Democracy Champions

In honor of National Priorities Project's 30thAnniversary, we celebrate thirty valued partners from all around the country and all walks of life who exemplify leadership and tenacity in their commitment to the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.

The Democracy Champion Awards go to:

Annabel Park Eric BylerEric Byler & Annabel Park

Co-Founders, Coffee Party USA

Eric Byler was nominated for a 2003 Independent Spirit Award for his debut feature film "Charlotte Sometimes," hailed by Roger Ebert as a breakthrough for Asian American filmmakers. Annabel Park is a writer, filmmaker and public speaker known for innovative activism. Eric and Annabel founded Coffee Party USA in 2010, soon after the debut of their award-winning film "9500 Liberty," which documents the rise and fall of an Arizona-style immigration law in Northern Virginia. Their current project, "Story of America," focuses the Moral Monday movement, an inventive use of civil disobedience to counter the corrupting influence of money in politics in North Carolina.

Sister Simone CampbellSister Simone Campbell

Executive Director, NETWORK

Sister Simone Campbell is a religious leader, attorney and poet. Under her leadership, NETWORK serves as a strong advocate for economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, healthcare access and peacemaking. She wrote the famous “nuns’ letter” that was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, she was instrumental in organizing NETWORK’s “Nuns on the Bus” campaigns opposing Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget cuts and supporting comprehensive immigration reform and federal Medicaid expansion. Among her awards are the "Defender of Democracy Award" from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action and "Health Care Heroes Award" from Families USA.

Tim CarpenterTim Carpenter

Founder and National Director, Progressive Democrats of America

Tim Carpenter has worked for peace, nuclear disarmament, single payer health care, and campaign finance reform for more than 40 years. He organized for the presidential campaigns of Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Gov. Jerry Brown, and he served as Deputy National Campaign Manager in the Kucinich for President campaign. In 2007, Carpenter was named "Democrat of the Year" in Northampton, Mass., and Progressive Activist of the Year by The Nation .

John CavanaghJohn Cavanagh

Fellow, Global Economy, Institute for Policy Studies

John Cavanagh is a Fellow in Global Economy at the Institute for Policy Studies. Previously, he worked as an international economist for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Health Organization. He directed IPS's Global Economy Project from 1983-1997. He is the co-author of 10 books and numerous articles on the global economy, including “Development Redefined: How the Market Met Its Match,” written with Robin Broad.

Ben CohenBen Cohen

President and Head Stamper, Stamp Stampede

Ben Cohen is President and Head Stamper at the Stamp Stampede campaign, working to get money out of politics.  In 1978, he and Jerry Greenfield started Ben & Jerry’s ice cream line. Together, they authored “Ben & Jerry’s Double Dip: How to Run a Values-Led Business and Make Money, Too.” Cohen and Greenfield were awarded the Corporate Giving award from the Council on Economic Priorities, the U.S. Small Business of the Year Award from President Ronald Regan and several honorary doctorates. Cohen has served on the boards of the Social Venture Network, Hampshire College, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Business for Social Responsibility, Heifer International and Alter Eco.

Cheryl ConteeCheryl Contee

Partner, Fission Strategy

Cheryl Contee helps non-profit organizations and foundations use social media to create social good. She co-founded Jack and Jill Politics, writing as “Jill Tubman.” Contee is an Affiliate of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.  She is included in The Root 100 list of African-American leaders and in top female tech leadership lists by The Huffington Post and Fast Company. She served as Vice President and lead digital strategist for Fleishman-Hillard’s West Coast region in San Francisco.

Tom EngelhardtTom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of "The End of Victory Culture," "The Last Days of Publishing" and "Mission Unaccomplished." He is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and Consulting Editor at Metropolitan Books. For 15 years, he was Senior Editor at Pantheon Books, editing and publishing award-winning works including Art Spiegelman's "Maus," John Dower's "War Without Mercy," and Eduardo Galeano's "Memory of Fire" trilogy. He is co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan's The American Empire Project.

