ed. note: The press release doesn't state it, but at the time of this leadership announcement Priorities USA Action also lined up to support Hillary Clinton; that development came from an interview with Jim Messina, who told the New York Times, "I think the number clearly show that she's the strongest presidential candidate on the Democratic side...  And Priorities is going to be there for her if she decides to run."  Thus, in the New York Times article, "Huge 'Super PAC' Is Moving Early to Back Clinton," Nicholas Confessore wrote, "On Thursday, Priorities USA Action, a 'super PAC' that played an important role in helping re-elect President Obama, announced that it was formally aligning itself with Mrs. Clinton and would begin raising money to fend off potential opponents for 2016."  Likewise, the Wall Street Journal reported this in an article by Thomas Catan and Carol E. Lee headlined, "Key Democratic Super PAC Backs Hillary Clinton."  (Also of note, three of the Priorities USA Action board members are active in the Ready for Hillary super PAC.  Jennifer Granholm and Harold Ickes are senior advisors and Allida Black is co-founder and co-chair).

January 23, 2014

Priorities USA Action Announces New Leadership

Washington, D.C. – Priorities USA Action today announced its new leadership structure for the 2016 presidential election cycle. The organization will be led by Co-Chairs Jim Messina and Governor Jennifer M. Granholm along with a Board made up of progressive leaders from throughout the country. In addition to the Board, Diana Rogalle was named Finance Director.

“We couldn’t be more proud and excited to be joined by Jim Messina and Governor Granholm, whose leadership and political acumen will be invaluable in our effort to elect a Democratic president in 2016,” said Priorities USA Action Executive Director Buffy Wicks. “We are here to make sure that progressive values are not drowned out by right-wing organizations, and that the necessary resources are in place to give the middle class a voice in the 2016 election.”

“Having played a critical role in 2012, Priorities USA Action has very clearly demonstrated its ability to help elect a Democratic president. We intend to replicate that role and its success again in 2016, defining a clear choice for the American public,” said Priorities USA Action Co-Chair Jim Messina.

“We know that well-funded right-wing groups will raise record amounts of money to protect their narrow special interests. But as we proved in 2012, a strong message delivered effectively can help to level the playing field for Democratic candidates,” said Priorities USA Action Co-Chair, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “There is already a great deal of energy on the Democratic side for the 2016 presidential election and we look forward to working alongside allied organizations that are also dedicated to making sure the pieces are in place for victory in 2016.”

Priorities USA Action Board members include:

  • Jim Messina, Co-Chair
  • Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, Co-Chair
  • Charles A. Baker III
  • Allida Black
  • David Brock
  • Maria Echaveste
  • Justin Gray
  • William P. Hite
  • Harold Ickes
  • Stephanie Schriock
  • Marva Smalls
  • Joe Solomonese
  • Greg Speed
  • Randi Weingarten



