Person

Debra L. Ness

Debra L. Ness testifying at a U.S. Congressional Hearing on FMLA, July 2009 (link) by Uploaded by tdp1980 is licensed CC BY-SA 3.0 (link)
Occupation:

President, National Partnership for Women and Families

Former Deputy Director, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Former Director, SEIU

Debra L. Ness is the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) and has been with the organization since 1991. [1] NPWF advocates left-of-center stances on abortion, economic policies, and judicial nominations. Prior to working at NPWF, Ness worked at NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League) and the Service Employees International Union. [2]

Early Career

Ness worked at the Service Employees International Union as director of adult education and career development efforts, and later helped local unions with strategic planning and organizational development. [3] She later headed field operations for NARAL and become the organization’s deputy director in 1989. [4]

National Partnership for Women and Families

Ness joined National Partnership for Women and Families as the executive vice president in 1991, when it was still called the Women’s Legal Defense Fund. [5] She became the president of NPWF in 2004 when Judith Lichtman stepped down. [6]

In her capacity as NPWF’s president, Ness regularly issues statements on behalf of NPWF. She has advocated for access to late-term abortions, government funding for abortion provider and pro-abortion advocacy network Planned Parenthood, and abortion coverage for women in immigration detention facilities. [7] [8]

In 2017, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era Title IX guidance that reduced due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Ness decried the move as “truly deplorable.” [9]

Both of President Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were met with opposition from Ness and NPWF. Ness claimed that any appointment President Trump attempted to make to the Supreme Court would be under a “partisan cloud” due to investigations surrounding the President. [10] Ness called Gorsuch’s nomination “truly alarming” and “an affront.” [11] Ness attacked Gorsuch over his ruling allowing Planned Parenthood to be defunded and his potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. [12] [13] In contrast to her opposition to Trump’s nominees, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, Ness demanded he be swiftly confirmed. [14]

Other Left-of-Center Organizations

Ness is involved in a host of left-wing organizations in addition to NPWF. Ness is a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights executive committee, which like NPWF fights for a left-wing judiciary. [15] The left-of-center labor union-backed Economic Policy Institute also counts Ness as one of its board members. [16]

Ness has authored blog posts for MomsRising, a progressive group that advocated for gun control, government welfare programs, and illegal immigrants. [17] In one of her posts she called Obamacare “the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation.” [18] In another she voiced support for the FAMILY Act, a Democratic-backed bill that would mandate paid family leave. [19] [20]

Working Mother, a left-of-center magazine, recognized NPWF as one of the 100 most important organizations supporting expanded government intervention in the workplace and healthcare. [21] The article, written by Ness, talked about NPWF’s history and how its ideas, such as mandatory paid leave from work, had gone from the fringe in the 1980s to the mainstream of the left today.

Ties to the Clintons

The Clintons and NPWF are longtime allies and Ness’s actions reflect this connection. In 2007, when introducing former President Bill Clinton at a NPWF luncheon, Ness thanked Clinton for championing government education and healthcare programs. [22] She even called Clinton “a President who was a true partner in our work” for his dedication to NPWF policies such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. In 2012, Hillary Clinton recognized Ness for her devotion to NPWF and its left-of-center causes when Clinton spoke at the NPWF luncheon. [23]

Political Donations

Ness is an active Democratic donor according to the Federal Elections Commission. She has contributed to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D- MI), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT). She has also supported the Emily’s List political action committee.

