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Press release/statement

Heather McGhee Named Next President of Demos

Heather McGhee, a national leader, policy expert and communicator, has been named the next president of Demos. McGhee first joined Demos a decade ago and is currently the Vice President of Policy and Outreach, where she has been a driving force behind the organization’s increasing influence and impact. Her term as president will begin on March 10, 2014.

“Miles Rapoport had the vision to build an organization that could both change policy in the near-term and develop the ideas and leaders we need for the future,” said Amelia Warren Tyagi, Demos Board Chair. “The Board of Directors recognized that we had the opportunity to turbocharge the progressive movement by naming Heather McGhee as our next President.”

"Heather is really one of the most extraordinary leaders I have ever met."

“Heather is really one of the most extraordinary leaders I have ever met,” said Miles Rapoport, outgoing Demos president and president-select of Common Cause. “She is passionate about justice and democracy, she’s a broad and creative thinker with a real sense of strategy and vision, and she’s a wonderful public spokesperson for the progressive movement. Most importantly, Heather is a wonderful internal organizer, caring as much about how we do what we do as what we do."

“I am honored that Demos’ board and staff have entrusted me with the leadership of this extraordinary organization at this moment,” said McGhee. “Our work is more urgent than ever. It’s true that a future progressive majority is emerging, but deep change is needed to ensure that the next generation has a meaningful say in our democracy and a chance in our economy. At a time when more Americans are demanding solutions to the inequality crisis, there’s simply no place I’d rather be.”

"Our work is more urgent than ever. It’s true that a future progressive majority is emerging, but deep change is needed to ensure that the next generation has a meaningful say in our democracy and a chance in our economy."

As Vice President, McGhee has led in the substantive development of all of Demos’ issue areas, in addition to overseeing its advocacy and communications strategies. In 2012 she helped spearhead Demos’ strategic planning process, resulting in a new organizational structure, rebranding and mission realignment. The process created a new communications framework and sharpened the organization’s focus on four areas of work that examine the connections between political, economic and racial inequality.

“At Demos, we believe that change happens when the power of people and the power of ideas align,” said McGhee. “We’ve shown that compelling research can change the conventional wisdom about a problem facing millions of people – and lead to wins like the Credit CARD Act that has saved Americans over $100 billion so far.” As Vice President, McGhee has strengthened Demos’ collaborations with grassroots and netroots advocates, most recently on campaigns to address the student debt crisis and to raise wages for low-paid federal contract and retail workers.

She is also an influential voice in the media and frequent commentator on MSNBC, adept at demystifying policy for the public. Her insights are consistently sought after not only by members of the media, but by policymakers and at coalition tables, legislative strategy sessions and in grassroots organizing halls.

McGhee also brings political experience to Demos, having served as Deputy Policy Director for Sen. John Edwards’ 2008 primary campaign. In this role, she crafted a domestic policy platform that was widely praised for being the most ambitious and detailed in that election cycle. As Director of Demos’ Washington Office from 2009-2011, she also helped steer the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. McGhee chaired the Systemic Risk task force for the public interest coalition Americans For Financial Reform, and was one of the key advocates credited for the adoption of the Volcker Rule.

Founded in 2000, Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. Demos deploys original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve.


“Heather McGhee will be a terrific President for Demos. She has long been a champion for working families and a strong advocate for economic fairness and equality. I look forward to continuing to work together to fight for a stronger middle class and a level playing field.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

“I am thrilled to congratulate Heather McGhee on her new role as President of Demos. For many years, Heather has been one of the strongest voices for economic and political fairness for working families in America. From strengthening Dodd-Frank with the Volcker Rule, to setting out a strategic vision for a progressive budget, to fighting to repair our broken campaign finance laws, Heather and Demos have been driving forces for real progress for all Americans.”

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

“At this moment when eradicating inequality, in all its forms, is central to advancing our democracy, Demos continues to lead the way forward with creative ideas and innovative solutions. Heather McGhee is an outstanding choice to lead this organization and continue to grow the legacy of Demos by deepening the understanding of substantive issues that affect our lives.”

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

“We are grateful to Miles and thrilled Heather will succeed him at Demos. Together they have made Demos into a leading source for the ideas we need to replace plutocracy with democracy and build a future of shared prosperity.”

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President

“This moment calls for clear, rock solid leadership. Heather understands what's required to have equal opportunity in our economy and an equal say in our democracy no matter what work you do or where you live in our Great nation. Service workers all across the country are jumping for joy to have such an aggressive advocate on their behalf.”

Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

“Hands down one of the most impressive, ferociously intelligent, committed, passionate people I've had the great fortune to meet in progressive politics.”

Chris Hayes, Host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

“In Heather McGhee, Demos has an incredibly talented, strategic, and collaborative next-generation leader. One of the qualities I admire most about her is the ability to translate for a wide range of communities the problems everyday people face when our policies don't meet the challenges of our time. By selecting Heather, Demos continues to position itself as a critical partner for those seeking to change the way all of us get to participate in our government and our economy.”

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, ColorOfChange

“Heather has the energy, the substantive and the political knowledge, and the vision. We at EPI look forward to much further collaboration with Demos.”

Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute

“As one of the founders of Demos I am tremendously proud to see Heather take the reins of leadership at this stage in the organization’s development and our country’s challenges. Demos has had a number of significant achievements in its 13-year history, and I think cultivating such a promising young leader like Heather qualifies as one. She truly represents not only a new generation of leadership but a new quality of leadership that will be the future of the progressive movement. Demos, which grew to become a hugely respected force under Miles, is well-poised for even greater impact at this crucial moment in history.”

Stephen Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and founding President of Demos