On June 18, People For the American Way hosted a telebriefing to introduce new PFAW President Ben Jealous and give our members the opportunity to hear from him about his goals and vision for the next chapter at PFAW. Jealous stepped into his role as President on June 15.
In his introduction, former PFAW President Michael Keegan noted that Jealous’s background makes him uniquely qualified to lead PFAW. As a seasoned nonprofit executive with decades of experience as an organizer, a coalition builder, and a campaigner for social justice, Jealous is poised to lead PFAW with great skill and vision through the most significant election year of our lifetimes and beyond.
Jealous began by telling members what drew him to PFAW, describing the variety of programs and leadership networks that have made the organization such a rich site of activism. Having been brought up in a family of organizers and social justice advocates, Jealous has learned how to lean into critical campaigns, and he brings that dedication with him to PFAW. In fact, he spoke at this telebriefing while sitting at the desk his grandfather used for his own social justice advocacy many decades ago.
PFAW members asked questions about the organization’s work advocating for judicial accountability, ensuring fair and free elections, reforming our democracy, securing funding for the U.S. Postal Service and other critical issues. Jealous said that overall, the biggest step to enacting change is getting Donald Trump out of office and firing Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader. PFAW’s focus for the remainder of the year will continue to focus on pushing for those results. Jealous noted that between being in the throes of a dangerous pandemic and the long overdue social uprising against police brutality and anti-Black racism, we’re living through what feels like an unusually difficult time, and emphasized that he is confident that PFAW will lean into this moment and work to bring about real change.
“We are in the middle of an epic battle in this country for our democracy,” Jealous said, and all of PFAW’s current campaigns dovetail with that fight.
Jealous concluded the call by stating how grateful he is for the multigenerational member network PFAW has built over its decades of progressive leadership. His grandmother used to tell him that every time in our history that democracy seemed to be on the verge of collapse, activists much like PFAW members rose to the occasion; that is precisely how we’re going to tackle the difficult fights that lie ahead of us this year.
Please see below to listen to the full conversation.