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People For’s Young Elected Officials Network Honors Leadership Award Recipients  

Commissioner Natasha Dupee, 33, from Washington, D.C., Commissioner A'Dorian Murray-Thomas, 29, from Newark, New Jersey,  Board of Education Vice Chairperson Jessica Weaver from Newington, Connecticut.
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Washington, DC — People For the American Way Foundation’s non-partisan Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Barbara Jordan Leadership Award and the 2024 YEO Network Leadership Award. These honorees were chosen for their extraordinary commitment to the values and mission of the YEO Network, and distinguished service to their communities. 

The Barbara Jordan Leadership Award, named after People For Foundation co-founder Barbara Jordan, honors “a young, elected official who has shown dedication and support to the YEO Network and has a distinguished record of public service to their community and the movement at large.” Jordan served as the first African American woman in the Texas State Legislature, and the first African American US Representative from the Deep South. She championed voting rights and the causes of the poor, the disadvantaged, and people of color. The award honors Congresswoman Jordan’s legacy and dedication to public service by recognizing one outstanding young, elected official — chosen by their peers — who is following in her footsteps by advancing the cause of justice. 

This year, for the first time in history, People For is jointly awarding two recipients of the Barbara Jordan Leadership Award. The recipients are Commissioner Natasha Dupee, 33, from Washington, D.C., and Commissioner A'Dorian Murray-Thomas, 29, from Newark, New Jersey. They are both alumna of the Jordan-Huerta Women's Leadership Program.  

Dupee currently serves as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for single-member district 7E04 in Washington, D.C. A fifth-generation native Washingtonian, she is committed to creating and defending policies that increase access to a quality life. 

In April 2023, Dupee was appointed Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives (MOWPI) where she previously served as associate director overseeing the office’s policy, economic empowerment, and stakeholder engagement portfolio. She organized the 5th annual National Maternal and Infant Health Summit curating 46 speakers, 24 exhibitors, and over 1,500 attendees as well as the #BeTheMovement Women’s Policy Bootcamp in partnership with 14 presenting organizations on the topics of leadership, advocacy, and civic engagement.

With a focus on shifting economic power, Dupee hosted the first #ObviouslyDC Ladies Night and InnovateHERs convening to increase women entrepreneurs’ access to capital. She created signature programs like the Washington Women of Excellence Awards, Women's Equality Day, WorkSmart Wage Negotiation Workshops and Financially Fit DC Women. 

Dupee has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a master’s in public health policy from George Washington University and a Master’s in secondary education from the University of Missouri-St Louis.

Murray-Thomas, a native of Newark, New Jersey, serves on the Essex County Board of Commissioners. She is the Founder and CEO of SHE Wins Inc., an organization empowering middle and high school girls in Newark. Murray-Thomas has received numerous accolades, including being named a White House Champion of Change for College Opportunity by President Obama, one of Glamour Magazine’s “College Women of the Year,” and a New Jersey Hero. 

Murray-Thomas has chaired the Education Committee on the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, allocating over $5 million in service-learning grants across the U.S. and Canada. She has Empowered over-aged and under-credited high school youth in Newark through the Newark Opportunity Youth Network and contributed to implementing restorative-based interventions for students on long-term suspension. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Educational Studies from Swarthmore College.

The YEO Network Leadership Award recognizes a YEO who has shown tremendous support and leadership to the YEO Network during the year through support and leadership. Some examples include serving as an involved state director and/or host committee member; fully participating in programs and events; contributing to the newsletter; actively seeking to recruit new members to the Network; representing the Network at partner events; participating in fundraising efforts; and or training at Front Line Leaders Academy. 

This year’s YEO Network Leadership Award recipient is Board of Education Vice Chairperson Jessica Weaver from Newington, Connecticut, in honor of the late Connecticut State Representative Quentin Williams, who was killed by a wrong-way driver in 2003 and is remembered as a strong advocate for affordable housing, for fairness for renters, and for first-time homebuyer programs. In November 2019, Weaver was elected to the Board of Education in her hometown of Newington, Connecticut, making her at 21 the youngest elected official ever in Newington. She was re-elected in November 2021 and is now serving in her third term as Vice Chair of the Board. Weaver works for the CT Office of the State Treasurer leading their corporate governance efforts. Her background lies at the intersection of public policy and ESG investing with a storied history in various governmental offices including Congressman John Larson’s Office, the CT Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors, and the CT 2Gen Anti-Poverty Program. Weaver's passion is ensuring female representation in the political and economic spheres by encouraging other young women to run for office and working on financial literacy initiatives. Weaver holds a B.A. and MPP from the University of Connecticut. Her tireless efforts help ensure that all Newington Public School students have a quality education and that the community flourishes. 

“The members of our YEO Network are passionate young leaders at every level of government whose commitment to public service is impactful and inspiring,” said People For the American Way Vice President of Campaigns and Program Raquel Jones“We are proud that they are part of the People For family and honored to recognize how they are shaping the future of public service and championing positive change.”

“People For has a storied legacy of supporting trailblazers at the federal, state, and local levels from all over the country,” said People For President and CEO Svante Myrick. “America is facing increasing threats to our democracy and we are ready to meet the moment by continuing our support of the young elected officials who are determined to build excitement, grow our movement, and fight for the future of this country.”

All YEO award winners were selected by fellow members of the YEO Network through an online vote. Dupee, Murray-Thomas, and Weaver received their awards as part of the “2024 National Convening: Navigating the Crossroads of Change,” in Washington, DC. This is the 19th year of bringing together nearly 200 diverse and dynamic YEOs, faith leaders, activists, and partners nationwide. Organizers estimated nearly 200 attendees, including about 150 YEOs.  

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About YEO 

The YEO Network, a non-partisan program of People For the American Way Foundation, is the first and only national initiative to provide a network of support to the newest generation of progressive leaders at every level of elected office. The Network was founded in 2005 with the mission to unite and support elected leaders ages 35 and under who share a passion for building communities that reflect values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity for all. Since then, the Network has grown to include more than 1,000 elected officials across the country in offices ranging from local school boards to the United States Congress. Learn more at 

About Us   

People For the American Way Foundation is a national progressive advocacy organization that inspires and mobilizes Americans to defend freedom, justice, and democracy from those who threaten to take them away. For more than four decades, we have been dedicated to making the promise of America real for everyone and have worked toward a vision of a vibrant America where basic rights and freedoms are upheld for all, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Learn more: