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Press release/statement

Demos Names Sabeel Rahman, Progressive Thought Leader and Movement Builder, As New President

Rahman Pledges to Advance Demos’ Commitment to Racial Equity, Economic Justice and an Inclusive Democracy for All

New York, NY – Demos, a New York-based public policy organization, announced the selection of thought leader and movement builder Sabeel Rahman as its new president. An award-winning scholar, author and teacher, Rahman joins Demos from Brooklyn Law School, where he is an Associate Professor of Law, and where he has elevated groundbreaking ideas that address racial and economic inequality, democratic participation, power, exclusion and inequality. He had previously been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.

“At this critical juncture in American history, we face an existential struggle over the very idea of ‘we the people’… I’m deeply honored and thrilled to be joining Demos at this urgent moment.”
—Sabeel Rahman

“At this critical juncture in American history, we face an existential struggle over the very idea of we the people: who counts as a member of the polity, and what does that membership entail,” said incoming president of Demos Sabeel Rahman. “Demos has been at the forefront of forging a powerful vision of an inclusive democracy. I’m deeply honored and thrilled to be joining Demos at this urgent moment. As an unapologetically progressive and deeply values-driven organization, and as a unique institution that combines work in advocacy, campaigns, public narrative, research, public policy and litigation, Demos is singularly well-positioned to shape the politics and policy of the moment. I look forward to deepening Demos’ work to develop and advance over-the-horizon ideas to create an equitable economy and an inclusive democracy.”

“I could not be more pleased with the decision to select Sabeel Rahman as the next president of Demos. He’s a thought leader who has written and taught about the issues of democracy and equity that are central to Demos’ mission, and a practitioner who has worked with some of Demos’ most important partners and funders. Sabeel brings just what we were looking for in a new leader,” said Amelia Warren Tyagi, chair of Demos’ Board of Trustees.

“When Demos’ board set out to find a new president, we were looking for someone with innovative ideas, a deep grasp of progressive issues and policies, and an ability to bring together people from different backgrounds and sectors. We found all that and more in Sabeel. As a Muslim-American and the son of immigrants, he not only understands issues of equity and inclusion, he lives them,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, Demos board member, and co-chair of the board’s Presidential Search Committee. “I look forward to working with him to move progressive ideas and values into the written and unwritten rules of our country.”

Rahman’s 2017 book, Democracy Against Domination, is an award-winning argument about how mainstream liberalism has failed to address the problems of economic power in the post-financial crisis era, and offers a framework for tackling these structural inequities. He writes extensively on issues of race, inequality, economic power, and building an inclusive democracy, with articles appearing in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Boston Review, The American Prospect and elsewhere.

Beyond his academic work, Rahman is a sought-after collaborator and innovator, working extensively with grassroots organizations, foundations and policymakers to develop new approaches to addressing the issues of inequality, exclusion and democracy. As the Design Director for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Gettysburg Project, he helped convene leading progressive organizers to develop strategies for building an inclusive 21st century democracy. In 2014 and 2015, he served as a senior advisor in New York’s City Hall, helping to create and advance an inclusive economic development agenda. He brings with him deep relationships throughout the progressive movement, having worked closely with many Demos partners, and serving previously as a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and New America.

Sabeel Rahman will begin his work as president of Demos in September 2018.