Ohio Organizing Collaborative

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Ohio Organizing Collaborative is closely affiliated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and is a partner of National People's Action.


Ohio Organizing Collaborative is a 501c3 non-profit statewide organization focused on uniting community organizers and organizing groups across Ohio with similar interests. The OOC was formed in 2007 by Kirk Noden with a mission of organizing citizens to build power and combat social, racial and economic injustices in communities across Ohio. The goal for the OOC is to organize Ohioans and the Midwest citizens into a progressive movement. The OOC is composed of 18 community-based organizations with members in every major city across Ohio. These organizations include labor unions, faith organizations, community organizing groups among others. Currently the OOC participates in eight campaigns across the state through direct advocacy, voter engagement, fundraising, and community growth. Funding for the OOC is provided in many different ways including third party investors, grants, and fundraising.

The OOC is headquartered in Youngstown Ohio with regional offices across the state including Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Warren, Ohio. The OOC works as a tool to unite organizations and people across the state to build people "Power" across the state and take control of issues affecting the community including mass incarceration, community engagement levels, and actual equality within the social, economic, and political sectors in Ohio.[1]


Retail workers organizing for higher pay and union recognition. Rural communities resisting environmental consequences of the fracking boom. Racial justice protests over the non-indictment of a police officer who killed an unarmed black man or woman. Each is fast becoming a fixture in our country’s growing progressive political subculture.

In Ohio, one activist organization, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, or OOC, has its hands in all three.

OOC organizer Mercedez Guy is helping Walmart workers join the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OURWalmart, to bargain for higher pay, improved working conditions and union recognition in six stores in the vicinity of Dayton.

Lead organizer Caitlin Johnson and Communities United for Responsible Energy, or CURE, are organizing community responses to environmental and infrastructure problems created by the fracking boom in Northeast Ohio.

And the Ohio Student Association, or OSA, which has been organizing and educating around higher education accessibility and the school-to-prison pipeline throughout the state for a couple of years now, have helped facilitate community calls for police accountability for the killing of the unarmed 22-year-old John Crawford in Beavercreek and 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson in Cleveland, both also unarmed.

The origins of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative date back to a 2007 convening of labor and faith activists and community organizers, according to Kirk Noden, the OOC’s executive director. A group of around a dozen people — from organizations including the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, ACORN, the Ohio Baptist State Convention and the Amos Project — took stock of the kind of power they had built and victories they had won over previous decades. Being painfully honest with themselves, they could not avoid the conclusion that they were losing on all of the issues they care about — worker rights and opportunity, structural racism, the elimination of poverty, and the list went on.

“If that was the case,” Noden said, “perhaps just doing the same thing we’ve always done before, or even doing it better, is not going to lead to shifting the course of history. We weren’t losing due to a lack of passion or energy or commitment. We started to imagine what it would look like if we started to relate to each other in a different way.”

The OOC seeks to create an environment where people working on different progressive causes can relate to each other on transformational rather than transactional terms.

“Within progressive movements, we’re great at treating each other transactionally on an election or a campaign,” Noden said. “We will come together to work on that, but then it’s over and the alignment ends.”

The transformational element entails both connecting different, otherwise insular, strands of progressive organizing in sustained strategic partnerships as well as seeding new organizations, especially for issues that are underdeveloped in Ohio. CURE was founded in 2013 for the latter reason, and the OSA began receiving financial assistance in 2011 to facilitate the development of a statewide student network. The goal is the creation of what Noden calls a progressive “ecosystem” that can expand itself and begin to stand up to, and hopefully begin to turn back, similar conservative infrastructure that began to be developed on the state and national levels in the 1970s.

Essential to the OOC’s ambitions is its creation of a central fundraising mechanism — a C3 and C4 non-profit. According to Noden, over half of the OOC’s funds are raised through grants from both Ohio-based and national foundations, like the George Gund Foundation and the Ford Foundation, respectively. About a quarter comes from labor groups, and around 15 percent from individual donors and membership dues. The centralized fundraising mechanism is used to develop decentralized organizing outfits intent on building large, engaged bases.

