A Message from the RAD and RDI Boards of Directors

Dear friends, 

As the Boards of Directors of Rights & Democracy and Rights & Democracy Institute, we celebrate all that we have accomplished over nearly six years of James Haslam’s leadership. 

James is passing the baton to new leadership while Rights & Democracy is in a very strong position. In doing so, he continues to prioritize the long-term strength of the organization he helped found. We are deeply grateful for his unwavering commitment to this work and we are ready to build on his legacy.

Rights & Democracy has never been stronger.

In 2015, after dedicating more than 20 years to organizing, James realized that in order to win bold policies, we needed policy makers who truly represented our communities and who supported our movement’s bold strategies. We also needed the power and strength to hold them and all of our elected officials accountable. That is, we needed Rights & Democracy.

Few of us could have imagined the unprecedented historical moments we would encounter over these past six years — or how much we could build together. In 2021, we are a dynamic organization with more than 20 staff across Vermont and New Hampshire, more than 600 members who actively support our work, and numerous strong partnerships and coalitions for our people-powered movement in our two states, across the region, and throughout the country.

Just a few of the accomplishments and commitments we celebrate from James’s leadership: 

  • Rights & Democracy was an integral part of victories like paid sick days and raising the minimum wage in Vermont and winning Medicaid Expansion in New Hampshire.
  • In 2020, Rights & Democracy was a core partner with People’s Action in building a powerful Deep Canvass program to engage thousands of conflicted Granite State voters in one of the most critical Presidential elections in our country’s history. Our success in 2020 sets us up to expand Deep Canvass work in NH and bring it to VT. We are planning deep canvassing to focus on climate, immigration and building unity in our communities. 
  • Also in 2020, RAD launched new political programs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. We hired Movement Politics Directors Kiah Morris and Asma Elhuni, who have built RAD’s first BIPOC Affinity Group of members and supporters. 
  • RAD has made huge strides towards becoming a strong multiracial organization with incredible new staff and board members stepping up from most impacted communities to lead us into the future.  
  • RAD is helping lead powerful coalitions with dozens of organizations committed to building a movement for a just and equitable future with VT Renews and NH Renews as part of the Renew New England Alliance and the Green New Deal National Network. 
  • We developed programming — Rights & Democracy Institute’s series The Traverse and Rights & Democracy’s Movement Politics Show — that brings information and conversations to our supporters and our communities each month, helping them heal and build power.
  • In 2021, Rights & Democracy Institute has launched new leadership education programs, including Catalyst Leadership, to provide a new generation of leaders with the tools to lead and organize our communities. 

We want our next director to build on this legacy. 

We are committed to conducting a thorough search for our next executive director and to an overlap between James and the new director to ensure continuity. In the meantime, we will continue working with James on our shared goals for the organization and maintaining  the pace and powerful impact that Rights & Democracy has established in these foundational years.

We look forward to doing all of this in partnership with you.

In solidarity, 

Rights & Democracy Institute Board                

Rights & Democracy Board   


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