DI Leaders

Democracy Initiative/DIEF Exciting Updates

Monday, May 7, 2018
Democracy Initiative
Board of Directors


Karen Hobert Flynn  
DI Co-Chair
President,
Common Cause

Tefere Gebre
DI Co-Chair Executive Vice President,
AFL-CIO          

Annie Leonard
Executive Director,
Greenpeace USA

Derrick Johnson
President & CEO,
NAACP

Michael Brune
Executive Director,
Sierra Club


 
Friday, May 4, 2018


The Democracy Initiative (DI) Board of Directors is excited to announce that Tefere Gebre, the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO will now serve as Co-Chair of the DI/DIEF, joining Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause to lead our growing coalition. Tefere’s voice as a labor leader and an immigrant is vital as we develop cohesive strategies to build a vibrant national movement for democracy. We want to appreciate Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, for serving as Co-Chair and wish her well as she leads major fights in the environmental community and look forward to her continued stewardship on our board.

Tefere currently serves on the DI/DIEF Board and came to the United States as a political refugee from Ethiopia. Since he worked his first union job as a night shift loader at UPS, he has devoted his life to fighting to empower workers to achieve dignity and justice. He rose to leadership roles in the California labor movement, becoming executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation in 2006. Adopting a mission of change and growth, under Tefere’s leadership membership in the federation increased by more than 15,000 members. He helped to build strong coalitions with faith and civil rights organizations. In 2013, Tefere was elected executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, where he focuses on building strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates, and civil rights organizations.

We are very fortunate to Tefere for taking on these additional responsibilities, and we look forward to his contributions in uniting our communities to mobilize and fight for democracy and justice.

We are excited to announce that Greenpeace is ramping up their democracy campaign work and hiring a Democracy Campaigner.  As it is increasingly clear that oil money in government is a top obstacle to advancing clean air, clean water, and climate solutions, Greenpeace is fighting the corrupting influence of corporate money in government and defending our democratic spaces. To apply for the position, click here.

In peace and solidarity,              

The Democracy Initiative Board of Directors

The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 69 organizations representing 40 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.
 

805 15th St NW, Suite 800, Washington DC, 20005 * 202-567-6101 * info@democracyinitiative.org

350.org * Advancement Project * AFL-CIO * AFSCME * AFT * Alliance for Justice * Amalgamated Transit Union * American Family Voices * American Postal Workers Union * AAJC * Arab American Institute * Bend the Arc * Campaign for America's Future * CASA * Center for Community Change * Center for Environmental Health * Center for Popular Democracy * Clean Water Action * Corporate Accountability * Common Cause * Communications Workers of America * Democracy Matters * Democracy Spring * Demos * DC VOTE * Every Voice * Fair Elections Legal Network * Food & Water Watch * Free Speech for People * Friends of the Earth * Greenpeace USA * Jobs With Justice * Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights * League of Conservation Voters * Mi Familia Vota * MoveOn.org * NAACP * NAACP Legal Defense Fund * NAACP National Voter Fund * National Action Network * National Coalition on Black Civic Participation * National LGBTQ Task Force * National People's Action * Natural Resources Defense Council * NEA * New American Leaders Project * Nonprofit Vote  * OUR Revolution * People For the American Way * Progressive Majority * Project Vote * Public Citizen * ReThink Media * Rural Coalition * SEIU * Sierra Club * Small Planet Institute * State Innovation Exchange | Six * Story of Stuff Project * U.S. PIRG * UnidosUS * Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network * United Auto Workers * United States Student Association * Voices for Progress * Waterkeeper Alliance * Working Families Party

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Testimony of Karen Hobert Flynn to Connecticut General Assembly on Public Financing

Friday, February 9, 2018

On Friday, February 9th, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn provided testimony on the need to expand and strengthen the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) in Connecticut. Wendy and Karen expressed the need to strengthen the CEP as an important tool for giving ordinary citizens a voice and creating transparency in our government. Connecticut’s program is a model for the rest of the country. Since it was implemented 10 years ago, the General Assembly has become more diverse with more working class, more women, and more people of color holding elected office. It is also extremely popular with 80% of legislators choosing to run under public financing.

Read Karen Hobert Flynn's testimony

 

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STATEMENT: The Democracy Initiative Congratulates Board Members Derrick Johnson and Tefere Gebre on Their Recent Elections

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

September 22, 2017

The Democracy Initiative Congratulates Board Members Derrick Johnson and Tefere Gebre on Their Recent Elections 

Washington, D.C. (October 31, 2017) — The Democracy Initiative (DI), a dynamic coalition of 63 diverse issue organizations, celebrates the elections of Derrick Johnson as the 19th president and CEO of the NAACP and Tefere Gebre as the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. Johnson and Gebre are active members of the DI’s six-member board of directors. Johnson has been serving as the interim head of the historic civil rights organization since July of this year. Gebre was re-elected executive vice president at the AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis along with President Richard Trumpka and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler.

