Kevin Alexander Gray served as a national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union for four years and is a past eight-term president of the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU. He is a founding member of the National Rainbow Coalition. Gray’s essays on race and politics have appeared in The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, The Progressive, Counterpunch, The Washington Post, Emerge, One Magazine, The American University Graduate Review and other publications. He is the editor of Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics.
Senator Tammy Baldwin was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised by her grandparents. With a deep commitment to public service, she has served on the Madison City Council, the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and in the Wisconsin state Assembly. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, representing Wisconsin’s second congressional district for seven terms. In 2012, Baldwin was elected as the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, and the first openly gay Senator. Throughout her thirty-year career in public service, she has opposed unfair trade deals that ship American jobs overseas, fought to make college more affordable, and worked to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few at the top.
Ruth Conniff is the editor-in-chief of The Progressive magazine. She runs the editorial operation and writes regularly for The Progressive about national politics. She frequently appears on MSNBC, and is a frequent guest on many radio and television programs. Conniff writes an opinion column for Isthmus, Madison’s weekly alternative newspaper, and has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. In addition to national politics, Conniff has covered welfare reform, the drug war, juvenile justice, women’s sports, and other issues for The Progressive. A two-time finalist for the Livingston Award, Conniff came to The Progressive in 1992 as associate editor. In 1997 she moved to Washington, D.C., to open the Washington office of the magazine, where she became a regular commentator on CNN and Fox News. She now lives in Madison with her husband and three daughters.
Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, is also the first African American elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from Minnesota. He was one of a small number of Democrats in Congress to back Bernie Sanders for President. In a rousing prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention, Ellison introduced Sanders. “I will always remember ‘feeling the Bern,’ ” he told the crowd. “Let’s raise our voices in gratitude to a man who helped make this party greater than ever.” Ellison’s priorities in Congress are building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability, and advancing civil and human rights.
After serving ten years in the Wisconsin state Senate and eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold served in the State Department as President Obama’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa. He has also taught at Stanford University, Stanford Law, Marquette University, and Lawrence University. In February 2011, Feingold founded Progressives United to combat the corrupting influence of corporate money in our elections and government. One of the preeminent champions of reform, he co-authored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as McCain-Feingold, and has been one of the most outspoken critics of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Caroline Fredrickson joined the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) in 2009 and serves as its president. She is the author of Under The Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over (The New Press, 2015). Before joining ACS, she served as director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office and as general counsel and legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. In addition, Frederickson was chief of staff to Sen. Maria Cantwell and deputy chief of staff to then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. During the Clinton administration, she served as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs. Frederickson is a member of Law Students for Reproductive Justice’s Advisory Board. In 2013, she was named a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). She is also co-chair of the National Constitution Center’s Coalition of Freedom Advisory Board. In 2015 Fredrickson was named a Demos Senior Fellow.
Susan Sadlowski Garza is a lifelong Chicagoan and Tenth Ward resident who has dedicated her entire life to the district’s young people and families. Starting out as a lunch lady at South Shore High School, Garza returned to college as a mother and persevered to become a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary School, the same school she, her mother, and her children attended. As a Chicago Public School counselor, and former Chicago Teachers Union area vice president, Garza is the first-ever active Chicago Teachers Union member to be elected to City Council and the first-ever woman to represent the Tenth Ward. She is working to keep schools public, increase wages and create long lasting economic development, and protect air and water for residents of the Tenth Ward.
“America’s most popular populist,” Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow. He records radio commentaries that are broadcast on more than 150 radio stations and on the web. He pens a rousing monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, that blasts through the corporate media blockade to lend new reporting and populist perspective. Hightower believes the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the powers at the top.
Troy LaRaviere is the principal of one of the highest performing neighborhood schools in Chicago, and a relentless defender of public education. His is one of only five principals (out of more than 600) whose school met at least three of the mayor’s four merit award criteria for three consecutive years. In 2013 he became the first Chicago principal to speak against the destructive school policies of Chicago’s mayor, with a powerful speech at City Hall. In 2014, he wrote a compelling op-ed that generated significant media coverage of City Hall’s heavy-handed approach to silencing principals. LaRaviere has published research that revealed public schools produced significantly more academic growth in students than charter schools; exposed filthy conditions in Chicago schools that were the result of a botched custodial privatization deal; and uncovered the manipulation of charter school test score data by CPS officials. He has twice been a featured panelist at the influential City Club of Chicago, and his print and television interviews have been widely circulated.
