Michael Lighty

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Michael Lighty

Michael (Mike) Lighty, a transplanted Californian, became the national organizational director of the Democratic Socialists of America July 1, 1990.

Lighty, who joined the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in 1980 and DSA when DSOC and the New American Movement merged in 1983,began doing campus organizing with the Youth Section chapter at Stanford University. During college, he served on the Youth Section's executive committee and did labor support work as well as antidraft, anti-intervention, and antiracism organizing.

Lighty served as business agent for the National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians ,Local 15/San Francisco, Local531 in Hollywood, and Local 15/NewYork.

Lighty was an organizer of the successful Harry Britt campaign for San Francisco Supervisor. Since coming to New York in 1988, Mike became chair of the New York DSA Labor Task Force.[1]

DSA Conference delegate

In 1983 Michael Lighty was a San Francisco, California delegate to the Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York City, October 14-16, 1983[2]

Socialist Scholars Conference

Michael Lighty, Democratic Socialists of America and Shari Ellis were speakers on the Reports from the Front: The State of the Struggle for National Health Care panel sponsored by Democratic Socialists of America at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.

Lighty also spoke alongside Wayne Sing-Wai, CUNY; Stanley Aronowitz, CUNY, Charlene Mitchell, Committees of Correspondence, Aldyn McKean, ACT UP and Lynne Chancer were speakers on the What road for the Left? panel.[3]

Democratic Left

In 1991, Lighty was managing editor of Democratic Left, the journal of Democratic Socialists of America.[4]

DSA Racial Diversity Task Force

In 1992 Michael Lighty was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Racial Diversity Task Force - charged with finding ways of recruiting (and retaining) more "people of color" into the organization[5].

Socialist International

The Democratic Socialists of America delegation to the 1992 Socialist International conference in Berlin, included Bogdan Denitch, (chair), Christine Riddiough, (VP Socialist International Women), Motl Zelmanowicz, Jose LaLuz, Michael Lighty, Jo-Ann Mort and Penny Schantz.[6]

California DSA “Key” list

In 1993 Michael Lighty of New York, New York, was on a list of “Key’ California Democratic Socialists of America contacts.[7]

DSA Organizing Institute

Over fifty people attended the 1993 DSA Organizing Institute, which was held at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey during the weekend of June 25-27. The centerpiece of the weekend was an intensive series of training sessions, led by Steve Max, Deepak Pateriya, and Christine Riddiough, for DSA activists and organizers. These training sessions, which were based on the organizing methods developed by the Midwest Academy, helped build DSA local and national leaders' skills in developing political strategy, recruiting activists into DSA, and working in coalitions.

The Institute's training sessions were framed by two plenary discussions about DSA's mission. On Friday evening, DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich and DSA Vice Chairs Steve Max and Frances Fox Piven discussed the contemporary political climate and the most effective roles for a democratic socialist organization. On Sunday morning, National Political Committee member Jack Clark, DSA Youth Organizer Ginny Coughlin, and DSA National Director Michael Lighty spoke more concretely about how DSA can work to become a highly visible organization projecting a compelling political vision.[8]


In 1994 Lighty was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee[9].

Michael Lighty, San Francisco DSA, elected to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee[10], at the November 1997 DSA National Convention in Columbus Ohio.

In 2007 Michael Lighty, a former National Director of DSA,[11] was Director of Public Policy for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.


In 2009 Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy, California Nurses Association served on the board of directors of Healthcare-Now! .[12]

"Single - payer" movement

According to Michael Lighty, a former National Director of Democratic Socialists of America, and Director of Public Policy for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, writing in DSA's Democratic Left, Winter 2007/2008 .[13]

There’s a growing movement for single-payer universal healthcare. The movement is led by activists in Healthcare-Now!, doctors in the Physicians for a National Health Program, nurses in the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, leaders in labor unions such as United Steelworkers of America and Communication Workers of America, activists in the Progressive Democrats of America, and Congressman John Conyers, with the support for HR 676 by 300 union locals, 75 Central Labor Councils, and 25 state Federations of Labor, and hundreds of clergy and faith-based organizations, as well as civil rights, women’s and healthcare advocacy groups in the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare.
The policy proposals developed by Beltway think tanks and the principles for reform adopted by the AFL-CIO confer support for single-payer while allowing for private insurance-based approaches as well. Other bills in Congress, notably sponsored by Ted Kennedy and John Dingell and “Americare” introduced by Pete Stark, seek to incrementally establish a single-payer system.