Through groups doing community organizing and education around common sense issues with populist appeal — everything from income inequality, mass incarceration and structural racism, to climate change and environmental degradation — the OOC hopes to escape the political margins within which progressivism has been confined in recent decades.

“You can either have scale or control — you can’t have both,” Noden said. “We want to create scale, a rich ecosystem of organizations.”

The OOC now has 19 member organizations. In addition to CURE, the OSA, the Amos Project, and the Ohio State Baptists Convention, members include a host of city and county community organizing outfits throughout the state; policy groups like Policy Matters Ohio, the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University; labor organizations, including UFCW Local 75, SEIU Local 1, Communication Workers of America Local 4, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Ohio Iron Workers District Councils; a faith group, Our Prophetic Voices; and a worker-owned agricultural cooperative network, the Cincinnati-based Our Harvest Cooperative. The OOC also works under the banner of Stand Up for Ohio in conjunction with the national organization Center for Community Change.

The organization pursues four basic streams of work: traditional community organizing, movement building. large-scale electoral work, and coordination of the three organizing streams with progressive policy analysis.

The OOC’s electoral organizing seeks both to educate citizens on important ballot initiatives and to build an electoral base that can elect candidates championing OOC-backed causes.

“We want to build independent power in the state outside the Democratic Party that can really be a left pole in politics,” Noden said.

The Stand Up for Ohio campaign in 2013 against House Bill 203, which would have expanded Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law to Ohio, is a good example of the integration of electoral work and activism that the OOC promotes. The OSA had been educating the public about “Stand Your Ground” throughout the George Zimmerman trial. When Ohio Rep. Terry Johnson, at the behest of state-centric conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, introduced HB 203 in the immediate aftermath of the Zimmerman acquittal, an opposition electoral base had already begun to be developed. The OSA’s efforts, which culminated in a die-in outside the state capital, helped the campaign force the removal of the “Stand Your Ground” provision from the bill.

The OOC’s policy work serves to support existing campaigns and to help to expand knowledge about social problems. For example, Policy Matters Ohio will frequently publish fracking impact assessments for various Ohio counties, while the Kirwan Institute published a review of implicit racial bias and a policy proposal for equitable neighborhood development on Columbus’ Southside last year.

Both the CURE and OURWalmart organizing are examples of traditional community organizing, which often seeks to win local fights on issues like the fair treatment of workers or affordable housing, while the OSA’s organizing around the Black Lives Matter protests is an example of the movement building made possible in moments of broad public engagement.

CURE works with grassroots partners in communities affected by environmental degradation, most of which is related to the fracking boom in the Utica and Marcellus Shale in east and northeast Ohio. Some communities seek to redress environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, or hazardous waste. East Liverpool, a city where CURE is active, is home to one of the world’s largest hazardous waste incinerators.

Other communities seek to deal with stress caused by the fracking boom, like increased traffic and accidents involving hazardous materials due the transportation of shale, or the rises in local housing prices caused by the influx of energy industry workers, which has created shortages of affordable housing. Most of the energy workers are hired from out of state, and many, according to Johnson, are undocumented immigrants from Mexico or Central America.

Accordingly, CURE’s campaigning has focused on both limiting environmental degradation and directing financial resources to affected communities so they can adapt to changed circumstances. CURE helped to defeat HB 490, which would have allowed energy companies to bypass local first responders when disclosing chemical information. It is pushing for an increase in the tax on production paid by energy companies, so that revenue can be redirected to affected communities. CURE is also opposing legislation that would allow First Energy to increase its electricity rates, which the company seeks in order to cover high production costs at its coal plants associated with the failure to invest in new clean technology.

In addition to expanding the OOC’s statewide presence into environmental issues, CURE is organizing in communities that are not traditionally progressive. The idea of being an activist is not widely embraced in many of these communities, according to Johnson. Many people in the communities are conservative — some are involved with or oriented towards the Tea Party. And in many communities “War on Coal” signs can be seen in public, an allusion to the historical economic and cultural significance of coal mines in their communities.

