Political Party/527

Way to Lead PAC

Website:

www.waytolead.us

Location:

Centreville, VA

Status:

Political Action Committee (PAC)

Founded:

2018

CEO:

Tory Gavito

Total Raised (2019-2020):

$2,415,612

Total Spent (2019-2020):

$2,283,871

Way to Lead PAC is a left-progressive political action committee founded in 2018 to put progressive candidates in office. [1] A hybrid of federal and state political action committees, the organization targets battleground states in campaigns to flip federal and state offices from Republican and conservative to Democratic and liberal control. [2] It promotes left-progressive viewpoints on causes related to climate change, gun control, same-sex relationships, transgenderism, and host of other issues. [3]

Background and Mission

Way to Lead PAC’s parent organization, Way to Win, also known as Way to Win Action Fund, was founded by left-progressive donors and advocates Tory Gavito, Leah Hunt-Hendrix, and Jenifer Fernandes Ancona in 2017. Way to Win claims that it has directed $165 million to left-progressive causes since its founding in 2017. [4] During the 2019-2020 election cycle, Way to Win claims that it distributed a total of more than $110 million, 85% of which benefitted state programs focused on flipping elections from red to blue. [5]

According to Way to Lead PAC’s website, it was founded in 2018. [6] However, Way to Win reported via PR Newswire that Way to Lead PAC was newly founded in 2020. [7] Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, a co-founder of Way to Win, heads Way to Lead PAC. [8]

Way to Lead endorses and funds left-progressive candidates for office on the local, state, and federal levels, particularly in battleground states such as North Carolina and Arizona. [9] Way to Lead has endorsed over 79 candidates, and successfully elected 45 candidates to office on local, state, and federal levels. The organization only endorses candidates who actively advance left-progressive stances on minorities, climate change, gun control, and similar issues. [10]

Way to Lead has received funding from a wide variety of donors. Billionaire George Soros gave $100,000 to Way to Lead’s non-contribution account in 2022, while his daughter, Andrea Soros Columbel, donated $300,000 to the organization in 2020. [11] [12] Elizabeth Simons of the Heising Simons Foundation, a prominent Democratic Party donor, supported Way to Lead with a donation of $250,000 in 2022. [13]

Way to Lead lists political action committees such as abortion advocacy group Planned Parenthood’s Texas Votes PAC and left-wing Justice Democrats PAC on its list of Aligned Organizational Partners. The list does not include organizations directly affiliated with Way to Lead. [14]

Founders

Tory Gavito

Tory Gavito is a co-founder of Way to Win and Way to Lead. [15] She has worked as president and CEO of the organization since 2019. According to her LinkedIn page, Gavito attended St. Olaf College between 1997-2000, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish, then spent the next three years pursuing a law degree at St. Mary’s University. She has previously worked as a lawyer for two law firms and as a legal director for a nonprofit organization with a focus on Hispanic immigrant worker’s rights. [16] Since 2013, Gavito has also served as executive director for the Texas Future Project, a left-of-center organization which seeks to flip Texas’ voting patterns from Republican to Democratic. [17] [18]

Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Leah Hunt-Hendrix is a co-founder and vice president of Way to Lead and Way to Win. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University and a PhD in religion, ethics, and politics from Princeton. After graduate school, Hunt-Hendrix worked in a variety of positions relating to economics and worker’s rights. [19] In 2013, Hunt-Hendrix co-founded Solidaire, a grantmaking organization focused on advancing left-progressive social justice causes, where she served as executive director until 2018. [20] In 2016, Hunt-Hendrix co-founded the radical leftist Emergent Fund to distribute resources to minority and LGBT causes. [21]

Jenifer Fernandez Ancona

Jenifer Fernandez Ancona is a co-founder of Way to Win. She currently serves as vice president and chief strategy officer for the organization since 2020, and as an advisor to the Way to Lead PAC. [22] Previously, Ancona has been vice president of the left-of-center Women Donors Network, which funds causes relating to left-feminism. [23] Ancona has worked in a variety of communications positions for left-of-center organizations. [24] [25]

Candidates Supported

Sen. Raphael Warnock

Way to Lead endorsed Raphael Warnock for a seat in the U.S. Senate for the state of Georgia, which he won in 2021. [26]

Alexis King

Way to Lead and left-progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed Alexis King’s 2021 campaign for Colorado JD 1 District Attorney, which she won. [27] [28] Her first action as District Attorney was to fire ten longtime prosecutors for not being “aligned with my values” and “vision of inclusivity.” [29] One Hispanic prosecutor criticized King’s motives for firing him, stating he believed the decision might have been based on his complaints to the Colorado District Attorney’s Council on their trainings about “white fragility and systemic racism.” [30]

Nida Allam

Nida Allam has served as a Durham County Commissioner in North Carolina since 2020. Way to Lead PAC endorsed Allam’s 2022 campaign for Congress, in which she was defeated in the Democratic primary. [31] [32] During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election cycle, Allam worked as a political director for Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, and Sanders later endorsed her 2022 campaign for Congress. [33] Allam then served as 3rd Vice President for the North Carolina Democratic Party from 2017-2021. [34] Allam is a member of the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and supports left-progressive policies such as a $15 minimum wage and Medicare For All. [35]

