Person

Courtney Cuff

Courtney Cuff is the executive director of the State Impact Project, a project of the Hopewell Fund which advocates for the implementation of left-of-center policy in ten states across the country. Prior to her position with the State Impact Project, Cuff worked with a variety of campaigns for left-of-center social policy, specifically in LGBT advocacy and environmentalism.

Originally from Athens, Georgia, Cuff is currently based in Colorado. [1] Cuff graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in sociology. [2] In 2013, Cuff married Jessica Newman in California, with whom she has two children today. [3]

Career

Cuff has worked on a range of social issue campaigns, beginning her career in environmentalism before focusing on LGBT advocacy.

Environmentalism

Cuff began her career as Legislative Director of Friends of the Earth, a left-wing environmentalist organization. [4] [5] During her time at Friends of the Earth, Cuff served as Director of Government Affairs for the “Green Scissors” Campaign. [6] The campaign began in 1994 to target business subsidies and government support for the conventional energy, timber, and nuclear power industries. [7]

As director of the Green Scissors Campaign, Cuff appeared at numerous press and congressional briefings on behalf of Friends of the Earth. At a 1997 briefing, Cuff spoke against the International Monetary Fund as well, calling the Fund “the loan shark of the world” because it encourages developing countries to “exploit natural resources” by providing them with funding to develop their national economies through the use of conventional energy. [8]

Later in 1997, when electric companies wanted to raise consumer rates to pay off past debts, Cuff led an initiative called the “Stop the Bailout Coalition” to prevent rate increases and stop government subsidies. [9] Cuff advocated for subsidies to be redirected towards environmentalist energy sources. [10]

After her tenure at Friends of the Earth, Cuff stepped away to become the chief executive officer and co-founder of the Western Conservation Foundation (WCF) in 2005. Cuff founded the organization as a grantmaking foundation to support environmentalist advocacy groups with a focus on the American West, which she expanded over the next eight years to have an $8 million budget. [11] [12]

WCF has given grants to overwhelmingly left-of-center organizations, including those that do not focus exclusively on conservation. [13] In 2017 alone, the Foundation provided funding to left-wing environmentalist organizations including the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund ($10,080), the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund ($150,000), and the Sierra Club Foundation ($15,000). [14] The Foundation also contributed to left-of-center organizations that do not focus exclusively on environmentalist advocacy, including the American Values Network and the Public Citizen Foundation. [15]

Within the environmentalism movement, Cuff also worked as Director of the Pacific Regional Office of the National Parks Conservation Association and served on the League of Conservation Voters Political Advisory Committee. [16] [17]

LGBT Activism

In 2013, Cuff left her position as chief executive at the Western Conservation Foundation to become president and chief executive officer of the Gill Foundation, one of the largest funders of LGBT advocacy in the United States. [18] The Foundation was founded by tech millionaire Tim Gill, founder of Quark and one of the “Gang of Four” Democratic mega-donors credited with providing substantial support for liberal politics and advocacy in Colorado. Gill has poured over $422 million of his personal fortune into LGBT-related activism. [19]

Though the Gill Foundation is largely credited as one of the driving forces behind the Obergefell v. Hodges decision mandating state recognition of same-sex marriages nationwide, Cuff has shifted the Foundation’s focus to fighting employment and housing discrimination in the LGBT community. [20] Even though the organization is based in Colorado, Cuff has turned its attention into other regions, opposing religious freedom legislation which would allow religious organizations and employers to deny service or employment to individuals who do not conform to their religious values. [21]

In Georgia, Cuff successfully spearheaded a project to convince Governor Nathan Deal (R) in 2016 to veto a bill which would have given faith-based organizations the freedom to deny services to customers or fire employees who violated the companies’ sincere religious beliefs. [22] Cuff did so by pressuring corporations to persuade the governor to veto legislative measures which protect religious freedoms to deny service to or employ people who do not agree with an organization’s faith values.