Peter Kauffmann

Priorities USA Action Board Members
Jim Messina, Co-Chair
The mastermind behind President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, Jim Messina seized the reins on what Bloomberg Businessweek dubbed “the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken”—and succeeded, earning the President another term in the White House. With the guidance of technology’s foremost leaders, Messina abandoned every step of a traditional presidential campaign and merged technology and politics in a way that was both unpredictable and unprecedented. Messina’s strategies established the modern presidential campaign—Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called it “the best-run campaign ever.”
In January 2013, the Obama administration announced the launch of Organizing for Action, a new advocacy organization that will promote President Obama’s policies, with Jim Messina as national director.
In 2013, Messina also launched The Messina Group. In this role, Messina provides strategic consulting to political campaigns, advocacy organizations and businesses. In this capacity, Messina has been retained by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative Party in preparation for 2015 elections.
Jim Messina served as Deputy Chief of Staff to President Barack H. Obama from 2009 to 2011, where he was integral to the passage of the landmark health care and economic stimulus bills, in addition to serving as the campaign manager for Obama's successful 2012 re-election campaign. He previously served as Director of Personnel for the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition and as national chief of staff for Obama for
Messina joined the Obama campaign from the office of U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), where he was chief of staff. He previously held the same position for U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).
He has overseen and consulted on political campaigns across the country, from Alaska to New York. He is a graduate of the University of Montana and attended high school in Boise, Idaho.
Jennifer M. Granholm, Co-Chair
Jennifer M. Granholm is the former governor and attorney general of Michigan, a distinguished practitioner of law and public policy at UC Berkeley, and one of the nation’s leading authorities on clean energy policy.
Granholm was first elected governor of Michigan in 2002. In 2006, she was re-elected with the largest number of votes ever cast for governor in Michigan.  As Governor, Granholm led the state through a brutal economic downturn that resulted from a meltdown in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. She worked relentlessly to diversify the state’s economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the advanced manufacturing sector, and add new, emerging sectors, such as clean energy, to Michigan’s economic portfolio.
In addition to diversification, Granholm focused on creating jobs, attracting international investment, improving education, and training Michigan’s workers to promote the state’s long-term economic health. She pushed Michigan to double the number of college graduates and signed into law a college prep curriculum for every high school student in Michigan in addition to some of the toughest turnaround requirements for low-performing schools in the nation. In 2007, she launched No Worker Left Behind, a program that gave unemployed and under-employed citizens the opportunity to attend community college or technical school to receive training for high-demand jobs by offering state-paid tuition to Michigan’s displaced adults.
During her tenure, she pioneered clean energy policies, working with business, labor, Republicans and Democrats to create new economic opportunities in Michigan. In 2005, the Granholm economic development team put together an aggressive strategy to make Michigan the hub of clean-energy development in North America by developing entire supply chains in Michigan, fostering critical partnerships between industry, government and researchers and by creating economic incentives that made Michigan the place to locate. Granholm’s plan included specific clustering strategies targeted at battery manufacturing, bio-energy, solar, and wind power. Her leadership attracted to Michigan more than 89,000 clean energy jobs and $9.4 billion in investments in that sector.
Under her leadership, Michigan had the second highest rate of child health care coverage in the nation, despite the economic challenges. She received praise for her commitment to the cultivating new jobs in Michigan. During her tenure as governor, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation brought in almost 4,000 companies or expansions projected to create 653,000 jobs. While serving as governor, Michigan was repeatedly named one of the top three states in the nation for business locations or expansions and was twice recognized by The Pew Center on the States as one of the best-managed states in the nation. According to the Gallup Job Creation Index, Michigan led the country in the improvement of job market conditions between 2009 and 2010. Granholm was also a fiscal hawk— cutting a greater percentage from state government than any state in the nation and resolving more than $14 billion in budget deficits. For example, she eliminated 25 percent of state departments, shut down 13 prison facilities, and reformed public employee benefits and pensions.
Prior to becoming governor, Granholm served as a judicial clerk for Michigan’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990, and in 1994, she was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel. Granholm was elected Michigan’s first female attorney general in 1998.
After leaving office, Granholm hosted Current TV’s national political analysis show “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm” and co-authored the Washington Post political bestseller, A Governor’s Story: The Fight for Jobs and America’s Economic Future.
Today, Granholm advocates for a national commitment to advanced manufacturing, worker training, and clean energy. In addition to teaching courses in law and public policy at UC Berkeley, she currently serves as the chair of Granholm Mulhern Associates.
Granholm is an honors graduate of both the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She and her husband have three children.
Charles A. Baker III
A founding partner of the Dewey Square Group, Charlie Baker brings more than 30 years of experience in government, politics, and law to Dewey Square. Focusing on the development of public strategies, the building of successful grassroots coalitions, and the analysis of public law/policy issues, Charlie provides strategic council for the firm’s clients. Charlie has expertise on some of the most complex and pressing technology issues of our day and has led campaigns and strategies for clients around privacy, anti-trust, trade, U.S. competitiveness, telecommunications and intellectual property rights for our clients.
Charlie’s early background was steeped in national politics where he served as a senior advisor on national field strategy to Kerry/Edwards 2004 and the Democratic National Committee. His prior political experience includes positions as chief campaign consultant to Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s 1994 re-election effort, special advisor/field organization for Clinton/Gore ’92 and national field director for Governor Mike Dukakis presidential campaign in 1987-1988. In 2000, Charlie served as a senior advisor on national field strategy to the Gore/Lieberman campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and later served as a senior advisor for the campaign during the Florida Recount.
Charlie began his political career serving as deputy chief secretary to Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis, later becoming deputy secretary of the Executive Office of Communities and Development (1986-1987) and assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (1989-1990).
Charlie lives in Boston.
Allida Black
Allida Black is the Managing Director of the Allenswood Group, a collaborative founded to empower individuals and strengthen democracy through education, a Senior Fellow at the Women’s Research and Education Institute, and a Research Professor of History at The George Washington University. She is also Editor Emeritus and Editorial Advisory Board Chair of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, a project she designed to preserve, teach and apply Eleanor Roosevelt's writings and discussions of human rights and democratic politics.