Financials

During the 2020 U.S. Presidential election cycle, Way to Lead PAC raised over $2.4 million. They spent nearly $2.3 million of their funding. [36] According to OpenSecrets, Way to Lead PAC spent $91,667 supporting then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s 2020 Presidential campaign, and $23,644 against then-President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. [37]

References

  1. Way to Lead. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://waytolead.us/ ^
  2. Way to Win. “ .” PR Newswire. September 10, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/way-to-lead-pac-launches-to-lift-up-progressive-candidates–movement-groups-in-key-battleground-states-301127031.html ^
  3. Way to Lead. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://waytolead.us/ ^
  4. Way to Win. “Upending politics as usual.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytowin.us/ ^
  5. Way to Win. “Our Story.” Accessed May 23, 2022. https://waytowin.us/about-us ^
  6. Way to Lead. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://waytolead.us/ ^
  7. Way to Win. “Way to Lead PAC Launches to Lift Up Progressive Candidates & Movement Groups in Key Battleground States.” PR Newswire. September 10, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/way-to-lead-pac-launches-to-lift-up-progressive-candidates–movement-groups-in-key-battleground-states-301127031.html ^
  8. Brian Schwartz. “Leaders of progressive donor fund launch new PAC focusing on down-ballot races.” CNBC. September 10, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/10/leaders-of-progressive-donor-fund-launch-new-pac-way-to-lead-.html ^
  9. Way to Win. “Way to Lead PAC Launches to Lift Up Progressive Candidates & Movement Groups in Key Battleground States.” PR Newswire. September 10, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/way-to-lead-pac-launches-to-lift-up-progressive-candidates–movement-groups-in-key-battleground-states-301127031.html ^
  10. Way to Lead. “Candidates.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytolead.us/home/candidates/ ^
  11. Joe Schoffstall.“Soros family quietly bankrolls committees supporting ‘defund the police’ candidates.” Fox News. April 28, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/soros-family-quietly-bankrolls-defund-the-police-candidates ^
  12. OpenSecrets. “PAC Profile: Way to Lead PAC.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/way-to-lead-pac/C00686832/donors/2020 ^
  13. OpenSecrets. “PAC Profile: Way to Lead PAC.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/way-to-lead-pac/C00686832/donors/2022 ^
  14. Way to Lead. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytolead.us/ ^
  15. Way to Win. “Our Story.” Accessed May 23, 2022. https://waytowin.us/about-us ^
  16. LinkedIn. Tory Gavito. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tory-gavito-b7a4b937 ^
  17. LinkedIn. Tory Gavito. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tory-gavito-b7a4b937 ^
  18. Peggy Fikac. “Democratic heavy-hitters look to build progressive majority in Texas.” San Antonio Express News. February 22, 2014. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Democratic-heavy-hitters-look-to-build-5259015.php ^
  19. LinkedIn. Leah Hunt-Hendrix. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-hunt-hendrix-b9537156 ^
  20. Solidaire. “Who We Are.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://solidairenetwork.org/who-we-are/ ^
  21. LinkedIn. Leah Hunt-Hendrix. Accessed May 22, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-hunt-hendrix-b9537156 ^
  22. Way to Win. “Way to Win Announces Jenifer Fernandez Ancona to Serve as VP to Lead Political Strategy & Strategic Communications.” Cison PR Newswire. Accessed June 2, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/way-to-win-announces-jenifer-fernandez-ancona-to-serve-as-vp-to-lead-political-strategy–strategic-communications-301021949.html ^
  23. Women Donors Network. “Jean Hardisty Initiative.” Accessed May 23, 2022. https://womendonors.org/jean-hardisty-initiative/ ^
  24. Women Donors Network. “About.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://womendonors.org/about/ ^
  25. Way to Win. “Team.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytowin.us/team ^
  26. Way to Lead. “Candidates.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytolead.us/home/candidates/ ^
  27. Way to Lead. “Candidates.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytolead.us/home/candidates/ ^
  28. Bernie Sanders Official Website. “Alexis King.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://berniesanders.com/get-involved/alexis-king/ ^
  29. Shelly Bradbury. “Elected as a reformer, Jefferson County’s incoming district attorney is pushing out the office’s top prosecutors.” The Denver Post. December 4, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022.

    https://www.denverpost.com/2020/12/04/alexis-king-district-attorney-jefferson-county-fires-top-staff/ ^

  30. Shelly Bradbury. “Elected as a reformer, Jefferson County’s incoming district attorney is pushing out the office’s top prosecutors.” The Denver Post. December 4, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.denverpost.com/2020/12/04/alexis-king-district-attorney-jefferson-county-fires-top-staff/ ^
  31. Way to Lead. “Candidates.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://waytolead.us/home/candidates/ ^
  32. Ballotpedia. “Nida Allam.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://ballotpedia.org/Nida_Allam ^
  33.  Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan. “Why Bernie Sanders is endorsing Nida Allam in an NC congressional race.” The News & Observer. Updated April 28, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article260858882.html ^
  34. Ballotpedia. “Nida Allam.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://ballotpedia.org/Nida_Allam ^
  35. Nida Allam. “About.” Accessed May 22, 2022. https://nidaallam.com/about ^
  36. OpenSecrets. “PAC Profile: Way to Lead PAC.” Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/party-totals-section ^
  37. OpenSecrets. “Way to Lead PAC Recipients, 2020.” Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cmte=C00686832&cycle=2020 ^
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Way to Lead PAC

PO Box 1701
Centreville, VA