Person

Julie Kohler

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Senior Adviser, Democracy Alliance

Former Director for Education & Civic Engagement, NEO Philanthropy

Former National Venture Fund Director, Knight Foundation

Julie Kohler is a senior advisor to and former senior vice president of Democracy Alliance. She is also the president of BMK Consulting, a nonprofit consulting firm. Kohler is on the advisory boards of New Media Ventures, Pipeline Initiative, PL-US Action, and Family Story, a think tank which opposes laws that benefit nuclear families.

Kohler has outspoken views on the political patterns of white women, whom she claims tend to vote for Republicans due to their complicity with, and dependence on, white men who maintain patriarchal and racist systems.

Education

In 1995, Julie Kohler graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Strout with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and human development and family studies. Kohler initially wanted to be a teacher but became more interested in public policy focused on families and children. While at school, she got a part-time job working on a campaign to raise the minimum wage, an internship with the Child Welfare League of America, and an internship with the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. [1] [2] [3]

In 2000, Kohler graduated from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree and Ph.D. in family social science. Kohler initially planned on entering academia later pursued a career in activism. [4] [5] [6]

Career

In 2002, Julie Kohler became the acting director and program officer of the National Venture Fund at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She led a $13 million campaign to promote the civic participation of illegal immigrants to encourage immigration expansion, and a $2.5 million campaign to promote election security. [7]

In 2006, Kohler became the director of education and civic engagement at NEO Philanthropy, a clearinghouse for left-of-center nonprofits. Kohler raised more than $25 million over four years. [8]

In 2010, Kohler started working at Democracy Alliance (DA), holding posts as senior vice president, managing director, and chief operating officer. Kohler was primarily in charge of DA’s fundraising activity. In 2019, Kohler left her active role and became a senior advisor. She remains an advisor as of April 2022. [9]

Also in 2019, Kohler became a fellow in residence at the National Women’s Law Center. [10]

In October 2020, Kohler launched a podcast, White Picket Fence, which deals with “white women’s identities and politics and examines how white women can become a stronger force for justice.” [11] [12]

Views on White Women’s Politics

Julie Kohler has criticized white women for tending to support Republican candidates, supposedly due to “structural pulls, including white women’s economic dependence on and personal relationships with, white men.” Kohler argues that this support dates back throughout American history: “white women have long supported and strengthened white supremacy… White women led the support for school segregation and Jim Crow in the South.” [13] [14]

Kohler has explained that white women’s voting patterns are partially dictated by their “distinguishing traits,” which include being “competent administrators of white male power” by serving in secondary or advisory roles in professional or community settings. Supposedly, this trait causes white women to obsess over helping others, and they naturally want to help white men, so they tend to vote Republican. [15]

Elsewhere, Kohler has advocated that white women “use our positions of privilege and power to advance racial justice in this country… Those of us who think of ourselves as feminists and committed to gender justice and racial justice, I think there is a lot of reflection what we need to be doing about our complicity and structural inequities in this country… I felt a responsibility as a white woman to interrogate my complicity and where I needed to be doing better myself.” [16]

Kohler has called for Democrats to try to persuade and mobilize white women to vote for Democrats. Though she acknowledges that “women of color… comprise the progressive base,” Kohler has asserted that the overt “hostile sexism” in the Republican Party might drive more white women to the Democrats. [17]

In a 2018 article in The Nation, Kohler spoke favorably of the “political journey” of Lynn Rankinen, a white female Democrat married to a white Republican. Though Lynn and her husband got along well for years, their relationship began to strain in the mid-2010s as Lynn became more politically active and she was “shaken” by her husband’s support for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump (R). Rankinen was proud of her political awakening, but she found that “at home, politics is a source of isolation and pain” and she “can’t ever have the emotional intimacy that [she] once had” with her husband. [18]

Female Political Leaders

Julie Kohler has claimed that women make better politicians than men. In a 2020 CNN article, Kohler cited research from the National Women’s Law Center, where she is a fellow in residence, which supposedly showed that female politicians introduce more bills and get more bills passed than male politicians, though Democratic female politicians significantly outperform Republican female politicians. [19]

Shortly into the COVID-19 pandemic, Kohler claimed that female leaders of countries were greatly outperforming the United States under President Donald Trump (R). [20]

Opposition to “Marriage Culture”

Julie Kohler is on the advisory board of Family Story, a think tank that “works to address and dismantle family privilege in America.” [21]

In The Nation, Kohler and Family Story executive director Nicole Sussner Rodgers described “marriage culture” as a set of cultural norms idealizing traditional heterosexual marriage promoted by American conservatives. Marriage culture supposedly “uses barely coded racism, shaming, and stigma to coerce low-income couples into marriage under the veneer of reducing poverty and improving outcomes for children.” [22]

Kohler and Rodgers also claimed that conservatives promote marriage because married white women are more likely to have conservative beliefs and vote for Republicans because they “have long benefited from their proximity to patriarchy and white supremacy.” Single women are significantly more likely to vote for Democrats. [23]