Most recently she served Executive Editor of the fdr4freedoms digital resource, an education and advocacy program dedicated to the Four Freedoms: freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of worship
In 2010, as Program Manager for the National Democratic Institute for International Affair’s Women’s Political Participation Team, she assisted a team that helped women in 70 countries run for office, lead their parties, and advocate for issues they championed.

In 2009, she conceived an organized The Courage to Lead: An International Summit for Women’s Human Rights Leaders co-sponsored by the Department of State, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Labour Organization, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.

She has written seven books as well as a variety of articles on women, politics, and human rights policy. She is currently writing a political biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. In November 2012, Penguin Classics reissued Eleanor Roosevelt’s Tomorrow Is Now, for which she wrote an extensive introduction and President Bill Clinton wrote the foreword.

She is a trustee of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and a director the Educators Institute for Human Rights, the Summer Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, the Center for New Deal Studies, the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology, and a the Liberian Education Trust, a project designed to rebuild the Liberian public school system and provide literacy and numeracy training to market women. She also is a co-founder and chair of Ready for Hillary.

David Brock
David Brock is a widely published author Democratic activist.  In 2004, Brock founded Media Matters for America, the nation’s premiere progressive media watchdog group.  Following the 2010 elections, Brock founded the Super PAC American Bridge, which does opposition research to help elect Democrats to office.  Brock serves as chairman of both organizations.
Brock is the author of five political books, including his 2002 best-selling political memoir, “Blinded by the Right”, “The Republican Noise Machine” and “The Fox Effect.” His writing has appeared in USA Today, the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and Salon. 
Maria Echaveste
Maria Echaveste is a lecturer and Policy and Program Development Director with the University of California, Berkeley School of Law’s Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy.
She is the co-founder of NVG, LLC in Washington DC, a consulting group providing strategic and policy advice to a variety of corporate, non-profit and union clients.  Ms. Echaveste served as a senior U.S. Department of Labor official and White House official, including serving as assistant to the president and White House deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton from 1998 – 2001.
Ms. Echaveste currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of California Healthcare Foundation, America’s Voices (an organization seeking immigration reform), New World Foundation, American Constitution Society, the US/Mexico Foundation and Mi Familia Vota (focused on Latino civic engagement), among other non-governmental organizations.  She previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, CARE (a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty) and the Alliance for Excellent Education, focused on education reform issues.  She is also a non-resident fellow of the Center for American Progress working on issues such as immigration, civil rights, education and Latin America. Lastly, she has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 2001.
Maria Echaveste received a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Stanford University in 1976 and, in 1980, a Juris Doctor from the University of California at Berkeley.
Justin Gray
Justin Gray currently serves as President and CEO of Gray Global Advisors, LLC, a full service business advisory firm that specializes in the strategic implementation of government affairs and business consulting services for public and private corporations, foreign governments, educational institutions, trade associations, foundations, and nonprofits. In his capacity as President and CEO, Mr. Gray leads the operations of the firm’s numerous practice areas, and is responsible for the management of the Washington, D.C. office.  
Mr. Gray’s expertise includes developing and implementing public policy campaigns and business development initiatives with respect to telecommunications, transportation and infrastructure, international trade, financial services, health care, energy, and education.
He routinely counsels governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations on legislative, regulatory, and third party stakeholder outreach initiatives. He also advises businesses on domestic and international development opportunities with respect to market entry analysis; transaction structure; regulatory and political risk mitigation; joint ventures; public-private partnerships; and navigating related government, business, and third party communities.
