New Organizing Institute’s ‘Implosion’ a BFD for the Left

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My email inbox was buzzing this morning with reaction to turmoil at the New Organizing Institute, a major provider of digital, field and data training for staff of Democratic campaigns and liberal advocacy groups. As Buzzfeed’s Evan McMorris-Santoro reported late Tuesday,

The New Organizing Institute, a progressive grassroots outfit responsible for training many of the Democratic Party’s digital organizers, has to be rebuilt from the ground up after a mass exodus of senior staff and employees Tuesday.

Frustrations over fundraising and the management style of Executive Director Ethan Roeder, the former top data guru for President Obama’s presidential campaigns, led senior staffers to quit and several employees to follow them out the door after the nonprofit’s board of directors refused to fire Roeder at the staff’s request. itself may be politically neutral, but I’m not — and this is one story that hurts me to write about. Ethan’s a friend, as are many NOI staff (former and otherwise) and board members, and anyone who’s been reading for very long knows that I’m a huge fan of NOI and what they do for the Left. Someone said this morning that it felt like learning that good friends were getting a divorce, and that’s very much how I feel, too.

Considering the desperate need for trained Democratic field and digital staff for 2016, this development comes at a terrible time for the Left. The next twelve months will be absolutely critical for both parties as they try to build a digital and data-driven campaigning infrastructure for the next election cycle, and most activists assumed that NOI would be a central part of the Democratic side of that training frenzy. I’m told that NOI is in no danger of disappearing, but a yesterday’s developments have to set it back significantly at the very least. Overall, a sad day for digital progressives.


Written by
Colin Delany
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