A little over 10 years ago, I went to Las Vegas for the first YearlyKos convention—at the time we were a ragtag bunch of do-gooders and a niche curiosity to the press. I didn’t know what to expect, and I certainly didn’t think it would be a career- (and life) changing experience for me.
Since then, I’ve steered the organization from its humble beginnings to an internationally recognized brand that wields real power and stands as a bastion within the progressive movement. Although for me, it always has been about the deep friendships I’ve made and enjoyed over the years. Early on, I witnessed an extraordinary spark within this new community. I was inspired to get involved and have humbly served as a proud member of the community ever since.
Over the years, we’ve hosted Presidents, Vice Presidents, Governors, Senators, key party leaders, an unfathomable roster of activists and even Nobel Laureates. But more importantly, we’ve provided a platform that has changed the political conversation again and again and served as a launching pad for organizations, campaigns and even the careers of so many in the movement. We have a top-notch training program where experts in the field teach tomorrow’s leaders, and we run an organizational mentoring program that changes the way non-profits work on multiple levels.
I’m particularly proud of what we’ve accomplished on the speaker diversity front over the past decade. There are a lot of spaces—especially those in the technology field—that struggle mightily with this, and not so long ago we did too. We’re proud that this year our speakers are 65% women and 65% people of color. This is a reflection of the type of leadership we’ve strived to model over the years. Raising up a diverse group of speakers isn’t just about numbers, it’s about lifting up the voices of people who are marginalized.
I’m proud to know that our community is stronger than ever. There is a mighty crew of people who have been to every conference, but each year we welcome a significant number of newcomers too. Even with the time I’ve put in as Executive Director, I’ll probably never know how many friendships, initiatives, projects, experiments, love affairs, organizations and movement-changing moments were born over the years of sessions, hallway conversations, events, parties and follow-up conversations.
Today I’m announcing that this will be my last convention as Executive Director of Netroots Nation.Ten years is a long time for anyone in any position, and I’m ready for new challenges. I’ve been working closely with our Boards the last several months to ensure a successful transition plan is in place and I’ll remain involved through the end of the year to help see that through. Our boards will conduct an open search for new leadership this fall, and after our time together in St. Louis, our Operations Director Eric Thut will serve as interim Executive Director.
This is a great opportunity for the organization to continue to grow with the movement. Ten years ago we were a small crew of organizers activated by Howard Dean and the fight against George W. Bush. Today our numbers are in the thousands, and we’re activated by the immigration rights movement, by the struggle for LGBTQ equality, by the Black liberation movement, by Barack Obama, by Hillary Clinton, by Bernie Sanders, by Elizabeth Warren and by dozens of other causes and leaders.
There is such a rich pool of talent within our movement that I’m confident we’ll look back in another 10 years and again be incredibly proud of the unimaginable heights Netroots Nation will have reached as it continues to serve new generations of organizers.
My role within the community will change, but my commitment to the movement will remain steadfast and strong. While I’m excited about my future personal opportunities, I’m even more excited to welcome everyone to and be together in St. Louis this year.
I’m looking forward to celebrating with all of you!