From the Executive Director

Welcome to a new chapter in the life of PRA. Building on the remarkable work of our recently retired founding director, Jean Hardisty, and the whole staff, PRA is poised to leap vigorously into the future.

I come to PRA from over 20 years as a political activist. I started as the Executive Director of Common Cause/VA in 1983. Since then I've served on the national boards of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (17 years, 8 of them as Chair), NARAL Pro-Choice America, The White House Project, and the advisory board of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence. From these positions I've seen and admired PRA's work. I know how important it is. As an Episcopal priest (and Vicar of St. David's Church in Pepperell, MA) I'm especially appreciative of PRA's exploration of the Religious Rightó its roles, tactics, and players. I'm very pleased to offer my political experience and administrative skills to help steer PRA into the next exciting phase of its life.

PRA has taken this moment to pause and note the state and needs of the world around us; we've talked to our allies, and interviewed various people who have worked with us or used our work. We've determined that one of the most important roles PRA can play today, in addition to the first rate research and analysis for which we've long been known, is to provide a forum for the myriad voices that are too often being squelched by the apparatus of party-building that passes itself off as, but is not, movement-building.

You'll see more about that focus in this issue of PRAccess. We're working on making the Public Eye more accessible to diverse audiences and more responsive to diverse needs; we've convened a round-table of local activists to explore connection in our work; and we're nurturing our networks and looking for ever new ways to support our allies.

We're clear that there can be no useful frame without a compelling message and no compelling message without a broad vision of the positive good to which we aspire. And there can be no such vision without the voices of us all. We're hard at work here at PRA to help raise those voices, particularly among marginalized communities and those targeted by the Right, e.g., communities of color, low income people, youth, women and immigrants. All the while we continue to explain the nuances of the Right, to sound the warning when human rights and democratic principles are in jeopardy, and to support the work of the activists who are working every day to fulfill the vision we're all hoping to help articulate.

We appreciate your partnership and look forward to taking the next leg of this journey with you.

-- Katherine Ragsdale    

Fall/Winter 2005

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