The Power of Real Grassroots Leadership

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Marshall Ganz

Marshall Ganz

The following opinion piece was submitted to WWL by a full-time faculty member:

“Grassroots organizations grow stronger to the extent that their leaders go out and engage more people. It’s all about building as broad a base as you can. The right seems to get it much more about being committed and cooperating with other committed people, and going out and evangelizing. There is an evangelical spirit in their movement that is a great strength to them. And there hasn’t been a whole lot of that on the liberal side.”

Marshall Ganz, PhD

The Power of Real Grassroots Leadership

Barack Obama knew he needed the advice of  Marshall Ganz.  That is why President Obama followed Ganz’s organizing and training model in the 2008 election. Evidently the CCFT Executive Board is unfamiliar with the work of the brilliant Marshall Ganz. During the last general election cycle, the CCFT Executive Board voted to endorse David Baldwin for BOT Area 2 without involving the members. According to COPE Chair (and now Vice-President and Chief Negotiator), Debra Stakes, in an email written to a concerned member about the endorsement of David Baldwin: “Right before the end of the semester the council was introduced to two candidates, including Baldwin. There was a straw poll. It went to the EB. We knew about Barbara George. We feel that David would be an advocate for unions and their perspective.”

My first response to that was “Really?” So a small group of leaders got together and “decided” what was best for ALL the members of CCFT. The EB made a choice to exclude the members from the endorsement process and they endorsed Baldwin and gave him money even before the filing period closed. The COPE Chair even knew there was another very viable candidate, yet she and the other members of the EB chose not to even invite her to ask for the endorsement. Stakes now denies knowing that Trustee George (who captured over 62% of the vote on November 6, 2012) was running. How can we possibly trust this current leadership when they aren’t even honest with their own members?

The story gets even better. Without any input from the members, the EB voted to give Baldwin at least $5,500 toward his campaign. Anyone who knows anything about elections knows that Baldwin didn’t have a chance of winning this election. Why would the EB throw away nearly all the money in the COPE BOT Candidate account on a candidate that wasn’t going to win? Many members have questioned the EB members about this but they refuse to provide an answer.


Marshall Ganz is a senior lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He worked on the staff of the United Farm Workers for sixteen years before becoming a trainer and organizer for political campaigns, unions and nonprofit groups. He is credited with devising the successful grassroots organizing model and training for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign.

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