January 27, 2010 by USA Post
Dr. Breedlove:William McNary is one of the most electrifying and inspirational speakers of our time. Since 2000, McNary has served as President of USAction, the nation’s largest coalition of progressive grassroots organizations working together to win social, racial, economic and environmental justice.
Born in his parent’s home on Chicago’s South Side in 1952, the mark of progressive leadership was already on his life; he was delivered by a physician named Dr. Breedlove. McNary learned in his early years how progressive ideals can improve the quality of life for real people when his father was able to stop working multiple jobs in favor of a single union job, giving him much more time to spend with the family.
As an aspiring journalist and president of the Black Student Union at the University of Iowa, McNary had dreams of becoming a voice of and for the people when he was a young man. Today, as one of the most prolific leaders and speakers of the progressive movement, he is living that dream. After coming to Chicago as a single parent of 3, in pursuit of a career in political activism, William landed a job as a door to door canvasser for Illinois Public Action. Within seven months, McNary moved up the ranks becoming a canvass trainer, field director then canvass director. After serving more than a dozen years as the legislative director, McNary became the Co-director of Citizen Action Illinois and President of USAction.
Over five election cycles, McNary has worked with the Rainbow/Push Coalition where he co-directed targeted voter registration and “Get Out the Vote” campaign efforts. He serves on the boards of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Women’s Voices Women Vote, and Public Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to public financing of elections. He has run Leadership Training forums where he teaches everyday citizens how to effectively lobby the legislature. These groups have included the AARP, the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the NAACP. William is also committed to mentoring young progressives and passing the baton of leadership to them.
International President, United Steel Workers
The son of a union miner, Leo Gerard started working at Inco’s nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario at age 18, rising through the ranks to become the first president of the new United Steel Workers (USW)-officially the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, which is the largest industrial union in North America. Under Gerard, the USW heightened its focus on reversing the alarming decline of U.S. manufacturing and the negative impact of it on America’s growing health care crisis. He has worked with equal fervor in developing strategies to inject the rights of workers into trade agreements, investment priorities and corporate governance. He has dramatically increased participation by USW members in the political process, and is the driving force behind a network of activists who are creating conceptual, financial and educational tools for capital strategies that will inject the welfare of workers into investment priorities.
Senior Fellow on Health Care, Center for Media and Democracy
Following a 20-year career as a corporate executive, Wendell Potter left his job last year as head of communications for CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations-including those advocating for meaningful health care reform-achieve their goals. Potter has served since May 2009 as the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for Media and Democracy, an independent, non-partisan public interest organization. Potter speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR.
Executive Director of Keystone Progress
Michael Morrill is the executive director of Keystone Progress, Pennsylvania’s largest and most effective online progressive action network. Keystone Progress also serves as the “communications hub” for progressive organizations in PA, helping to develop media strategies and assisting progressive organizations in the development of their communication needs. Morrill has been involved in organizing since childhood, working for numerous unions, civic engagement organizations and political campaigns. He has served as executive director of Pennsylvanians United for Quality Care, Pennsylvania’s Campaign for Choice, Pennsylvania Citizen Action and Christian Churches of the Tri-County Area. He has written numerous articles and has appeared frequently in national and Pennsylvania media as a spokesperson for working families.
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