From the Executive Director

2007 and 2008 promise to be interesting years. Everything, it seems, is in flux. We see fissures developing in what had begun to appear to be a monolithic Right. We see the Left struggling to figure out what this moment means for us and how to take advantage of it in ways that reflect our values and support our missions (leaving no one out, no voice unheard and unnoted). These are times that remind us why PRA was born and why it continues. There is work to be done that PRA, with its 25-year history of research and analysis about the Right, is uniquely well-suited to do. I welcome this opportunity to tell you a bit about what we're doing, institutionally, to insure that we can continue to produce the work that our friends and allies have come to count on.

I trust you'll be able to tell from what you see here, as well as from the more regular emailed PRA Updates, The Public Eye, and a look at our web site, that life at the PRA offices is busy and productive. In addition to the two interns, from whom you'll hear more in [this issue], we have two library volunteers. In addition to adding Tarso to our staff as Research Director, we've welcomed Renee Sweeney as our Data Manager (and she's been doing a brilliant job of creating a new, accessible database for us). We have bid goodbye to Tom Louie, our Development Director, and are joined by two consultants: Kathy LeMay, who is helping us with our major donor initiatives, and Helen Crowley, who is heading up our work with foundations. These two are not only doing great work but are buying us time and space to make deliberate decisions about the structure of the development department before beginning the daunting task of looking for Tom's successor. And, by the time you receive this, our Office Manager, Cindy King, will be on her way out the door as, on June 30th, she marries (yay, Massachusetts) and moves to Florida.

Busy and productive. Our research and communications staff continue to produce and disseminate top notch reports, articles, presentations, and speeches. Journalists and students continue to call to pick our brains or visit to use our library. We continue to reach out to our allies to build coalitions that will insure that the work we produce is the work the folks in the field need. And we continue to develop new ways to make that work accessible to a variety of audiences with a variety of needs and resources. The Public Eye benefits from close cooperation and coordination between our research and editorial teams. Our web site is being re-worked to make it intuitively accessible to people with varying levels of expertise in the field. Scholars and other "deep" users will still be able to drill down to access all our reports but casual users and novices will benefit from a home page that highlights current news, events, and issues of interest. Browsers will easily find pages dedicated to each of our issue areas - reproductive and LGBTQ justice, racial and economic justice, and civil liberties, with special attention to the Christian Right. And we're experimenting with radio production, podcasting, distance learning opportunities and other ways to expand and diversify our reach.

We're also building the internal systems that will enhance our work and our outreach. From the website to the database, from accounting systems to cataloging systems, from work teams to development planning, we're building the infrastructure that will support PRA's work into its next quarter-century. And you, our friends, colleagues, and supporters, have been, and continue to be, essential to all of this work. Your financial support (our 2007 end of year appeal broke all our past records - thank you), your advice and collegiality, your friendship and moral support, they all are essential to what we do and who we are. Thank you for sharing with us in this work.

Katherine Ragsdale


Spring/Summer 2007

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