Mr. Gray’s previous experience includes developing and implementing messaging and outreach strategies for leading media and telecommunication companies on video franchising, network neutrality, must carriage agreements, and artist performance royalties.  He has led engagement strategies with respect to antitrust and FCC approvals of mergers and other consolidation transactions on behalf of leading satellite radio and cable providers.  Mr. Gray has advised heads of state on foreign policy and international trade matters related to restricting predatory collection of sovereign debt, territorial disputes, and tax haven issues.  He has counseled government-backed international private equity clients on the structure and regulatory approval for privatization.     He has also assisted in creating and implementing domestic and international market entry strategies on behalf of leading private equity, health care, information technology, and insurance risk management firms. 
Mr. Gray has extensive experience as a practicing attorney, and has worked at several national law firms on corporate transactions and public policy matters.  During his career he negotiated and structured corporate transactional matters on behalf of high-growth companies and investors on all aspects of formation and financing, choice of entity, angel and venture capital financing, capital structure, and private placements.
Mr. Gray is admitted to the District of Columbia Bar Association, Virginia State Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Riverview School in East Sandwich, Massachusetts, a coeducational residential school for complex learning and cognitive disabilities and the Children’s Law Center, a legal services organization that provides comprehensive representation for the social services needs of at-risk children.  He also serves on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Corporate Advisory Council.  Mr. Gray is also a Board Member of Operation Understanding, a leadership development organization that works to promote cultural awareness and tolerance in Philadelphia, PA.  
Mr. Gray received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from Florida A&M University.
William P. Hite
William P. Hite is the General President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), which represents over 370,000 members in the skilled piping trades in the U.S., Canada and Australia.   He is known as a dynamic labor leader committed to expanding skills training opportunities and increasing our nation’s competitiveness in the energy and manufacturing sectors.
Since becoming General President in 2004, Hite has worked tirelessly to advance the interests of working people and has fought hard for policies that expand job opportunities for the middle class.  From his work in industry and government to the services he provides to the community and charities, he has achieved unprecedented success on behalf of his union and its members.
Under his leadership, the UA has increased its commitment to member activism, grassroots political action, labor-management cooperation, apprenticeship, training and education.  He also led the charge for an unprecedented growth in the UA’s national, state and local political programs, which proved critical in helping secure major victories in both the 2008 and 2012 elections.
While he has enjoyed a wide range of accomplishments that have made the UA a true leader among other labor organizations, one of the programs of which Hite is most proud is the UA’s Veterans in Piping Program—an award-winning nation-wide initiative that provides high skill training and good jobs to transitioning serve members at no cost to them.    Due to his work for veterans, he was selected as the first labor leader in history to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Military Officers Association of America.
Hite has represented labor on many important boards and committees. Democratic and Republican United States Presidents alike have sought Hite out for advice. He has served on Presidential Task Forces from rebuilding the Gulf Coast to advisory committees on trade and policy negotiations, and is the only labor leader on President Obama’s prestigious Export Council made up of CEO’s and Cabinet Secretaries. He also serves on the board of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, where he is chair of the Workforce Readiness Subcommittee.
As General President, Hite represents the face of the United Association in dealings with government officials, project owners, contractors, fellow labor unions and the general public. Given his stature in the industry, he serves on various boards, councils and committees, including the following:
  • Board of Directors, President's Export Council (*Presidential Appointment)
  • Labor Vice-Chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness
  • AFL-CIO Executive Council & Executive Committee
  • President of the Mechanical Allied Crafts
  • Vice-President of the Building Construction Trades Department
  • Vice-President of the Executive Council of the Metal Trades Department
  • Board of Directors of the Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Board of Trustees of the American Petroleum Institute
  • Board of Directors of Veterans in Piping Program
  • Board of Directors of Helmets to Hardhats
  • Board of Directors of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance
  • Board of Directors of BlueGreen Alliance
  • Board of Directors of National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
Hite has been an outspoken advocate for job creation, immigration reform, and sound energy policy on Capitol Hill and as a contributor to various leading publications.
