Socialist Majority is excited to introduce our candidates for the National Political Committee. These candidates are Socialist Majority members that were endorsed by membership vote earlier this year in May. We are united by the belief that DSA’s most urgent task is to build a socialist majority from our base–the working class and the oppressed–and that it will take a tremendous organizational shift in order to do so. We’ve endorsed these incredible socialist organizers in order to further our goal of transforming DSA into a true mass, multiracial working-class organization.
I joined DSA because an organizer I trusted told me it was our best chance to build a movement of the working class. I still think that’s true. Shortly after my first meeting, I was hired for a job as an organizer at DSA–first as a traveling organizer, and then as the organizer for the Midwest region. I worked for DSA from 2017-2019. In helping to develop chapters across the country and supporting the day-to-day operation of the national organization, I learned a tremendous amount about what makes DSA strong. This experience informs my DSA organizing in my local chapter (Lawrence, Kansas) and my vision for DSA nationally.
I’ve witnessed and supported many of our major victories over the last few years, but the work I’m most proud of has been my own work as a member of my local chapter. Using the skills from the organizing trainings developed by our national staff, we’ve quintupled our chapter membership, established relationships with union members and unorganized workers, developed a deep canvassing method (which led to our housing working group), endorsed our first local candidate (who is a DSA member!), and recently had a win in our campaign against a local landlord. I serve as the chair of the labor committee in my chapter and we’re organizing a broad group of rank-and-file union members who are fighting to make their unions more militant and democratic (run by us, the workers!). I also helped start our socialist feminist and racial justice group.
For the last 11 years, I’ve fought to build a better world as a community organizer and a labor organizer. As a housing organizer, I led a series of occupations of banks during the foreclosure crisis. I worked for a post-ACORN org to organize working class people on education issues, federal climate legislation and a ballot initiative to raise Missouri’s minimum wage. I’m also a social worker and an adjunct in a social work department. In 2018, I was on the organizing committee to win our adjunct union (we won by over 400 votes!).
Today, I work as a paraeducator in Lawrence public schools where we are organizing to win our paraeducator union. I’m also a graduate worker at the University of Kansas and a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 6403 where I serve as our organizing chair. Through my union and through DSA, we are working to organize public school teachers and paras around our wages and working conditions but also on issues that affect our communities, like the school to prison pipeline and disproportionate policing of students of color. A few lessons I’ve learned from this work: there are no shortcuts in organizing, relationships matter, and you’ve got to pick up the phone and meet people where they are!
We must build a mass movement capable of overthrowing capitalism. Inside DSA and in the broader movement. I’ve helped to do this by supporting others to develop their organizing skills, broaden their political horizons, and become leaders in their communities and workplaces. I’m excited to help lead our organization by focusing on win-or-lose campaigns against the capitalist class, political education, and transforming DSA into a mass multi-racial organization of the working class. I’m also eager to develop my own capacity and the capacity of other future NPC members to work in coalition with the broader Left and progressive ecosystem.
I joined DSA in early September of 2016 and have been an active member for nearly 3 years. In November 2016, I won my chapter’s chair election, then was re-elected in November 2017. That same year, I formed and chaired the Racial Justice Working Group, which successfully worked with the Working Texans for Paid Sick Time Coalition, attempted to get rid of the predatory juvenile curfew, and helped pass the Civilian Police Oversight Board, a measure committed to police transparency and accountability. I’m also currently coordinating our local AfroSoc caucus events.
As chair, I oversaw our involvement in two major working-class uprisings: Standing Rock (the HQ and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners are located in Dallas) and the Oklahoma Teachers’ Strike (alongside Oklahoma and other Texas chapters). I helped our monthly meeting attendance go from 15 to 75 people and supported our membership growth from 65 to 500 members. In 2018, I proposed the role of a Membership Coordinator and am presently in this position. I oversee membership, renewals, creation and implementation of organizer trainings for the chapter. While I’ve grown my own chapter, I’ve also helped start new ones by supporting DSA’s presence in Fort Worth, Collin, Denton, Midland, and Tyler.
