Mimi Kennedy, Advisory Board Chair, is an actor and activist. She was a charter member of Artists United to Win Without War, and a leading supporter of Dennis Kucinich’s antiwar presidential campaign in 2004. She has worked on human rights, environmental and labor issues, and studied nonviolent social action with Rev. James Lawson. Perhaps best known for her role as Dharma’s mom on TV’s Dharma and Greg, Kennedy has appeared widely on TV, the stage, and in movies such as Erin Brockovich and Pump Up the Volume. She also appeared on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. Her midlife memoir was titled, Taken to the Stage: The Education of an Actress.
Medea Benjamin, is the founding director of Global Exchange, helped to bring together the coalition United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), and co-founded CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots movement working to end the wars in the Middle East, stop new wars, and redirect resources into life-affirming activities. She is the co-editor (with Jodie Evans) of Stop the Next War Now. In 2005, she was one of 1,000 women from around the world nominated collectively for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her work for peace and human rights has taken her to many parts of the world, including China, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 2000, she was the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate from California.
Steve Cobble, is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, focused on antiwar work, voting rights, and Third World debt. He is a former political director and speechwriter for the National Rainbow Coalition, was National Delegate Coordinator for Jackson for President ‘88, and directed the Keep Hope Alive PAC. He has worked on many campaigns, including the winning efforts of Toney Anaya for New Mexico Governor in 1982, and Carol Moseley Braun for U.S. Senator from Illinois in 1992. He served as an adviser to Dennis Kucinich in 2003-04, and was heavily involved in the post-election battle over the suppression of African-American votes in Ohio. In 1991, he conducted election training workshops for the African National Congress in South Africa.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Serving his 22nd term in Congress, he is the second-most-senior member of the House and dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. He was also a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as an original member of President Nixon’s “Enemies List.” Among his many accomplishments in Congress: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the Motor Voter Bill of 1993, the Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983, the Alcohol Warning Label Act of 1988, and the Jazz Preservation Act of 1987. A legendary force for peace, civil rights, and social justice, Representative Conyers has worked closely with PDA to hold the Bush Administration accountable for manipulating Iraq intelligence and in exposing voting irregularities in Ohio in 2004, in addition to the fight for single-payer healthcare through his bill H.R. 676. He is a Korean War veteran.
Rep. Donna Edwards represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. She has served as either a chairperson, trustee, board member, or executive director of the Arca Foundation in Washington, DC; the National Network to End Domestic Violence, which she co-founded; NNEDV; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; Common Cause; the League of Conservation Voters; the Center for a New Democracy; the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation; and the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, from which she received her Juris Doctorate. She was a lobbyist for the nonprofit Public Citizen organization. Edwards began her career at the United Nations Development Program and was a systems engineer for Lockheed Corporation with NASA’s Space Shuttle program.
Jodie Evans has worked on behalf of community, social-justice, environmental, and political causes for more than thirty years. She co-founded CODEPINK and co-edited Stop the Next War Now (with Medea Benjamin). She worked on the campaigns of California Governor Jerry Brown and served as his director of administration. Between 1985 and 1990, was a board member of the Women’s Campaign Fund and Women’s Political Committee. She ran Jerry Brown’s campaign for president in 1991. She serves on the boards of a dozen nonprofits, including Rainforest Action Network, Dads and Daughters, Drug Policy Alliance, Bioneers, 826 LA, and the Circle of Life Foundation.
Bill Fletcher is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Labor Rights Forum, Executive Editor of The Black Commentator and founder of the Center for Labor Renewal. A longtime labor, racial justice and international activist, he is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, a national non-profit organization organizing, educating and advocating for policies in favor of the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Fletcher is also a founder of the Black Radical Congress and is a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. Fletcher is the co-author (with Fernando Gapasin) of Solidarity Divided, The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice (University of California Press). He was formerly the Vice President for International Trade Union Development Programs for the George Meany Center of the AFL-CIO. Prior the George Meany Center, Fletcher served as Education Director and later Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.
Lila Garrett is a longtime activist and award-winning screenwriter. She hosts Connect the Dots on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles. She was Southern California Chair of the 2004 Kucinich campaign and past president of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action. She has served on the boards of the ACLU, the Venice Family Clinic, and the Writers Guild of America. She founded Americans against War in Iraq (AAWWI), and she is a founding board member of the California Clean Money Campaign. As a television screenwriter, producer, and director, she has won two Emmys and the Writers Guild Award.