A cancer survivor, he has learned not to take anything for granted and now helps others by serving as a major fund-raiser for the Mayo Clinic and other organizations supporting cancer research and programs that make life easier for patients and their families.
Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Hite is a proud third generation, 46-year member of the UA; his son is now a proud fourth generation member. 
Hailing originally from Chicago, he started as an apprentice in UA Local 597 and rose up the ranks quickly due to his high intelligence, hard work ethic and strong dedication to the union and its members. By 1993, he was Financial Secretary-Treasurer and Assistant Business Manager of Local 597, one of the UA’s largest Locals. He then worked in several general officer positions at the UA’s headquarters in Washington D.C.  He became the UA General President in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2011.
He is a graduate of the National Labor College with a B.A. in Union Leadership and Administration. 
He and his wife Pat have two children and seven grandchildren.
Harold Ickes
Harold Ickes worked for civil rights in Mississippi during 1964 and Louisiana during 1965. He has been active as a Presidential advisor, labor lawyer, political strategist and manager of numerous political campaigns.
His first presidential campaign was as co-manager of Senator Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 New York presidential primary campaign. He has been involved with presidential nominating and general election campaigns every cycle since, including managing the Rules Committee and floor of the Democratic National Convention for Senator Edward Kennedy’s 1980 run; likewise for Jesse Jackson’s 1988 bid; managing Bill Clinton’s 1992 winning New York presidential primary; and as Senior Advisor, on a day-to-day basis, in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign.
Harold was day-to-day senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s winning 2000 New York Senate campaign and her 2006 re-election campaign. He was co-manager of Basil Paterson’s historic and winning 1970 Democratic primary campaign for Lt. Governor of New York, and he was a day-to-day senior advisor to David Dinkins’ 1989 historic, winning campaign to become the first Black mayor of New York City. He managed the 1992 Democratic National Convention for Clinton/Gore, widely considered the most successful Democratic National Convention in decades, and the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
Prior to forming The Ickes & Enright Group, a federal affairs consulting firm, with his partner, Janice Ann Enright, in January 1997, Harold served as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton from January 1994 through January 1997. He also oversaw the President’s successful 1996 re-election campaign — the first incumbent Democratic president re-elected since FDR.
Harold has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 1988.
By appointment of President Clinton, Harold served as Director of Summit Affairs for the 1997 Denver Summit of the Eight, the meeting of the heads of state of eight of the world’s leading economic nations, formerly known as the “G7 Economic Summit.”
In 2005, Harold organized Catalist, LLC, a national voter database that includes every registered voter in the country as well as virtually every individual of voting age but not registered, which provides high quality data and modeling capacity to Democrats and progressive organizations.
From 1977 through 1993, Harold primarily practiced union-side law in the New York law firm Meyer Suozzi English & Klein, PC, representing labor unions and their members. As a partner in the firm, he continues to co-chair its Labor and Government Relations Departments.
Mr. Ickes graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BA in Economics in 1964 and received his JD degree from Columbia University School of Law.
Stephanie Schriock
EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock is a recognized leader, bringing more than 12 years of fundraising, management and strategic planning experience to EMILY's List. She's been described as "inspirational," a "star in American politics," and "a spectacular campaign manager." All of this, and she can make Senator Al Franken laugh while she's doing it.
Stephanie has been at the forefront of some of the most challenging and innovative political campaigns of the past decade. As the national finance director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, she built and led the team that revolutionized political fundraising. By harnessing the power of the Internet and implementing other creative fundraising strategies, Stephanie's team raised more than $52 million in a Democratic primary, far exceeding previous records.
The accomplishment caught the eye of a farmer and state senator in Stephanie's home state of Montana, who was looking to unseat an 18-year Republican incumbent U.S. senator in a state with an eight-point Republican advantage. As the campaign manager for Jon Tester, Stephanie oversaw every aspect of a $5 million race -- building an expansive field operation, maintaining strict message discipline, and ultimately leading Tester to defeat conservative Republican Conrad Burns and help Democrats take over the Senate. Tester quickly made Schriock his Senate chief of staff, giving her full authority to hire and direct a 40-person organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and in eight cities throughout Montana; manage the office budget; and develop a strategic plan that would solidify the senator's strength in Montana.