Sarah Lloyd and her husband, Nels Nelson, run a family dairy farm near Wisconsin Dells. Lloyd works off-farm for the Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, where she has helped develop better markets for farmers and values-based supply chains. She has a Ph.D. in rural sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in rural development from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. She was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to represent the dairy farmers of Wisconsin on the National Dairy Board. Lloyd has served on the Columbia County Board and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. She is currently the treasurer of the board of the Wormfarm Institute, a Reedsburg, Wisconsin, nonprofit working at the intersection of art and agriculture. Sarah has been a long-time volunteer with Fighting Bob Fest. She is currently running for Congress in Wisconsin’s sixth congressional district against Glenn Grothman.
Kamala Lopez, named 2015 Woman of the Year for Los Angeles County, is a filmmaker, actress, and women’s rights activist who directed and produced Equal Means Equal, a no-holds-barred documentary analysis of discrimination against women in the United States today. Lopez is the winner of the 2011 Woman of Courage Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) for her work to further civil rights and equality and was named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews in 2012. Born in New York City to an Indian mother and a Venezuelan father, Lopez has television and film credits that include Deep Cover, Born In East L.A., and I Heart Huckabees. She hosted the PBS series “Wired Science.” Her directorial debut feature film, A Single Woman, about the life of the first U.S. Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin, won the Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the NWPC.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz is the founding executive director of Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based worker center and Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights organization, with a chapter in Racine and members in cities throughout the state. The group’s youth arm is called Youth Empowered in the Struggle and has chapters in fifteen colleges, high schools, and middle schools in Racine and Milwaukee. Ms. Neumann-Ortiz also serves on the board of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), the nation’s largest immigrant rights coalition.
John Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive, an editor of The Nation and The Capital Times, and the co-author with Robert W. McChesney of many books, most recently People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy (Nation Books). Nichols is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues. McChesney and Nichols are the co-founders of Free Press, the nation’s media-reform network.
Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time—up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian). Palast has broken important stories for BBC Television’s “Newsnight,” The Guardian, The Nation Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC’s Newsnight Review. His books have been translated into two dozen languages. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy will be released as a feature documentary movie this fall.
Following fourteen years in the Wisconsin state Assembly, Congressman Mark Pocan was sworn in on January 3, 2013, as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s second district. A small business owner, union member, and lifelong advocate for progressive causes, Rep. Pocan is committed to using his unique experience from both the private and public sector to fight for policies that promote job growth and support the families of south-central Wisconsin. In Congress, he serves on both the Budget Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and as first vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Congress. Pocan has also been appointed to serve as a senior whip for the Democratic Caucus.
Scot Ross grew up in Pittsburgh, where his dad was a steelworker and his mom was a public school teacher. He has served as a senior communications director and research strategist for numerous statewide campaigns and elected officials. Over the past eight years, Ross has overseen the growth of One Wisconsin Now and One Wisconsin Institute from a several hundred-member email list to one of Wisconsin’s leading pro-labor, progressive advocacy organizations with more than 80,000 online supporters.
Chris Taylor is the Wisconsin Assembly Representative for the 76th district. She has a long career advocating for human rights. In 2003, she started working for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin as the policy and political director. Taylor was a driving force behind the passage of the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act. She has sat on a coalition with labor, environmentalists, the LGBT community and other partners for the last eight years. Taylor has also been on the State Bar’s Public Interest Law Section, Legal Association for Women, a member of the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, and the Democratic Party.
Wisconsin state Representative JoCasta Zamarripa was born and raised in Milwaukee. She is a graduate of St. Joan Antida High School and holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2005. Prior to her candidacy for the eighth Assembly district, she worked as a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. In November 2010, Zamarripa made history by becoming the first Latina to be elected to the Wisconsin legislature. She is one of that body’s four openly LGBT members. She was re-elected to her third term in November 2014 and is currently the chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.
Named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World,” Dave Zirin writes a monthly sports column for The Progressive. He covers the politics of sports for The Nation magazine, writes a column for SLAM Magazine, and hosts the popular podcast, “Edge of Sports Radio.” The author of eight books on the politics of sports, he has been called “the best sportswriter in the United States” by Robert Lipsyte. Zirin won the 2015 New York Press Club Award for Sports Journalism, was the 2015 National Headliner Award for Online Magazine writing, and was awarded Sport in Society and Northeastern University School of Journalism’s “Excellence in Sports Journalism” Award. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his book The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World, and the PEN American award for literary sports writing.