Narrative Initiative



New York, NY

Tax-Exempt Status:


Project of:

New Venture Fund

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Narrative Initiative is a project of the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit in the Arabella Advisors network of left-progressive “dark money” organizations, that seeks to change and influence narratives surrounding issues of equity and social policy. It was founded in 2017. The Narrative Initiative was “conceived and funded” by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Ford Foundation, two major left-of-center funding organizations. 1

Atlantic Philanthropies is a Bermuda-based organization that has funded left-leaning causes, and whose employees have supported Democratic political campaigns. The Ford Foundation is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit grantmakers in the United States, and donates millions to leftwing causes.


The organization trains left-progressives in public relations messaging. The organization connects professional political and public relations professionals with local activists to promote left-progressive social change. It sets up localized workshop programs and conducts national webinars to have national and international experts instruct local activist on framing the stories to sell their position. In conducting programs, the Narrative Initiative claims it interviewed more than 120 “narrative change-makers and researcher” during 2019. 2

Funded though a dark money operation, the organization leaves virtually no public footprint in the news articles. The organization’s Twitter account retweets articles on the environmentalist movement, claims that borders separate the global community, and the need to redefine individualism and redefine populism. 3

In 2017, Narrative Initiative conducted a project called, “Catalyzing Narrative Changes in the States.” This was a state-by-state effort for what the organization claimed was “authoritarian populism across the coutry.” The organization’s first focused was on Minnesota. 4

Another initiative is the “strategy for the next economy,” which means largely promoting green energy. This includes solar panels. Further, the group claims looking at the economy different is necessary to address both climate change and income inequality. It says it is interviewing scholars around the world and researching literature on the matter. 5


Jee Kim is the executive director of the Narrative Initiative. Previously he worked for the Ford Foundation on civic engagement. Before that, he launched to increase the political power of Asian-American voters. He also worked for the Surdna Foundation and as a community organizer in New York City. 6

Rachel Weidinger is the program director for the Narrative Initiative. She funded Upwell, a clean ocean group and was the executive director. She further worked at Monson Arts. 7

Elizabeth Valez runs operations and finance. She has previously worked for more than two decades in the finances for small businesses. 8

Jacob Swenson Lengyel is a program manager. He has been an organizer and strategist. He previously worked as a deputy communications director for People’s Action. Prior to that, he worked for Interfaith Justice. He was also a founding member of The People’s Lobby in Chicago. 9

Liz Hynes is a program manager with the group. She was previously a program associate with the California Community Foundation and was once a legislative aide in the New York State Assembly. 10

Marquez Ryne is a program manager with the organization. Ryne was a founding Lab Director for the Transmedia Story Lab at the University of Chicago. Ryne previously worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Highlander Research and Education Center. 11

Alexis McGill Johnson, while serving as acting president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sat on the board of Narrative Initiative. 12


  1. About Us. Native Initiative. Accessed March 21, 2020.
  2. “Narrative Change in 2019. Narrative Initiative. December 19, 2019. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  3. @_Narrative. Narrative Initiative. Twitter.
  4. “Catalyzing Narrative Change in States.” Narrative Initiative, October 29, 2019.
  5. “Narrative Strategy for the Next Economy.” Accessed March 29, 2020.
  6. “Meet Our Team.” Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  7. “Meet Our Team.” Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  8. “Meet Our Team.” Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  9. “Meet Our Team.” Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  10. “Meet Our Team.” Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 29, 2020.
  11. Meet Our Team. Narrative Initiative. Accessed March 21, 2020.
  12. Yoder, Katie. “Planned Parenthood’s New Head: 10 Things to Know After CBS Interview.” Townhall. July 31, 2019. Accessed March 21, 2020.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Alexis McGill Johnson
    Advisory Board Member
  2. Jee Kim
    Executive Director
  3. K. Sabeel Rahman
    Advisory Board Member
  4. Kristen Grimm
    Advisory Board Member
  5. Ai-jen Poo
    Advisory Board Member
  See an error? Let us know!

Narrative Initiative

75 Varick Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10013