The Democracy Initiative launched in 2013 – by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), NAACP, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club – to mobilize members to demand a democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. Since its first convening, endorsing groups have represented a diverse range of progressive issues, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice. All partners hold a firm belief that success in any of these areas depends on civil engagement and participation in democracy.

“I look forward to collaborating with Derrick Johnson to fix our democracy and build a movement for racial, environmental and social justice,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director for Greenpeace USA, and co-chair for the DI board of directors. “Now more than ever, we must work side-by-side to fight for justice in our communities and to create a healthy planet and democracy for all!”

Mr. Johnson’s extensive career and advocacy on civil rights and  Mr. Gebre’s tireless voice on workers’ rights are an asset for the Democracy Initiative as it launches its most ambitious program, Democracy 365. The Democracy 365 campaign is actively pushing back on attempts both locally and nationally to shrink the voting power of everyday people.

“I’m so excited to continue to have Tefere’s leadership as part of Democracy Initiative,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President and CEO of Common Cause and co-chair of the DI board of directors. “Labor members continue to be at the front lines of the fight for change in our democracy and we need their drive and energy now more than ever to fight back corporate influence in government.”

“In this critical moment, it is bold visionary leaders like Derrick and Tefere that are leading the way not only with their words but through actions,” said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “I look forward to working with Chairman Leon Russell at the NAACP and President Richard Trumpka at the AFL-CIO as they guide members to meet the demands for a 21st century democracy. They know that in order to advance critical issues like economic justice, criminal justice reform, and climate justice we must create a just and fair democracy where we can hold our leaders accountable.”

 

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 60 organizations representing 30 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

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The Democracy Initiative Welcomes NAACP Interim President & CEO Derrick Johnson to the Board of Directors

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org 202-567-6103

September 20, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic coalition of 60 diverse issue organizations, welcomes NAACP Interim President Derrick Johnson to the board of directors. Johnson was selected to lead the historic civil rights organization in July while the board searches for a new president. As a longtime member of the NAACP, President Johnson’s strategic leadership will help foster continued mobilization of millions of members across the country for democracy.

The Democracy Initiative launched in 2013 – by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), NAACP, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club – to mobilize members to demand a democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. Since its first convening, endorsing groups have represented a diverse range of progressive issues, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice. All partners hold a firm belief that success in any of these areas depends on civil engagement and participation in democracy.

“Derrick Johnson understands how to engage, move, and mobilize citizens to engage in civic life and have their voices heard at all levels of government,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause president. “These are skills the Democracy Initiative is in the process of teaching, implementing, and moving to scale as voters remind politicians that they serve in the public interest, not wealthy special interests. We welcome Derrick’s leadership, his experience, and his vision as we build a democracy that works for all Americans.”

“The Democracy Initiative creates a collaborative space for a diverse set social justice organizations to take collective action and advance just causes by creating a more inclusive democracy,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP interim president and CEO. “I am pleased to join the DI board of directors. We are all stronger when we work together to make sure our government delivers on the promise of a democracy for all."

The Democracy Initiative launched its most ambitious program, Democracy 365, to focus the energy of the millions of grassroots members within in the coalition to win large scale reforms at the state and local level. The program will officially start later this fall; however, the DI is already seeing the impact of this new effort. The DI mobilized members around 5 coordinated state actions across the U.S. on the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to push back on their attempts to shrink our voting power. These actions featured members of the diverse coalition speaking boldly on the need for a proactive vision for democracy that ensures all eligible voters can fully participate. The NAACP was involved in many of these actions, mobilizing members and providing local leadership as speakers.

“NAACP is a founding member of the Democracy Initiative and their presence is invaluable to the coalition, said Wendy Fields, executive director for the Democracy Initiative. “Already, President Johnson has added his voice to our Democracy365 program and I’m excited to partner with him and the incredible members of the NAACP to advance democracy reforms so we can hold leaders accountable on issues like criminal justice reform, policy brutality, economic development, and climate justice.”

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The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 60 organizations representing 30 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

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The Democracy Initiative Expresses Appreciation for Cornell Brooks & NAACP

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Board of Directors of the Democracy Initiative (DI) express their sincere appreciation to NAACP President Cornell W. Brooks for his strong leadership and public witness in the fight to advance pro-democracy reforms across the country. The NAACP announced on Friday, May 19 that Brooks would end his tenure as the president and CEO of the historic civil rights organization at the end of June. Brooks has been a valuable member of the DI Board and has set a powerful example of servant leadership in his efforts to not only speak truth to power on core issues of the NAACP, but to physically stand up against injustice through civil disobedience.