“We are trying to reach a nonconventional base,” Johnson said. “This part of the state is where the populist movement [during the late 19th century] came from — some of the first coal mine organizing in the state. It’s suffering from the kind of economic problems that all of Ohio suffers [from]. It kind of lost its way as everyone fights for survival in the short term. In the long term, we need to engage these folks. The progressive movement ignores these people and it’s to their own peril.”

Similarly, Guy is organizing Walmart workers near Dayton, a group of workers that is largely not politicized despite low pay and poor working conditions. Guy encourages the workers to join OURWalmart and helps the workers collectively address problems in their stores. They often collect signatures to address issues like a change in the dress code that the workers are expected to pay for out of pocket, a request for a holiday bonus, or reinstatement for a wrongful termination. Support from the group when announcing grievances to management is important for the workers, according to Guy, because Walmart’s “open door policy” typically results in intimidation behind closed doors.

Sometimes the workers strike in support of the grievance for which they seek redress. They also usually participate in the national OURWalmart strikes, which, according to Guy, typically occur in June and around Black Friday. OOC partners usually join in the picketing, where workers disseminate handbills with information to customers.

Yet many workers remain unwilling to join, either due to fear of management retribution or gratitude toward Walmart for employing them. Guy estimates around 30 workers are members of OURWalmart spread throughout the six stores on which she focuses. She spends significant time educating workers about the economics of their situation. Many are unaware that Walmart made $17 billion in profits in 2013, that CEO Mike Duke was paid $23.2 million in 2012, 1,034 times more than the company’s average worker, or that Walmart cost tax payers $6.2 billion in 2013 due to the federal assistance needed to subsidize its workers’ poverty incomes.

The pay raise Walmart recently announced will empower the workers already involved and ease the skepticism of many on the fence. It also helps that a local worker, Kelly Sallee, was featured in the New York Times coverage of the announced raise. Managers will also use the raise to show the workers they are responsive to their demands, Guy argued, which will support their contention that a union is not necessary and that OURWalmart is just trying to steal the workers’ money.

The work the OSA has done around the Black Lives Matter protests is an example of the type of movement organizing the OOC seeks to support. Movement organizing entails capitalizing on catalyzing moments in which the broader public is aware of and ready to act upon an issue. Capitalizing on these moments requires a flexible organization capable of quickly training and educating people and organizing actions in which they can participate.

“We’ve been organizing around criminalization of young people of color for a while,” explained Malaya Davis, the OSA’s Northeast Ohio organizer. “For the past two and a half years we’ve been focusing on that along with college affordability. When we found out about John Crawford weeks after Eric Garner, we knew we had to do something.”

The OSA organized a community response to the killing of John Crawford, an unarmed 22-year old black man, in Beavercreek on August 5. Crawford was killed in a Walmart where many OSA members frequently shop, since the organization has an active chapter at nearby Wright State University. In September they marched from the Walmart to the Beavercreek police station, where they camped out for three days before the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agreed to their demand of releasing the tape of the killing. Walmart’s internal security cameras had captured the video.

“The Attorney General did not want a Ferguson here,” said Stuart Desmond McIntyre, the OSA’s executive director. The group is currently waiting on a federal investigation into the killing to release its findings.

These movement moments provide the opportunity to engage the broader public, which might not otherwise be aware of or receptive to activism, and to significantly build an organization’s base.

“That’s when the relationships with power can dramatically shift,” McIntyre said. “When what we thought was possible the day before has dramatically expanded.”

Both McIntyre and Noden point to the Occupy movement as evidence of the power of such moments.

“The professional and labor community tried for years to talk about income inequality in a compelling way,” Noden said. “Then a bunch of people took over a park and it captivated a national conversation. It was far more effective than anything the professional community had done for decades.”

The transformative potential of these moments stems from the opportunity they present in terms of popular education. Power dynamics can shift within a previously generally unaware population if, for example, the killing of unarmed black men and women is not simply framed as an example of one flawed policy or brutality, but as the most visible element of a structurally racist societal system of resource allocation that underfunds public education and does not invest in full employment — problems which disproportionately effect the wealth-earning potential of racial minorities.

“We have developed an analysis that is shared across a couple of organizations that centers around capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy operating together as one system,” said James Hayes, the OSA’s political director. “These things are mutually reinforcing.”

