NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Ready for a new decade: NPI to begin its next ten years with a capable, committed board

Editor’s Note: This month and this week, NPI is cel­e­brat­ing its tenth anniver­sary. This is the sec­ond post in a sev­en-part series reflect­ing on NPI’s first decade. Each install­ment will be penned by one of NPI’s board mem­bers.

NPI has come a long way in ten years.  I moved to Wash­ing­ton State in 1997, but didn’t get involved in pol­i­tics until 2004 when Den­nis Kucinich’s first pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and Wash­ing­ton State’s can­cel­la­tion of the pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry got me active. That involve­ment led to involve­ment in the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict Democ­rats, where I met Andrew Vil­leneuve, who was already a key play­er there.

The two of us grew up polit­i­cal­ly togeth­er in many ways. I took on lead­er­ship roles in the 45th and became Chair in 2007 — a posi­tion I con­tin­ued in until I was redis­trict­ed out of the 45th in 2012. (Today, I par­tic­i­pate in the 5th LD).

I worked hard to devel­op a lead­er­ship team to run the orga­ni­za­tion, and Andrew was an essen­tial part of it, although he was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly build­ing NPI.

I don’t have polit­i­cal expe­ri­ence out­side of the Pacif­ic North­west, but the pol­i­tics here have always struck me as pecu­liar.

One of those pecu­liar­i­ties is the exis­tence of Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry. Wash­ing­ton is known nation­al­ly as a blue state with a pro­gres­sive tra­di­tion; it has been gov­erned by a Demo­c­ra­t­ic chief exec­u­tive for over thir­ty years. But what many out­side the Ever­green State don’t know is that for years, Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic ser­vices have been weak­ened by a series of ill-con­ceived right wing ini­tia­tives pur­pose­ly intend­ed to wreck state and local gov­ern­ment.

As Robert not­ed yes­ter­day, it was­n’t until activists like Andrew Vil­leneuve and NPI alum Steve Zemke stepped for­ward to chal­lenge Eyman that his win­ning streak was snapped. Andrew had no angel investors, finan­cial back­ing, or team in place when he start­ed Per­ma­nent Defense in 2002 or NPI in 2003.

But he resolved that he could­n’t stay on the side­lines while Eyman suc­ceed­ed in hood­wink­ing so many of his fel­low cit­i­zens with false promis­es of a free lunch.

Since 2002, Eyman’s fail­ures have out­num­bered his suc­cess­es, and this is a tes­ta­ment to the work that NPI and oth­er pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions have been doing… in the courts and the court of pub­lic opin­ion.

And while this has been going on, not only have Andrew and I grown and matured, but so has NPI. Once an idea on the Web, NPI has become an estab­lished and respect­ed insti­tu­tion. Per­ma­nent Defense, which pre­ced­ed NPI as a reac­tion against right wing extrem­ism, became a part of some­thing larg­er ten years ago when Andrew trans­formed his real­iza­tion that pro­gres­sives need­ed to go on offense into a plan for some­thing more tan­gi­ble: a for­ward-think­ing think tank with the soul of a tech start­up focused on refram­ing and rethink­ing.

It’s been said that suc­cess­ful star­tups must even­tu­al­ly evolve to become inde­pen­dent of their founders and lead­ers, and I think that’s true.

As Chair of the 45th, I worked hard to build a lead­er­ship team that would car­ry on my vision of inclu­sive pro­gres­sivism, and Andrew has been doing the same at NPI. For much of NPI’s first decade, NPI was entire­ly run and gov­erned by its staff. But Andrew fore­saw that NPI would need some­thing more to go to the next lev­el, and com­mit­ted him­self in 2010 and 2011 to recruit­ing board­mem­bers for NPI.

Today, NPI has a strong and capa­ble board of direc­tors, which I am proud to be a part of. Our board includes State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gael Tar­leton, who cur­rent­ly serves as NPI’s pres­i­dent, Ralph Gorin, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as NPI’s Sec­re­tary, Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Par­ty Sec­re­tary Rob Dolin, Robert Cruick­shank, and for­mer long­time staff mem­bers Kath­leen Reynolds and Rick Heg­dahl. (Kath­leen serves as NPI’s Trea­sur­er).

On Thurs­day, as NPI begins a new decade, it will cross the thresh­old with a board of direc­tors com­mit­ted to help­ing NPI’s staff real­ize its poten­tial.

It’s an excit­ing time to be part of NPI and pro­gres­sivism in the Pacif­ic North­west.

Mar­tin Chaney has served as a mem­ber of NPI’s Board of Direc­tors since June 2012. He serves as the 5th LD Democ­rats’ Coun­ty Com­mit­tee­man.

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One Comment

  1. Sounds like this orga­ni­za­tion is going places. Kudos to all the peo­ple who’ve kept NPI going. Hope your next ten years is even bet­ter.

    # by Adele Ponchartrain :: August 22nd, 2013 at 12:15 PM