Inside PSN: Progressive States Network Welcomes New Co-Chair, New Board Members
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Progressive States Network Welcomes New Co-Chair, New Board Members
Today, PSN proudly announces a new Co-Chair and new members for its Board of Directors. Longtime PSN board member Representative Garnett Coleman of Houston, Texas will take up the position of Co-Chair alongside PSN Founding Co-Chair David Sirota. Wisconsin Senator Spencer Coggs, Maryland Delegate Tom Hucker, Georgia Senator Nan Orrock, Arizona Delegate Kyrsten Sinema, and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott will all take on new roles as PSN board members. Steve Doherty, former Montana State Senator and founding co-chair of the Progressive States Network, is stepping down as co-chair but will remain an active member of the board.
Garnet Coleman assumes the helm of PSN’s board after a long history of advocating for progressive change in his own state and across the nation. As a Representative of Texas’ 147th District for the last 17 years, Coleman has garnered a reputation as a formidable champion for working families and the diversity of Texas, spearheading major victories for his constituents in the areas of education, health care, and economic development. In 2003 Coleman received the Center for Voting and Democracy/ Common Cause Hero of Democracy Award and in 2001 was named to Governing Magazine's Public Officials of the Year List. Rep. Coleman has twice been named to the prestigious Texas Monthly Ten Best Legislators list, and in 2004 he was recognized as Outstanding Black Caucus Chair by the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Coleman also chairs the Legislative Study Group, a non-partisan House caucus that provides for legislators in-depth policy analysis of legislation and how it affects working Texas families.
Recently, Rep. Coleman has played an instrumental role in organizing the State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy network, a PSN-sponsored coalition that is coordinating a national state-based legislative campaign to counter the right’s attack on immigrant families while protecting all workers and fostering strong, integrated communities.
According to Coleman, “The work that we’re doing in this organization is crucial to building a progressive movement across the nation. When you look at the day-to-day work that actually builds the progressive agenda, it happens in the states. What we need is more coordination between legislators so that gains in each state don’t stay isolated but rather coalesce into a national movement. That’s precisely what we’re doing at PSN, and I am proud to count myself as a contributor to that work.”?
Spencer Coggs has been a member of the Wisconsin legislature for the last 26 years, serving as a state senator since 2002, during which time he has fought to improve public education, expand affordable health care coverage to all Wisconsinites, protect tentants’ rights, and reform the prison system. Sen. Coggs currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, is National President of the National Labor Caucus of State Legislators, and is Chairman of the Board of the Martin Luther King Heritage Health. Before going into politics, Sen. Coggs worked as a health officer, an industrial printer, and a postal worker. He remains a proud member of AFSCME Local 1091.
Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006, Tom Hucker had previously made his mark as the founder of the influential advocacy group, Progressive Maryland, which helped boost spending on public schools, make health insurance more affordable and raise Maryland’s minimum wage. Since joining the legislature, Del. Hucker has made an early impact as a member of the Environmental Matters Committee and as the sponsor of bills to expand early childhood education and prohibit housing discrimination. He is the recipient of the Hispanic Democratic Club’s 2002 Friends of Latinos Award, the Maryland Trial Lawyer’s Association’s 2005 Defenders of Justice Award, and the Korean Americans of Maryland’s 2005 Public Service award.
Nan Orrock is a state senator from Georgia, where she formerly served as the first ever female House Majority Whip. Since first being elected in 1987, Sen. Orrock has been a tireless advocate for affordable health care, women’s rights, economic justice, and environmental justice. Sen. Orrock got her start in politics as a marcher in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, an experience which led her to a life-long commitment to the civil rights movement, including participation in the Atlanta and Mississippi branches of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. She currently serves as president of the national Women Legislator's Lobby and sits on the board of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Arizona Delegate Kyrsten Sinema joins the board in the midst of a rapid rise to prominence in the Arizona legislature. After being elected to the Arizona House of Delegates in 2004, Sinema has made a mark as a staunch advocate for disadvantaged and oppressed populations, environmental justice, and social justice. Recently, Del. Synema was championed an amendment preserving rights of gay and lesbian couples and has been a leader in the fight to push back on the spate of anti-immigrant bills moving through the Arizona legislature. In 2006, Del. Synema received the 2006 Legislator of the Year Award from both the Arizona Public Health Association and the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in addition to being named the Sierra Club’s Most Valuable Player.
Ben Scott is the Policy Director at Free Press, where he has been a driving force in the battle for net neutrality and an influential crusader against media consolidation. He is widely noted for his ability to reinvent the tools of activism for the online age and for his ability to mount straightforward and effective messaging campaigns around complex technical issues. Before joining Free Press, Scott worked as a legislative fellow handling telecommunications policy for Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Scott is the author of several scholarly articles on American journalism history and the politics of media regulation, as well as co-editor of the books Our Unfree Press and The Future of Media.
PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin expressed delight at the organizational growth reflected in the board’s new make-up. “We’ve got some of the best and brightest legislators from all walks of life and all over the country uniting around the common goal of progressive change at the state level. When you get in a room with all these people at once, you can just feel the energy and potential. We’re excited to welcome our new members and our new Co-Chair and look forward to the work we will accomplish together in the coming years.”?
For a look at the entire Progressive States Network Boad of Directors, click here .
Inside PSN and the Stateside Dispatch are written and edited by:
Nathan Newman , Policy Director
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