Today, our team is happy and grateful to have reached a major milestone in our organization’s history: two decades of revolutionizing grassroots politics!
Since August 22nd, 2003, the Northwest Progressive Institute has been working from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to expand freedom and increase prosperity for everyone in our region and beyond. Our insightful research and imaginative advocacy have been and continue to be a engine of progress in a difficult period in our history… an age of insurrection, to quote from our friend David Neiwert.
I founded NPI twenty summers ago after surveying the political landscape and concluding our region needed a strategy center operating across state lines and across different issues to tackle the tough conceptual gaps facing the progressive movement. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to try to create it. The three word name I chose beautifully reflects its scope and purpose:
- Northwest: The organization would focus primarily on the states in the United States that share the Cascade mountain range and Columbia River watershed (Washington, Oregon, Idaho), complementing the work already being done by a long list of organizations at the national level.
- Progressive: The organization would clearly convey what it stood for, as opposed to concealing its ideology behind a bland term like “policy center.” Progressive means “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.” The word progressive describes our values system, rooted in empathy and mutual responsibility. We are proud of our ideals, and proud to acknowledge them.
- Institute: The organization would be a strategy center committed to advancing progressive causes through research and advocacy that value the scientific method, the arts, and the need for reframing, new media and cultural infrastructure, and public education.
NPI began as an idea and was transformed into something that people could see on this day twenty years ago: a website that explained the concept and the need. Within two years, NPI had been established as a nonprofit corporation.
Although it had no mailing list or angel investors or legal framework when it started, it was nonetheless able to take root and flourish. That’s because a lot of people believed in NPI and decided to contribute their time, talent, and treasure to growing it and ensuring that it could realize its deep potential.
NPI’s Creed, written many years ago, eloquently summarizes who we are and what we believe. Created by our staff and board, it reads as follows:
I will train myself to think long term and look at the big picture. I will always keep an open mind and be willing to embrace new ideas and techniques. I will organize for change offline as well as online. Whenever possible, I will give young progressive activists and new progressive activists an opportunity to step up and make a difference. I will challenge and confront intolerance without allowing myself to become intolerant. I will speak out for those who have no voice, no lobbyist, and no advocate. As an activist with an audience, I will help preserve the art of storytelling. I will never pass up an opportunity to reframe and help teach others about the logic of America’s progressive values, especially empathy and responsibility. As a thought leader, I will help lead my fellow citizens to new positions, not follow polls, for that is what real leadership is. I will help maintain a strong first line of defense against threats to our Constitution, our common wealth, and our vital public services. No matter how depressing and hopeless circumstances may seem, I will keep putting one foot forward every day, working cheerfully for a more peaceful future for the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and this diverse planet we call Earth.
In the past two decades, we have done our best to live up to our Creed.
And we’ve accomplished a lot.
For example, we’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to put Tim Eyman’s initiative factory out of business, established NPI as a trusted leader in public opinion research, and led or participated in efforts to secure big public policy wins, especially in the areas of electoral reform and tax reform.
Our publications, including The Cascadia Advocate — which you’re reading right now! — provide uplifting commentary and analysis that our region needs.
(The Cascadia Advocate will itself turn twenty next March. Aside from Permanent Defense — which actually predates NPI — it is NPI’s oldest project.)
NPI could not have reached this important milestone without the contributions of a lot of people. I am honored to be NPI’s founder and leader, but it’s an even greater honor to have the opportunity to work with people who are committed to our shared vision for a freer, more prosperous region, country, and world.
I particularly wish to thank and recognize the following people:
NPI’s current staff and regular contributors
Rennie Sawade, Kathy Sakahara, Kamil Zaidi, Seth Boun, David Kobrin, Joel Connelly, Caya Berndt
NPI is a very multifaceted organization, and it benefits tremendously from having a passionate staff and contributors who have a lot of different talents and skills, enabling us to be very versatile and keep our projects and publications humming. Thank you to Rennie, Kathy, Kamil, Seth, David, Joel, and Caya.
NPI’s current board of directors
Ann Parks, Jacob Thorpe, Christy Ackerman, Diane Jones, Rob Sargent, Germaine Kornegay, Mitch Eggers, Lynne Thomson, Yanah G. Cook
NPI’s board provides sound governance and enthusiastic support to the work of our staff. It’s an incredibly thoughtful group of people hailing from a mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities. We are particularly proud to have strong rural progressive representation on our board of directors. Ann is our current President, Jacob our Vice President-Secretary, and Christy our Treasurer.
