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Erica Payne
Erica Payne is a public policy expert, commentator, author and strategist.

She is the founder of the Agenda Project, a New York‐based hub of public policy discussion and strategy debate for influencers from business, media, philanthropy, government and non‐profit. The Agenda Project’s monthly newsletter Practical Progress is read by 10,000 political and philanthropic leaders and is a trusted source of insight on policy and politics.

Before joining the Agenda Project full‐time in 2010, Payne led the Tesseract Group, a boutique consulting firm that provided strategy and communications expertise to select public policy and political organizations. In that role, Payne served as a senior strategist for the Roosevelt Institute to envision and build a new public policy think tank for economic and finance sector policy. At the Roosevelt Institute, Payne co‐edited Make Markets Be Markets: Restoring the Integrity of the US Financial Markets and produced a major conference by the same name that included George Soros, Elizabeth Warren, Simon Johnson, Lynn Turner and other experts ( Other Tesseract clients included: the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Center for Independent Media among others.

Prior to founding the Agenda Project and the Tesseract Group, Payne co‐founded the Democracy Alliance, a donor collaborative whose partners have invested over $100 million in progressive organizations.

Her early career included serving as Deputy National Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee during the 1996 presidential re‐election campaign and as a consultant to a number of campaigns and political organizations. In addition to her public sector work, Payne has held senior marketing positions in the private sector.

Payne is the author of The Practical Progressive: How to Build a 21st Century Political Movement, which Jonathan Alter of Newsweek called “a blueprint for a progressive conspiracy to help save the country.”

She is on the Board of Advisors of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. She is also on the Board of Advisors of Health Care for American Now. Payne has a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (2000) and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1991).

Entries by Erica Payne

It's Ebola, Stupid

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 6:07 PM

They say before you have cancer, you have lots of problems; and after you have cancer, you have just one. This year's election is just like that. Before Ebola, we had minimum wage, immigration, student loans, social security, and equal pay. Now we just have Ebola. And if we don't...

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Raising the Minimum Wage

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 7:56 PM

This year Democrats face a grueling election challenge -- holding on to the Senate. In the face of relentless Republican obstructionism, the American public has turned against a do-nothing Congress, and because Democrats are in the majority in the Senate, they will be blamed for congressional gridlock. To combat this...

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Pelosi's High Leverage Play

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 1:44 PM

Long beloved by i-bankers and buyout gurus, the concept of "leverage" is just breaking into the lexicon of political strategy. That's about to change. Or rather it could change, if Nancy Pelosi and a few rich donors seize the best investment opportunity in the political marketplace before it's too late.

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Hey Sheryl: Lean On This

(4) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 8:18 PM

In 2011, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In, the handbook du jour of women's empowerment, exhorted the graduates of Barnard College to change the world. "You are the promise for a more equal world," she said. "Women all around the world are counting on you."...

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Banking Committee Members Embarrass Themselves and America

(1) Comments | Posted June 18, 2012 | 4:09 PM

Last Wednesday, around 10:36 in the morning I threw up a little in my mouth.

It was a few minutes after Senator Richard Shelby, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, asked JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon -- one of his largest donors -- if he would

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What Do We Do Next?

(2) Comments | Posted August 2, 2011 | 6:11 PM


That is the only word I can think of to describe the bungling political strategy that will conclude with half the Democrats in the House and most of the Democrats in the Senate voting for total capitulation. Otherwise known as 'The Debt Ceiling Deal,' Total Capitulation will be signed...

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America... the Beautiful? Not Without Medicare

(9) Comments | Posted May 18, 2011 | 2:04 PM

Today, The Agenda Project released a shocking new video dramatizing Paul Ryan's proposal to end Medicare. The video -- which shows an elderly woman getting thrown off a cliff -- asserts that the Ryan plan will hurt elderly Americans.

Paul Ryan's budget plan, named "The Path to Prosperity,"...

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The Fight Continues

(3) Comments | Posted April 26, 2011 | 6:17 PM

The Patriotic Millionaires are striking back in a new letter to Ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch. Last week, he sent the group a letter detailing his views on tax cuts, the national debt and the budget -- and so it seems...