The OSA offers a structural social analysis that contends capitalist economics and neoliberal politics essentially subvert the potential for democracy, as economic inequality makes impossible the political equality upon which any democracy is founded.

“The super rich have literally hijacked public institutions and are using them to steal from us,” McIntyre added. “They have written the rules of the political system to make it harder for our voices to be heard.”

In order to manage the different facets of its work, the OOC relies on four core teams: leadership, strategy, training and fundraising. Aside from the OCC’s commitment to maintaining a lean central bureaucracy, so that it takes as little money as possible from the operations of the member organizations, it is not devoted to any single organizational structure. It seeks to make decisions representative of its membership, but it also acknowledges that different tasks call for different types of organization.

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“We’re very ideologically bought into the idea of collective power, what I would call multiple centers of gravity,” Noden said. “We also are not naïve about elements of the organization having to work more like a top-down bureaucracy. When running a voter program, there has to be a certain kind of structure in order to make that successful. The best organizations have contradictions inside them that live together in a positive relationship. We have the ability to be adaptive and to hold different kinds of organizational models based on the context of strategy.”

Influence within the organization is balanced between the different core teams, which was a decision made between two and three years ago.

“We realized we were so decentralized that it was creating problems,” Noden said. “We didn’t want to create a top-down bureaucracy, so we decided to have multiple groups of people shaping fundraising and strategy discussions.”

The leadership team is the central decision-making unit that directs overall strategy decisions. The team is typically comprised of five to 10 people who are either key organizers or staff members of organizations that are playing a key role or representing a core constituency. Noden currently runs the leadership team. Members of the OSA, the Amos Project, and the Akron-Canton Organizing Collaborative currently sit on the team.

The strategy team is a more fluid unit that typically meets around four times each year, according to Noden. At times, the team has been comprised of as many as 30 people and as few as six people. Noden points to the organizing in opposition to the “Stand Your Ground” bill as an example of work done by the strategy team. Once the legislature proposed the bill, the strategy team decided OOC organizations could work together on the opposition and they directed the coordination between groups.

“Part of their strength is they aren’t a command-and-control model; they have an ecosystem model,” Noden said. “Organizations get together and map out what they will do on their own. The strategy team calls to question the things the organization as a whole can do together.”

James Hayes, political director of the OSA, and DaMareo Cooper, the OOC’s organizing director, currently run the strategy team.

There are two key pieces of the training team’s work: a weeklong organizing training, typically during the summer, and more frequent locally-based movement and organizing training. Between the two, the OOC put over 2,000 people through formal training in 2012, a number that it hopes to continue to match annually.

The weeklong organizing training typically attracts 100 people each year. The OOC’s primary training partner for the weeklong outfit has been ISAIAH in Minnesota. The training usually focuses on developing community organizing skills — integrating different organizing models; linking organizing work with policy work; creating space to build relationships at all levels; and building deeper collaboration between the core constituencies of community, faith and labor. It also touches on issues like race and class in America, building political consciousness, and broadening views of power with an emphasis on long-term movement strategy.

The training team also facilitates local group training, including electoral campaign training, and has begun building a movement building training program. Some of the content for the movement building training has been developed by Center for Community Change and the New Organizing Institute.

The OOC is in the process of developing a permanent core training team so that it can better incorporate training and education into everything that it does. The goal of the permanent core training team is essential to creating the capacity to capitalize on movement moments, like the Black Lives Matter protests.

The fundraising team is comprised of around 10 people and it develops the fundraising strategy. It handles grant proposals for specific member organizations as well general operating grants for the OOC. The team begins the process of setting budgets for member organizations and general strategies, with an emphasis on subsidizing newer groups and strategies.

The OOC is unabashed in its stated intention of building a long-term progressive revival in Ohio that is genuinely an independent source of citizens’ power. Its unique model of combining progressive policy analysis with its three strands of community, electoral and movement organizing has begun to experience success.

The OOC has helped to oppose state legislation like HB 203, which would have brought “Stand Your Ground” to Ohio, and Senate Bill 5, proposed legislation backed in 2011 by Governor John Kasich that would have restricted the bargaining rights of public employees.