California Single Payer conference

July 17, 2010, at the UCLA Faculty Center, Physicians for a National Health Program held The Summer Conference, "our first annual conference for the California single payer community". The conference was a collaborative effort of many organizations from the State Strategy Group and included presentations from state and national leaders in the single payer movement: Walter Tsou, Don McCanne, Margaret Flowers, Mark Leno, Sheila Kuehl, Michael Lighty, Paul Song, Andrew McGuire, Paul Hochfeld and more.[14]

Progressive Democrats of America

In 2012, Michael Lighty served on the Advisory Board of Progressive Democrats of America.[15]

PDA Family

Bill Honigman February 13, 2014:


PDA Family  :-) — with Terence Dicks, Michael Lighty, Allan Nowakowski, Janis Kay, Eric Griego, Mark Dudzic, Paul Stokes, Russell Freedman, Mimi Kennedy, Walter Kloefkorn, Barbara Njos, Randall Holmes, Phil Lopes, Virginia Hauflaire, Judy Hess, Stephen Spitz, Mary Ellen Marino, Ruth Carter, Jim Hannley, Tim Carpenter, Conor Boylan, Michael Fox, Russell Greene and Jeanne Marie Dauray.

PDA in California

In Dec. 2012 in Northern California, at the Oakland office of the National Nurses United, Progressive Democrats of America gathered 25 activist organizers who either currently lead PDA chapters or are eager to form a chapter or bring their work into an existing one. PDA leadership from around the state joined PDA Advisory Board Chair Mimi Kennedy and national staffers to welcome special guests: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, her fellow PDA Board Members Dr. Quentin Young and Michael Lighty, as well as Cindy Young, the State Coordinator of the Campaign for a Healthy California, the grassroots coalition group advocating for a Single Payer Healthcare system for all of California. [16]

The Peoples' Inauguration

Progressive Central The Peoples' Inauguration was held Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law 5th Floor Moot Court Room, 4340 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

The event was sponsored by Progressive Democrats of America, The Nation, National Nurses United, Democrats.com and Busboys and Poets. The event was advertised and promoted by the Institute for Policy Studies.

The 2:15 pm-­‐3:25 pm session, "Organizing for Main Street not Wall Street", was moderated by John Nichols.

It featured Rep Alan Grayson -­‐ Michael Lighty, PDA National Board/National Nurses United -­‐ Becky Bond, President CREDO SuperPAC .[17]

Prosperity Not Austerity reception

April 17, 2013 Progressive Democrats of America hosted a Prosperity Not Austerity reception at Busboys and Poets, in Washington DC, featuring PDA National Board member Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Mark Takano, PDA National Board member Michael Lighty from National Nurses United and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.[18]

Gathering of socialists


Michael Lighty, Jim Hightower, Thom Hartmann, Tim Carpenter, Mimi Kennedy, John Nichols, 2014.

The People's Summit

At The People's Summit, Chicago 17-19 2016, a Saturday session was held "Understanding our movement moment";

Moderator Michael Lighty - National Nurses United.


Socialist Caucus at the DNC

Michael Lighty from NNU, Bob Master from CWA and WFP, Ashley Rodriguez from El Paso DSA and Rahel Biru from NYC DSA

Socialist Caucus at the DNC Wed, Jul 27, 2016 - William Way LGBTQ Center Philadelphia, PA.

The Democratic Socialists of America invites all DNC delegates, members and friends to the Socialist Caucus, featuring:

Cornel West resigned from the Platform Committee and didn't attend the Convention in protest against the Sanders’ campaign not filing minority reports, particularly on TPP and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

We will miss Brother West at the Socialist Caucus, but the other speakers are fantastic (and stay tuned to this page for additional speakers)! Bring your friends and fellow delegates![19]

“Revolution at the Crossroads"

From February 17-19 2017, members of Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) gathered for “Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump.” The first YDS conference since the post-Bernie/Trump boom, the gathering "acted as a rally point for all our new members as well as the staging ground for building and confronting the new far-right administration".