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Why Everybody Thinks Those "Lazy, Immoral, Inherently-Defective" Poor People Are Actually Quite Well-Off

(43) Comments | Posted April 5, 2011 | 2:46 PM

If liberals really want to know what they are up against, they should take a look at the Poverty and Inequality section of the Heritage Foundation's website. I happened to come across it the other day and spit out my coke. According to Heritage, most poor people in...

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Fighting the Enemy Within

(7) Comments | Posted March 28, 2011 | 7:32 PM

What would you do if someone told you that America was in grave danger -- that a powerful enemy with almost unlimited resources had infiltrated every level of government, the media, both political parties and the Supreme Court? What if someone told you that it was up to you to...

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Sex, Justice, and the -Isms

(74) Comments | Posted March 17, 2011 | 6:15 PM

What would you do if you learned that two weeks from now a man repeatedly accused of aggressive sexual misconduct may decide whether women have the power to confront people who discriminate against them?

On March 29th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Wal-Mart v. Dukes,...

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Now About the Matter of Size

(106) Comments | Posted March 8, 2011 | 4:00 PM

Tuesday women commemorated the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day -- a worldwide celebration of women's progress. The American piece of this epic story began in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when 25,000 mill workers took to the streets to protest for better wages. One particularly memorable account from...

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Old Man Winter and the Nile

(17) Comments | Posted February 10, 2011 | 1:45 PM

Watching John McCain and his Cold Warriors parry on the crisis in Egypt has been telling -- they spent the last few weeks awkwardly dithering over how to respond to a new era emerging in the streets of Cairo. Their ambivalence illustrates both how fast the world is changing and...

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The Corporation in Chief

(19) Comments | Posted January 24, 2011 | 4:40 PM

A year ago last week the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent and granted corporations the same right to free speech previously enjoyed by individuals. The Citizens United ruling opened the floodgates to a torrent of corporate influence on our democracy. Many Americans were surprised by the decision, a few...

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The Palin Problem (It's Not What You Think...)

(146) Comments | Posted January 19, 2011 | 4:40 PM

Last week, Sarah Palin defended the tone of her rhetoric after accusations that it may have contributed to the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She unrepentantly noted that at one time, elected officials used to settle scores by fighting duels. I have to admit, Sarah's right. She reminded me once...

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Don't Blame the Tea Party (at Least Not for This... )

(18) Comments | Posted January 11, 2011 | 11:22 AM

As politicians of both parties fall all over themselves denying blame for the shooting of Congresswomen Giffords and decrying the toxic political environment, one denial rings louder than any other. From Tea Party leader Sarah Palin's insistent "I hate violence" to Tea Party cheerleader Glenn Beck's "peace is always the...

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On Millionaires; Bolsheviks; Greedy, Selfish Bastards; and the President of the United States

(5) Comments | Posted December 22, 2010 | 12:49 PM

As pundits argue over President Obama's first two years in office (compromise or capitulation?) and House and Senate members prepare for a new distribution of political power, one issue more than any other offered a window into the American political landscape - the extension of the Bush era tax cut....

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Welcome to CRAZYTOWN

(2) Comments | Posted October 28, 2010 | 1:53 PM

Are you sane enough to vote November 2nd? Take the quiz and find out!

1) Colorado Senate Candidate Ken Buck insists that he does not wear high heels. Do you think he secretly wants to?

2) NY gubernatorial candidates Carl Palladino believes that being gay is...

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Deadbeat Democrats

(1) Comments | Posted October 15, 2010 | 5:50 PM

Like a chubby kid stockpiling his Dunk-a-roos at snack-time, many Democratic politicians in safe seats are hoarding their goodies while embattled colleagues go hungry this campaign season. More than 70 percent --186 out of 255 -- of House Democrats have not paid their Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee...

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The Tea Party: Elvis or One Hit Wonder?

(16) Comments | Posted October 4, 2010 | 4:05 PM

With only a few weeks left until the mid-term elections it's safe to say that the Tea Party has positioned itself as the rock star de jeur of American politics. The question now is whether they will be like Elvis, who shaped American music for generations; or like the guys...

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