When Democratic leaders in Washington were looking for the right person to manage Al Franken's Senate campaign in Minnesota, they turned to Stephanie. Franken's $18 million campaign against Republican Senator Norm Coleman was, not surprisingly, one of the most-watched races of the 2008 election cycle. After an extremely close vote on Election Day failed to produce a clear victor, Stephanie managed a $12 million recount operation that involved four law firms, 180 staff, and nearly 2000 volunteers over a period of eight months.
The hard-fought Franken victory solidified Stephanie's reputation as a major force in Democratic politics. "Stephanie's one of the absolute stars of American politics now," says White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina (Washington Post, 7/13/09). Consultant Mandy Grunwald called Stephanie "one of the best campaign managers I've ever worked with" (Washington Post, 7/13/09). And in 2007, Washingtonian magazine named her one of "Forty Under Forty: Young Washingtonians to Watch."
Through all this, Stephanie Schriock has never forgotten the values she learned growing up in the strong labor town of Butte, Montana. Montana has a proud history of electing women: the first woman to win a seat in Congress, Jeannette Rankin, was elected from Montana in 1916.
Stephanie is a graduate of Mankato State University in Minnesota, and did her masters work at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.
Marva Smalls
Marva Smalls has more than three decades of leadership experience in the public and private sectors.  She is Executive Vice President of Global Inclusion Strategy for Viacom, as well as Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, and Chief of Staff for Nickelodeon.  Smalls is regularly identified as one of the most influential leaders in media.
Smalls has longstanding relationships with public affairs, government, communications and philanthropic organizations on both the state and national level, formerly serving as Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Robin Tallon.  During her decade of work with the Congressman, she acted as spokesperson and decision maker, independent of and in concert with the Congressman, providing day-to-day oversight of the legislative agenda, scheduling, constituent service activities, and media relations.  She was also responsible for the supervision and administration of the Congressman’s subcommittee staff.  She was the first African-American to serve as a Chief of Staff for a white Southern Member of Congress. She has also served on the Democratic National Committee and on the National Democratic Institutes.   She was a super delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
As Staff Director of South Carolina’s Private Industry Council for Governor Richard Riley, she worked closely with business and industry in creating a partnership for private/public sector employment initiatives.
Since leaving the public sector, Smalls has maintained her political and community activism.  She remains particularly active in the Pee Dee Area of South Carolina.  She is a founding board member of the newly constructed Performing Arts Center in Florence and of the ScienceSouth Advisory Committee, and has devised the Champions for Youth annual dinner, raising record funds for the Boys and Girls Club of the Pee Dee Area.
She is a corporate director of National Bank of South Carolina, where she has chaired the CRA and Examining/Audit Committees.  She also serves on the Medical University of South Carolina Foundation Board, University of South Carolina Presidential Advisory Committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York, National Council for Families and Television, and The American Theatre Wing.
Smalls is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the nation’s premier leadership organization comprised of the most senior African-American corporate executives in Fortune 500 companies.  She has also been actively involved in the Clinton Global Initiative and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a leading research and public policy institution focusing exclusively on issues of particular concern to African-Americans and other people of color.
Smalls has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina, where she was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities.   She also started the Marva Smalls Endowment and has awarded more than $1 million to programs providing opportunities to youth and families.   In addition she has established a $1 million endowment for the University of South Carolina’s Ronald McNair Center which offers scholarship and support to engineering students from the under-represented populations from the Pee Dee area of the state.
Smalls has testified and presented before Senate and Federal regulatory agencies, and industry leadership groups, and was Keynote Speaker at the World Summit on Children’s Television.  She is a highly sought-after speaker on topics related to empowerment, mentoring, and inclusion of diverse communities.  She has received numerous awards for her work with, and support of, community-based projects aimed at improving children’s quality of life.
