In The News: 3 Members of the Military Reflect on Whether They Want to Run for Office

Three current service members looking for ways to continue paying it forward as civilians joined a group discussion last week exploring whether politics might be the right fit….

The venue for airing their thoughts was a group session last Thursday evening run by "Answering The Call," a program of the New Politics Leadership Academy (NPLA) that encourages those with experience in national service -- the military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or government -- to consider running for office at the federal, state or local level.

In the News: Fast Company - These 7 social entrepreneurs are working to strengthen civic engagement

Democracy in the U.S., you may have noticed, has found itself on shaky ground. According to polling from last year, less than half of people in the country feel the current political system is effective at upholding their rights, and few people believe that elected officials are adequately held accountable for misconduct and failings.

This is not a great situation, and a number of organizations and nonprofits have recently launched in an attempt to address the root causes of the U.S.’s democracy dilemma. From voter turnout to government reform efforts to recruiting new and diverse leadership for local politics, activists and leaders are building new avenues out of some of the most pressing issues in the U.S. The problem, though, is that because nonprofits are supposed to cut a wide berth around partisan politics, they often struggle to get philanthropic funding if their projects touch on the political.

New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization that funds social entrepreneurs, recognized this issue. Through a new grant program specifically for organizations addressing democracy issues called Civic Lab, New Profit selected seven nonprofits trying to build trust across communities and reengage people in democratic processes. “There’s a lot of money being poured into partisan political engagement or activism, but what does it look like to do that in a nonpartisan way?” says Yordanos Eyoel, a partner at New Profit who is overseeing Civic Lab. “We want to build civic trust and a strong civic culture in the country, and doing that requires building relationships across politics, demographics, and geography.”

Seven democracy entrepreneurs that New Profit selected from a pool of around 150 potential candidates have been identified by the nonprofit. Each will receive a grant of $50,000, and a year of support from New Profit to grow the reach and impact of their organization.

Blog: NPLA Pittsburgh Veteran Training Incentive

Last weekend with support from the Heinz Endowments, we ran a political training for 14 military veterans in Pittsburgh who are interested in potentially running for office in the future. On the first day, we covered the philosophical and practical components of considering political service, engaging our veteran participants in deeply personal reflection around core values, mission, and personal story. On day two, they engaged with the framework of planning and executing effective campaigns, and then applied those frameworks to advise a hypothetical state assembly candidate on their campaign plan and strategy.

Ken Harbaugh Takes Over NPLA Twitter #ServantLeaderTakeover

Last Thursday, we were joined by Senior Fellow Ken Harbaugh, a former Navy pilot, nonprofit executive, congressional candidate in Ohio. He took over our Twitter for the latest #ServantLeaderTakeover, explaining what motivates him to serve our country and how the oath he took in the Navy inspired his political service. Other key insights included the importance of empathy in leadership and how critical it is to remember your core values when the political winds are trying to blow you off course. Ken also shared how he finds a balance between personal and political life. Thanks to Ken for sharing his wisdom!

Dan Feehan Takes Over NPLA Twitter #ServantLeaderTakeover

On Thursday, we were joined by Army veteran and former teacher, former Minnesota congressional candidate, and New Politics Senior Fellow Dan Feehan for the latest #TwitterTakeover. Dan shared insights in leadership from his service career, which has taken him from the Army to the classroom, and from the Pentagon to the campaign trail. He had some great insights into what servant leadership is all about and what servant leaders should do before they run for office (hint: gain clarity, something our Answering the Call helps you do!), as well as a funny anecdote about the role of parades in politics. Check out the whole thing below the break!

Gina Ortiz Jones Takes Over NPLA Twitter #ServantLeaderTakeover

For the third straight week, a New Politics Senior Fellow took over our twitter account! This time it was Air Force veteran, former member of the intelligence community, and former congressional candidate in TX-23, Gina Ortiz Jones. Gina spent the day talking about how her background shaped her view of politics, what she loved most about campaigning, and what advise she has for other servant leaders considering public service.