Rep. Raul Grijalva has been a stalwart advocate for economic justice, the environment, civil liberties, and universal healthcare. He serves a district in Arizona that is the only one in Congress representing seven separate Native American Tribes; he is a strong advocate of Native American sovereignty. He also supports humane, comprehensive immigration reform; his father was a migrant worker from Mexico who entered the U.S. through the Bracero Program. Before coming to Congress in 2003, he’d held public office for decades—on the Tucson school board and as a member and chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Thom Hartmann is an award-winning writer, best-selling author, and the host of a daily radio show syndicated nationally. On talk radio, he is known as a voice of reason and not rant. His books include Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class, We the People: A Call To Take Back America, and What Would Jefferson Do? A Return to Democracy. His prophetic 1998 book on global environmental issues, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, inspired Leonardo DiCaprio’s web movie Global Warming.
Tom Hayden was a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1961 and the author of its visionary call, the Port Huron Statement. He was an active opponent of the Vietnam War, helped lead demonstrations against the war at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, and directed the Indochina Peace Campaign. In the 1970s, he organized the grassroots Campaign for Economic Democracy in California. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1982 and the State Senate ten years later, serving eighteen years in all. Today, he is a leading voice for ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combating sweatshops, and reforming politics through greater citizen participation.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be—consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich represents Ohio’s 10th congressional district, serving since 1997, and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 elections. His 2004 campaign was a catalyst to the formation of Progressive Democrats of America, and he has since been closely allied with the organization. A recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award, Kucinich is recognized as a leading peace advocate. As a past chairperson of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Kucincih remains a prominent progressive figure. He serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He married Elizabeth Harper in 2005.
Rep. Barbara Lee is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She was elected to Congress in 1998 in California’s 9th district after the retirement of Rep. Ron Dellums; she is the most senior Democratic woman on the House International Relations Committee. Standing on principle amid post-9/11 hysteria, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the resolution broadly authorizing President Bush’s use of force. She sponsored legislation disavowing the preemptive war doctrine and led bipartisan efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. She has been a leader in the global battle against HIV/AIDS and for civil rights and civil liberties. She formally objected in Congress to certifying Ohio’s electoral votes after the 2004 election. Her legislation H.R. 3699 would prohibit an increase in the number of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Michael Lighty is currently the Director of Administration and Public Policy for the California Nurses Association (CNA). He manages CNA’s national effort for healthcare reform on the single-payer model, an issue he has worked on since 1991. He was campaign manager for the clean money initiative, Prop 89, which won a prestigious Pollie award for its phone campaign. In 2006, he coordinated CNA’s successful effort to reverse California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rollback of CNA’s landmark hospital nurse-to-patient staffing law. CNA was a leader in the electoral rejection of Schwarzenegger’s special election ballot measures in November 2005. Lighty joined the CNA in 1994 as a Labor Representative and served as Political Director, coordinating a state-wide ballot initiative campaign for HMO reform in 1996. He was then-Mayor Jerry Brown’s first appointee to the Oakland Planning Commission, where he served for more than seven years. He has been active with nonprofit organizations devoted to healthcare reform, voter registration, urban planning, and lesbian and gay equality.
Rep. Jim McGovern has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since January 3, 1997, representing the 3rd District of Massachusetts. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, earned a Masters of Public Administration at American University in Washington, D.C, and was a staff member for Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota (to whom he is not related) and for Rep. Joe Moakley before entering the House. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Chair of the House Subcommittee on Rules and Organization of the House, sits on the House Budget Committee, and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Anas “Andy” Shallal is an artist and peace activist. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, his family came to America in 1966. He attended Catholic University and Howard University and worked as a medical immunologist at the National Institutes of Health. Shallal switched careers, opening several restaurants, including Busboys and Poets, a DC institution that has received national recognition. His artwork has been featured in many publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, PBS, HBO, Al Jazeera International, and CNN. Shallal works on social justice and peace issues and speaks extensively on these topics. He is also a board member of the Institute for Policy Studies, the Anacostia Museum, DC Vote, the Washington Peace Center, the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, and Think Local First, working to create sustainable local-business models. He advises several nonprofits and works with students and others in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
PDA Emeritus Board
The following Emeritus Board members were active members of the PDA Advisory Board who served either during or from 2005-2012
Rep. Lynn Woolsey is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and she is the first former welfare mother to serve in Congress. Since entering the House in 1993, she has been an advocate for children and families. As chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, she oversees policies affecting millions of American workers. The San Jose Mercury News called her “the unofficial matriarch of the [anti-war] movement.” As a member of the House International Relations Committee, she introduced the first resolution calling for troops to come home from Iraq and convened the first congressional hearing on military exit strategies. She calls for a complete re-evaluation of U.S. national security policy, emphasizing stronger global alliances and intelligence capabilities. She is an advocate of conservation and clean, renewable energy sources..
Stephen Shaff Advisory Board Vice Chair, is Founder and President of Community-Vision Consultants, a community development firm based in Washington, DC. As a progressive development company, C-VC’s mission is to develop affordable-housing home ownership opportunities while simultaneously addressing local social, economic and political issues within the inner-city communities it serves. Besides his political activism, Shaff plays a leadership role in various nonprofits, including two he founded: Thriving Artists Productions and Community-Vision Ventures.
Cindy Asner has had a prolific career as a producer in various media forms. She was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe award as a producer on the CBS film Gypsy, starring Bette Midler. She produced a daily radio talk show and award-winning commercials. Asner has moved from the field of entertainment to the floor of legislation. An activist for better diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, especially autism, she is in the process of creating increased community awareness leading to specific changes in this arena. Now a full-time proponent for progressive change in the media, Asner is working on electronic voting machine issues and getting progressive Democratic candidates elected, and she worked hard on the campaign for California’s Prop 89, for public financing of elections. She is on the boards of California Clean Money Campaign and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism for the State of California.
John C. Bonifaz, J.D. is a constitutional lawyer, voting rights advocate, and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org. In 2003, he served as lead counsel for a coalition of U.S. soldiers, parents of soldiers, and members of Congress in a federal lawsuit challenging President Bush’s authority to wage war against Iraq absent a congressional declaration of war or equivalent action. He was also lead counsel for the Green/Libertarian Party-sponsored recount in Ohio in 2004, prompted by the close vote and voting irregularities. He is the author of Warrior King: The Case for Impeaching George W. Bush. In 2006, he was a Democratic candidate for Massachusetts Secretary of State.
Jay Winter Nightwolf (Jay Gola Wahya Sunoyi) is a Washington, DC-based historian, poet, writer, and commentator. His weekly radio show, Nightwolf-The Most Dangerous Show on Radio (www.WPFW.org) brings an American Indian perspective to domestic and global issues. He is a Buffalo Ridge Cherokee, registered member of Echota Cherokee Nation, and longtime native rights activist. Nightwolf helped organize 2008’s The Longest Walk, which left San Francisco in February 2008, to reach Washington, DC on July 11, 2008, calling for increased respect for Mother Earth and preservation of American Indian sacred sites. As a press gallery member for the U.S. House and Senate, Nightwolf’s message provides a root context for PDA’s 21st century progressive politics: We are all members of the one human family. Let us walk together in respect, harmony and love with one another and with all the life on this earth.
Joel Segal is a senior legislative assistant covering Social Security, veterans affairs, housing, HIV/AIDS in Africa, and poverty issues for Rep. John Conyers. He has been a long-time activist for universal health care, affordable housing, and environmental and public health. He is the coordinator for Mr. Conyers’ Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force-“the Poor People’s Caucus”-and is the outreach coordinator for the Public Safety, Sentencing and Incarceration Caucus. He founded the Free China Movement of over thirty groups inside and outside China, working for peace and democracy.
Rep. Maxine Waters chairs the Out of Iraq Caucus, having entered Congress in 1991. She has long combined legislative acumen with grassroots organizing. Following civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992, she appeared widely in national media to discuss the despair in urban America. She has called for redirecting resources from the War on Drugs to prevention and treatment, as well as for repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws for minor drug offenses. She spent fourteen years in the California State Assembly, where she rose to the position of Democratic Caucus Chair and was responsible for such legislation as the largest divestment of state pension funds from South Africa, landmark affirmative-action legislation, and the introduction of the nation’s first plant-closure law. She was a leader in the movement to end South African Apartheid.