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People For the American Way President Michael Keegan To Depart After a Decade of Strong Growth

Press Release
Derrick Crowe
People For the American Way
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WASHINGTON, D.C.People For the American Way President Michael Keegan today announced his intention to step down as president of PFAW and the PFAW Foundation. Keegan will continue to serve in his current role until after the board of directors’ search for his successor is well under way. Keegan presided over a decade of strong growth for People For, dramatically expanding its grassroots membership and donor base.

“I am extremely proud of the work we have done together at People for the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation,” Keegan said. “Serving in this role has been the honor of a lifetime.”

During Keegan’s tenure, PFAW and PFAW Foundation:

  • Reached out in new ways to empower voters in critical states;
  • Expanded our investment in the next generations of progressive leaders;
  • Broadened the scope and impact of our research on right-wing movements; and
  • Deepened our commitments to protecting and promoting democracy, equality, racial justice, gender equity and a judiciary committed to those same values.

PFAW’s fundraising and organizing bases expanded dramatically. Over the past 10 years, PFAW’s donations grew by more than 50 percent, and the number of individual donors has doubled. Meanwhile, the number of activists who call themselves PFAW members grew three-fold.

"Thanks to Michael's enthusiasm, creativity, and dedication during more than a decade of leadership as president of PFAW, we are in position to intensify the fight for equality and justice for all," People For the American Way Board Chair Lara Bergthold said. "With his prior service on the board of directors, Michael took over as president already understanding the challenges and complexities of our work. Using that insight, he recruited and cultivated top talent for our team, expanded our programs, and grew our fundraising base. We thank him for his leadership, his commitment, and his willingness to provide for a strong transition to new leadership."

“Michael and I have served together on People For the American Way Foundation’s board for 25 years,” People For the American Way Foundation Board Chair Rev. Timothy McDonald said. “We’ve seen a lot of change. Thanks to Michael, the next president of People For will be taking over an organization that is battle-tested and battle-ready, with an energized board and staff who are in no ways tired of the struggle to make this country freer, fairer, and more just.”

"Michael Keegan has been a remarkable president of  PFAW, taking this great organization to new levels, including enhancing the political viability and visibility of the Latino electorate," civil rights leader and People For the American Way board member Dolores Huerta said.

“Years ago, Michael Keegan took the reins of the organization, and I could not be more grateful that he did. Today I am filled with gratitude for Michael’s leadership, smarts, courage and determination,” said Norman Lear, television producer and writer and founder of People For The American Way. “If his successor is as effective, we will still be fighting the good fight for the children of our grandchildren.”

“I first became involved with People For the American Way because the organization is committed to tackling the most important issues of the day,” Keegan added. “I love that the board and staff are still 100-percent committed to that purpose, and I will do whatever I can to support the organization and the person who follows me in this job.”

A search committee formed by the boards of directors is leading an inclusive search process for Keegan’s successor. Letters of interest should be sent to [email protected].

Key points on PFAW and the PFAW Foundation

The PFAW Foundation’s leadership networks grew dramatically over the last decade.

  • Young People For, our social justice incubator and leadership development program, focuses on young people who have historically been left out of opportunities and leadership. YP4 has grown to a national network of more than 2000 fellows and alumni changing the world.
  • The Young Elected Officials Network has grown from a few dozen just a few years ago to over 1300 members now—about half of them people of color—serving in every state and at every level of government, including more than 300 state legislators, 77 mayors and vice mayors, and 11 members of Congress. YEO’s Front Line Leaders Academy has trained hundreds more to run campaigns or run for office themselves.
  • Equally inspiring have been the efforts of our expanded networks of progressive African American religious leaders. Through our Vessels program, we train, sustain, and support leaders who are willing to mobilize their congregations and communities to protect voting rights and expand civic participation—efforts that are critically important to address rampant, racially targeted voter suppression in front line states.

Separate from PFAW Foundation is PFAW’s political work and its efforts to help great young progressive candidates get elected and re-elected and move into higher office.

  • PFAW’s Latinos Vote!program ensures that right-wing candidates are held accountable for their anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric on Election Day.
    • In nine election cycles, this program has grown geographically and in impact.
    • In 2012, our work helped President Obama win a decisive portion of America’s growing Latino vote and thus a second term as President.
    • In 2013, PFAW launched an aggressive media and field organizing campaign in Virginia that led to the defeat of far-right poster boy Ken Cuccinelli, who has wormed his back into the national news as acting chief of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
    • In crucial elections in 2017 and 2018, in many markets we were alone in investing in Spanish-language media in states where Latino voters made the difference in critical state, local and federal elections.
  • PFAW’s Next Up Victory Fund helps young progressive candidates win races for state and local offices across the country. In 2018 alone, 117 of our endorsees won their races, including:
    • Five statewide candidates who all won seats previously held by Republicans.
    • Seventy-one state legislative candidates.
    • Twenty-two mayoral and municipal candidates.
    • Nineteen school board and local candidates.