Mimi Kennedy has been PDA's Advisory Board Chair since our founding in 2004, and hosted countless PDA events, actions, and receptions. An expert on election integrity and other issues, she is a co-coordinator of PDA's Election Issues Team. Born in Rochester, NY, Mimi has spent her life performing, writing, and working to promote peace and progress. Mimi was a key supporter of Dennis Kucinich’s campaigns. and has traveled from coast to coast, organizing street heat and meeting elected officials with PDA. She studied Nonviolent Theory and Strategy with 60's civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson. A founding member of Artists United to Win Without War, Mimi is a leading voice for peace and progress.
A uniquely talented and versatile actress, Mimi has appeared on stage, on television, and in feature films. Highlights include her roles as Dharma's hippie mother on the sitcom "Dharma&Greg," and as Ruth Sloan on "Homefront." Her TV credits range from Night Court and Drop Dead Diva to St. Elsewhere, ER, House and Grey's Anatomy. She appeared on stage in the Broadway and road companies of "Grease," and in the acclaimed one-woman show "The Lady with All the Answers" as Ann Landers. Recent projects include HBO’s political comedy VEEP, Woody Allen's romcom "Midnight In Paris," and BBC Film's anti-war satire "In The Loop" with the late, great James Gandolfini. Mimi is also a talented writer. She was a story editor for the Knots Landing TV Series, and her book, "Taken To The Stage: The Education of an Actress," was praised as "one of the great theatrical memoirs."
Medea Benjamin joined PDA’s National Board in 2004, and been a key leader for PDA’s “outside” strategy since our founding. A clear and effective voice for peace, she has appeared at numerous PDA events and actions. Medea is a cofounder of the peace group CODEPINK, and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. She is the author of eight books. Her latest is Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Since the September 11, 2001 tragedy, her work to promote a U.S. foreign policy that would respect human rights and gain us allies has taken her to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
Medea is currently campaigning to stop the use of killer drones. She has been an ally to democracy movements in the Arab Spring, including Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, and she has taken several delegations to Israel/Palestine--including Gaza. Medea was honored as one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide. In 2010 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the 2012 Peace Prize by the US Peace Memorial.
Kristin Cabral joins the PDA national board this year, and she is an activist and attorney in Virginia. She has fought for voting rights and fair elections, including seeking to enfranchise people with past felony convictions and helping the Democratic Party with its election protection program in a state of often close elections. She was the Democrat for the U.S. House in 2012 in the swing DC suburbs of Virginia, doing unexpectedly well against an entrenched Republican incumbent on barely any time or money but with an intense field campaign that engaged the grassroots. Kristin, one of the first girls to desegregate Little League in 1974, is a lifetime advocate for women's equality, working with a number of organizations like NOW -VA, and she is from a union family and a supporter of workers. She is one of the first graduates of Head Start and put herself through college (Michigan) and law school (Harvard). Her concerns include the need for a working families agenda which pays heed to childcare issues and student loan debt -- both of which she herself has experienced.
Steve Cobble, helped co-found PDA at Roxbury in 2004, joined the National Board that year, and has served as PDA’s Political Director ever since. He’s spoken at and moderated discussions at PDA’s Leadership events in D.C. and Winslow, and at Progress Central conferences in Denver, Charlotte, and D.C. He is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and works with Free Speech For People in the growing movement to roll back the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Steve helped co-found After Downing Street, and is a former political director and speechwriter for the National Rainbow Coalition. Steve was the National Delegate Coordinator for Jesse 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, and Carol Moseley Braun for U.S. Senator. In 1991, he conducted election training workshops for the African National Congress in South Africa. He’s worked with Ralph Nader, and served as a strategy adviser to Dennis Kucinich in both of his Presidential campaigns. Steve was closely involved in the post-election battle over the suppression of African-American votes in Ohio 2004.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., was with PDA for our launch in 2004, joined the PDA National Board in 2006, and has spoken at countless PDA conferences and events. A legendary force for peace, civil rights, and social justice, he worked closely with PDA exposing voting irregularities in Ohio in 2004. He served as a co-chair of PDA’s Healthcare not Warfare campaign.
Rep. Conyers is the Ranking Member 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. Among his many accomplishments in Congress: sponsorship of the Expanded and Improved Medicare Act, the Full Employment and Training Act, 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. He is a Korean War veteran.
Rep. Keith Ellison joined the PDA national board in 2013, and has appeared at several PDA events including Progressive Central conferences and Progressive Round Tables. He serves as a Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and represents Minnesota’s 5th District that includes the City of Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. Rep. Ellison’s guiding philosophy is based on “generosity and inclusion” and his priorities include building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability, and advancing civil and human rights.
Before his election to Congress Rep. Ellison was a noted community activist and ran a civil rights, employment, and criminal defense law practice in Minneapolis, and served two terms in the Minnesota State House of Representatives. He was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and has lived in Minnesota since earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990. He is the proud father of four children.
Bill Fletcher joined the PDA national board in 2009. has spoken at several PDA events, provided valuable advice and insights, and helped PDA forge closer relations with organized Labor. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Labor Rights Forum, Executive Editor of The Black Commentator, and founded the Center for Labor Renewal. A longtime labor, racial justice and international activist, he is a former president of the 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.
Bill is a founder of the Black Radical Congress and is a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies. Bill co-authored (with Fernando Gapasin) Solidarity Divided, The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice. He served as the Vice President for International Trade Union Development Programs for the George Meany Center of the AFL-CIO, as Education Director and as Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO.
Lila Garrett is a founding PDA Board Member. She’s hosted PDA on her Pacifica radio show Connect The Dots on KPFK in Los Angeles, and headlined several PDA events. A longtime activist and award-winning screenwriter, Lila was the Southern California Chair of the 2004 Kucinich campaign and is a past president of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action.
Lila 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 is a founding board member of the California Clean Money Campaign. A television screenwriter, producer, and director, she won two Emmys and the Writers Guild Award.
Rep. Raul Grijalva joined the PDA National Board in 2008, and he has spoken at several PDA events. He has championed PDA priorities including economic justice, protecting the environment, defending civil liberties, and promoting universal healthcare. His district in Arizona includes seven separate Native American Tribes, and he is a strong advocate of Native American sovereignty.
Rep. Grijalva’s father was a migrant worker from Mexico who entered the U.S. through the Bracero Program. He is a leading voice for humane, comprehensive immigration reform. Before his election to Congress, he served in public office for decades—on the Tucson school board, and as a member and chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Thom Hartmann joined the PDA National Board in 2009. He’s hosted and promoted PDA on his progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show--available in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He's a New York Times bestselling, 4-times Project Censored Award winning author of 24 books in print in 17 languages on five continents.
Talkers Magazine named Thom as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their “Heavy Hundred” ranking. An entrepreneur, he's founded several successful ongoing businesses. He’s lived and worked with his wife, Louise, and their three children on several continents.
Tom Hayden helped launch PDA at Roxbury in 2004, and is a founding member of the PDA National Board. He has participated at several PDA events including Progressive Central in Denver (2008). He writes for The Nation magazine, and is the author of 18 books and hundreds of articles at TomHayden.com. He teaches and leads workshops frequently on the history and nature of social movements.
Tom 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 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 wars, combating sweatshops, and reforming politics through greater citizen participation.
Jim Hightower joined the PDA national board in 2007, and has served as the featured speaker at several PDA events--including the launch of our Healthcare Not Warfare Campaign in Washington, D.C. He’s traveled to California, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida in support of PDA and our endorsed candidates. Jim is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow.
Jim 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, Jim 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. Barbara Lee was with PDA for our launch in 2004, and joined the PDA national board in 2006. She has appeared at several PDA events including Progressive Central in Denver, and PDA National Conferences in D.C. She is a former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and has been a leader for progress in the Congress since succeeding the legendary Ron Dellums representing her Oakland/Berkeley-area district.
Rep. Lee sponsored legislation disavowing the preemptive war doctrine, and led bipartisan efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. Standing on principle amid post-9/11 hysteria, she was the lone member of Congress to vote against the resolution broadly authorizing President Bush’s use of force. 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.
Michael Lighty joined the PDA national board in 2010. He’s been a pillar of PDA’s organizing, speaking at Progressive Central events, attending Progressive round table meetings on the Hill, and joining us for two PDA leadership retreats at Winslow. Michael brought PDA into coalitions with labor and other organizations—most recently the Robin Hood Tax Campaign. He is currently the Director of Administration and Public Policy for the California Nurses Association (CNA).
