Person

Ben Wyskida

Occupation:

CEO, Fenton Communications

Former Executive Vice President, BerlinRosen

Former Staffer, Atlantic Philanthropies

Ben Wyskida is a communications and media strategist who has worked for a variety of left-of-center advocacy groups and grantmaking organizations. He is currently the vice chairman of NEO Philanthropy, a New York-based nonprofit that acts as a fiscal sponsor and funding intermediary for left-of-center causes. Wyskida was previously the chief executive officer of the public relations firm Fenton Communications and the executive vice president of public relations firm BerlinRosen. [1][2] He also previously worked as the director of publicity at the left-progressive magazine The Nation and as a spokesman for the now-defunct Atlantic Philanthropies. [3][4]

Nonprofit Advocacy Work

Wyskida became a member of the board of NEO Philanthropy in February 2018 and is now the organization’s vice chairman. [5][6]

Wyskida worked as a spokesman for the Atlantic Philanthropies until 2011. [7][8] This collection of grantmaking organizations operated out of Bermuda, and a loophole in tax laws allowed it to give unlimited funds to 501(c)(4) activist groups – something that American-based foundations cannot do except with strict controls. [9] The Atlantic Philanthropies funded organizations such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Council of La Raza, as well as other left-of-center causes in the United States and abroad. [10] The grantmaking entity initiated plans to close down its operations around 2012. At the time, its net assets were worth approximately $1.4 billion, and it had donated billions of dollars since its founding. [11] The Atlantic Philanthropies shut down in September 2020 after spending out its endowment. [12]

Public Relations Advocacy

Wyskida assumed the role of chief executive officer at the left-of-center public relations firm Fenton Communications in May 2017. He introduced several new initiatives, which included expanding the firm’s digital team and promoting the left-of-center policy advocacy work of both Fenton and its clients. [13] These include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Green New Deal campaign. [14]

Before joining Fenton, Wyskida worked for left-of-center political consultancy BerlinRosen. He joined in 2011 as the senior vice president to oversee the firm’s issue advocacy efforts. [15] When he left the firm in May 2017, he held the position of executive vice president. [16] BerlinRosen’s “issue advocacy” entails furthering left-of-center views on race, gender, and abortion, as well as promoting LGBT issues and opposing the enforcement of immigration laws. The firm’s clients include the Ford Foundation, the Fight for $15 campaign, and electronics manufacturer Samsung. [17] BerlinRosen claims to have convinced more than 400 companies to sign a letter opposing restrictions on abortion and helped publish over 600 articles criticizing the detention of underage illegal aliens. [18]

Before Wyskida joined the Atlantic Philanthropies and then BerlinRosen, he worked as the director of publicity at The Nation, a left-progressive magazine which earned a reputation for promoting communist and far-left regimes around the world during and after the Cold War. [19][20]

Controversies

While working at The Nation in 2009, Wyskida wrote an article attacking John Mackey, the chief executive officer of the grocery store chain Whole Foods. Wyskida criticized Mackey for opposing the Affordable Care Act proposed by the Obama Administration. [21] In turn, J.L. Wall of the American Conservative criticized Wyskida for allegedly misrepresenting Mackey’s arguments. [22]

In September 2010, a reporter for the right-of-center Daily Caller reached out to The Nation for a comment on its Educators Program, a series of guides for teachers that instruct them on how to promote left-of-center ideology in the classroom. Wyskida told the reporter that the magazine’s editors had offered to partner with the right-of-center National Review on a collaborative education program. National Review publisher Jack Fowler said that his publication had no plans to work with The Nation, though he said he was open to the idea. [23]

References

  1.            “Ben Wyskida.” NEO Philanthropy. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    Ben Wyskida

    ^

  2.       Alison Kanski. “Fenton hires Ben Wyskida as CEO.” PR Week. May 17, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.prweek.com/article/1433882/fenton-hires-ben-wyskida-ceo ^
  3.            Brian Stelter. “Seeking More Viewers, MSNBC Turns Left.” August 21, 2008. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    ^

