Our History

Greg Speeter, NPP Founder and First Executive Director


Greg Speeter

A national mandate for a broadened definition of security calls for decent jobs, strong communities, a strong economy and an end to war. To achieve that security will mean a paradigm shift in spending priorities away from the military and toward our communities.

Greg Speeter

NPP's Story

NPP's story started in 1983, when Greg Speeter, Brenda Loew, Ricky Fogel, Alwin Schmidt -- four friends from Springfield, MA -- dug into dusty federal budget tomes at a local university library in a quest to save their city from economic ruin. They needed to understand why so many vital social programs were closing.

Greg Speeter, Brenda Loew, Ricky Fogel and Alwin Schmidt

NPP founders in 1983 (L-R): Greg Speeter, Brenda Loew, Ricky Fogel, Alwin Schmidt

What they found stunned them. During the first two Cold War-focused years of the Reagan Administration, federal funds for cities like Springfield plummeted – and local economies, jobs, schools, and public health suffered.

Led by National Priorities Project founder, Greg Speeter, the friends set out to change these destructive and misguided budget priorities. Armed with irrefutable data directly from our nation's budget, they convinced their U.S. Representative, Silvio Conte (R), then the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, to change his stance on federal spending.

Emboldened by this experience, Greg formulated a radical vision: a federal budget by and for the people – with spending priorities that reflect the interests of all Americans. NPP still operates under the very same moral imperative that inspired Greg, with a healthy mixture of urgency, impatience, and unwavering faith in the absolute necessity of our efforts.

In 2013, we honored this 30-year legacy with a gala celebration in our hometown of Northampton, MA, and the awarding of 30+ national Democracy Champions.

In 2014, we honored with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

In 2017, National Priorities Project joined the Institute for Policy Studies, a "think-do" tank with values strongly aligned with National Priorities Project. As a project of IPS, NPP is better positioned than ever to make lasting national change. Learn more about IPS.