From The President / September 23, 2021

The Democracy Alliance Names Pamela Shifman New President Amid Unprecedented Right-Wing Assault on Democracy

Shifman’s Appointment is a Recognition of an All-hands on Deck Moment that Requires Building the Most Expansive Progressive Electoral and Legislative Infrastructure in History

(Washington, DC) — The Democracy Alliance, a preeminent network of donors dedicated to building the grassroots progressive movement in the United States, announced today Pamela Shifman as its next president, succeeding Gara LaMarche, who led the Democracy Alliance for seven years. Shifman is a respected social justice and philanthropic leader, known widely for her national and global efforts supporting the leadership of Black, Indigenous and other women of color.  

Shifman’s appointment as president of the Democracy Alliance is a recognition that this is an all-hands on deck moment for democracy. A right-wing backlash has intensified following the national reckoning on racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the exposure of long-standing racial and gender inequities due to the COVID pandemic. The moment requires building and supporting an expansive progressive infrastructure to sustain the significant gains we have made around racial and social justice long into the future and to combat the forces that are currently threatening to undermine our democracy.

“Pamela comes to the Democracy Alliance as one of the premier leaders in the gender and racial equity movement, having directed hundreds of millions of dollars to locally driven leadership and movements, as well as building coalitions that expand the field and transform the way philanthropy is done,” said John Stocks, Board Chairperson of the Democracy Alliance. “As we head into the 2022 election cycle, it is critical that the Democracy Alliance further develop and fund these organizations to expand the movement and secure progressive electoral victories that will hold the line against a sustained right-wing attack on our democracy.”

“As a country, we face a moment of profound peril and possibility all at once. Just as we’ve witnessed the greatest threats to democracy in our lifetimes, we’ve also seen the boldest push for a democracy that finally lives up to its highest ideals and promise. Justice and freedom on one side, darkness and division on the other,” said Pamela Shifman, the Democracy Alliance’s incoming president. “I believe passionately that with renewed purpose, collective focus and broad momentum we can rise to meet this moment—indeed this is exactly the moment that strong, bold, and expansive progressive infrastructure was made for.  The work of the Democracy Alliance could not be more critical to building a strong and durable progressive ecosystem that leads to electoral victories, transformational policies and  progress for our nation. I couldn’t be more excited and ready to lead this organization and work with its partners across the country to protect and expand our democracy so that it works for everyone.”

“As we head into a critical 2022 election cycle and continue the work to grow the progressive movement, Pamela Shifman is the right, values-driven leader to expand the work of the Democracy Alliance,” said Gara LaMarche, who stepped down as Democracy Alliance President this summer. “I’ve known and admired Pamela for years and have seen her leadership firsthand – she’s a proven manager with a deep commitment to equity, a broad and diverse network of movement leaders, the experience and tenacity to hit the ground running, and a long track record of successfully driving hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to progressive causes.”

“The task before us is great. We are fighting an organized and sustained effort across the country to dismantle democracy. Pamela Shifman will be an unflinching leader for a critical piece of the pro-democracy movement,” said Heather McGhee, Chair of the Board of Directors, Color of Change. “From directing hundreds of millions of dollars to support women and girls of color across the globe, to seeding the fight against authoritarianism during the Trump Administration, Pamela Shifman has proven that she is a strong ally in the fight for racial justice, and I’m excited to partner with her as she leads the Democracy Alliance.”

“Pamela Shifman has been a long time advocate of workers’ rights and fair wages,” said Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO. “Pamela is a proven leader on labor and economic issues and has funneled vital resources to organizations that support workers. She is the right person to lead the DA as we shape the future direction of our country, and I’m proud to call her a friend and ally in the fight for economic justice.”

“Pamela is a coalition builder who has a strong record of prioritizing the needs of Black women and fighting the systemic inequities ingrained in our system,” said Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab. “I’ve worked with Pamela for years — she understands why investments in women, Black people and people of color are so vital to our democracy, and I could not be more excited for her leadership of the Democracy Alliance. When we lift up Black women — we lift up our country.”

“For more than two decades, Pamela Shifman has proven herself a force for social justice. From finding new solutions for a fair economy to increasing the civic power and leadership of women, Pamela has had her finger on the pulse of both what’s most important and what’s next,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance. “I could not be happier that Pamela has been chosen to lead the Democracy Alliance as we build a movement for democracy that uplifts communities that have been left out of the political process for far too long.”

“Pamela has driven hundreds of millions of dollars to communities of color,” said Rajasvini Bhansali, Executive Director, Solidaire Network. “Pamela understands that when we center the leadership of those at the intersections we build a better democracy for us all.”

About Pamela Shifman

Pamela Shifman is a social justice leader, lawyer, educator and strategic advisor with a career spanning philanthropy, advocacy organizations, the United Nations and government. Until the end of 2019, Pamela led the Novo Foundation, one of the country’s largest private foundations committed to racial and gender justice. As Executive Director, Shifman oversaw a grantmaking budget of up to $200 million annually, grew the foundation’s infrastructure and cultivated an organizational culture based in anti-racist and feminist principles, elevating the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. Pamela is a coalition builder and a network weaver. While at NoVo she launched multiple donor collaboratives, including the Collective Futures Fund, Grantmakers for Girls of Color and the Just Beginnings Collaborative, leveraging millions of new dollars for girls and women of color and an end to child sexual abuse. She brings to the Democracy Alliance not only her demonstrated ability to meet the urgency of the current moment, but the knowledge and experience necessary to build the long-term funding and expansive infrastructure for a stronger, fairer and more inclusive multiracial democracy that builds political power through organizing and electoral success. Shifman has a BA and JD from the University of Michigan. Pamela Shifman’s full biography can be found HERE. 

About the Democracy Alliance

The Democracy Alliance, founded in 2005, is a preeminent network of donors dedicated to building the progressive movement in the United States. We play a leading role in fostering the infrastructure necessary to advance a progressive agenda for America. We invest in every aspect of progressive power-building—from policy making to organizing grassroots communities to winning state and national issue and electoral campaigns. We address the most pressing challenges of our day through investments grounded in a shared set of values, namely that we work to build and support a fair democracy, an inclusive economy, a safe and sustainable planet, and an equitable and just nation.

For over 15 years, the Democracy Alliance has helped to raise significant resources to promote progressive ideas, impact media coverage, develop new leadership, create sophisticated civic engagement strategies, and engage young people and communities of color. In our collaborative giving strategy, an informed and engaged body of donors comes together to aggregate resources for focused investment, for which we have marshaled over $100 million per year.

Building on our record of success in helping progressive organizations grow and connect, our current investment strategy sustains support to critical national infrastructure and deepens our reach into the states. At a time when nearly every democratic institution of our country and collective values as a nation are under attack, the need for a more powerful and cohesive progressive community has never been greater. When these efforts to strengthen and sustain state-level grassroots organizing and elevate the leadership and capacity of communities in the New American Majority—particularly people of color, LGBTQ individuals, women, and young people, are well-resourced and coordinated, year-in and year-out, progressives win.