I’ve taken long-term campaigns from failure to victory, as the lead for our Paid Sick Time campaign, which started off as a ballot initiative in 2018 that collected over 120,000 signatures. The initiative failed by 800 signatures, however, it transformed into a successful city council campaign in 2019. As of August 1st, this ordinance will secure paid sick time for over 300,000 workers.
Besides issue-based campaign work, I’ve also organized rapid response and served on various DSA committees. I coordinated aid and solidarity to asylum-seeking families and workers and their families affected by one of the largest ICE raids in over a decade. I collaborated on a mobilization to mount a physical presence to a few fascist events both locally and in conjunction with other Texas chapters. As far as committees, I served on the coordinating committee for the Texas Regional Leadership Training, the Pre-Convention Regional Conference, the National Immigration Working Group, the AfroSocialist Convenings in 2017 and 2019, spoke during the opening plenary and co-facilitated the Immigration Workshop at the 2017 Convention and 2018 YDSA Convention.
Before DSA, I was an immigrant rights organizer with the North Texas Dream Team, a grassroots mixed-status organization founded in 2010. I served as the Community Outreach chair, forging strong relationships with local organizers, unions, nonprofits, immigrant houses, and elected officials, growing our volunteer list to over 1,000 people and our active volunteer base. I was elected Vice President for two terms, as well as the Vice Chair for the Immigration Affairs Committee, which oversaw the DACA workshops we developed and implemented. This committee helped over 8,000 recipients, saved approximately 2-4 million dollars in legal fees, led workshops all throughout North and rural Texas, and raised over $25,000 for DACA fees when DACA was rescinded under the current administration. I took part in the coalition that got the city of Dallas to sign on to the lawsuit against SB4 and helped Fort Worth’s efforts to do the same.
My electoral work began as the volunteer coordinator for a successful electoral campaign of a community college trustee. In 2016, I was elected a Bernie Sanders State and National Delegate. Since then, I’ve tried to be involved in numerous DSA electoral campaigns, helping with data entry, text banking, and remote phone banking. These experiences have given me a lot of insight into the various ways different DSA chapters approach electoral work.
Outside of DSA, I’m a commissioner on a city board dedicated to funding programming in an under-served area of the city, am part of a group working to change the narrative of public safety beyond policing, and help lead and train local organizers to bring organizing trainings to their community groups.
I’m running for NPC to improve the capacity, effectiveness, and strength of this organization. My biggest goals for DSA over the next two years include:
- Ensuring chapters are well-equipped with conflict resolution, organizing, and facilitation training
- Move our collective good intentions regarding diversity of membership (and leadership) to action in developing and supporting diverse leadership, addressing gendered division of labor, and identifying and addressing ways our existing spaces often hinder these efforts
- Navigating the 2020 election (and the resulting administration), while keeping a strong focus on how we build local power
- Growing our membership base to over 75,000 members, while simultaneously helping chapter leadership strategically develop their active bases
- Supporting chapters with both resources and trainings, as well as challenging and transforming the spaces that DSA-culture often creates
- Working with other NPC members, as well as chapter leaders, to improve communication and collaboration, and using knowledge of location, political context, and chapter priorities to better inform any national work
- Connecting chapters that are doing similar work so that community can be created beyond state-lines
I’ve been involved in DSA-LA since December 2016 and dues-paying since March of 2017. Since then, I’ve held positions as chair of the former Racial Justice Committee, coordinator of the former Anti-oppression Committee, both decommissioned in effort to prevent issue-siloing of underrepresented people in our chapter and remove undue burden on those who were organizing most in those committees. I was also an at-large member of the DSA-LA Steering Committee in 2018. Within those positions, I helped to coordinate quarterly culture forum addressing oppressive aspects of culture within our chapter, and build the infrastructure for the implementation of our misconduct policy and conflict resolution team. I am currently the capacity coordinator of the Membership Committee, supporting the work of our training program and the onboarding of new members into DSA-LA organizing.
My first experiences in community organizing were in high school for local anti-gentrification campaigns in San Francisco, resourcing small businesses and working class residents to fight off major development. Since then, I’ve had professional and volunteer experiences in youth leadership, immigration justice, juvenile justice system reform, media representation and equity, and feminist anti-militarism. Many of these experiences were and remain confined by the political and capitalist limitations of working within non-profit organizations. I joined DSA having come to an understanding that work at this level cannot be transformative without major systemic overhaul in our economy and society.