At Cuff’s bidding, the Gill Foundation launched an initiative with the National Park Service to give LGBT-related historic sites the designation of National Historic Landmarks. [23] In 2016, the National Park Service declared the Stonewall Inn in New York City, site of prominent demonstrations by gay activists against a police crackdown, a national monument. [24]

During her tenure as CEO of the Gill Foundation, Cuff is also credited as helping to create and launch Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to gain “full nondiscrimination protections” for LGBT individuals across the United States. [25] [26] Freedom for All Americans works at the federal, state, and local level to codify statutory nondiscrimination protections, and also roll back religious freedom exemptions for businesses and employers. [27]

Freedom for All Americans consists of both Freedom for All Americans, a 501(c)(4) organization which lobbies at the state and federal level, and the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) which focuses on strategy and educational advocacy. [28]

Cuff once sat on the board of the 501(c)(3), Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, leading programs such as “LGBT University” to train campaigns and individuals on how to run a campaign based on LGBT issues. [29] [30]

In July 2017, Cuff left the Gill Foundation to become the executive director of the State Impact Project, a project of the Hopewell Fund. [31] The Hopewell Fund is a 501(c)(3) fundraising organization managed by left-of-center philanthropic consulting firm Arabella Advisors. [32] The State Impact Project is focused on generating and aligning movements for left-progressive policy implementation in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Maine, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.

In addition to her career, Cuff serves as president of the board of Healthier Colorado, a nonpartisan left-leaning organization focused on advocating for left-of-center public health policies, including mass expansion of government-funded healthcare programs. [33]

References

  1. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  2. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  3. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation ^
  4. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  5. “Green New Deal Archives .” Friends of the Earth. Accessed August 18, 2019.

    https://foe.org/issues/green-new-deal/. ^

  6. “Courtney Cuff.” Solar United Neighbors, September 14, 2017. https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/news/leadership/courtney-cuff/. ^
  7. “Electric Company Rate Increases.” C-Span, August 7, 1997. https://www.c-span.org/video/?89141-1/electric-company-rate-increases. ^
  8. “Federal Corporate Subsidies.” C-Span, January 28, 1997. https://www.c-span.org/video/?78378-1/federal-corporate-subsidies&start=3340. ^
  9. “Electric Company Rate Increases.” C-Span, August 7, 1997. https://www.c-span.org/video/?89141-1/electric-company-rate-increases. ^
  10. “Electric Company Rate Increases.” C-Span, August 7, 1997. https://www.c-span.org/video/?89141-1/electric-company-rate-increases. ^
  11. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  12. “About Us.” Western Conservation Foundation. Accessed August 18, 2019. http://www.wcfnd.org/aboutus.html. ^
  13. Western Conservation Foundation Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. 2017. Form 990. Schedule I, Part Two. ^
  14. Western Conservation Foundation Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. 2017. Form 990. Schedule I, Part Two. ^
  15. Western Conservation Foundation Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax. 2017. Form 990. Schedule I, Part Two. ^
  16. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  17. “Courtney Cuff.” Solar United Neighbors, September 14, 2017. https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/news/leadership/courtney-cuff/. ^
  18. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  19. Kroll, Andy. “How Tim Gill Turned His Fortune Into a Powerful Force for LGBTQ Rights.” Rolling Stone, June 23, 2017. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/meet-the-megadonor-behind-the-lgbtq-rights-movement-193996/. ^
  20. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation. ^
  21. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation. ^
  22. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation. ^
  23. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation. ^
  24. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019. https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation. ^
  25. Brown, Suzanne S. “Gill Foundation.” Colorado Expression. Accessed August 18, 2019.

    https://www.coloradoexpression.com/featured-stories/gill-foundation ^

  26. “About.” Freedom for All Americans, 2018. https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/about/. ^
  27. “About.” Freedom for All Americans, 2018. https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/about/. ^
  28. “About.” Freedom for All Americans, 2018. https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/about/. ^
  29. “Education Fund Board.” Freedom for All Americans, 2018. https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/about/education-fund-board/courtneycuff/ ^
  30. “Education Fund Board.” Freedom for All Americans, 2018. https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/about/education-fund-board/courtneycuff/ ^
  31. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^
  32. “About the Fund.” Hopewell Fund, 2017. https://www.hopewellfund.org/about-the-fund/. ^
  33. “Board.” Healthier Colorado, 2016. https://healthiercolorado.org/board/. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Gill Foundation (Non-profit)
    Former President
  2. Hopewell Fund (Non-profit)
    Director, State Impact Project
  3. Impact Project (Non-profit)
    Executive Director
  See an error? Let us know!