The Reflective Democracy Innovators – our grantees – are tackling the structural barriers that stand in the way of leaders who truly reflect the people they serve. They are breaking new ground, developing innovative strategies, and pointing the way toward a future in which our leaders reflect our society’s full range of talent and experience.

Leadership Innovators

  • Jessica Byrd’s Pathway Project is creating alternative gatekeeper networks that promote the political leadership of people of color.
  • Chrissie Castro’s Advance Native Political Leadership is creating a Native American candidate development program.

Field Innovators

  • Texas Organizing Project Education Fund is promoting diverse candidates for appointed seats on boards and commissions, a crucial site of power and potential pathway to holding elected office.
  • Michigan United’s candidate pipeline program moves community leaders – predominantly women, people of color, and low income people – from local activism to elected office.
  • Oakland Rising is working to identify, recruit, and support diverse community leaders as potential candidates.

Research Innovators

  • Who Runs and Who Wins?, led by political scientists Paru Shah and Eric Gonzalez Juenke, explored how partisan support, political contributions, electoral structures, and campaigns impact the success of reflective candidates.
  • FairVote’s Elections Rules & Reflective Local Democracy project analyzed the demographics of elected officeholders against factors such as nonpartisan ballots, at-large elections, timing of elections, and voter eligibility rules to understand which electoral systems correlate to officeholders who are more reflective of their communities.
  • Projects by Colleen Loper & Ross Peavey and Teresa Purcell & Elisabeth Sullivan explored approaches to leveling the economic playing field for pursuing elected office.


Capacity Building & Technical Assistance

Public Leadership Institute (PLI) provides technical support and strategic guidance, facilitate collaboration, and works with the Campaign to develop findings for dissemination to advocates and activists in the field.