John C. Stocks is the chairman of the board of Democracy Alliance (DA), a collective of wealthy left-of-center donors and donor organizations. Stocks was previously the executive director of the National Education Association (NEA), where he still works as a senior advisor to guide NEA political strategy. Stocks began his career as a community organizer, political strategist, and politician in Idaho before taking leadership roles in the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the NEA.
In 2020, Stocks came under fire when it was revealed that the NEA, under his leadership, had given nearly $30 million to other organizations associated with Stocks and DA over the course of just two years. The sum amounted to more than the NEA had given to ten of its state affiliates combined over the same period. 
Early Political Career
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Stocks attended the radical-left-inclined Evergreen State College before graduating in 1981.  Throughout the 1980s, Stocks worked as a community organizer around the state of Idaho, most notably as executive director of Idaho Fair Share.   Idaho Fair Share, under Stocks’s leadership, advocated for legislation to regulate the utilities market by setting artificial price controls. 
In 1988, Stocks ran and won a seat in the Idaho State Senate, representing the Boise and Coeur d’Alene areas as a Democrat after beating a four-term incumbent.  While in the Idaho State Senate, Stocks sponsored and passed legislation to prevent foreclosures on homes in which individuals were experiencing family medical crises.  In 1989, after just one year in the Idaho Senate, Stocks resigned, claiming that he felt he could more effectively promote his policy positions from the outside. 
After resigning from the Idaho Senate, Stocks remained involved in Democratic politics in the state, organizing the Idaho Senate Democrats’ reelection plans over the course of three election cycles. Under Stocks’s plans, Democrats gained seven new Idaho Senate seats over three cycles without losing any incumbent seats. 
Work with Teachers Unions
From 1990 to 2004, Stocks was the assistant executive director for public affairs at the Wisconsin Education Association Council, a state affiliate of the NEA. During his time with the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Stocks coordinated both public affairs and political action for the 98,000-member union.  Stocks successfully pushed a number of left-of-center education policies through the legislature in Wisconsin, including creating state-funded kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds, mandating the reduction of elementary school class sizes, expanding state funding for pensions, and establishing increased regulatory standards for teachers. 
In 2004, Stocks joined the NEA as first deputy director, overseeing NEA policy advocacy and membership policies.   In 2011, Stocks became executive director of the NEA, managing a staff of 535 people and an annual budget of $371 million.  During his first address to the NEA in 2012, Stocks established a left-of-center vision for the organization, accusing the “one-percenters” of “trying to destroy the labor movement,” despite receiving a salary of over $355,000 himself in 2016. 
During his time as executive director, Stocks established a left-of-center agenda for the NEA, claiming that American democracy was based on voter suppression and “rigged” for the wealthy.   During the 2016 election cycle, Stocks pressured other NEA members and state affiliates to pressure them to endorse then-Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, despite facing resistance from within the union. 
In August of 2019, Stocks stepped down as executive director of the NEA.  Though Kim Anderson succeeded him as executive director, Stocks continued in an advisory role for the NEA, guiding campaign strategy until after the 2020 elections.  Stocks claimed he was stepping down to devote his time to “the cause of saving our democracy” by advocating for left-of-center ideals. 
Controversy over Wisconsin Labor Meetings
After becoming executive director of the NEA, Stocks returned to Wisconsin with other national union leaders to oppose reforms to public employee unions endorsed by thenWisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) in 2011. During the debate and vote on the proposed legislation, Democratic Senators in the Wisconsin State Senate drove out of the state of Wisconsin to Illinois in order to try to deny quorum to prevent a vote on the bill. Then-Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) spent thousands on meeting spaces and hotels for himself and other members for three weeks during which Democratic Senators stayed in Illinois to try to block the vote. 
During the attempt to prevent the vote, Stocks and two other union representatives flew to Libertyville, Illinois to meet with the lawmakers after Stocks registered as a lobbyist just four days before the meeting. Stocks reportedly spent over 200 hours and $67,600 in lobbying in Illinois that year, with even some Democrats skipping the meeting in Libertyville and calling it “inappropriate” for Democrats to meet with special interest groups as a caucus.  Legislators ultimately passed the bill through the Wisconsin legislature. 
As of 2020, Stocks is the chairman of the board of Democracy Alliance, a hub for left-of-center donors and donor organizations.  Stocks has also sat on the board of Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Learning First Alliance, two left-of-center education organizations.  In addition to sitting on the DA board, Stocks is a co-founder of the Committee on States, a state-level counterpart to DA.  Stocks has been honored for his organizing by left-of-center organizations including the Midwest Academy, a training institute for left-wing organizers, and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a group that provides resources to left-of-center advocacy organizations to push referenda at the state level.  
In January of 2020, Stocks and the NEA under his leadership came under fire for giving millions of dollars to political organizations associated with Stocks. In 2018, the NEA made $30.2 million in total grants to advocacy organization, $15.5 million of which went to the State Engagement Fund, a DA affiliate which funnels money to left-wing organizations.  Between 2018 and 2019, the NEA gave $29.5 million to the Fund, in addition to $441,000 to Democracy Alliance directly, $425,000 to the Committee on States, and $2.1 million to a DA-Committee on States joint project.  In fact, the NEA under Stocks’s guidance gave more to these three DA-related organizations than it gave to ten of its NEA state affiliates combined.