Too often we try to pull on the wrong political levers, those requiring a huge effort, and having small and temporary impact. Progress Alliance is about finding the larger levers that are relatively easy to move and have lasting, significant impact.
Progress Alliance exists to win solutions that are at the scale of the problems we face. Our vision is a Washington State that is a healthy place to live with shared economic success and security, and a democracy that works for its people.
In order to achieve this we are building a permanent and powerful progressive movement supported by a network of committed donors who bring a fresh approach to politics.
Why invest in political systems change?
The most leveraged way to make change is at the systems level; we consider these systems to be the political infrastructure that keeps people engaged, informed and active. We believe that all of us - those who work on women’s issues, civil rights, economic justice, environmental protection - are only able to win when we work together and each piece of our foundation is strong.
- This means that all of our voters – including young people, people of color, women, and immigrants – are registered, informed about the issues, and voting.
- It means that activists and community leaders and donors are organized so their voices are loud and clear where elected leaders are making key decisions.
- It means that we can tell a simple, unified, emotionally compelling story about our vision for the future, how we get there, who is fighting for this vision, and who is standing in our way.
- It means that we are recruiting, and supporting candidates up and down the ticket who share our values, and then champion them once they are elected.
- And it means that we have powerful and attractive policy proposals, backed by research, at the ready for our elected leaders to turn into reality
Learn more about political infrastructure: This KUOW radio segment explains the political infrastructure in Washington state and highlights some of our investments and their impact.
In order to build a robust progressive movement, we researched and identified critical missing capacities that were holding us back, including sophisticated voter databases, online communications and action, engaging youth and immigrant constituencies, and more. Guided by an experienced staff and dedicated members, we are filling those gaps and creating the infrastructure necessary for long term success.
In our first decade we helped create more than ten new programs and organizations, raised over $7 million and quadrupled our membership. Together, our donor families give substantial grants to over a dozen projects and start-up organizations each year.
While we invest in Washington State, we are just as interested in national progress. As one of the first, and largest political donor alliances in the country, Progress Alliance is now a leader in a network of other state and national alliances.
Sarah Jaynes has been the Executive Director of Progress Alliance of Washington since 2006. In this capacity Sarah has helped found some of our region’s most important political engagement organizations including the Washington Bus, Fuse, and the Win/Win Network, and co-led development of the Heroes’ Narrative. Sarah has dedicated over 20 years to organizations and campaigns for shared prosperity, vigorous democracy, and a healthy environment. Prior to joining Progress Alliance, Sarah served as the campaign director for Climate Solutions, the director of Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone (SAGE), and the political director of the WA Conservation Voters. She was initially trained as an organizer with Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing. She spends her free time outdoors, biking, hiking, gardening, and chasing her growing boys.
As Deputy Director, Esther Handy leads Progress Alliance’s member engagement, development and democracy reform work. She brings eight years of experience as policy and political staff in local government, most recently serving progressive Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien. In that role, she led an innovative and winning legislative agenda that included: a municipal opt-out system for yellow pages, a targeted local hire policy for city public works, democracy reforms and Seattle’s first inclusionary housing policy. Esther developed her own political activism as an anti-racist community organizer and she is committed to centering communities of color and racial justice work in our progressive movement. She serves on the Board of Homestead Community Land Trust and the Win/Win Network, and in her free time, enjoys doing crafts, digging in her p-patch and exploring the outdoors.
Kirsten Harris-Talley brings to Progress Alliance over 10 years of experience in training, program development, organizational development and evaluation. She started her work in political activism organizing for the passing of the Healthy Youth Act, the state law that supports science-based sexual health education. She currently manages Progress Alliance’s granting process, internal programs like the Heroes Narrative project, and emerging work with communities of color, single women and young people. She is also a founding board member of Surge Northwest, a nonprofit which advances community engagement, education, and policy advocacy for racial and reproductive justice. When she has downtime she loves to read, cook with her family and rock the mic on karaoke.
Alicia Radford manages Progress Alliance’s operations, communications, and event logistics. She brings over six years of experience in nonprofit management, most recently as the founding Chief Operating Officer of US Quidditch, a nonprofit sports league that empowers future leaders and advances gender inclusivity in sports. Her work scaled the capacity of the organization to grow from hosting one event annually to nine, serving over 4,000 athletes, with a staff of five and a $400k budget. She also has a background in writing and graphic design—and enjoys wearing multiple hats to help advance PA’s mission. She holds a certificate in nonprofit management from UW and spends her free time reading, swing dancing, and hanging from a trapeze or aerial rope.
Brian is a founding board member of Progress Alliance and currently Director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program at Gates Foundation. He was a corporate vice president at Microsoft, leading an international portfolio of R&D projects. He received his BA in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Certificate in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.
Sharon also serves on the boards of Washington Conservation Voters and Toxic-Free Future. Her interest areas for activism include chemical policy reform, growing the electorate, and shared prosperity. She has a Computer Science Engineering degree from Princeton University and worked at Microsoft for 12 years. Today Sharon lives on Capitol Hill with her husband Peter and three school-aged kids. If it weren't for pushing to make the world a better place she would probably spend more time armed with a camera capturing the beauty of this world.
Originally an Alaskan commercial fisherman, Terry spent 22 years as the CEO of Silver Lining Seafoods, later NorQuest Seafoods. Terry is also a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, in which he served for 10 years. Since 2004 Terry has focused on public policy through various non-profits. His major effort has been national health reform, serving as National Policy Director for Small Business Majority.
Jean is a founder of Women Gaining Ground, and serves on the board of Pangea, and is a Social Venture Partners “Lead Partner” for Equal Opportunity Schools. Previously, Jean was a trial lawyer at Reed, McClure, Moceri & Thonn in Seattle, and also was a principal in Seattle Community Consultants. Jean and her husband, Peter Miller, have three daughters, who are in far flung places building interesting lives.
Ruth is a native Oregonian, a retired software engineer, the mother of a wonderful grown daughter, the wife of a fun and funny guy, a gardener, a foster mom to occasional kittens, a co-founding board member of the Progress Alliance, and a board member of Fuse. She is trying to find more time to read, exercise and travel.
Peter retired in 2014 from a software career that included systems engineering at IBM in the 80s, program management with Microsoft in the 90s, and co-founding web-based startups in 1999 and 2005. He brings database expertise and a business perspective to the Progress Alliance board. Peter earned an AB in Physics at Dartmouth (’83) and an MBA at Harvard (’89). He and his wife Winky have raised three kids in Seattle and are active supporters of the Seattle Repertory, where Winky is a board member.
Brady is the CEO of Grist.org, a leading national source of environmental media. Brady served two terms in the Washington State Legislature, and previously spent several years at the Gates Foundation. A Fulbright Scholar in Honduras and a graduate of Princeton, Brady lives on Capitol Hill with his husband, Micah, a marine biologist.
Since 2001, Ed Zuckerman has been Senior Vice-President at the League of Conservation Voters. He oversees the national network of state LCV affiliates. Most recently Ed’s programs have seen electoral success in Governors’ races in WA, VA and local legislative races in NV, NJ, and NM. Ed is a 1977 graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
We share our gratitude for the contributions of photography for this website, used with permission from our partners: OneAmerica, Win/Win Network, Progressive Majority Washington, Moxie Media, Mike Harring and Tara Gimmer.