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1133 19th Street, NW - 9th Floor
Washington DC
Phone :(202) 775-2003
URL: Website
Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL)'s Visual Map

  • Social justice organization dedicated to training future leftist political leaders

The Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL) is a self-described "nonpartisan," nonprofit 501(c)(3) “educational organization” dedicated to creating "a long-term infrastructure for developing tomorrow’s progressive leaders." Seeking out aspiring activists who will “work consistently and effectively for social justice,” CPL claims to have trained “thousands of promising political leaders from around the country.” CPL not only provides such prospects with instruction in the techniques of political and social activism, but also puts them in touch with willing donors and activist organizations in key voting areas.

CPL identifies its five core values as follows:

Investment in the Future: “All Americans must have access to high-quality education and health care. The United States must find innovative ways to conserve our natural environment.” In short, CPL advocates increased government spending on public education and socialized medicine. It also supports the policy recommendations of radical environmentalists whose ultimate goal, as writer Michael Berliner has explained, is “not clean air and clean water, [but] rather … the demolition of technological/industrial civilization.”  

A Moral Economy: Advocating income redistribution and the introduction of living wage requirements, CPL declares: “All Americans must have the opportunity to participate in our nation's economic prosperity. People who contribute to our economy should be able to support their families.” In CPL’s calculus, capitalism does not constitute a “moral economy.”

Freedom: Reasoning from the premise that the United States is a nation rife with injustice and discrimination, CPL asserts: “All Americans must have the opportunity to fully participate in our nation's economic, social, and political life regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status. Our government must uphold individual rights to privacy, including a woman's right to choose” [i.e., taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand].

Security: Viewing the U.S. as an unnecessarily aggressive, uncooperative, and destructive force in world affairs, CPL advises that “the United States must join with other nations and international organizations to fight terrorism and promote peace.”

Global Cooperation: “Internationally, the United States must support security, peace, and development through trade, aid, negotiation, and political engagement. ... The United States must act as a good global citizen and should promote on a global scale the same values it holds domestically.”

With these values in mind, CPL administers a number of training and outreach initiatives, most notably its “State Political Leaders Fellowship,” a 9-month, part-time program that recruits, educates, and guides aspiring political candidates in target states that include Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Arizona, and Michigan. CPL trains between 40 and 60 such Fellows per year, teaching them such skills as public speaking, fundraising, and balancing personal affairs with the demands of a political career.

In CPL’s “Springboard Trainings,” “first-time and up-and-coming community activists and political organizers” learn how to “solidif[y] their progressive values” and “communicate those values effectively to various audiences in various situations or through various media.”

CPL also runs a “New Leaders Program” that offers paid internships to minorities and women in Washington, DC. Organizations involved in this program include the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the People for the American Way Foundation, the United States Student Association, and the USAction Education Fund.

Another CPL program, “Partnership Trainings,” is designed “to nurture, develop, build, and connect diverse communities of progressive leaders across the country who share common values and are equipped with the skills and support to run, organize, advocate, and win.” On this initiative, CPL has collaborated with such organizations as the the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the Midwest Academy, the NAACP, and the Sierra Club.

CPL’s “Action Network” program aims to connect “emerging and established leaders to create a community of progressive political leaders,” and to mobilize volunteers who can direct voter outreach programs. On September 21, 2006, the Action Network joined with a number of leftist groups to organize house party trainings across the United States, in an effort to “learn how we can work together to win in the short term while building an infrastructure for long-term success.” Trainees watched instructional videos and then took part in interactive role-playing where they practiced how to recruit volunteers and communicate with potential voters. Organizations involved in this initiative included America Votes, Campus Progress, Code Pink for Peace, MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, the Sierra Club, and TrueMajority Action.

CPL also acknowledges its close working relationship with the Center for Community Change, and EMILY’s List.

One Director of CPL is Mike Lux, who currently serves as President of American Family Voices. Lux was formerly People For the American Way’s Senior Vice President for Political Action, and a Director for both the Proteus Fund and the Arca Foundation. He also co-founded Progressive Strategies, a consulting firm that helps leftist organizations and political leaders implement and administer effective campaigns. In the 1990s Lux served under Bill Clinton as a Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison.

Another Director of CPL is Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor during President Clinton’s first term and is currently a professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University.

Additional CPL leaders include Philadelphia-based attorney Donna Johnson-Bullock; Randella Bluehouse, the Program Development Coordinator for the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona; Leslie Love, a Detroit-based theater director and adjunct professor; Omar Woodard, a student at George Washington University; and Clifford Martin, a physician in Tucson, Arizona.

CPL, whose 2006 budget was $2.3 million, has received funding from Democracy Alliance, which is supported by George Soros and Peter Lewis, among others.



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