Michael manages CNA’s national effort for healthcare reform on the single-payer model, an issue he has worked on since 1991. He coordinated CNA’s successful effort to reverse California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rollback of CNA’s landmark hospital nurse-to-patient staffing law. He was campaign manager for the Prop 89 clean money initiative that won a prestigious Pollie award, and helped CNA lead the effort rejecting Gov. Schwarzenegger’s 2005 ballot measures, and CAN’s statewide ballot initiative campaign for HMO reform. Lighty joined CNA in 1994 and has served as Political Director. He was then-Mayor Jerry Brown’s first appointee to the Oakland Planning Commission, and 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 joined the PDA national board in 2007, and has spoken at several PDA events including Progressive Central conferences and Progressive Round Tables. He currently serves as a ranking member of the House Rules Committee, and the House Budget Committee. A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1997, he’s a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a leader on human rights, ending hunger, and other PDA priority issues.
Rep. McGovern was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and earned a Masters of Public Administration at American University in Washington, D.C. He 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.
Robert Score joined the PDA Board August 2012, spoke at PDA’s Progressive Central III in Washington, D.C., and has help lead efforts to unite PDA with the House of Labor. Robert was appointed to the Labor Campaign For Single Payer Healthcare which led to his affiliation with the progressive Democrats of America. He was awarded an IATSE International Presidents Award at the 67th IATSE Quadrennial Convention on July 26, 2013 in Boston for advocacy work in regard to adequate healthcare for all in the United States. He currently serves as Recording-Corresponding Secretary for Local One, I.A.T.S.E.
Anas “Andy” Shallal joined the PDA National Board in 2009, and has hosted several events at Busboys and Poets, generously supporting PDA with his time, support, and delicious food. He is an artist and social entrepreneur. His restaurants Busboys and Poets and Eatonville create an environment where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted. Spaces to feed the mind, body and soul and where art, culture and politics take center stage and collide. With 4 locations in the Washington Metropolitan Area, Busboys and Poets has become home for progressives, artists and intellectuals including such notables as Howard Zinn, Cornel West, Alice Walker and Nikki Giovanni to name a few.
Andy’s businesses are members of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a national restaurant worker and owner association that focuses on sustainable business and employment practices. Busboys and Poets and Eatonville Restaurant have been at the forefront of environmental stewardship. Andy received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Arts Award, Employer of the Year from the Employment Justice Center and the Mayor’s Environmental Award. He’s founded or co-founded several peace and justice organizations and serves on the board of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Washington Peace Center.
Donna Smith joined the PDA National Board in 2013 and has served as a National Chair of PDA's Healthcare Not Warfare campaign since its founding in 2007. Donna has spoken at several PDA events and conferences including Progressive Central Conferences and at Winslow Leadership events. She has helped lead PDA’s efforts to advance healthcare as a human right under an Expanded, Improved Medicare for All / single-payer model.
Donna is an exceptional journalist, writer, and public speaker. Michael Moore featured her in his 2007 documentary, SiCKO, about the dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system. She worked for National Nurses United/California Nurses Association as a political organizer before moving to Colorado in early 2013 to head up the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation.
Quentin Young, M.D., joined the PDA National Advisory Board during the summer of 2012. He is a leader on public health policy and medical and social justice issues, and one of the nation’s leading advocates for single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all. He currently serves as National Coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program. Dr. Young has served as chairman of the American College of Physicians' Subcommittee on Human Rights and Medical Practice and has been a member of both the Humana-Michael Reese Medical Board and the American College of Physicians Health and Public Policy Committee.
For a decade Dr. Young served as chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cook County Hospital, where he established the Department of Occupational Medicine. He has been an American Medical Association member since 1952. In 1997 he was inducted as a master of the American College of Physicians, and he served as National President of the American Public Health Association in 1998. For many years Dr. Young had a private practice in Chicago, Ill., having previously served as a senior attending physician at Michael Reese Hospital. He is a clinical professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Young graduated from Northwestern Medical School, and did his residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He retired from medical practice in 2008 in order to focus full-time on fighting the corporate takeover of medicine in America.
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 Woolseyis 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.
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, Kucinich 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 Waterschairs 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.