Smalls currently resides in New York City and Charleston, SC.
Joe Solomonese      
Joe Solmonese is a Managing Director and Founding Partner of Gavin/Solmonese, and leads the firm’s Washington, DC office.  As head of the firm’s Corporate Strategy, Public Affairs and Policy practice, Joe advises corporations on organizational effectiveness strategies, and policy development and implementation across a diverse spectrum of topics.  Joe also brings his significant experience advising both political campaigns and corporate brand campaigns.
Prior to forming Gavin/Solmonese, Joe served for seven years as the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization.  Under Joe’s leadership, HRC was instrumental in passing landmark legislation such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as well as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” HRC, under Joe’s leadership, also played a key role in winning full marriage equality in eight states plus the District of Columbia.  Prior to joining the Human Rights Campaign, Joe spent thirteen years at EMILY’s List, one of the nation’s largest political action committees, devoted to electing women to higher office.  During his final two years there, Joe served as the organization’s CEO. 
Joe also served as one of the National Co-chairs for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
In his capacity as head of the Corporate Enlightenment practice and as former President of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe has worked on a regular basis with corporations nationwide.  He advised Starbucks as it debated the stand it would take in the same-sex marriage debate in its headquarters state of Washington.  He has worked with employee resource groups at companies like Sprint, where he helped them set an agenda that worked toward strengthening the bottom line.  And he regularly speaks on the ever-changing cultural, political and public policy landscape to corporations like GE Capital, Comcast and Macy’s.
Greg Speed
Greg Speed is president of America Votes. He has a broad range of leadership experience advancing progressive causes by leading organizations, grassroots advocacy programs, political campaigns, and as a senior staffer to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
Greg has led AV for the past six years, directing operations and coordination of independent programs throughout the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Previously, Greg served as Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2004 election cycle. Greg worked as Press Secretary for Congressman Martin Frost during his tenure as Democratic Caucus Chair. He also directed communications for IMPAC 2000, the national Democratic redistricting project in 2001-2002. He led multi-state public education advocacy campaigns as National Communications Director for Communities for Quality Education (CQE).
Greg currently serves on the boards of Priorities USA, ProgressNow and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. He was raised in "Chicagoland” and received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his wife, Lona Valmoro, reside on Capitol Hill with their two children.
Randi Weingarten
Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. The AFT champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities. The AFT and its members advance these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through members’ work.
Prior to her election as AFT president in 2008, Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education. In 2013, the New York Observer named Weingarten one of the most influential New Yorkers of the past 25 years. Washington Life magazine included Weingarten on its 2013 Power 100 list of influential leaders.
Weingarten has launched major efforts to place real education reform high on the nation’s and her union’s agendas. She created the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative education reform projects developed by members and their local unions. At Weingarten’s direction, the AFT developed a model to transform teacher evaluations from a way of simply rating teachers to a tool for continuous improvement and feedback, and is using this model to align tenure and due process so that tenure serves as a guarantee of fairness, not of a job for life. Weingarten led an AFT committee that called for all prospective teachers to meet a high entry standard—as in medicine or law—so that they’re prepared from the day they enter the classroom.
Weingarten oversaw the development of the AFT’s Quality Education Agenda, which advocates for reforms grounded in evidence, equity, scalability and sustainability. She promotes what she calls “solution-driven unionism”—an approach to collective bargaining and collective action that unites the interests of union members and those they serve in the pursuit of solutions that benefit students, schools and communities. 
The AFT and a broad array of parent and community partners have collaborated on events across the country to advance a community- and educator-driven agenda for public school reform. Parents and many others have joined the AFT’s efforts to end the overuse and misuse of standardized tests, and to fix—not close—struggling schools, something Weingarten has advocated since her involvement in the creation of New York City’s Chancellor’s District, which dramatically improved achievement in what had been some of the city’s lowest-performing schools.
Weingarten spearheaded the development by the AFT and British partner TES Connect of Share My Lesson, the United States’ largest free collection of educational resources created by teachers, for teachers, with an emphasis on resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
Weingarten and the AFT were asked to lead a partnership to transform McDowell County, W.Va., one of the poorest counties in the United States. The AFT has assembled close to 100 partners not only to improve the quality of education provided to children in the county, but to focus on jobs, transportation, recreation, housing, healthcare and social services. The AFT also has developed a partnership with First Book to provide free and reduced-price books to children, with a goal of distributing 5 million books in one year.
Under Weingarten’s leadership, the AFT continues to grow and expand its voice as a union of professionals. In 2013, the National Federation of Nurses, representing 34,000 nurses, voted to affiliate, making the AFT the second-largest union of nurses in the country. The AFT has also expanded its higher education and public employee membership as well as building strength in the South and Southwest.
In 2012-13, Weingarten served on an education reform commission convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which made a series of recommendations to improve teaching and learning. She was appointed to the Equity and Excellence Commission, a federal advisory committee chartered by Congress to examine and make recommendations concerning the disparities in educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap.
For 10 years, while president of the UFT, Weingarten chaired New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization for the city’s 100-plus public sector unions, including those representing higher education and other public service employees. As chair of the MLC, she coordinated labor negotiations and bargaining for benefits on behalf of the MLC unions’ 365,000 members.
From 1986 to 1998, Weingarten served as counsel to UFT president Sandra Feldman, taking a lead role in contract negotiations and enforcement, and in lawsuits in which the union fought for adequate school funding and building conditions. A teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood from 1991 to 1997, Weingarten helped her students win several state and national awards debating constitutional issues.
Elected as the local union’s assistant secretary in 1995 and as treasurer two years later, she became UFT president after Feldman became president of the AFT. Weingarten was elected to her first full term as UFT president in 1998 and was re-elected three times.
Weingarten’s column “What Matters Most” appears in the New York Times’ Sunday Review the third Sunday of each month. You can follow her on Twitter at @rweingarten or on Facebook.
Weingarten holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She worked as a lawyer for the Wall Street firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1983 to 1986. She is an active member of the Democratic National Committee and numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations. Born in 1957 and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., Weingarten now resides on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.
Priorities USA Action Staff
Diana Rogalle, Finance Director
Diana Rogalle has been a leading Democratic political fundraiser and operative for close to twenty years. Consulting on federal and non-federal races across the nation, Ms. Rogalle has played a key role in Democratic campaigns during each of the past ten consecutive election cycles. Her relationships extend across America’s financial, entertainment, business, activist, and philanthropic communities, and her management expertise has earned her a reputation among the most elite in her field.
In March 2005, Ms. Rogalle formed The Ashmead Group based in Washington, DC. The Ashmead Group is a boutique political and non-profit fundraising consulting firm dedicated to providing the highest level of service to donors, candidates, advocacy organizations and businesses.
Clients of the Ashmead Group have included Priorities USA Action; campaigns for US Senators Max Baucus, Mark Udall, Ron Wyden, Maria Cantwell, Debbie Stabenow and Jeff Merkley, as well as a number of current and former governors; advocacy organizations including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and the National Resources Defense Council; and not for profit organizations including Ford’s Theater, Make It Right, Generation Rescue and the Alliance for Climate Change.
Ms. Rogalle’s experience before founding the Ashmead Group includes leading the fundraising efforts for Victory Campaign 2004 – the joint fundraising committee of America Coming Together and The Media Fund; National Finance Director for the Wes Clark for President Campaign; and four years as the Finance Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Ms. Rogalle earned her B.A. in political science and communications from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1990. She lives with her husband and son in Washington, DC.