Candidly, the last two years have been among the most challenging of my life. I found an organization whose politics animated me to a height I’d never experienced. I’ve worked with formidable organizers whose commitment to a world for all inspires me daily. I’ve also been deeply conflicted and sad about influences of patriarchy and white supremacy insinuating themselves in our treatment of one another and our behaviors, including my own, within the organization. Practically, I have eighteen years of administrative experience that keep me on task and organized enough to contribute to the structural development required of an organization growing at DSA’s pace. However, I think it’s the navigation of the emotional and social polarity that commits me to the organization and its potential for real revolutionary effect. As internal divides have historically contributed to the diminishing of progressive movements, I’m eager to explore DSA’s capacity to adapt to, be strengthened by, and heal through our differences. I look forward to growing into a group of hundreds of thousands of skillful organizers who not only build and maintain authentic, community-based relationships, but also embrace the complexity of what those relationships need to survive, and ultimately, for all to thrive.
I joined DSA in Fall 2014, when I was in my final year at the City College of New York and co-founded a YDSA chapter there. In 2015, I graduated, moved to Central New Jersey, and co-founded a new chapter there, and also ran for and was elected to the DSA National Political Committee. While on the NPC, I worked primarily on building the DSA labor network, which hadn’t existed for years before that; serving on the Personnel Committee, helping to expand staff and advocating for higher pay and better benefits for DSA staff; and mentoring new and growing chapters, including North Jersey, Central Jersey, South Jersey, Jersey Shore, North Carolina Piedmont, New York City, Baltimore, and El Chuco del Norte (located in El Paso, TX). Since leaving the NPC, I’ve moved to Boston, and been a Mobilizer, a Mobilizer Coordinator, and a member of the Labor Working Group and Membership Committee of my chapter here.
The majority of my activism has been in the labor movement, starting ten years ago. I’ve worked with UNITE HERE to organize a union at several jobs I’ve had (in a hotel and at an airport), and I’ve been a rank and file member of SEIU Local 175 (cook and cashier), the New Jersey Education Association (teacher’s aide), and the Boston Teachers Union (teacher). At SEIU, I was a shop steward, and at the BTU, I’m the co-chair of the New Educators Committee. I’ve led new organizing drives, a brief wildcat strike, solidarity efforts with other unions, internal organizing efforts, and been involved with caucuses in two unions. I’ve never been a staff person for a union. Beyond the labor movement, I have also been involved with local election campaigns for over a decade, campus organizing against austerity and racism, and served as an international election observer during the 2018 Mexican national elections.
I was part of our leadership during our most dramatic period of growth and change, and my hope is to be part of our leadership again during a time that I hope will be our new biggest period of growth and change, with the goal of growing to an organization in the hundreds of thousands in the next two years; becoming an organization with exponentially more leaders of color; becoming a genuinely multilingual organization; becoming an organization with a much greater presence in suburban and rural areas and in the labor movement; and with a much larger staff that is better supported and compensated than now. I believe that I have one of the perspectives and sets of skills and experiences that can be really helpful to the organization in seeking to achieve those goals. To read more about my positions and see the groups and individuals who have endorsed my campaign, please see tinyurl.com/Russ4NPC.
I have been in DSA since late 2016. I am also the former Co-chair of NYC-DSA, former Steering Committee Representative for the South Brooklyn Branch of NYC-DSA, and a member of the National Electoral Committee. I played a more active role in the following campaigns/ projects: forming the South Brooklyn and Staten Island branches of NYC-DSA, No Amazon, Khader El-Yateem for City Council, Jabari Brisport for City Council, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress, Julia Salazar for State Senate, and Tiffany Caban for District Attorney. My greatest highlight is my one-year term as Co-chair of NYC-DSA, during which time I helped to guide the organization through several huge accomplishments: the victories of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Julia Salazar, adding a new branch (Staten Island) to NYC-DSA, a huge bump in membership and engagement, kicking ICE out of New York Courts and Amazon out of Queens.