References

  1. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  2. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  3. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  4. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  5. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  6. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  7. Ness, Debra L. “U.S. House of Representatives Furthers ‘Extreme Agenda’ with Passage of Abortion Ban.” National Partnership for Women & Families. October 3, 2017. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/us-house-of-representatives-furthers-extreme-agenda-with-passage-of-abortion-ban.html.
  8. Ness, Debra L. “Trump’s Budget Proposal Should Be ‘Dead on Arrival;’ Deep Cuts to Medicaid, Planned Parenthood and Support for Low-Income Families Would Destroy Safety Net, Cause Lasting Harm to Women and Families.” National Partnership for Women & Families. February 12, 2018. Accessed April 16th. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/trumps-budget-proposal-should-be-dead-on-arrival.html.
  9. Ness, Debra L. “‘Deplorable Action’ by Education Department Threatens Progress in Stopping Sexual Assault Against Students, Holding Perpetrators Accountable.” National Partnership for Women & Families. September 22, 2017. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/deplorable-action-by-education-department-threatens-progress-stopping-sexual-assault-against-students.html.
  10. Ness, Debra L. “Kavanaugh’s Misleading Statement on Abortion and Cohen’s Guilty Plea Should Halt Confirmation.” National Partnership for Women & Families. August 22, 2018. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/kavanaughs-misleading-statement-cohens-guilty-plea-should-halt-confirmation.html.
  11. Ness, Debra L. “Gorsuch Nomination an ‘Affront to All Who Care About Women’s Health and Rights,’ Ness Says, Urging Senate to Refuse to Confirm Him.” National Partnership for Women & Families. January 31, 2017. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/gorsuch-nomination-an-affront-to-all-who-care-about-womens-health-and-rights-ness-says-urging-senate-to-refuse-to-confirm-him.html.
  12. Ness, Debra L. “Gorsuch Nomination an ‘Affront to All Who Care About Women’s Health and Rights,’ Ness Says, Urging Senate to Refuse to Confirm Him.” National Partnership for Women & Families. January 31, 2017. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/gorsuch-nomination-an-affront-to-all-who-care-about-womens-health-and-rights-ness-says-urging-senate-to-refuse-to-confirm-him.html.
  13. Ness, Debra L. “Senate Judiciary Committee Vote Is ‘Alarming,’ Women’s Leader Says, Urging Senate to Reject Gorsuch.” National Partnership for Women & Families. April 3, 2017. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/senate-judiciary-committee-vote-is-alarming-womens-leader-says-urging-senate-to-reject-gorsuch.html.
  14. Ness, Debra L. “Women’s Leader Applauds Supreme Court Nomination, Calls for Quick Senate Confirmation, Saying ‘Country Has Never Needed Civility in Government More Than It Does Now’.” National Partnership for Women & Families. April 16th, 2016. Accessed April 16th, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/womens-leader-applauds-supreme-court-nomination-calls-for-quick-confirmation-saying-country-has-never-needed-civility-in-government-more-than-it-does-now.html.
  15. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  16. “Debra L. Ness.” NPWF. Accessed April 15, 2019. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/about-us/staff-board/debra-ness.html.
  17. “Our Campaigns.” MomsRising. Accessed April 16th, 2019. https://www.momsrising.org/campaigns.
  18. Ness, Debra L. “Realizing the Full Potential of Health Reform.” MomsRising. October 12, 2011. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.momsrising.org/blog/realizing-the-full-potential-of-health-reform.
  19. Ness, De L. “Take It From Moms: America’s Families Need the FAMILY Act.” MomsRising. December 12, 2013. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.momsrising.org/blog/take-it-from-moms-america’s-families-need-the-family-act.
  20. “Cosponsors – H.R.1751 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act.” Congress.gov. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1751/cosponsors.
  21. Ness, Debra L. “30 Years of the 100 Best: Debra L. Ness.” Working Mother. September 17, 2015. Accessed April 16, 2019. https://www.workingmother.com/debra-l-ness-president-national-partnership-for-women-families.
  22. “Working Family Issues.” CSPAN. June 15, 2007. Accessed April 16th, 2019. https://www.c-span.org/video/?199143-1/working-family-issues&start=349.
  23. Clinton, Hillary Rodham. “Remarks at the National Partnership for Women and Families.” U.S. Department of State. June 21, 2012. Accessed April 16th, 2019. https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2012/06/193680.htm.
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