An Amazing 2015 Retreat

An Amazing 2015 Retreat

We knew this year’s Retreat was going to be the biggest and boldest to date. We knew that our collective hard work was going to pay off, and we knew NLC would have serious conversations about its mission and path forward.

We were right. On every front, this year’s retreat was a huge success.


Over 300 NLC leaders from all regions of the country joined us at our Welcome Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building last Thursday. We were honored to hear from Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Brendon Boyle and former US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, to be joined by Congressman Tim Ryan, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Congressman Mark Takano, and to acknowledge the great work of our Board Members Mitch Draizin and Heather GranthamSenator Tim Kaine, Congressman Frank Pallone, and Secretary Tom Vilsack joined us as special guests at dinner following the reception to cap the night.

Congressman David Cicilline
Former US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman

NLC Chairman Chris Kelly opened the program on Friday morning. We convened at the Decatur House for half of a day of policy panel discussions on technology and innovation, the evolving health care system, and environment and energy. We would like to thank Will Marshall, Ebony Lee, Kate Sokolov, Zeke Emanuel, Christal Ramos, Elizabeth Simonhoff, Drew Kearney, Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, Amit Ronen, Katherine Neede, and Malcolm Woolf for your expertise and diverse insights.

NLC Chairman Chris Kelly


Tech & Innovation
The Evolving Health Care System
Energy & Environment Sustainability

We also heard from dear friends of NLC and progressive champions during our keynote addresses. The crowd—that quickly rose to nearly 400 leaders—was inspired and called to action by former Senator Byron Dorgan, Christine Pelosi, and Senator Wendy Davis. To wrap up our day at the Decatur House, we heard about the national political landscape from moderator of Meet the Press, Chuck Todd. We thank each of you for spending time with us on Friday.

Sen. Byron Dorgan
Christine Pelosi
Sen. Wendy Davis
Chuck Todd

Shortly after our last keynote, we departed to our afternoon venue—The White House. For many of our folks, this was the first time to be able to sit down with key members of the administration to discuss current initiatives and the next 17 months that we have President Barrack Obama in the White House. We would like to extend a special warm thank you to Kyle Lierman for making Friday afternoon so special.

Policy briefing at The White House

The dedication of the NLC Community was as clear as ever on Saturday, a day dedicated almost entirely to strategizing the 2015-2016 New Leaders Council programmatic year. On this day we discussed everything from recruitment and selections, to chapter budgets, to alumni and engagement through NLC4. In case you missed it, you can catch the State of NLC address, here. We were excited to announce the newly launched NLC Programs Committee that will be working closely with each chapter to ensure continued success. You can learn more about this committee, and meet its members, here. The power of NLC is our people, without whom the progressive movement would not grow. We thank each and every Chapter Director, Chapter Board Member, National Programs Committee Member, Board of Directors Member, and NLC Ambassador for being one, united team.

We also particularly thank NY Assemblyman Michael Blake for his electrifying keynote address Saturday morning.

Assemblyman Mike Blake

Finally, we held our annual Awards Dinner at the National Press Club with master of ceremony, Progressive radio show host and NLC alumnus, Richard Fowler. We thank our special guests Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Secretary Julian Castro for your remarks before the awards ceremony. We were very proud to honor the great work accomplished by our chapters throughout the year. Their achievements inspire all of us to break even these records; in recruitment, in institutes held, in diversity, in digital presence, and in alumni engagement, we are going to forge ahead.

Richard Fowler
Hon. Alex Sink
Congresswoman Donna Edwards
NLC Houston wins 2015 Chapter of the Year


Sec. Julian Castro

This Retreat left us all energized and hopeful; you need only look at the social media testimonials.

On my way back to Detroit. My experience with New Leaders Council in DC has inspired me to dream bigger, opening my eyes to a larger scale of leadership and impact. Now its time to put the work in! In the Spirit of Excellence, Consistency, Giving God the Glory!

Lawrence Robinson, 2015 NLC Detroit Fellow

On the heels of our 2015 Retreat was the first NLC4 Emerging Leaders training, held in Washington D.C., in the NLC4/NLC offices. We were joined by 40 progressive leaders dedicated to public service, and the training was lead by an incredible faculty. We thank the 40 NLC alumni, and Caroline Fayard, Scott Kozar, Jessica Vanden Berg, and Michael Hayden for taking part in our inaugural Emerging Leaders training.

Caroline Fayard
Jessica Vanden Berg

Now it is time to turn momentum to action. NLC is hosting a variety of events across the country in the coming weeks to kick off its 2016 recruitment period. On August 3, applications and nominations open in over 40 communities nationwide for more than 800 slots as an NLC Fellow. NLC is getting stronger every day, adding more talent to our ranks and more advocates for our mission. We want every enterprising progressive in America to be a part of it.

Join the movement—nominate or apply to the NLC Institute this fall.

The work is ahead. What a great time to be a progressive.

Mark Riddle
New Leaders Council Executive Director