I am currently the Director of Political Engagement at the New York Immigration Coalition, which is a network of 200 organizations in New York State. The bulk of my work is political and grassroots organizing for legislative advocacy around immigration justice issues. In 2019, I successfully fought for the passage of law to provide driver’s licenses for undocumented people. Prior to this, I was a strategic researcher for the United Automobile Workers (UAW), working on the Columbia and Harvard grad worker organizing campaigns. Our fight to have the union recognized by the administration was eventually successful. Before that, I was a strategist at MPower Change, a national Muslim advocacy organization. In addition, I have worked on a few electoral campaigns in various capacities as either a staff member or volunteer. One such campaign was the Khader El-Yateem for City Council, where I served as the Field Director. This effort was one of the first DSA endorsed races post-2016 election, and helped NYC-DSA develop its electoral program. I am an active leader in the Arab and Muslim community of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I am in involved in various organizations, including the Arab-American Association of New York and Yalla Brooklyn.
As the co-chair of NYC-DSA, and as a Desi Muslim, I have had first-hand experience with both the substantial power and the current limitations held by DSA locals. Right now, one of DSA’s biggest strengths is the effective local campaigns happening across the country. The organization should focus on developing these campaigns into national efforts from the bottom up and work with the locals to determine how the lessons from these campaigns can build together into something bigger. The national organization should evaluate existing national campaigns to ensure that they have a viable comprehensive campaign strategy in place, and determine how locals can be supported in executing them at the local level. The national should work to provide resources and guidance to locals engaged in their own campaigns, through a skill-share model. The NPC should work to ensure that national, state, and local level campaigns are always undertaken with a deep consideration for how the work will bring our members closer with working class and POC communities. By consistently showing up and engaging in shared struggle, we can build the trust and relationships necessary to bring DSA into broader alignment with other allies with whom we will build a mass socialist movement.
I joined DSA on November 9, 2016. I co-founded the Honolulu chapter of DSA in early 2017. I helped grow the organization from 3 founding members to regular monthly meetings of 50+ people, and nurtured a new core of elected leadership and organizers. I developed our electoral endorsement process for the 2018 elections, and helped set up the most robust canvassing and phonebanking operations of any non-union organization in the 2018 elections in Hawaii, and mobilized people for actions up to 100 people. Personal highlights for me in working with the Honolulu chapter include helping a member and teacher’s union leader win her race for State House, and building relationships between socialist members of union locals through our Labor Working Group. Our membership is diverse, in terms of race from Chinese to Hawaiian to Japanese to Samoan, and also in terms of ideologies ranging from communist to mildly social democratic to prioritizing indigenous sovereignty, and it’s been a great opportunity to organize a membership so diverse in viewpoints and backgrounds around common objectives.
I am a co-founder of Academic Labor United, a graduate union organizing committee at the University of Hawaii, and the current vice chair of its executive committee. I developed our committee’s organizing, political, communications, and media strategy. I developed a card check strategy that resulted in 400+ union authorization cards signed in less than a month this spring. I’ve also worked as a salt on a successful union recognition campaign and contract negotiations at a 230 room, 65 worker hotel. I’ve worked many jobs in my life, but the most defining ones for me have been in wildfire management, food and beverage, and higher education.
We have less than 12 years to make huge, revolutionary changes to our socio-economic system if we are to have a remote chance at staving off the worst effects of climate change. This is an incredibly short and critical timeline – win or lose. We have no choice but to take on this fight if we want a world where our grandchildren know whales and native forests and reefs and fish and clean water and bountiful food. The only way we can make these huge changes in such a short time is if we take on the system that has led us to this result – capitalism. It will require a massive struggle that will result in the expropriation of trillions of dollars of assets belonging to the oil and gas corporations. I want DSA to be a key part of a mass class struggle that will win a Green New Deal and end climate catastrophe. I am running for NPC to continue to grow the membership; develop leaders; and create a strong, responsive, and effective national organization that facilitates and amplifies the work of members, local chapters, and campaigns, and is worthy of the incredibly precipitous moment at hand.