In a 2020 Boston Review article, Kohler argued that marriage culture was a key component of neoliberal economics, since neoliberals advocate using family structures to provide economic support to those in need, rather than governments. Kohler wrote, “we must dismantle the family norms that lie at the heart of our current failed economic approach. Only then will we see the political will to invest in the kinds of public goods—from child care to affordable higher education—that today’s American families need to survive and thrive.” [24]

2020 Presidential Election

During the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Julie Kohler claimed that women were unable to compete in the presidential race due to sexism in political fundraising. [25]

References

  1. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  2. Weiner, Yitzi. “Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Julie Kohler of ‘White Picket Fence’ Is Helping To Change Our World.” Medium. January 2, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://medium.com/authority-magazine/social-impact-heroes-why-how-julie-kohler-of-white-picket-fence-is-helping-to-change-our-world-b147a72a9616. ^
  3. “Alumna: White women must use positions of privilege and power to advantage racial justice.” UW-Stout. May 25, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.go2.uwstout.edu/about-us/news-center/alumna-white-women-must-use-positions-privilege-and-power-advance-racial-justice. ^
  4. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  5. Weiner, Yitzi. “Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Julie Kohler of ‘White Picket Fence’ Is Helping To Change Our World.” Medium. January 2, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://medium.com/authority-magazine/social-impact-heroes-why-how-julie-kohler-of-white-picket-fence-is-helping-to-change-our-world-b147a72a9616. ^
  6. “Alumna: White women must use positions of privilege and power to advantage racial justice.” UW-Stout. May 25, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.go2.uwstout.edu/about-us/news-center/alumna-white-women-must-use-positions-privilege-and-power-advance-racial-justice. ^
  7. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  8. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  9. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  10. “Julie Kohler.” LinkedIn. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-kohler-41181b9/. ^
  11. “White Picket Fence.” Julie Kohler. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/white-picket-fence/id1534150764. ^
  12. Weiner, Yitzi. “Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Julie Kohler of ‘White Picket Fence’ Is Helping To Change Our World.” Medium. January 2, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://medium.com/authority-magazine/social-impact-heroes-why-how-julie-kohler-of-white-picket-fence-is-helping-to-change-our-world-b147a72a9616. ^
  13. Kohler, Julie. “Can White Women Help Build a Progressive Future?” The Nation. July 16, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5TGoo9ZZuEkJ:https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/can-white-women-help-build-progressive-future/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
  14. Kohler, Julie. “White Women: Our Most Divided Voting Bloc.” Democracy Journal. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/57/white-women-our-most-divided-voting-bloc/. ^
  15. Kohler, Julie. “Can White Women Help Build a Progressive Future?” The Nation. July 16, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5TGoo9ZZuEkJ:https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/can-white-women-help-build-progressive-future/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
  16. “Alumna: White women must use positions of privilege and power to advantage racial justice.” UW-Stout. May 25, 2021. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.go2.uwstout.edu/about-us/news-center/alumna-white-women-must-use-positions-privilege-and-power-advance-racial-justice. ^
  17. Kohler, Julie. “White Women: Our Most Divided Voting Bloc.” Democracy Journal. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/57/white-women-our-most-divided-voting-bloc/. ^
  18. Kohler, Julie. “Can White Women Help Build a Progressive Future?” The Nation. July 16, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5TGoo9ZZuEkJ:https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/can-white-women-help-build-progressive-future/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
  19. Kohler, Julie. “What happens when women are empowered?” CNN. February 28, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/27/opinions/women-political-representation-new-research-kohler/index.html ^
  20. Kohler, Julie. “Where is America’s Jacinda Ardern? She’s Hiding In Plain Sight.” Refinery29. April 24, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/04/9738561/women-leaders-coronavirus-jacinda-ardern. ^
  21. “Advisory Board.” Family Board. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://familystoryproject.org/about/. ^
  22. [1] Rodgers, Nicole Sussner; Kohler, Julie. “Conservatives’ Real Fight Is for the Future of the Family.” The Nation. May 21, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LrSxdqLA1TEJ:https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/abortion-bans-conservatives-traditional-family/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. ^
  23. Rodgers, Nicole Sussner; Kohler, Julie. “Conservatives’ Real Fight Is for the Future of the Family.” The Nation. May 21, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LrSxdqLA1TEJ:https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/abortion-bans-conservatives-traditional-family/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us ^
  24. [1] Kohler, Julie. “The End of Family Values.” Boston Review. June 4, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://bostonreview.net/articles/covid-19-and-neoliberal-family-values/. ^
  25. Kohler, Julie; Mabud, Rakeen. “What’s the Main Reason Women Candidates Drop Out Early? Take One Gue$$.” The Daily Beast. December 15, 2019. Updated December 16, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2022. https://www.thedailybeast.com/whats-the-main-reason-women-candidates-drop-out-early-take-one-guedollardollar. ^
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