More than 250 people attended, almost three times as many as last year. Many of the attendees had just joined DSA in the past couple of months, and many were first politicized by the Bernie campaign. But "as less than a month had passed since the Inauguration, all attendees were concentrated on President Trump's new far-right administration".

Longtime DSA veteran Michael Lighty spoke first. The first openly LGBT person to lead a U.S. socialist organization, when he was national director of DSA in the early 90s, Lighty is now the director of public policy for National Nurses United. The Nurses were a key ally of the Bernie campaign, headlining The People's Summit which DSA co-sponsored last year. He spoke passionately of the need to make socialism more readily accessible to the masses already energized by the Bernie campaign. Joining him were veteran anarcho-syndicalist and co-founder of People for Bernie Winnie Wong, who spoke equally passionately on the need to work both within the Democratic Party to ease the path for more left-leaning candidates, and outside the party. Rounding out the panel was Khalid Kamau, member of Black Lives Matter and candidate for city council in the City of South Fulton, Georgia. He highlighted the right wing's long-term strategy, especially their use of local races as a path for base building and candidate training. He argued that the left also needs to employ this strategy.[20]

Healthcare Now! convention

Progressive Democrats of America staffers Dr. Bill Honigman and Dan O'Neal along with fellow PDA members and scores Single-Payer activists from around the country met September 17, in Las Vegas for the annual Healthcare Now! convention.

On Saturday attendees heard stirring speeches from PDA National Advisory Board members, National Nurses United leader Michael Lighty, nationally-renowned healthcare activist Dr. Paul Song.

Nevada Congresswoman and HR-676 co-signer Dina Titus, Healthcare Now leader Ben Day, NNU Vice President Jean Ross and PDA California Co-State Coordinator Dr. Bill Honigman also spoke during the conference, and PDA Arizona State Coordinator Dan O'Neal moderated a discussion.

One of the most stirring talks was Las Vegas activists Amy Vilela who told the heart wrenching story of losing her daughter due to not having healthcare Insurance. Amy is now running for Congress on a strong progressive platform in NV CD- 3.[21]

2018 Single-Payer Strategy Conference

Healthcare-Now! Agenda: 2018 Single-Payer Strategy Conference Friday, June 22 – Sunday, June 24 Minneapolis, Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown.

Agenda for Saturday, June 23

  • Our Political Moment & the Pathway to Victory, Michael Lighty.

Sanders Institute Fellows

The Sanders Institute Fellowship is comprised of leaders dedicated to transforming our democracy through the research, education, outreach and advancement of bold, progressive ideas and values.

Dr. Jane O'Meara Sanders, Prof. Robert Reich, The Honorable Nina Turner, Harry Belafonte, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Dr. Cornel West, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, Benjamin Jealous Dr. Stephanie Kelton, Michael Lighty, Shaun King.[22]


  1. DEMOCRATIC LEFT 3 JULY- AUGUST 1990, page 13
  2. DSA Conference delegate list Oct. 12 1983 update
  3. SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
  4. Democratic Left, Jan/Feb 1991, page 3
  5. Memorandum, Steve tarzynski-May 26, 1992
  6. Democratic Left, November/December 1992, page 12
  7. CA DSA Key list January 24 1993
  8. Dem. Left July/August 1993, page 8
  9. email from C Riddiough to S Tarzynski Dec 9 1994
  10. http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng56.html#anchor1041945
  11. http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Winter_2008.pdf
  12. Healthcare-Now! Board
  13. Dem. Left, Winter 2007/8
  14. PALISADES DEMOCRATIC CLUBPhysicians for National Health Plan California Single Payer The Summer Conference
  15. PDA WEBSITE, 2012 Advisory Board Members, ACCESSED JAN. 15, 2012
  16. Back from California!
  17. PDA website, accessed Jan 15, 2013
  18. Help PDA Continue Our Momentum!
  19. Eventbrite WED, JUL 27 AT 1:30 PM, PHILADELPHIA, PA Socialist Caucus at the DNC By: Democratic Socialist of America
  20. [http://www.dsausa.org/yds_igniting_the_socialist_resistance_against_trump YDS YDS:Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump Posted by Democratic Socialists of America on 03.10.17]
  21. PDA Something Positive That Happened In Las VegasOct 5, 2017
  22. [1]