It has helped to galvanize the Ohio faith community, in part by helping to develop Ohio Prophetic Voices, a statewide group of 150 faith and clergy leaders that has taken the lead in the immigrant Campaign for Citizenship in Ohio and the protection of the voting rights of all Ohio citizens.

The OOC has also helped to earn significant criminal justice reforms with the state’s first fair hiring policy in Cincinnati in 2010, which eliminated the requirement for a criminal background check for city employees, making it easier for job seekers with felony records to be hired. Similar “Ban the Box” legislation has been passed on the municipal level around the state and statewide collateral sanction reform was passed in June 2012.

The organization helped to secure Governor Kasich’s two-year Medicaid expansion in association with the Affordable Care Act. And it was the key advocate for securing $169 million through the ACA’s Balancing Incentive Payment Program, which well help to keep seniors and the disabled in their homes rather than in nursing homes that often happen to be more expensive.

But most of these victories were defensive in nature, as they either stopped implementation of a conservative policy or earned rights or funding frequently enjoyed in other more progressive states.

The OOC, however, has begun to implement new progressive infrastructure that could pay future dividends.

It has helped to bring environmental and student organizing to Ohio, through CURE and the OSA, respectively.

And it has vastly increased the amount of paid community organizers in the state. At its inception, the OOC only employed three organizers and ACORN, the only other group with an organizing presence in the state, according to Noden, employed an additional handful of organizers. Today the OOC has trained thousands of activists and employs at least 20 full-time organizers working on strategically targeted and coordinated campaigns.

“When you look at the ecosystem of Ohio compared to nine years ago, the difference is night and day,” Noden said. “The talented organizers we’ve attracted, the constituencies being built and developed, the capacity to do large-scale electoral work, it simply didn’t exist.”

“In terms of the arch that can shape the trajectory of the state, we’re still at the beginning of that,” Noden said. “I would be disingenuous if I said we’ve achieved that. I don’t want to create any illusion. We knew it was a long-term project. It’s still a long-term project.”[2]

Voter registration

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In 2016, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has registered more than 1,200 homeless Clevelanders since June. The Ohio Student Organization reported registering nearly 22,000 new voters. The Ohio Organizing Collaborative registered more than 155,000 voters across Ohio, focusing on impoverished communities like Linden in Columbus, Over the Rhine in Cincinnati, and East Cleveland.

To put that in perspective, George W. Bush won Ohio by just 119,000 votes in 2004, and Barack Obama’s margin of victory was only 166,000 votes in 2012.[3]


Ohio Organizing Collaborative May 8, 2017.


With Bahirah Malik, Sherri Hamilton, Nafisah Malik and Molly Shack.

OOC Akron comrades

Ohio Organizing Collaborative June 26, 2016

  1. Akron — with DaMareo Cooper, Chris W. Coteat, Ciara Renee, Bruce Butcher, Matt Vinzant, Nel Moore, Min Ray Greene, Jr. and Jennifer Toles.

OOC OSA comrades

Ohio Organizing CollaborativeJune 26, 2016.


OSA! — with Morgan McNabb, Genesis Shine, Grace Goodluck, Ryan Kreaps, Sarah Louise Nocar, Stuart Desmond McIntyre and Kevin O'Donnell.

Cleveland comrades

Ohio Organizing Collaborative June 26, 2016.


Cleveland! — with Fred Ward, Caitlin Johnson, Daniel Ortiz and Joccy Pierce.

Columbus comrades

Ohio Organizing Collaborative June 26, 2016.


Columbus! — with Sammi Shivener, Molly Shack, Tammy Fournier Alsaada, Genesis Shine, Amber Evans, Becky Swanson, Jasmine Ayres, Aramis Malachi-Ture Sundiata, Erin Davies and Stuart Desmond McIntyre.

Southwest Ohio comrades

Ohio Organizing Collaborative, June 26, 2016.


Southwest Ohio! — with Jamie-Lee Morris, Laurie Couch and Will Smith.


