Dear DMOs, Partners, and Friends,
This has been an incredible year for the Board and staff at Democratic Municipal Officials. I first wrote to you as I took the helm of DMO earlier this year, and today I am more excited than ever to lead our organization forward. This has been a year of new direction, growth, and greater engagement, and 2019 promises to be even better.
DMO is proud to have brought you a year filled with special events and dynamic guest speakers. The National Breakfast meetings hosted during NLC saw an impressive selection of men and women at the podium, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, DNC Chair Tom Perez, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Tom Steyer.
The DMO team has always appreciated our headquarters located in Chicago, a central hub for cities at every corner of our nation. But as DMO has grown, so have our relationships with America’s leaders in politics, labor, and policy. This is why we opened a second office in Washington, DC, which places us in a position to continue building the bridges we need to support you in your work.
To fill this office in our nation’s capital we relocated and promoted Oliver Judd to a new position, Director of Political and Governmental Affairs. We also hired a fourth full-time team member, Political Associate Christine Senteno, who brings strong experience in politics and organized labor to help us safeguard the rights of America’s working families. Oliver and Christine will collaborate to build our membership efforts, support our state chapters, enhance our programming, and broaden our relationships with the DNC and progressive allies. Nils Robbins was promoted to Director of Communications and Operations, and Dan Besse was rechristened as our Labor and Intergovernmental Affairs Advisor to reflect his expanding duties. And of course, none of this work would be possible without the long hours and guiding vision of our Executive Director, Barbara Moore.
As part of our increased efforts to educate DMOs on the changing face of labor in America, DMO hosted our Cities, Labor, and Jobs Roundtable in D.C., Illinois, and North Carolina, working in tandem with our new Labor Council and those state chapters. These DMO trainings educate local officials on how to best interface with their local unions, and foster stronger relationships between labor and our municipal leaders. I want to particularly thank DMO Board Member Derek Green for his efforts as our Labor Chair. Councilman Green has spent the past year touring labor training facilities all over the country, getting a DMO perspective on how our city’s workers are developing their skills.
Ten DMO State Chapters held events this year, including receptions during their state municipal leagues and special trainings. Our membership list expanded nationwide, which allowed us to reach even more local elected Democrats. While DMO spent this year developing our chapters in Ohio, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, and Virginia, we encourage any DMO interested in organizing their state’s local officials to reach out to Oliver.Judd@nationaldmo.org to get started.
2018 was a year for building new connections to the world of progressive policy action. DMO partnered with groups including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the Human Rights Campaign to better serve our members engaged in policy driven activism. We promoted days of action such as Wear Orange Day and IAM2018, as well as specific calls to act on issues such as child separation and preemptive language in the farm bill. The Policy Council also passed resolutions resulting in a DMO response on time sensitive issues, such as the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. At our national events, the DMO Policy Council hosted a messaging training with Kim Haddow and Bob Creamer, and teamed up with the Labor Council to present a training on the Janus Supreme Court Case, featuring experts from AFSCME and the Teamsters.
This was also a big year for establishing better connections with the Democratic National Committee, where we proudly hold three voting seats, including my position on the Executive Committee. DMO held multiple meetings with top DNC leadership to discuss how the Party’s central institution could better serve its 40,000 local elected officials, and how our members can be better engaged to support the Party. We were active in the debate on how to restructure the delegate system and ensure diversity of DNC representation. DMO also successfully passed two resolutions at the DNC, one supporting local control for municipalities and another pushing for more federal funding for local infrastructure projects. We look forward to being involved in the development of the Party Platform, and welcome your suggestions on where we should devote our efforts and how to best position DMO to be an impactful and visible force during the 2020 convention.
DMO’s Advisory Board grew by a full 25% this year. Not only have we increased the size of our fundraising pie, but we continue to diversify our list of supporters. This year we brought in three new donors from the policy world, which supplements our existing revenue streams from business and organized labor. The Board of Directors and Advisory Board came together in Los Angeles this September for our annual retreat. We had the opportunity to hear from these organizations and companies on what they are doing for our cities, and also had the chance to respond in kind and offer suggestions for how they could update their practices to better serve you.
Most importantly, I believe, thanks to a special contribution, this year I and my fellow Board members spent the latter half of the Retreat undertaking the most substantive strategic planning process in the organization’s history. Our work will continue well into 2019 as we build a stronger, more engaged Board of Directors, and set a course for 2020 and the years beyond. The structure and processes we are putting in place now will ensure the stability, longevity, growth, and effectiveness of Democratic Municipal Officials. I can’t be more proud of my colleagues who have embraced this effort and devoted their time and talents to secure our organization’s future.
The past year was marked by incredible development for Democratic Municipal Officials. We are engaging in more activism to support your interests, building our relationships with national political forces, deepening networks of local officials in every state, and adding new staff to take on this important work. I want to thank our Board of Directors for being such powerful advocates for local Democrats, and for putting in the time to get us here, as well as our staff and consultants who work every day to put the Board’s directives into motion. A special thanks goes out to Kirsten Keith, Lou LaMonte, Mark Stodola, and Pam O’Connor for all their service, as they will be transitioning off the Board and into Alumni status. Last but not least, I want to thank you personally for all that you do for our cities.
Have a great Holiday Season and New Year. We can’t wait for 2019.
President of the Board of Directors, DMO
City Council Member, Detroit, MI