NPI’s Advisory Council
Kim Villeneuve, Rob Dolin, Steve Zemke, Kathleen Reynolds, Robert Cruickshank, Marisa Peloquin, Ralph Gorin, Essie Hicks, Martin Chaney, Jason Rittereiser, Rick Hegdahl, Gael Tarleton
Our Advisory Council has many members who are NPI legends, having contributed years of service to the organization as staff, board, or both. They are a dependable source of guidance and wisdom for our staff and board. We deeply appreciate the counsel and ongoing financial and material support they provide.
Early Commonwealth Bondholders and other retired boardmembers
Dave Asher, Kim Allen, Ken Albinger, Mario Brown, Michael Lofstedt, Matt Loschen, John DeGraaf, Peggy Maze Johnson, Garrett Havens, Keitha Bryson
This group includes people who have either served on NPI’s board in the past or have been donating to NPI every month for the last ten years — or both. Several of these stalwart supporters have been with us for a majority of our history.
NPI alumni — past staff and interns
David Perlmutter, Samuel Ranellucci, Andrew Tsao, Alan Harvey, Jon DeVore, Jason Black, Jen Deshaies, Aaron Cahen, Alexa Moormeier, Alison Wendler, Alonso Conrad, Rich Erwin, Bobby Aiyer, Brad Fenstermacher, Caitlin Harrington, Christian Cahua, Daniel Warwick, David A. Johnson, Daniel Warwick, Patrick Stickney, Dominic Barrera, Emma Goolsby, Eve Franklin, Grace Hamilton, Greg Evans, Kaylinne Shaffer, Ken Camp, Medhya Goel, Nick Pernisco, Ruairi Vaughan, Sanjay Satish, Steve Breaux, Tammi Laster, Theresa Curry Almuti, Vaibhav Vijay, Wes Murry
These folks are people who have contributed to NPI’s work over the years as staff members or interns. Their contributions could fill a book.
NPI’s legislative champions
Senator Patty Kuderer, Senator Manka Dhingra, Senator Javier Valdez, Representative Amy Walen, Representative Mia Gregerson, Councilmember Claudia Balducci, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay
These elected leaders have worked closely with our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute to shepherd NPI proposals through the legislative process.
NPI’s guest speakers
Chip Hanauer, Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.), Darcy Burner, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Jon Soltz, former State Representative Hans Dunshee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, former State Senator Reuven Carlyle, Scott Macklin, former Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck, Governor Jay Inslee, Timothy Ford, Representative Adam Smith, Senator Maria Cantwell, The Honorable Ron Sims, Representative Suzan DelBene, Retired Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl, Paul Lawrence, Senator Patty Murray, Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck, Representative Derek Kilmer, Representative Kim Schrier, Representative Lisa Callan, Representative Bill Ramos, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, Representative David Hackney, Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, Lindsay Church, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, former State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski, State Democratic Party Chair Shasti Conrad, State Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self, State Representative Kristine Reeves, State Representative Shelley Kloba, former State Representative Joan McBride, Shannon Hader, Representative Vandana Slatter, State Representative My-Linh Thai, Kent City Councilmember Satwinder Kaur, State Representative Jake Fey, State Senator Rebecca Saldaña, State Representative Debra Lekanoff, Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, SeaTac City Councilmember Iris Guzman, Sammamish City Councilmember Kali Clark, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, former Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Bellevue School Boardmember Jane Aras
These are people not already named who have spoken at one of our seasonal events (our Spring Fundraising Gala, Summer Anniversary Picnic, FallFest, or Winter Holiday Party). Many have spoken at several NPI events over the years, and many also generously sponsor NPI’s work on an annual basis.
Board and staff we’ve lost
Keith Deshaies, Lynn Allen, Nancy Podschwit
We lost Keith in 2008, Lynn in 2011, and Nancy in 2022. We have never forgotten them and never will. They remain a source of inspiration to our team.
Finally, thank you to the families of all of our board and staff. We are particularly thankful that so many of you volunteer to provide hospitality at NPI’s events to our supporters and consistently show up to celebrate our research and advocacy accomplishments with us. We’re excited to see you this Saturday for our Twentieth Anniversary Picnic. Readers, if you’d like to join us, please RSVP here!