As of 2016;[4]

Akron Organizing Collaborative (AOC)

The AMOS Project

Communities United for Responsible Energy (CURE)

Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative (MVOC)

Ohio Student Association (OSA)

Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA)


As of 2016;[5]


The People’s Justice Project occupied Columbus City Hall to protest police-involved shootings. A southwestern Ohio rally decried the deportation of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a Mexican woman who was living in Fairfield. Activists took a bus to Sen. Rob Portman’s Washington office in June to confront him about the GOP health-care bill.

These rallies are fighting very different causes. But they’re all coordinated with the help of one organization at the center of public activism in Ohio.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative serves as a resource for its chapter activist groups, providing funding, activist-speaker training, logistical assistance for protests, and coordination for news coverage and social media.

Because it has created a web of chapters and alliances across Ohio, the collaborative can often bring big numbers of protesters to rally for any number of causes. This brings more attention and support to causes that might otherwise only attract a small number of demonstrators.

The collaborative assists eight member groups with activism and coordinates with about a dozen partners that include community organizing groups, labor unions and faith-based organizations, as well as the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, a nonprofit law and advocacy group in Cincinnati. Member groups protest for a wide variety of issues, including criminal-justice reform, minimum-wage increases, improved preschool programs and workers’ rights.

The nonprofit group has about 25 staff members in cities across Ohio. Although the chapters share a progressive thrust, each member group carries its own agenda. Member groups typically sprout as grass-roots campaigns, then reach out to or are asked to join the collaborative, said Michael McGovern, the collaborative’s deputy communication director. It does not collect dues or receive payments from member groups, instead creating a pool of funds from which chapters can draw.

“Organized communities are safe communities and powerful communities,” McGovern said. “By shifting power away from traditional power structures and politicians and all of that, and shifting it towards historically disenfranchised communities and giving them power and organization, and in numbers, that’s how we see a long-term shift towards economic, racial and social justice.”

The coalition, funded through private grants and donations, has its strongest presence in Columbus, but has shown the ability to reach statewide.

In the run-up to the last presidential election, the coalition ran the largest non-partisan voter registration drive in the country, with more than 184,000 Ohioans signing up to hit the polls that November, McGovern said.

The collaborative did have a major problem, though, when an employee registering people to vote in Columbiana County in 2015 pleaded guilty in January to 13 counts of making a false registration and one count of electronic falsification.

McGovern said it was the only falsification issue that he knew of from the drive. The employee was fired, and the supervisor was put on a leave of absence while the collaborative conducted an internal review and cooperated with investigators. No signature quotas were set for the employees, he said.

“We take really strict measures and do a lot training with all of our people who do voter registration to make sure they know what the rules are and what is permitted,” McGovern said. “Unfortunately, this individual decided to do something else. As soon as we figured out there was a problem, she was gone.”

In 2016, the collaborative also helped organize support for a school levy funding a Cincinnati preschool program. In Dayton, it had a hand in pushing a public service levy to help pay for infrastructure maintenance, police and fire departments, and preschool programs.

Molly Shack, OOC’s civic engagement director and also a lead organizer for Columbus People’s Partnership, which advocates for economic and racial equity in the capital city, said Ohio is particularly important because it plays an important role in forging the country’s path. But establishing strong community engagement depends on eliminating racial and class divisions that keep some Ohioans from coming together.

“The fact that we are a swing state; what happens here affects the whole country,” she said. “If we can establish a prophetic voice for Ohio, it is going to be heard and reverberate across the country.”

The tendency of activist groups to form coalitions, at varying scales, in an attempt to bring more voices to the table is becoming increasingly popular, said Wendy Smooth, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State University.

“We see that a lot, in particular among millennials and younger people who don’t tend to think in those kinds of single-identity groups, so they are much more akin to organizing across issue areas,” she said. “They are much more willing and engaged in putting those cross-sectional issues at the center of their organizing.”

For Tammy Fournier-Alsaada, lead organizer of the People’s Justice Project, coming together under the collaborative and connecting among groups increases the impact of their work.

