Each People For the American Way (PFAW) member connects with the PFAW mission in a different way. We hear from members every day who support this work because they are passionate about the fight against right-wing extremism and for democracy, free expression, religious liberty, and equal justice under the law. It’s only through the support of our members that PFAW is able to work towards justice, freedom, and equity for all. This post is part of a blog series about our diverse network of members, and offers our dedicated network of supporters the chance to hear their stories and learn why they are committed to progressive values.
In March 2018, PFAW Membership and Planned Giving Coordinator Rachel Foster joined members for a lunch in Chicago to learn more about the ways PFAW supporters are helping to build a democracy that works for all. Carole and Dave Perlman, Mark Anderson, Ann Wise and Arthur Elstein, our five honored guests, have been PFAW members for at least 18 years, while the Perlmans have been active members since 1982! PFAW Board Member Greg Frezados also attended the lunch to give members a chance to connect with the organization’s leadership.
The conversation flowed between learning about the members’ lives –Anderson is on the board of a math and science school for children who are gifted, while Wise has worked in advertising and reporting for years – and the current state of political affairs. Like so many, Elstein, a retired professor, noted that after Donald Trump was elected, he became motivated to be more involved in politics. Through the PFAW PAC, our Latinos Vote! program and our Next Up Victory Fund, PFAW is active in electoral races all over the country with the goal of helping progressives win back the U.S. House and the Senate and state and local races all over the country.
One issue on the top of the members’ minds was the Illinois primary, which had taken place just days before the lunch. The state’s primary resulted in the retirement of the 12-term Congress member and immigration advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez, and Illinois Democrats an important opportunity to take back the governor’s mansion from one of the most unpopular Republican governors in the country.
The lunch also served as an important opportunity to update our members on the work of People For the American Way Foundation’s youth leadership programs – including Young People For (YP4), the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, and African American Religious Affairs (AARA). These programs serve as critical support systems for people leading progressive movements on the ground by teaching organizing skills, developing instructional materials, and bringing together like-minded people to network, and more.
Since March, Rachel Foster has attended dozens of meetings with members to discuss the PFAW mission, programs, and ways to get involved. These meetings offer an important opportunity for PFAW to hear from the people who make our work possible and to demonstrate our appreciation for your support. If you are interested in being part of an upcoming meeting, please message Rachel at [email protected].