Since 2003, ProgressNow has been developing our network of state partner organizations to fill a unique and critical role in the progressive infrastructure of key states.
ProgressNow State Partners serve as non-stop, multi-issue advocacy organizations. Year-round, we promote progressive ideas and causes with creative earned media strategies, targeted email campaigns, and cutting-edge new media. Working with our allies, we have significantly improved the communications effort of the entire progressive community in our states.
Today, we’ve built an email list that exceeds 2.4 million people. We’ve generated thousands of news stories in local, state, and national press. And we’ve pushed the use of social technologies and new media, not only through our own organizations, but in partnership with our allies.
Political campaigns are relatively short-lived; they come and they go, leaving little behind of lasting value. ProgressNow’s presence in our states never ends. There are hundreds of local and state issues that we can organize and communicate effectively literally year-round. Day in and day out, we’re working in our states to counter the right wing and create a perpetual issue advocacy culture.
Many state-based traditional, single-issue advocacy groups lack the internal capacity to execute communications effectively - ProgressNow State Partners excel in this area. Each ProgressNow State Partner organization has full-time staff who are experts in media communications, online campaigns, earned media and new media. We mobilize citizens through our extensive email lists, media events, and through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. We quickly produce and publish hot topic videos on YouTube. We even developed new social networking and organizing tools that have been used successfully not only by our State Partner organizations, but by other progressive organizations, including Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign.
Simply put, ProgressNow state partners are the only multi-issue, perpetual advocacy organizations in the states. It’s been said that “all politics is local”, and our experience is that lasting change must be rooted in our communities. By focusing our civic engagement and communications work at the state and local level, we are uniquely situated to play an important role in creating true, lasting change in our states.
Because we work to promote a “progressive” agenda, not a partisan one, our work continues regardless of which party controls the levers of power at the federal, state and local level. Whether we’re fighting against conservative policies or promoting progressive ones, we can be effective. And because we are nonpartisan, we can be effective vehicles to reach citizens across the political spectrum, and not simply preach to the choir. The composition of our email lists, which include a broad range of political affiliations, demonstrates this.
ProgressNow operates under the direction and leadership of Executive Director Denise Cardinal. Denise is also executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM), ProgressNow State Partner in the North Star state. Before moving back to her home state of Minnesota in 2006 to be Communications Director for America Votes Minnesota and then start ABM, Denise served for five years as senior press officer for the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. She also spent time in our nations capitol as the Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). She has worked at newspapers in Nevada, Idaho, and Iowa and earned a degree in journalism from Drake University in 1995. She is the first in her family to attend and graduate from college.
As ProgressNow’s Executive Director, Denise Cardinal manages operations and leads the network’s online strategy and technology development.
We wish to thank the following, our national board members, each of whom has been instrumental to our great success.
Aaron Ostrom is the master of “strategery” behind Fuse and its innovative campaigns to move progress forward in Washington State. Before helping to launch Fuse in 2007, Aaron served for eight years as the Executive Director of Futurewise, an organization dedicated to protecting rural areas and natural resources from irresponsible development and making cities great places to live. Aaron was a co-founder and Director of the Transportation Choices Coalition and also worked as a manager in the City of Seattle’s Strategic Planning Office. He has served as a board member of Smart Growth America and several other non-profits. He has chaired and/or played a critical leadership role in several statewide and regional ballot measure campaigns. Aaron has B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University. In his off-time, Aaron plays basketball with other slow old men and aspires to more enthusiastically celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day. He and his family, including sons Cole and Desmond live in Seattle
Mr. Phelps is President and Executive Director of the Public Interest Network, a foundry for change organizations. Mr. Phelps is also Chairman of the Board of U.S. PIRG, the national federation of State PIRGs and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Fund for the Public Interest, a national nonprofit that runs grassroots campaigns to raise money, sign up members, educate the public and build political support for the nation’s leading progressive non-profits, such as Environment America, U.S. PIRG and the Human Rights Campaign. Mr. Phelps chairs the board of Green Corps, the field training school for environmental organizing, and serves on the boards of Green Century Funds, the nation’s first environmentally responsible mutual fund family, and the National Environmental Law Center. He lives in Colorado and is a graduate of Colorado State University and the Harvard Law School. He previously directed Harvard Law School’s public interest and public service careers program.
Jeff Rusnak, President of R Strategy Group, is an experienced campaign strategist who has guided nonprofits, corporations, foundations, ballot initiatives, and candidates (such as Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland) on media, communications, organizational development, public affairs, and marketing. In addition, he has planned and managed small and large events, from intimate gatherings and town hall meetings for thousands of people to celebrity bus tours and roundtables. Recognized early on by Campaigns & Elections magazine as a rising star in American politics, he helped launch and direct independent expenditure organizations that have played a critical role in advancing Ohio; served as the lead consultant in the successful effort to secure a stable source of public funding for Cuyahoga Countys world-class arts and cultural organizations; and is a donor advisor to several prominent individual donors. Jeff is a board member of the Lotus Foundation and Greater Cleveland Film Commission.
Greg Speed has a broad range of experience advancing progressive causes by leading grassroots advocacy programs, strategic communications efforts and political campaigns, and by working as a senior staffer to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Greg is currently the executive director of America Votes, the nations largest coalition of progressive organizations committed to effecting change through coordinated voter mobilization efforts. Prior to joining America Votes, Greg helped launch Envision Communications, a new Democratic media and communications firm where he provided consulting services for a variety of progressive organizations, labor unions, political candidates and committees.
Ted Trimpa is the President of the Trimpa Group, focusing on public-policy advocacy and political strategy at the state and federal levels. Ted was previously an attorney at the law firm of Hogan and Hartson. He practiced in all areas of federal, state, and local legislative law, with a special concentration on public policy, political strategy, and political participation. He is a sought-after advocate resulting from his deep understanding of the national and multistate political and nonprofit landscape. He has been recognized in national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, National Review, The Advocate, and The Weekly Standard for his central role in designing cutting-edge public policy strategies.
Mr. Trimpa is a graduate of the University of Denver College of Law where he received an American Jurisprudence award in appellate advocacy. He also received his B.A. from the University of Denver where he graduated magna cum laude.
Cristina Uribe currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Executive Director at the National Education Association. In this role Cristina leads the organization’s efforts in the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to build and sustain complex collaborations with individual donors, philanthropic leaders, institutional allies as well as grant makers in education to further the mission of the organization’s members.
Cristina is a veteran political strategist and organizer. For over 16 years, Cristina has provided strategic guidance to organizations, candidates and campaigns, at the local, state, and federal level. During the 2008 election cycle Cristina served as a Senior Advisor to the successful Defend Oregon campaign – an alliance of organizations formed to defeat eight regressive ballot measures that unfairly targeted teachers, children, Oregon charities and working families.
Prior to joining NEA in 2008, Cristina served as the Western Regional Director of EMILY’s List, where she directed the organization’s political efforts in eleven western states. Cristina applied her knowledge of day-to-day management, messaging and field to help EMILY’s List-supported candidates build winning campaigns. Before joining EMILY’s List in 2004, Cristina was the statewide campaign manager for the Yes on Prop 52 - Election Day Voter Registration (EDVR) Initiative, which appeared on the California November 2002 ballot. Cristina also served as political director for the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council in San Jose. The driving force behind the South Bay Labor Council’s political program from 1998 to 2002, Cristina helped the Council achieve a string of electoral and legislative successes.
Cristina currently serves on the board of ProgressNow, Committee on States and on the Advisory Committee for the Center on Education Organizing. She also serves as an adjunct trainer for Wellstone Action and is a past board member of EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood Mar-Monte.