Demos is a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization founded in 2000. Headquartered in New York City, Demos works with advocates and policymakers around the country in pursuit of four overarching goals:
- a more equitable economy with widely shared prosperity and opportunity;
- a vibrant and inclusive democracy with high levels of voting and civic engagement;
- an empowered public sector that works for the common good;
- and responsible U.S. engagement in an interdependent world.
A multi-issue national organization, Demos combines research, policy development, and advocacy to influence public debates and catalyze change. We publish books, reports, and briefing papers that illuminate critical problems and advance innovative solutions; work at both the national and state level with advocates and policymakers to promote reforms; help to build the capacity and skills of key progressive constituencies; project our values into the media by promoting Demos Fellows and staff in print, broadcast, and Internet venues; and host public events that showcase new ideas and leading progressive voices.
- He was troubled by the narrow conversation about America's future. On the eve of the 21st century, it seemed that America no longer had the imagination to tackle its largest problems and build a more just society.
- Halpern set out to challenge the status quo with a new institution. He envisioned a dynamic hub for creative scholars and cutting-edge practitioners--an organization that combined ideas and action to chart a new set of priorities for America.
Founders, Barack Obama connection
Demos was founded in 1999 by "social entrepeneur" Charles Halpern who recruited such heavyweights as David Callahan, Rob Fersh, Stephen Heintz, Sara Horowitz, Arnie Miller, David Skaggs, Linda Tarr-Whelan and a then obscure State Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama to help him.
- By 1999, Halpern had assembled a talented working group to develop Demos. Among them were David Callahan, a fellow at the Century Foundation; Rob Fersh, a long-time policy advocate; Stephen Heintz, Vice-President of the East-West Institute; Sara Horowitz, founder of Working Today; Arnie Miller, a leading executive recruiter; Barack Obama, then a state senator from Illinois; David Skaggs, a congressman from Colorado; and Linda Tarr-Whelan, an internationally recognized expert on women and economic development. This working group would eventually form the core of Demos' staff and Board of Trustees.
Relationship to Institute for Policy Studies
Demos has very strong relationship to the radical washington DC based "think tank" the Institute for Policy Studies.
Demos founder Charles Halpern became involved with the Institute for Policy Studies in the 1960s through the law firm he worked for Arnold & Porter. The firm handled IPS's legal work and partner Thurman Porter had been an IPS trustee before disagreeing with IPS over their militant anti-Vietnam War stance.
Halpern became corporate secretary to IPS, keeping minutes and records. he began to attend IPS seminars and parties at the Institute and at the home of founder Marcus Raskin, where he met radicals like Paul Goodman and Ivan Ilich.
When Raskin and several other activists were arrested for conspiring to obstruct the military draft, Halpern helped with the defense. Halpern flew with Raskin to a meeting with the other defendants and their lawyers at the Greenwich Village home of radical lawyer and secret Communist Party USA member Leonard Boudin.
On Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, Demos honored TARP Oversight Committee Chair Elizabeth Warren, PBS Host Tavis Smiley and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler at its 10th anniversary celebration in New York City.
Transforming America awards, 2012
- Sheila Bair, Senior Advisor at Pew Charitable Trusts and former Chairman of the FDIC
- Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers
- Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
- Susan Berresford
- Janet Dewart Bell
- Congressman Keith Ellison
- Juan Figueroa
- Hamilton Fish
- Laura Flanders
- Frances Fox Piven
- Mark Green & Deni Frand
- Congressman Raúl Grijalva
- Ken Grossinger & Micheline Klagsbrun
- Mary Kay Henry
- Bob Herbert
- Leo Hindery, Jr.
- Maria Teresa Kumar
- Julie Kushner
- Gara LaMarche
- Bertha Lewis
- Randi Weingarten
- Lawrence Mishel
- Bill Moyers & Judith Moyers
- Ana Oliveira
- Speaker Christine C. Quinn
- Cecile Richards
- Tavis Smiley
- Tracy Sturdivant
- Richard Trumka
- Luis Ubinas
Current Board of Trustees as at 2 Dec. 2009.
- Clarissa Martinez De Castro - Director of Immigration and National Campaigns, National Council of La Raza
- Rev. Janet McCune Edwards
- Miles Rapoport - President, Demos
Trustees on leave
- Charles Halpern - Founding Board Chair; Emeritus
- Ernest Tollerson - Director, Policy $ Media Relations Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Ernest Tollerson - Director, Policy and Media Relations, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Current Fellows as at 2 Dec. 2009.
- Lew Daly - Director and Senior Fellow
- David Callahan - International Program Director; also Demos Co-Founder & Senior Fellow
- Robert Kuttner - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Benjamin Barber - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- John Schwarz - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Teresa Ghilarducci - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Linda Tarr-Whelan - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Michael Edwards - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Robert Frank - Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Sasha Abramsky - Senior Fellow
- Rich Benjamin - Senior Fellow
- Shari Cohen - Senior Fellow
- Jonathan Cohn - Senior Fellow
- Allison Fine - Senior Fellow
- James Lardner - Senior Fellow
- Keesha Middlemass - Senior Fellow
- Lorraine Minnite - Senior Fellow
- Nomi Prins - Senior Fellow
- Beth Shulman - Senior Fellow
- Deborah Stone - Senior Fellow
- Tova Andrea Wang - Senior Democracy Fellow
- Jennifer Wheary - Senior Fellow
- Jared Duval - Fellow
- Nicole Kazee - Fellow
- Chris Rabb - Fellow
Building Movement Project staff as at 2 Dec. 2009.
- Frances Kunreuther - Project Director
- Caroline McAndrews - Director of Leadership & Communications
- Trish Tchume - Director of Civic Engagement
Business for Shared Prosperity staff as at 2 Dec. 2009.
- Holly Sklar - Director
- Chuck Collins - Director of the Tax Program Inequality.org
- Making Waves and Riding the Currents: Activism and the Practice of Wisdom ...By Charles Halpern pages 42-46
- Demos newsroom, May 10, 2010, Elizabeth Warren, TARP Oversight Chair, Among Honorees at Demos 10th Anniversary Celebration
- Demos 012 Transforming America Awardees page
- Demos 012 Transforming America Awardees page