NYPAN, the New York Progressive Action Network, was founded in December of 2016, following the 2016 elections. The founding chapters were all grassroots organizations that had formed during the Bernie Sanders campaign in New York. Volunteers in these organizations, many of them entirely new to politics, became heavily involved in their communities, built networks and made lasting friendships. At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, representatives from these grassroots organizations met up and decided that, even though the primary was over, the movement was too important to abandon. They chose a time and location to meet again, back in New York, where they voted to incorporate and set up a 501(c)4 organization.
NYPAN began with 16 chapters, and has grown in less than one year to include 35 chapters and affiliates. Although the founding chapters came from the Bernie Sanders campaign, NYPAN has welcomed progressive chapters and affiliates of all stripes, including most recently Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. Other affiliates include a number of unions, the Jim Owles Democratic Club (an LGBTQ organization), the 504 Democrats (a disability rights organization), Life of Hope (a support organization for Haitian immigrants), and EffectiveNY (a progressive public policy think tank).
Many progressive organizations have come into existence since the 2016 elections. NYPAN is unique among these in a number of ways. First of all, it is state-focused, and strives to include all regions of New York state, from Potsdam to Buffalo to Westchester to Long Island to the Bronx. Not many organizations are able to balance the very diverse character of New York’s metro area, suburban area and rural/upstate areas. Secondly, it aims to provide structure and support (especially legal and accounting support) to its chapters while leaving the chapters a very large degree of autonomy. Chapters can choose their own priorities, set their own membership requirements, endorse their own candidates, and so forth. Thirdly, at the state level, NYPAN is more interested in electoral politics than in marches and rallies. They are happy to support and join rallies that other groups organize, but when they organize something themselves, it tends to be a lobby day in Albany, a debate between candidates for local office, a training session for constituent lobby teams, or something similar.
NYPAN has now organized three very successful statewide conferences, where attendees heard from Zephyr Teachout, Tom DiNapoli, Bill de Blasio and others, and where panels of experts discussed single payer healthcare, environmental priorities, green technology, campaign media innovation, racial justice, the Constitutional Convention, and other current topics. Their most recent conference, in October 2017, featured three speakers who are exploring the possibility of challenging Governor Cuomo in 2018: Stephanie Miner, mayor of Syracuse, Terry Gipson, former state senator, and Jumaane Williams, NYC councilman.
Most of NYPAN’s efforts recently have been focused on local elections. On town boards and county legislatures all across New York, former Berniecrats are running for office, or supporting the campaigns of others who are doing so. Many others have come forward to fill vacancies on county Democratic Committees, to mixed reactions from those who are already members. Some welcome new energy and enthusiasm, while others are reluctant to share power. NYPAN works cooperatively with those who are open to their input, but are pushing for reform wherever that is needed, especially at the level of the State Democratic Committee.
By far, NYPAN’s biggest victory to date was the election of one of their own, Christine Pellegrino, to the NYS Assembly to represent her Long Island district. Christine was a Bernie delegate, school teacher, union activist and a NYPAN founder. She ran on the Dem/WFP lines against a Republican/Conservative in a district that no Democrat had ever won and where Trump won by 22 points. NYPAN as an organization was less than 5 months old and had no financial resources, but they combined efforts with the WFP and with Christine’s union, NYSUT, to launch a massive volunteer effort which included members and activists from all over the state. Christine shocked the political establishment, including the reactionary leadership of the Suffolk County Democrats (who sided with Christine’s opponent), by winning in a landslide by over 16%. NYPAN demonstrated very clearly the political power of a candidate who actually stands for principles and populist solutions. Voters resonate with NYPAN’s values, optimism and fighting spirit.
Future legislative victories in New York are currently blocked by a Governor who is primarily responsive to his rich corporate patrons, and by a group of Democrats who have sold out their constituents by empowering Republicans. These Republicans, who would otherwise be in the minority in a state that has twice as many registered Democrats as registered Republicans, now have control of the State Senate thanks to the IDC. As long as these elected officials stand in the way, New York has little hope of achieving voting rights reforms, single payer healthcare, state versions of the Dream Act and the ERA, a real free public college tuition program, significant reforms to the justice system, or permanent environmental protections (as opposed to the current very tenuous moratorium on fracking). NYPAN is not beholden to any special interests in Albany and is quite willing to play a leadership role in removing or transforming these roadblocks to progressive change.
NYPAN invites you to learn more about their organization on this website, but especially to join a chapter (or start a chapter) and get involved. They have room for progressives of all backgrounds and experience levels.
New York has an image around the world of being a progressive and forward-thinking state. Let’s help New York live up to that reputation!
We are a progressive organization. As progressives, we hold that all people have the right to live in a safe, just, and sustainable world.
To be safe, we must strive for peace—globally, nationally, and within our own communities and homes.
To be just, we must strive for not only legal justice but also racial, social, economic, and environmental justice.
To be sustainable, we must create long-term solutions that take into account how issues connect with each other, and we must work to solve problems by addressing underlying causes.
NYPAN is a community-based, mass organization that is run democratically by the grassroots chapters and affiliates that compose it. NYPAN draws representation and leadership from the communities it serves.
NYPAN mobilizes citizens and advocates for, and defends, the well-being of the people within its communities.
NYPAN welcomes affiliation with like-minded organizations, and seeks to create both formal and informal coalitions, in order to effect progressive change.
Where appropriate, NYPAN will endorse candidates for local, state, and federal offices who advocate for and support a progressive agenda as defined by its Vision.
NYPAN seeks to facilitate constructive dialogue in order to promote progressive unity.
NYPAN centralizes communication and provides organizational, financial, and legal infrastructure for its affiliated chapters.