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Laura Barrett
Laura Barrett is the Executive Director of the Transportation Equity Network (TEN) -- a 41-state grassroots network of more than 350 organizations working for a more just, prosperous, and connected America -- as well as National Policy Director for the Gamaliel Foundation. She been a community organizer for more than 20 years. Laura previously worked as a field organizer for the Center for Community Change, and has served as director of Housing Comes First, the Missouri Public Interest Research Group (MoPIRG), and the Campaign for Jobs and Housing.

She was the campaign manager for a ballot initiative that resulted in the passage of the largest per capita housing trust fund in America ($5 million annually), the St. Louis Housing Trust Fund. She has helped groups to win millions in public transportation funding, and has negotiated community benefits agreements and positive workforce development policies on the state, local and federal levels. As the civic engagement director for Gamaliel, she has helped local affiliates to register 12,000 low-income and immigrant voters, and to make more than 125,000 voter contacts about non-partisan issues in the 2008 fall election. She holds a Master's in Social Work from Washington University.

Entries by Laura Barrett

#After Ferguson, 100% Voting and Race Conversations

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 2:55 PM

Ever so tentatively, it feels like a new day is dawning here in the Show-Me state -- a day in which many residents are challenging their local and state police around basic law enforcement procedures and more effective community-centered policing techniques, like those which the

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The Roots of #Ferguson

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 1:00 PM

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to be volatile, news cycle after news cycle. A second young person, a Howard University grad, was shot, members of the national press have been arrested, tear gas has been fired night after night at protesters and this...

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Answers From Red States for Our Broken Criminal Justice System

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 7:25 PM

Left, right or center, few dispute that our criminal justice system is broken. But two new and thrilling victories this month are giving real hope to activists who want more effective and humane crimes policies.

In a largely "red" state," Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon signed...

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Jobs/Transit, Hope on the Horizon?

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 1:37 PM

With all the gridlock in DC, it seems impossible that anything fruitful or significant can really happen. But a few dedicated public officials are starting to push two very promising proposals that could affect millions.

Last week Peter Rogoff, a Department of Transportation undersecretary, updated

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Thank you, Full Employment Caucus!

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 5:20 PM

In January, U.S. Rep. John Conyers and 7 other Congress members created the Full Employment Caucus with the goal of creating more than 24 million jobs in order to end the unacceptably high rate of unemployment and underemployment in the United States.

Last week...

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Sec. Foxx's New Transportation Proposal Is Great

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 1:42 PM

Looks like the Obama administration hasn't given up yet on tackling the big issues that plague our country.

Secretary Anthony Foxx's new $302 billion transportation proposal is creative and ambitious -- it has a 70 percent increase for transit, or $72 billion over four years. While...

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Reverse Robin Hood Funding Threatens San Diego

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 4:04 PM

San Diego's sunny beaches and beautiful college campuses can be deceptive. The city's soaring housing costs force university students and low-income families to sleep on couches and to depend on free meals. Many, too, end up living out of cars. The waiting list for...

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Want Better Pay for Women? Update Those Regs

(1) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 2:19 PM

It's exciting that President Obama wants to narrow the gender wage gap, as was widely reported Friday. Here's a good first step: updating federal contracting regulations. It hasn't been done since Jimmy Carter was in office and an overhaul is long overdue.


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My Brother's Keeper: Better With Secret Sauce

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 11:20 AM

Many applauded when President Obama announced his new initiative, My Brother's Keeper. According to the White House: "By the time they hit fourth grade, 86 percent of African American boys and 82 percent Hispanic boys are reading below proficiency levels -- compared to 54 percent of...

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Fighting Injustice With Love

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 5:42 PM

On Valentine's Day, job seekers and organizers will deliver candy and flowers to local and state officials, contractors associations and other stakeholders with the goal of changing federal regulations to get construction firms to create more jobs for lower-income women and people of color.

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4 Organizing Trends You'll See in 2014

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 5:33 PM

Community organizing is changing. It's more social media driven and younger.

Immigration advocacy alone has brought a new sector of young leaders into organizing: the DREAMERS.

The field also seems to be growing more hard-edged and radical in its tactics. Arrests,

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The Push for Public School

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 12:54 PM

Confusion, ambivalence and anger all seem to accompany many discussions of public education. High stakes testing, positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS), wrap around services, isolation rooms, and common core standards all have their advocates--each louder than the last. What...

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Nelson Mandela's Job Title

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 5:07 PM

Off the top of your head, what was Nelson Mandela's job title?

"Inspiring speaker?"
"National leader?"
"World figure?"

He was, of course, all of this. Those words, however, fail to capture him completely, and...

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U.S. Catholic Funders: Resist Calls to Abandon Social Justice

(1) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 12:34 PM

In the last few years community organizers have learned it's in their self-interest to become astute Vatican watchers. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) which is run by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has long been one of...

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Immigration Leaders Take a Stand...In Handcuffs

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 1:48 PM

Immigrants are increasingly putting their bodies on the line, hoping to move immigration reform.

On Oct. 8, a Chicago activist was one of roughly 200 protesters arrested outside the nation's capital in a rally for immigration reform. Capitol police said that...

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Section 3 Rehab Needed

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 1:04 PM

When the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee announced back in 2011 that they would be conducting $82 million dollar rehab of the state's largest public housing development, Westlawn Gardens, everyone got their hopes up. Environmentalists hoped for a "greening" of the complex. Local pastors...

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Bus Tour Fueled by Immigration Reform

(1) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 6:20 PM

One bus, four days, seven states, 11 cities, nine Congressional offices visited and 40 people riding a bus to advocate for a better path to citizenship.

Those impressive numbers summarize the just-completed "Dream For All Bus Tour" which visited members of the House Judiciary...

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Section 3: It Doesn't Have to Be This Way

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 3:16 PM

Section 3 was a truly creative idea when it was inaugurated in 1968: Let's give low-income residents the first crack at the jobs that public housing generates.

Unfortunately, several generations later, the program is better known by its almost universal ineffectiveness than by the people it has lifted...

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A Hero on the Bench: WI Judge Takes on Real Impacts of Highway Expansion

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2013 | 12:39 PM

When we go looking for the heroes and heroines who defend our freedoms, we tend to look backward: George Washington, Mother Jones, Harriet Tubman, etc. But sometimes giants are walking among us - people who act strategically and courageously to ensure that "the people" are protected.

The Wisconsin Department...

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Transit Initiatives Boosted by Employers

(1) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 2:55 PM

It's been clear for several years that more people than ever support public transit. In vote after vote, people consistently say yes to taxes for transit creation.

In 2012, 79 percent of transit ballot initiatives were approved. That's good news for everyone. For every $1 billion investment in...

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