Non-profit

Voices for Progress

Website:

voicesforprogress.org

Type:

Donor Coordination and Advocacy Organization

President:

Daniel Penchina

Voices For Progress is an advocacy and coordination group for left-wing donors. It is a project of The Advocacy Fund, which is affiliated with the incubation and funding group the Tides Foundation. The organization works to promote its issues by educating lawmakers and their staffs on left-of-center proposals and ideas. It also has a system to allow supporters to directly contact their Congressmen.

The organization is currently run by Daniel Penchina and has offices in Washington, D.C., and in California. During the 2016 election, hackers suspected to have worked for Russian intelligence obtained an email from then-Voices for Progress Sandy Newman to senior Democratic operative John Podesta that called for a “Catholic spring” against the Catholic Church’s “Middle Ages dictatorship.” [1]

The organization is organized as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” advocacy group. It is affiliated with the Voices for Progress Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) project of the Tides Center, and the 527 political action committee Voices for Progress (PAC).

Issues

The organization works on several issues of importance to its members. The organization does not publicly disclose what issues it campaigns for, but it works in several issue areas. Voices for Progress campaigns for left-of-center policies on climate change, abortion, healthcare, tax increases, immigration, and government spending. [2]

Catholic Spring Emails

In 2016, the website Wikileaks released a series of emails, allegedly hacked by Russian government operatives, between senior Democratic Party operative John Podesta and then-VFP president Sandy Newman. The emails were sent in February 2012.

Newman emailed Podesta complaining about the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, writing, “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.” [3]

Podesta concurred with Newman and mentioned that there were organizations already working on it such as Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good. [4]

Leadership

President

Daniel Penchina leads Voices for Progress, serving as the organization’s president. Penchina took over the organization in 2017. [5] Before serving as president, Penchina worked as a lobbyist. For 15 years, he was a principal at the Raben Group. The Raben Group is a left-of-center public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C., that works on issue and advocacy campaigns. He worked with a wide variety of left-wing groups in his role. [6]

Before becoming a lobbyist, Penchina worked for far-left members of Congress such as Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). He also worked for Democratic Senator Chris Murphy (CT) when he was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. [7]

Penchina is a former president of Q Street, an association of LGBT lobbyists and advocates. [8] He is also a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. [9]

Officers

Sarah Cotton is the chief operating officer. Before coming to the organization she worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. [10]

Failed state legislative candidate and social liberal activist Sandra Fluke serves as the California State and Western Region director. She is best known for testifying in front of Congress in support of Obamacare’s contraception mandate. [11]

Board of Directors

The organization is governed by a board of directors, which is chaired by Joan Huffer. Huffer is a member of the Democracy Alliance and founded Virginia Plus, which is a left-wing donor network in Virginia. Huffer also works for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-wing think tank. [12]

Kim Anderson is also a board member. She serves as the executive vice president of the Democracy Alliance. [13]

Surina Khan also serves on the board of directors. She currently serves as the chief executive officer of the Women’s Foundation of California. [14]

Sandy Newman is the former president and founder of Voices For Progress. Before leading VFP, he founded and led Project Vote, a left-wing voter registration organization. [15]

Ted Trimpa is also a member of the board. He is a left-wing political consultant from Colorado. [16]

References

  1. Geraghty, Jim. 2016. “In Podesta E-Mails: Catholic Church A ‘Middle Ages Dictatorship'”. National Review. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/podesta-e-mails-catholic-church-middle-ages-dictatorship/. ^
  2. “Issues Page”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/vfp-issues/. ^
  3. Geraghty, Jim. 2016. “In Podesta E-Mails: Catholic Church A ‘Middle Ages Dictatorship'”. National Review. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/podesta-e-mails-catholic-church-middle-ages-dictatorship/. ^
  4. Geraghty, Jim. 2016. “In Podesta E-Mails: Catholic Church A ‘Middle Ages Dictatorship'”. National Review. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/podesta-e-mails-catholic-church-middle-ages-dictatorship/. ^
  5. Rosenstein, Peter. 2017. “Comings & Goings”. Washington Blade. https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/05/06/daniel-penchina-jordan-schwartz/. ^
  6. “Staff”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/staff-advisors/. ^
  7. “Staff”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/staff-advisors/. ^
  8. “Staff”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/staff-advisors/. ^
  9. “Daniel Penchina”. 2019. LGBTQ Victory Fund. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://victoryfund.org/team/daniel-penchina/. ^
  10. “Staff”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/staff-advisors/. ^
  11. “Staff”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/staff-advisors/. ^
  12. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/board-of-directors/. ^
  13. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/board-of-directors/. ^
  14. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/board-of-directors/. ^
  15. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/board-of-directors/. ^
  16. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Voices For Progress. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://voicesforprogress.org/board-of-directors/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Surina Khan
    Board Member
  2. Kim Anderson
    Board Member
  3. Joan Huffer
    Board Chair
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