Priorities USA Action Board
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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 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 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 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.
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
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
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
- 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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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 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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.