Dear Leadnow Community: Thank you
This letter is about thanking you.
In January I’m going to start a new job after completing six years of work at Leadnow. I’ll tell you more about the new job at the end of his note, but that’s not what I want to focus on today.
An organization’s origin story is almost always told as the story of its founders. That story is important, but it can hide an important truth: a huge network of people and communities have built Leadnow - and the vast majority are people I don’t know and will never meet.
It’s impossible for me to properly thank the people I do know. If I just started a list then it would turn into a movie-credit scrawl - and it would still leave way too many people out.
There have been countless people at each stage of the start-up. The seed for Leadnow was planted by a tiny crew that set up Canadians for a Progressive Coalition after the 2008 election. The seed began to grow as people from the Canadian youth climate movement emerged after the wreckage of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.
We came out of Copenhagen ready to do everything we could to bring people together across party lines to defeat Harper, strengthen our democracy and take on major challenges facing our generation. Many early mentors - people like Patricia Lane and Jason Mogus - helped us find our feet as we prepared to take on Harper’s majority government after the 2011 election.
The community started to grow. Hundreds of thousands of people across Canada took action together through those campaigns - reminding each other of our shared values and strengthening all of our voices.
Tens of thousands took another step with us: donating hard-earned money, adding input to guide Leadnow’s direction, rallying in front of hundreds of MP offices.
Thousands of you jumped in with both feet: joining Leadnow community action teams to put on a purple shirt, knock doors and talk to strangers in dozens of communities across the country.
It took all of you working together, and joining with many partner organizations and movements across Canada, to stop some of the worst of Harper’s agenda and then defeat his government in 2015.
In 2016, hundreds of thousands of you have joined together again to take action for justice, equality and democracy. You’ve been supporting the new government where their actions line up with Leadnow community values, and pushing them for lasting change on the great crises facing us today. We’ve won victories and suffered setbacks this year, and we’ll keep building strength together in this new era of Canadian politics.
As an organization, we’ve faced one big challenge after Harper: fundraising. Harper’s attacks on the institutions so many Canadians value motivated people to give generously. Progressive organizations across Canada have seen a decline in donations since his defeat, and Leadnow was no exception.
That’s why I want to reserve a special thanks for the people who assure the Leadnow community’s continued strength and independence: monthly donors. We’ve been asking people in the Leadnow community to help by becoming regular monthly donors, and the community has really stepped up. There are now almost 3,000 people across Canada who give a monthly donation to the Leadnow community - even more than before Harper’s defeat.
Everyone in the Leadnow community - the overwhelming majority of whom I will never meet - contribute to keeping us independent, focused and strong enough take hard positions free of political interference. The monthly donors provide the foundation for everything - and I am deeply grateful to you all.
For me, it’s time to make way for our new leadership and take on new challenges. A few months ago I accepted a new job as the first Director of Communications and Campaigns at the Centre for Social Innovation. I’ll be joining them at their Toronto co-working spaces in January. I’m going to be focused on supporting their global expansion, organizing campaigns to strengthen the non-profit sector as a whole, and building long-term solutions for a new economy that puts people and planet first.
As I look back on my six years with Leadnow I’m struck by the transition from male to female leadership. In 2011 there were five determined white dudes in a barn in Grimsby, Ontario talking about how we could make Leadnow successful: co-founders Adam Shedletzky, Matthew Carroll, and myself working with the brilliantly talented Ryan Baillargeon and getting advice from Ben Brandzel. We poured ourselves into this work.
Over the years women have taken on more and more of the leadership at Leadnow. Maggie Knight built our organization, Julia Pope upped our game, Jodie Tonita developed our board, Logan McIntosh built our organizing network, Amara Possian delivered a world-class election campaign. My partner, Reilly Yeo, brought a new focus on equality to our board before we started dating - and she has provided years of good advice since.
Now Lyndsay Poaps is our executive director, Marie-Margueritte Sabongui is the chair of our board and Logan McIntosh is taking on my responsibilities. I’m grateful to all of them, and confident in their leadership. As I prepare for my new role I see an organization that’s scrappy and mature, filled with a strong team of campaigners, organizers, technologists who will take the work to the next level. I am excited to support them in the new year.
Leadnow has always been about more than defeating Harper, and people-powered movements for democracy and progress have never been more important than they are now. In 2016 we have seen neoliberalism start to fall apart as it fails to deliver greater democracy and equality - or the necessary action to tackle massive problems like climate change.
Now the question we are faced with is whether the neoliberal order will be replaced by right-wing demagogues, or a popular progressive alternative. Leadnow will be bringing people together and fighting for that alternative.
Thanks to all of you, we’re ready for this new age. And, if you feel so moved, please join me in making a monthly donation to support the Leadnow community in 2017.
Thanks for all you do.
With hope and respect,