Her Columbus-based group focuses on criminal-justice reform, while pushing to end state violence and mass incarceration. PJP is active in the Linden neighborhood and has helped organize demonstrations following the fatal officer-involved shooting deaths of 13-year-old Tyre King on Sept. 14, 2016, in Olde Towne East and the shooting death of Henry Green, 23, who was shot on June 6, 2016, in South Linden. A grand jury decided not to indict the officers involved in either shooting.

Adding to the coordination among groups are strong alliances with places of faith in Columbus, which offer community venues, speakers at rallies and perspectives of faith in wakes of violence and inequity. The Rev. Charles Wilson, of St. Philip Episcopal Church in the Near East Side, said there is an urgency for change and space for churches to fill an activist role.

“It is more than a bunch of little groups that are easily ignored or separated from each other,” Wilson said. “It’s one big collaborative that brings a whole group of citizens together.”

The group got the attention of Columbus City Council members Elizabeth Brown and Shannon Hardin, who offered to sit down with members after a City Hall protest in response to the officer-involved shooting death of Tyre King to talk about the effect of violence on communities.

“I appreciate that open dialogue with them, because it puts a face on it,” Brown said. “They are so serious and intellectual about the work they do that better public policy comes from it.”[6]

Working with Sherrod Brown

From the National People's Action website January 13 2014;

Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) has been up to quite a bit lately: meeting with Congressmen & strategizing over issues most important to their members, rallying hundreds on mass incarceration, and gaining nationwide attention in their effort to win fair wages in the workplace.
This month OOC leaders met with Senator Sherrod Brown to strategize around protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, issues crucial to Ohio constituents and of course folks nationwide.
Senator Brown has been a leader in supporting grassroots efforts to protect our social safety net. OOC’s retirement security organizers also previously met with the Senator in December to thank him for championing Social Security and working with the OOC around long term care issues. [7]

Congratulating Sherrod Brown


When Senator Sherrod Brown was given a "Progressive Leadership" award in December 2017 by the Midwest Academy, DaMareo Cooper and other Ohio Organizing Collaborative staff sent a video message congratulating him, and Cooper said the "looked forward to working with you (Brown) in 20018."[8]

Voting lawsuit

Hillary Clinton’s top campaign lawyer and others are challenging Ohio voting laws enacted by the Republican-dominated legislature and Gov. John Kasich, claiming in a lengthy federal lawsuit the measures were designed to suppress the votes of such traditional Democratic constituencies as blacks, Latinos and the young.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative and three individuals asked for an injunction because otherwise they “and thousands of other residents of Ohio will have their right to vote and/or related rights, such as the right to participate in voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities, wrongfully burdened, abridged and/or denied.”

Among the lawyers pressing the action is Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general counsel. He is a veteran campaign-finance lawyer from Washington D.C. who was the attorney for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.

Elias said the action came on behalf of those listed on the lawsuit, not the campaign of Clinton.

“My firm and I have brought a number of lawsuits throughout the country to vindicate the right to vote,” said Elias. “Our lawsuit is on behalf of the plaintiffs listed in the complaint...”

Elias also represents Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Senate campaign of former Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic National Committee and the national campaign committees promoting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate and House. Another attorney on the lawsuit is Don McTigue, who represents many Democrats in Ohio.

The new action against Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine says GOP officials’ actions were designed “to bolster artificially the likelihood of success of Republican candidates in Ohio elections,” which “threatens the very bedrock of our democracy.”

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative, formed in 2007, seeks “to build a transformative base of power to bring about racial, social and economic equality in Ohio.” The group says it registered 40,000 Ohio voters in 2012.

The plaintiffs include Ohio State University student Jordan Isern from California, who voted early in Ohio in 2012 and helped sign up other voters; Carol Biehle of Loveland near Cincinnati, a poll worker; and the Rev. Bruce Butcher of Akron, who has helped organize Souls to the Polls and other efforts to mobilize voters.[9]

Ohio Organizing Collaborative Core Team

Ohio Organizing Collaborative Core Team (2014-2015)[10]


September 2009 Terry Brennan was Ohio state contact for Health Care for America Now, representing Ohio Organizing Collaborative/Ohio Gamaliel.

Offices & Locations