For nearly three years, Cornell Brooks has led efforts at the national and local level to ensure democratic participation for all citizens. In the last year alone, the NAACP has had 10 legal victories in the fight against voter suppression. Under Brooks’ leadership, we were proud to support the NAACP-led America’s Journey for Justice, a historic 1002-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C. in 2015. Cornell galvanized DI member organizations to participate in the 2016 Democracy Awakening and was a visible presence in outreach efforts in Howard County (Maryland) in support of public finance. The DI collaborated and supported the recent NAACP-led sit-ins protesting the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general. We are grateful for his strong commitment to building a powerful democracy movement and look forward to his continued leadership, vision, and passion in the fight for social justice.

As the NAACP begins a new chapter in its leadership, the DI looks forward to continued collaboration with national and local leaders to move democracy reforms that will strengthen all of our efforts to advance justice in this challenging political landscape.   

 

Karen Hobert Flynn, Co-Chair

Annie Leonard, Co-Chair

Larry Cohen

Tefere Gebre

Michael Brune

Wendy Fields, Executive Director

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Exciting DI Changes

Friday, April 28, 2017

Annie & Karen.png

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In this critical fight for a democracy that works for all of us, we are excited to announce some important changes to the structure of the Democracy Initiative board and coordinating committee. Our diverse and broad coalition must reflect the work we wish to see at the grassroots -- agile, responsive leadership.

The board is committed to modeling this nimble and responsive structure. That's why we’re moving to co-chairs for the board starting in May. Larry Cohen has done a tremendous job leading the DI and will remain on the board. We are stepping up to be the co-chairs.

In addition to the new co-chairs, the board is creating two committees to guide our work: development and outreach. The development committee will focus the talents of board members that can help the DI leverage funding for the critical work of our coalition. The outreach committee will oversee how we engage and bring new organizations into the coalition that enhance and magnify our work at the local, state, and national level.

To better reflect our focus on scaling up our efforts and deepening our program with DI member groups' membership, we are renaming the Coordinating Committee to the Mobilizing Committee. Working individually and collectively with current and new partners, we will connect and mobilize members to participate in different aspects of the Democracy 365 vision discussed last week. The Mobilizing Committee will move to a bi-weekly meeting structure, starting in May and convene state reform campaign briefings and engagement sessions that include state leaders and DI member groups.

As a coalition, we commit to building a truly multiracial, intersectional democracy movement to train and mobilize members and activists to strengthen all of our organizations and win reforms to shift the landscape. At the extended program meeting last week, we introduced our new Democracy 365 umbrella campaign to create a vision of a democracy that works for everyone and expands our coalition. We have identified state and local campaigns where the DI will collaborate.

We’re excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead of us to harness the energy of the resistance movement and lean in on proactive and defensive state and local fights. Please join the upcoming webinar on Thursday, May 4 or Friday, May 5 from 1-2pm ET / 10-11am PT. RSVP online or email eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org.

Together we can add many new voices and activists to make an even more powerful democracy movement that will expand voting power and blunt the influence of money in our elections and governing.  

We are excited to lead this next phase of the DI and work with our tremendous Executive Director Wendy Fields. We invite you to participate in upcoming webinars and meetings that will lay out immediate opportunities for partners to engage their members.

In Solidarity,

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA
Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause

 

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Tillerson's Recusal One Step Forward on Accountability

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

 

Thursday, March 2nd was a win for the environmental community, proving that participation in our democracy can create a more accountable government. The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was found to benefit ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson’s former employer. After Greenpeace shed light on Tillerson’s conflict of interest with making permit decisions for Keystone XL. Greenpeace’s Executive Director and Democracy Initiative Board Member, Annie Leonard wrote a letter to the  Office of Governmental Ethics expressing concerns and thousands of people called into the OGE flooding their phone lines.

 

These actions proved successful, with the OGE commenting Thursday night that Tillerson would recuse himself from “working on issues related to TransCanada’s application for a presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.” This is a step forward towards a more accountable government but we must continue to push for transparency.

Read Annie Leonard's full letter to the Office of Governmental Ethics here. 

Greenpeace Resist Banner

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Miles Rapoport Appointed as Senior Fellow at Harvard Ash Center

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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The DI extends its warmest congratulations to Miles Rapoport on his appointment as Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Rapoport has been a longtime organizer and democracy defender who served as the president of Demos for 13 years before moving on to Common Cause. He also is a former secretary of the state and state legislator in Connecticut, and founded or led several citizen organizations working on political reform, consumer protection, racial equality, and economic justice issues. Rapoport will create a strong link between field work and scholarship to improve our democracy. We look forward to his work!

 

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Democracy Initiative Board Members on Why We Must #StopSessions

Democracy Initiative Board Members Cornell William Brooks (President & CEO, NAACP) & Annie Leonard (Executive Director, Greenpeace) speak out after the Women's March on why the Senate must reject Jeff Sessions.
Monday, January 23, 2017

Urge your senators to reject Sessions! Watch and share the video!

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