America's Next Great Progressive Leaders: NLC Announces its 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards Winners

06/16/2010 12:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Adam Borelli Managing Director, MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition; MIT Sloan MBA Candidate

What do Stephanie Schriock of Emily's List, Josh Levy of Free Press, Matt Singer of Forward Montana and Amy Gershkoff of Changing Targets Media have in common?

They are trail blazers -- political entrepreneurs -- and they all just won something for it. No, it wasn't the lottery nor an uncontested primary in South Carolina.

They won an award that signifies how they are in the business of changing the world. Beyond that, they are shaping the future of the progressive movement.

They are pioneering new tactics. They are advancing human rights. They are promoting American values of equality and transparency. They are among the next great progressive leaders.

As of today, these four individuals, along with 36 others are being honored by New Leaders Council (NLC) in the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards for their leadership in four distinct areas: politics, media, advocacy and entrepreneurship.

NLC is quickly becoming the "American Idol" for the progressive movement. NLC has a real organizational talent for recognizing young leadership. Not only does NLC seem to find the most generous, forward thinking volunteers in 11 cities across America to fill the ranks of its expansive non-profit network, but NLC also manages to find the most talented young progressives to take part in a five-month educational Institute program to improve an individual's skill set and ultimate career trajectory.

"Through the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards and the NLC Institute, New Leaders Council is achieving what few, if any, progressive leadership organizations have achieved: honoring and celebrating the young, accomplished leaders of today while training and preparing a corps of talented progressive leaders to confront our challenges of tomorrow," said Fiona Ma, California Assembly Speaker pro Tempore and Honorary Chair and National Advisor for New Leaders Council, who judged the finalists for two of the awards competitions.

A knowledgeable and committed panel of judges familiar with the progressive movement selected the 40 winners for this year's awards. In addition to Assemblywoman Ma, NLC Chairman Mark Walsh, Cheryl Contee, Founder and Partner of Fission Strategy, and Nathan Daschle, the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association, all came together to leverage their own experience in the progressive movement and narrow down the nominations and ultimately select the winners.

"The caliber of nominees continues to represent outstanding leadership that deserves recognition. The NLC 40 Under 40 Awards allows all of us to become acquainted with the magnitude of exceptional organizations and the significant work being accomplished by these young leaders," Daschle told NLC after the final selection rounds ended.

This year alone NLC graduated nearly 200 alumni from 11 different cities across America. And next year NLC will be expanding to even more cities across America including Des Moines and New Brunswick, among others.

"I was honored to be asked to be a judge for NLC's 40 Under 40 Awards. It was difficult to select from a set of amazing heroes all of whom are leaders and some of whom I consider to be peers," said Contee who was also honored as a leader under 40. "There's an amazing generation emerging and I know both the nominees and the award winners will inspire countless others to embrace their own potential for progressive leadership."

New Leaders Council will be celebrating the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards with events and fundraisers across the country. NLC Chairman Mark Walsh and I will be traveling to most of our chapters to join the NLC community in our humble celebration and praise of the work of the awardees. All the winners will be invited to participate and it is our hope as an organization that we can serve not only to recognize and praise the good work of the winners, but also support and challenge each other to realize greater social change.

Be sure to RSVP for a local event to celebrate the winners below. We will celebrate the awards in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, OH, Lexington, KY, Los Angeles, Missoula, New Brunswick, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.


EchoDitto New Media Leadership Award

Josh Levy
Online Campaign Manager, Free Press

PPI Pragmatic Progressive Policymaker Award

Derek Blumke
President, Student Veterans of America

Dipaola Foundation Democracy Rejuvenation Award

Monica Youn
Democracy Program Counsel, Brennan Center

Advocacy Award

Orson Aguilar
Executive Director, Greenlining Institute

Shevawn Akers
Non-Profit Consultant and Community Advocate

Emily Arnold-Fernandez
Executive Director, Asylum Access

Michael Brune
Executive Director, Sierra Club

Nancy Bui-Thompson
Board Member, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Liz Butler
Deputy Campaign Director, 1Sky

Darrah Johnson
President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties

Patrick Keenan-Devlin
Campaign Director, Responsible Budget Coalition

Justin Krebs
Executive Director, Living Liberally

Karlo Barrios Marcelo

Angella Martinez
Principal, KIPP: LA Prep

Erin Thompson-Switalski
Executive Director, Women's Voices for the Earth


Veronica Chapman
Founder and Executive Director, Boxxout Enterprises

Susan Ludwig
Director of Redevelopment, Center for Planning Excellence

Scott Morgan
Founder and Executive Director, Education Pioneers

Dana Mortenson
Co-Founder and Executive Director, World Savvy

Ben Rattray
Founder and CEO,

Odest Riley, Jr.
Co-Founder, Baby Boomer Consulting

Doug Shipman
Executive Director, Center for Civil and Human Rights Partnerships

Emily Sneed Arata
Deputy Mayor for External Relations, City of New Orleans

Gigi Traore
Executive Director, Power Network


Reid Carr
President & CEO, Red Door Interactive

Amani Channel
Social Media Innovator, Award Winning Producer, and Broadcast Journalist

Wendy Cohen
Digital Manager of Community and Alliances, Participant Media

Cheryl Contee
Founder, Fission Strategy

Amy Gershkoff
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Changing Targets Media

Amanda Terkel
Deputy Research Director and Editor of, Center for American Progress

Tracy Van Slyke
Project Director, The Media Consortium


Jasper Hendricks
Executive Director, BRAT-PAC

Janet Peterson
Representative, Iowa House of Representatives

Cedric Richmond
Representative, Louisiana House of Representatives

Stephanie Schriock
President, EMILY's List

Matt Singer
Executive Director, Bus Federation

Manan Trivedi
Doctor and Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate

Alan van Capelle
Deputy Comptroller for Public Affairs, City of New York