together to educate each other on the policies that impact their neighborhoods. Using the time and resources it would take to register tens of thousands of new voters every year, organizations and communities could work  to educate and empower voters to make their voices heard. We believe that can be accomplished with Automatic Voter Registration,” said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director, Action Now Institute.

“The same month that 400 Asian Americans rallied in the capitol and held meetings seeking bipartisan support, SB250 passed thanks to Senators and Representatives from both parties,” said Kathleen Yang-Clayton, Advancing Justice | Chicago Deputy Director. “Automatic Voter Registration will empower our communities by bringing more eligible voters into our democracy, and breaking down barriers to participation.”

“Young people from all communities across the state will benefit from a modern electronic voter registration system that saves the state time and money and makes our voter rolls more accurate. That’s why we’ve been coming to Springfield every week, because we want to see the world’s greatest democracy live to its fullest potential and we’re moving closer to that with today’s historic vote,” said Christian Diaz, executive director of Chicago Votes, a young people’s organization that supported online and same-day voter registration.

Oregon lawmakers last year became the first to pass Automatic Voter Registration legislation. Legislatures in three other states have since followed suit and officials in Connecticut have announced plans to adopt automatic registration by administrative action.

The Just Democracy coalition is led by a steering committee that includes Action Now Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, CHANGE IL, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG, with more than 65 organizations signed on to support SB250.

Job Announcement: Executive Director

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

Executive Director

The Democracy Initiative – a unique coalition of diverse organizations committed to making our democracy work better for everyone – is seeking an Executive Director. We are at an exciting moment – both within the DI and within our country – and we seek an enthusiastic strategic leader to drive our coalition and work forward.

Organization Overview

Progressive people-powered movements have routinely faced opposition from those who benefit from social and economic inequality. These opposing forces have devoted vast resources to influence policy makers, markets, the media and the public to protect the status quo. In recent years, however, these same forces, not content with their already outsized influence, have taken further aim at the foundations of our democratic tradition itself, seeking to undermine the principles of equal representation and civic participation in American democracy.

The Democracy Initiative, launched in 2013, seeks to restore the core principle of political equality. The DI coalition includes labor, civil rights, voting rights, environmental, good government and other like-minded organizations with broad memberships committed to building a movement to fix our democracy. We believe that fixing our democracy is a prerequisite to advancing the diverse goals that are our member organizations’ first priorities.  DI’s current priorities are halting the corrupting influence of big money in politics and preventing the systemic manipulation and suppression of voters/protecting voting rights.

Our core work, and our contribution to the democracy movement, is to engage organizations with memberships, help educate and mobilize those members about democracy issues, and collaborate to add their voices and resources to fights for democratic reform at the state and national level.  Since our founding, we have engaged our members in various campaigns and mobilizations – and we know there is much more potential ahead.

Our initial Democracy Initiative (DI) campaign, called Fix the Senate Now, mobilized 3 million members from our 50 member groups to change the Senate rules on nominations and help confirm 300 judges and agency appointments.  The DI has also collaborated with member organizations to advance State specific reforms to protect voting rights and reduce the influence of big money in elections. Recently we helped lead a Congress of Conscience day of protest in D.C. with thousands marching and over 300 arrested demanding that Congress hold hearings, vote up or down on voting rights reenactment and advance several potential fixes to Money in politics.

Position Summary

The Democracy Initiative is at an exciting moment, as issues of voting rights and money in politics are gaining prominence in the public’s attention and citizens are increasingly demanding change. We are seeking an Executive Director who can provide strategic direction, inspiration and leadership for this unique coalition. The ED will oversee successful implementation of DI’s current work, which includes state level campaigns, national communications and network development and will lead the strategic planning process to develop future work.

The ED will lead a small but dynamic DI staff and key staff loaned from member organizations, and will work closely with the Board of Directors, which includes leaders from the organizations which formed the DI: NAACP, Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America, Common Cause and AFL-CIO.

The position is based in Washington, D.C. with occasional travel within the United States.

Responsibilities

  • Providing Strategic Direction and Organizational Leadership: Track developments related to money in politics voting rights, and other critical issues facing our democracy, seek opportunities for DI engagement, and move the organization in these directions.
  • Leading and Supervising Staff. Recruit staff, develop work plans, oversee implementation, and evaluate staff performance.
  • Developing and Leading an Overall Strategic Communication plan. Work with communications staff and other resources to develop a comprehensive plan to promote the DI issue messages and organizational presence.
  • Leading and Coordinating Fundraising Efforts: Ensure consistent communication with current DI funders, identify additional prospects for funding, and work with staff and board to strategize and implement overall fundraising strategy.
  • Expanding and Engaging the Democracy Initiative Network:  recruit new organizational members, establish consistent communication and meaningful engagement with members,  identify network development needs and opportunities.
  • Representing the DI. While also promoting the organizational leaders of the DI, speak publicly and appear in the media, at events, and in conversations with coalition members and allies.
  • Engaging the Board: Maintain regular communication with DI board members to inform them of DI’s progress, challenges and opportunities.

Qualifications

  • Commitment to the values of a vibrant and inclusive democracy.
  • At least 8 years senior level management experience, including staff supervision.
  • Experience working in, and preferably leading, a coalition.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Knowledge of progressive organizations and their operations.
  • Ability to work with leaders, members, and staff at all levels of organizations.
  • Experience in fundraising for 501( c) (3) and (c )(4) organizations.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Sense of humor, creativity, patience and entrepreneurial drive.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks in a rapid paced environment.

Compensation: Salary is commensurate with experience.

To apply, please email a copy of your resume, a cover letter, and three references to: opryce@democracyinitiative.org. Applications will be considered as they come in, with a final deadline of June 15, 2016.

The Democracy Initiative is an equal opportunity employer which values equity, diversity and inclusion. Women, people of color, LGBT, and differently-abled especially encouraged to apply.