Seth Flaxman Kathryn PetersSeth Flaxman & Kathyrn Peters

Co-Founders, TurboVote

Seth Flaxman and Kathryn Peters co-founded TurboVote while at the masters program in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Flaxman previously worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, a program administrator at the Institute for International Education, and a researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Peters started as a campaign organizer in rural Missouri and has worked for the information management team for the United Nations Department of Safety and Security and the National Democratic Institute's Information and Communications Technology staff. In 2011, Flaxman and Peters were honored in Forbes Magazine 's "30 Under 30" in the field of law and policy.

Barney FrankBarney Frank

Member of Congress (1981-2012); Chairman, House Financial Services Committee (2007-2011)

First elected to Congress in 1980, Barney Frank worked to reduce the deficit, shrink military spending and fund important quality of life needs at home. As chair of the House Financial Services Committee, he helped craft legislation to slow the rate of home mortgage foreclosures and the subsequent $550 billion rescue plan. He co-authored the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and championed the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act. Frank was the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, and in 2012 he became the first U.S. congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage while in office.

Anna GallandAnna Galland

Executive Director,

Anna Galland is Executive Director of, a movement of more than 8 million progressive Americans using innovative technology to lead, participate in, and win bold campaigns for social change. Galland led the launch of MoveOn’s public petition site, which gives individuals and organizations the power to launch and run their own MoveOn-style campaigns and connect to MoveOn’s vibrant community of engaged progressives. She also developed MoveOn’s national network of local volunteer Councils and ran advocacy and electoral efforts, including leading roles in MoveOn’s 2008 and 2012 election programs.

Christie GeorgeChristie George

Director, New Media Ventures

At New Media Ventures, Christie George leads the first national network of angel investors supporting media and tech startups that disrupt politics and catalyze progressive change. She oversaw the investment of more than $4 million into startups, including NationalField, SumOfUs and Upworthy. She co-founded Louder, the crowd-powered advertising platform, and also serves on Louder’s board. George was a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship at University of Oxford and won the Said Prize. She is a Case Foundation Social Citizen Ambassador and serves on the Roosevelt Institute’s board.

Michael Leon Guerrero Cindy WeisnerMichael Leon Guerrero & Cindy Wiesner

Grassroots Global Justice

Michael Leon Guerrero is Executive Director of UNITY, a network including Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ), Jobs with Justice, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Guestworker Alliance and Right to the City. He worked with the SouthWest Organizing Project for 17 years organizing campaigns on environmental justice, corporate accountability and globalization. He has served on boards of Jobs with Justice, the New World Foundation and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. Cindy Wiesner is National Coordinator of GGJ, and co-director of the Climate Justice Alliance. Wiesner served as Director of Organizing for People Organizing to Win Employment Rights in San Francisco, as an organizer and board member for generationFIVE, and as the Leadership Development Director of the Miami Workers Center.

Sarita GuptaSarita Gupta

Executive Director, Jobs with Justice

Under Sarita Gupta’s leadership, Jobs with Justice (JwJ) builds a strong, progressive labor movement that works with community, faith, and student organizations. Gupta has 15 years of coalition-building experience through her time at JwJ. She has a long history of organizing for workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, global justice, racial justice, and women’s rights. She serves on the following boards: International Labor Rights Forum, American Rights at Work, the National Planning Committee of the U.S. Social Forum, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Inter-Alliance Dialogue/UNITY, the Institute for Policy Studies, Other Worlds is Possible Giving Circle, and The Discount Foundation Board of Trustees.

Van JonesVan Jones

Host, CNN’s Crossfire

Van Jones hosts CNN's Crossfire. He has founded and led four social- and environmental-justice-focused not-for-profit organizations, including Rebuild the Dream, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change and Green for All. Jones is a Yale-educated attorney and author of two New York Times best-selling books, "The Green Collar Economy" and "Rebuild the Dream." In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama. He has received numerous awards and honors, including: the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; and TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World.”

Judith Le BlancJudith Le Blanc

Field Director, Peace Action

Judith Le Blanc works with 35 Peace Action affiliates representing 90,000 members to organize a grassroots movement for a demilitarized U.S. foreign policy. She coordinates Peace Action’s Move the Money Campaign, an effort to organize community, labor and peace groups to change national spending priorities. She has worked for more than 30 years on national campaigns including labor rights, racial justice, peace and disarmament. Le Blanc served two terms as a national co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, the national coalition opposing the war in Iraq. She is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.

