The Next Generation of Network Leadership

By Katie Kirchner |

Today, I am honored to step into the role of National Director of the Roosevelt Network. Nearly 15 years after the Network’s founding, we’re operating in a dysfunctional and chaotic political climate where the wealthiest and most privileged among us have consolidated power among themselves. As a result, we’re seeing the privatization of key public goods, the rolling back of critical social safety net policies, and increasingly aggressive criminalization and targeting of the most vulnerable communities in the United States.

We’ve seen trust in public institutions rightfully hitting all-time lows across so many communities in this country. But we believe that government can be a force for good—reflective of and responsive to the communities it’s meant to serve—if we change who holds decision-making power in government. For the Network specifically, the need for young people’s voices in American policy and politics has always been essential. But in facing the current political challenges and those we expect in the years ahead, it’s clear that we can’t generalize about young people; we need to now address which young people are most needed to actually reshape government for the benefit of the many, and then equip them with the skills they need to take on the huge challenges we face.

Transformation of the progressive pipeline to achieve this vision will require building civic infrastructure in communities that have been left out of traditional progressive organizing. Moving forward, it is our commitment to ensure that the most successful Roosevelters will be the students whose voices and whose communities have historically been left out of the policy process. Their voices are most needed to ensure that future systems of governance truly serve the public good.

Now is the time when we must recognize that it’s wholly inappropriate to placate or provide assurances to the most privileged groups about their statuses and wholly inadequate to offer piecemeal solutions to those most in need. Now is the time to build toward actual transformation.

I hope you’ll help build with us.



Also published on Medium.

Katie Kirchner is the National Director for the Roosevelt Network. An alumnus of the Network, Katie’s academic and professional experience has largely been focused on the intersection of sociology and education. As National Director, Katie is expanding the work on diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy with priorities for network growth and policy work through the management of Network team members. Previously at Roosevelt, Katie was a Program Manager for chapter growth and membership development where she managed the Student Leadership Team, 10 Ideas, the annual Hyde Park conference, and oversaw the national cohort of students who do organizing and base-building across the country. Katie has a BA in Public Communications and Urban Education Studies from American University.