  4.       Caroline Preston. “Atlantic Philanthropies Sends Positive Signal to Advocacy Groups.” Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 30, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/atlantic-philanthropies-sends-positive-signal-to-advocacy-groups/ ^
  5.   Robert Bray. “NEO Philanthropy Appoints Three New Board Members.” NEO Philanthropy. February 9, 2018. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    NEO Philanthropy Appoints Three New Board Members

    ^

  6.       Alison Kanski. “Fenton hires Ben Wyskida as CEO.” PR Week. May 17, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.prweek.com/article/1433882/fenton-hires-ben-wyskida-ceo ^
  7.         “Morning Energy.” Politico. November 29, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-energy/2011/11/ferc-fracas-over-epa-regs-nerc-in-the-lab-with-the-pen-and-the-pad-upton-staffer-denies-solyndra-ties-shale-gas-study-divides-cornell-researchers-007512 ^
  8.       Caroline Preston. “Atlantic Philanthropies Sends Positive Signal to Advocacy Groups.” Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 30, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/atlantic-philanthropies-sends-positive-signal-to-advocacy-groups/ ^
  9.      CJ Ciaramella. “Sins of Omission.” Washington Free Beacon. September 11, 2012. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://freebeacon.com/politics/sins-of-omission/ ^
  10.   “Grants Database.” Atlantic Philanthropies. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    Library – Grants

    ^

  11.        “The Long Goodbye: Atlantic Philanthropies Approaching The End.” NonProfit Times. July 29, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://www.thenonprofittimes.com/npt_articles/long-goodbye-atlantic-philanthropies-approaching-end/ ^
  12.            “Atlantic Philanthropies officially closes its doors.” Philanthropy News Digest. September 20, 2020. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/atlantic-philanthropies-officially-closes-its-doors ^
  13.        Alison Kanski. “Fenton hires Ben Wyskida as CEO.” PR Week. May 17, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://www.prweek.com/article/1433882/fenton-hires-ben-wyskida-ceo ^
  14.   Fenton Communications. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://fenton.com/ ^
  15.        “Morning Energy.” Politico. November 29, 2011. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-energy/2011/11/ferc-fracas-over-epa-regs-nerc-in-the-lab-with-the-pen-and-the-pad-upton-staffer-denies-solyndra-ties-shale-gas-study-divides-cornell-researchers-007512 ^
  16.     Alison Kanski. “Fenton hires Ben Wyskida as CEO.” PR Week. May 17, 2017. Accessed March 25, 2021.https://www.prweek.com/article/1433882/fenton-hires-ben-wyskida-ceo ^
  17.            “Our Clients.” BerlinRosen. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    Clients

    ^

  18. “Issue Advocacy.” BerlinRosen. Accessed March 25, 2021. ^
  19. Brian Stelter. “Seeking More Viewers, MSNBC Turns Left.” August 21, 2008. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/business/media/22adco.html ^
  20.       Daniel Greenfield. “’The Nation’ Of Tyranny Lovers.” Front Page Magazine. March 12, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://archives.frontpagemag.com/fpm/nation-tyranny-lovers-daniel-greenfield/ ^
  21.            Ben Wyskida. “Why I’m Done with Whole Foods.” Huffington Post. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-im-done-with-whole-fo_b_259716 ^
  22. J.L. Wall. “Another Reason I Don’t Understand The Logic Behind Boycotting Whole Foods.” The American Conservative. August 18, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2021.

    Another Reason I Don’t Understand the Logic Behind Boycotting Whole Foods

    ^

  23.           Chris Moody. “Lefty magazine promotes teachers’ guides, claims schools aren’t providing a liberal viewpoint. Daily Caller. September 7, 2010. Accessed March 25, 2021 https://dailycaller.com/2010/09/07/lefty-magazine-promotes-teachers-guides-claims-schools-arent-providing-a-liberal-viewpoint/ ^
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