Annie LeonardAnnie Leonard

Founder and President, The Story of Stuff Project

Annie Leonard has more than two decades of experience investigating and organizing on environmental health and justice issues. She and her team at The Story of Stuff Project inspire millions to action through films that highlight the environmental and social costs of consumerism, a corrupted economic system, pervasive toxic chemicals in everyday products, and related problems. Her 2007 film has been viewed over 30 million times and inspired a book of the same title, educational curricula, a podcast series and seven additional films. Leonard’s work has been covered by media from The New York Times to the Colbert Report.

Tiffany LoftinTiffany Dena Loftin

Power Shift Coordinator, Energy Action Coalition & Organizer, Dream Defenders

Tiffany Dena Loftin helps communities of color and young people participate in democracy and fight for a world that they want. A Los Angeles native, Loftin holds a degree in Political Science and American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz at Oakes College. In 2012, Loftin led on-campus multi-state efforts to register 135,000 new voters. She spoke before the Supreme Court to defend voting rights and to protect affirmative action. Loftin is deeply involved in policy efforts to reduce student loan debt and is the former President of the United States Student Association.

Katherine McFateKatherine McFate

President & CEO, Center for Effective Government

Katherine McFate is President and CEO of the Center for Effective Government, a nonpartisan policy and advocacy organization dedicated to building a more accountable government that invests in the common good and advances the priorities of an active, informed citizenry. She previously worked at the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, supporting state and local organizations – including NPP – to promote a more equitable, inclusive, and democratic America. McFate has graduate degrees from Yale University and serves on the boards of the Gamaliel organizing network, Public Works, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Coalition on Human Needs, and V-Day.

Heather McGheeHeather McGhee

Vice President, Policy & Outreach, Demos

Heather McGhee helps to set Demos’ strategy and oversees the Communications and Advocacy Departments. Her opinions, writing and research have appeared in numerous outlets, including the Wall Street Journal , USA Today , National Public Radio, Washington Post , and The New York Times . In 2009, she co-chaired a task force within Americans for Financial Reform that helped shape key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Jim McGovernJim McGovern

Member of Congress (1996 – present)

Currently serving his ninth term in Congress, Jim McGovern is the second ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, which sets terms for debate and amendments on most legislation, and a member of the House Agriculture Committee. In those roles, McGovern secured millions of dollars in federal grants and assistance for Massachusetts. McGovern co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, the House Hunger Caucus and the Northeast Midwest Congressional Coalition. McGovern’s foci include his “End Hunger Now” campaign; his ongoing attempts to overturn the misguided doctrine of Citizens United; and his ongoing efforts to promote human rights and peace around the world.

Bill McKibbenBill McKibben


Bill McKibben is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. He authored a dozen books about the environment, beginning with “The End of Nature,” the first book for a general audience on climate change. Time Magazine called McKibben “the planet's best green journalist.” The Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges, including the Universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the State University of New York, and Whittier and Colgate Colleges. In 2011, McKibben was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Ellen MillerEllen Miller

Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sunlight Foundation

Ellen Miller leads Sunlight Foundation, whose mission is to expand access to government information to create accountability for public officials. She is the founder of the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Campaign and an expert on transparency and money in politics. She served as Deputy Director of Campaign for America's Future, published and was a senior fellow at The American Prospect. Miller worked for almost 10 years on Capitol Hill and serves on the board of directors of the Sunlight Foundation, Publish What You Fund, the Center for Responsive Politics and Heaven Hill Distilleries.

Leslie MoodyLeslie Moody

Executive Director, The Partnership for Working Families

Leslie Moody is Executive Director of The Partnership for Working Families, a national network dedicated to building power and reshaping the urban environment and economy for workers and communities. Moody spent a decade as the first woman president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and co-founded the Front Range Economic Strategy Center. She helped train thousands of union, community and student organizers; led campaigns impacting tens of thousands of low-wage workers; and helped block millions of dollars in public subsidy to Wal-Mart and other low-road employers.