You can read all of Gina’s posts and answers below, or find them on Twitter under #ServantLeaderTakeover. As always, don’t forget to give us a follow to make sure you catch the second half of our Senior Fellow takeovers in coming weeks.

Roger Dean Huffstetler Takes Over NPLA Twitter #ServantLeaderTakeover

Following Senior Fellow Amy McGrath’s Twitter Takeover last week, on Thursday, March 14, we welcomed Marine veteran, former congressional candidate, and New Politics Senior Fellow Roger Dean “RD” Huffstetler to our twitter account, where he also spent the day answering some questions about lessons from his service in the Marines and time on the campaign trail life. We’re thankful for his service and for joining us!

If you missed it, don’t worry! You can read all of RD’s posts and answers below, or find them on twitter under #ServantLeaderTakeover. Don’t forget to give us a follow to make sure you catch the next Senior Fellow takeovers in the coming weeks!

Amy McGrath Stages a Twitter Takeover #ServantLeaderTakeover

On Thursday, March 7, we welcomed Marine veteran, former congressional candidate, and New Politics Senior Fellow Amy McGrath to our twitter account, where she spent all day answering some questions about lessons she’s learned from her life of service and nearly two years on the campaign trail. We’re thankful for her service and for joining us!

If you missed it, don’t worry! You can read all of her posts and answers below, or find them on twitter under #ServantLeaderTakeover. Don’t forget to give us a follow to make sure you catch the next Senior Fellow takeovers in the coming weeks!

NPLA Unveils Inaugural Fellowship Cohort Focused on Political Research and Civic Engagement


Today, New Politics Leadership Academy is proud to unveil its new Fellows program, aimed at advancing the political leadership of military, national service, and intelligence veterans. The inaugural cohort of fellows are proven servant leaders who recently ran for office and will now spend the next four months reflecting on their experience on the campaign trail and conducting research to grow the movement of servant leaders running for office. The New Politics Leadership Academy 2019 fellows are Gina Ortiz Jones from Texas, Ken Harbaugh from Ohio, Juana Matias from Massachusetts, Dan Feehan from Minnesota, Amy McGrath from Kentucky, and Roger Dean “RD” Huffstetler from Virginia. 

New Politics Leadership Academy recruits and trains military veterans and national service alumni to run for office, helping to revitalize our democracy and transform our politics. The Fellows program furthers this mission by supporting servant leaders who have run for office but came up short to reflect on their experience, mentor other future candidates, conduct new research, and grow as leaders.

“Campaigns often yield an incredible amount of knowledge, regardless of the result. Yet, we often see this knowledge lost as soon as voting ends,” Emily Cherniack, New Politics Founder and Executive Director, said. “This first group of New Politics Leadership Academy Fellows are some of the top examples of incredible servant leaders who stepped up in 2018 to run for office and are committed to putting country over party. They will have the opportunity to share their insights with the servant leader community, conduct new research, and grow as leaders.” 

Through their fellowship, New Politics Leadership Academy Fellows will have the opportunity to reflect on lessons learned during their campaigns and share their learnings with the growing servant leader community. 

“Our Fellows are thought leaders who inspire and enable the continued growth of New Politics Leadership Academy’s mission,” Emily continued. “In the four months of their Fellowship, they’ll publish, speak, advocate, and conduct policy research across an array of topics important to our democracy, including building bridges between rural and urban communities and how to engage more veterans in the political process.” 

The inaugural Fellows group will explore a diverse set of topics during their NPLA Fellowships:

Gina Ortiz Jones is a national security expert and her career spans serving as a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer deployed to Iraq, to serving in the Executive Office of the President where she led a portfolio focused on U.S. economic and national security. Most recently, Gina was a candidate for Congress in Texas’ 23rd District. In her fellowship, Gina will continue to engage with communities throughout South and West Texas to research and highlight the ways in which domestic policies can potentially pose future national and economic security risks.

Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and president of Team Rubicon Global, a disaster-relief organization that has helped retrain 80,000 military veterans to redeploy as emergency responders. In 2018, he was a candidate for Congress in Ohio’s 7th district. As a New Politics Leadership Academy Fellow, Ken will explore the implications of our failing two-party system. The problems often pointed to by political commentators, such as gerrymandering, media partisanship, and donor tribalism, are symptoms of our ossified party structures. But the inflexibility of that system has created openings for post-partisan disruptors that are now challenging the ingrained orthodoxies.  

Juana Matias is the outgoing State Representative for Massachusetts’ 16th Essex District, a former candidate for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, and an AmeriCorps member. Her commitment and passion lies in working to eradicate racial, social, and economic inequities to ensure that every person has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. As a New Politics Leadership Academy Fellow, Juana will focus on examining methods that foster civic and electoral participation within the US Latinx community. She will also develop policy recommendations in the area of immigration reform, particularly focusing on compromise legislative language and strategies that can be utilized during this upcoming Congressional session. 

Dan Feehan was a candidate for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District. Dan is a former acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Readiness, having served previously as an active-duty Army officer during two combat tours in Iraq. Dan also served as a middle school math teacher through Teach for America. As a New Politics Leadership Academy Fellow, Dan will examine the nature of today's political engagement with rural voters, drawing on his recent campaign experiences in Minnesota. From this, he will demonstrate the methods of communication, meeting, and organizing that ultimately are able to influence voters in an otherwise polarizing political environment. 

Amy McGrath is a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel serving 20 years and three combat tours as an F/A-18 fighter pilot and weapons systems officer in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Amy earned a Master’s degree in Global Security and she served tours in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and instructing at the US Naval Academy. Most recently, Amy was a candidate for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District. As a fellow with New Politics Leadership Academy, Amy will continue to lead and work with the people of Kentucky regarding national issues that affect them. She will conduct research on how to further close the rural-urban political gap in Kentucky, with a focus on tactics and strategies for breaking down partisanship in our communities.

Roger Dean “RD” Huffstetler is a Marine veteran and former Congressional candidate in Virginia's 5th District, stretching from the North Carolina state line to Northern Virginia. Previously, he served as Congressman Seth Moulton’s Chief of Staff and worked at Twilio, then an early-stage technology startup. As a New Politics Leadership Academy Fellow, RD will continue to mentor service-oriented leaders who are considering running for office and will develop innovative technology platforms and approaches to help them succeed.

New Video Touts NPLA Alumni and Champions

New Politics Leadership Academy released a new video touting the experiences and breakthroughs of alumni and why we need servant leaders in our politics. The video featured Founder and Executive Director Emily Cherniack, Congressman Seth Moulton (R-MA-06), Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) and NPLA Alumni Robert Watson, Bria Price, Dan Moy, and State Rep.-elect Nika Elugardo.

Share it on Facebook and Twitter, and watch below!

Confronting the Shadow in Politics

How should we develop aspiring politicians so that they are powerfully prepared to transform our current political culture?

As an organization dedicated to recruiting and supporting service program alumni—both military veterans and alumni of civilian service programs like Peace Corps and AmeriCorps—this is a question we grapple with on a daily basis. Our organization takes a comprehensive and holistic approach to developing leaders: In addition to trainings related to technical skills and knowledge, we also focus on how to create an intentional, positive and productive campaign team culture, and challenge future candidates to get crystal clear about their own personal values and mission.

In the News: Founder Emily Cherniack named to the 2018 Politico 50

In the News: Founder Emily Cherniack named to the 2018 Politico 50

On Tuesday, September 4th, New Politics Leadership Academy Founder and Executive Director Emily Cherniack was named to Politico Magazine's 2018 Politico 50, which honors the "visionaries, thinkers, and doers" driving American politics today. Emily was honored because of the impact that servant leaders are having on our politics and the potential they have to revitalize our democracy and positively shape our nation's future.

We’re Asking Again: Do You Feel Called to Enter the Arena?

Are you a military veteran or an alumnus of a civilian service program like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or a related experience? At this critical moment for our democracy, are you wondering if you might feel called to seek political office as a next step in your personal service journey?