Bill MoyersBill Moyers

Moyers & Co./

A broadcast journalist for more than four decades, Bill Moyers’ honors include more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, three George Polk Awards and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Moyers began his journalism career at age 16, reporting for his hometown newspaper in Marshall, Texas. He was a founding organizer and deputy director of the Peace Corps and special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, also serving as Johnson’s press secretary from 1965 to 1967. In January 2012, Moyers launched his latest venture, Moyers & Company, on air and online at

Liz Ryan MurrayLiz Ryan Murray

Policy Director, National People’s Action

Liz Ryan Murray provides legislative, policy and strategic support to National People’s Action (NPA) national and community organizers. Murray began her career in organizing and policy at NPA (then National Training and Information Center), working on Federal Housing Administration reform and community reinvestment issues in Chicago. Murray then served as Senior Affordable Housing Business Manager in Fannie Mae’s Chicago regional office, brokering partnerships between lenders and community-based organizations. She also served as Director of Policy and Program Development for the Home Ownership Center of Minnesota.

Eli PariserEli Pariser

Co-founder, Upworthy

Eli Pariser is an author, online organizer and co-founder of Upworthy, a new startup focused on making content that matters go viral. During his time at , the organization grew by 10 times and collected nearly $120 million in small donations. His book, “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You,” is a New York Times bestseller, and his related TED talk received more than 2 million online views. Pariser also helped start, and he has served on the boards of the Open Society Foundations' U.S. Programs, the New Organizing Institute and others.

Ai-jen PooAi-jen Poo

Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance & Co-director, Caring Across Generations

Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, has been organizing immigrant women workers since 1996. In 2000 she co-founded Domestic Workers United, the New York organization that spearheaded the successful passage of the state’s historic Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010. Ai-jen serves on the Board of Directors of Momsrising, National Jobs with Justice, Working America, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the National Council on Aging. She is a recipient of the Ms. Foundation Woman of Vision Award, the Independent Sector American Express NGen Leadership Award, Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women list, and TIME’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Robert ReichRobert B. Reich

Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California

Robert Reich was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock" and “The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” will be out September 27.

Kristin Rowe-FinkbeinerKristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Executive Director/CEO and Co-Founder, MomsRising

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner has been deeply involved in grassroots engagement and policy analysis for more than two decades. MomsRising, which Rowe-Finkbeiner co-founded, is an organization with 1 million members working to increase family economic security, to end discrimination against women and mothers, and to help ensure all children can thrive.  In 2010, 2011 and 2012, named MomsRising's website one of the “Top 100 Websites For Women.” Rowe-Finkbeiner is a frequent public speaker, radio host, and an award-winning author of books, including “The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy” and “The Motherhood Manifesto,” which she co-authored.

Micah SifryMicah L. Sifry

Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Personal Democracy Media

Micah L. Sifry is co-founder and Editorial Director of Personal Democracy Media, which runs and the annual Personal Democracy Forum conference. He is a senior adviser to (and co-founder of) the Sunlight Foundation, and serves on the boards of Consumer Reports and the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. He authored or edited six books, most recently “Wikileaks and the Age of the Transparency.” From 1997-2006, he served as senior analyst at Public Campaign, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on campaign finance reform. Prior to that, Sifry was an editor and writer with The Nation magazine for thirteen years.

Jessie SpectorJessie Spector

Executive Director, Resource Generation

Jessie Spector is the Executive Director of Resource Generation, a non-profit by and for young people with wealth and class privilege who are working towards a world in which land, wealth, and power are equitably distributed. Jessie is an activist with the Criminal Justice Initiative, a group of donors and activists who use consensus to fund transformation of the criminal justice system; and the Solidarity Family of POOR Magazine, a cohort of young people with wealth learning from and fundraising for POOR and Homefulness, a pilot model of co-housing for homeless people.

Debbie WeinsteinDeborah Weinstein

Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

Deborah Weinstein leads the Coalition on Human Needs with the benefit of more than thirty years of state and federal advocacy experience. She directed the Family Income division of the Children’s Defense Fund for nine years, crafting policy strategies to lift children and families from poverty. From 1983 to 1993, Weinstein was Executive Director of the Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, a nonprofit organization comprised of human service providers, religious organizations, labor, and advocacy groups and focusing on the needs of Massachusetts people, especially those with limited income.