Sheila Markin is a former Assistant US Attorney. She helps people to understand in plain English what is going on in US politics today. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post!
Who Is Genevieve Thiers?
Genevieve Thiers is a busy woman- a really busy woman! She is the founder of the Chicago based New Founders group that sprang from her personal reaction to Trump’s win. She was shocked into action. “He is a bully. I have had my share of experiences with bullies. I decided we needed to fix this.” And with that, she jumped in with two feet to be part of the solution by starting New Founders. (original name RISE, which you might have seen in their first few months.)
To start up New Founders, Genevieve has been pulling together people who know how to build things and giving them a platform to help to grow their progressive efforts as well as provide aplace to talk about their work. Genevieve has been busy with this effort but much more as well.
Growing up, Genevieve was one of seven children; she herself has two children, twins, age six. No wonder she understood the need for good babysitters in the city! She developed, launched and grew her company, Sittercity using a Match.com model applied to caregiving and took it from zero to millions internationally. It is now a highly successful international company as well. As if that wasn’t enough, Genevieve is also an accomplished opera singer who has sung leading solo roles at the Lyric Opera, Goodman, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Genevieve launched New Founders by bringing some amazing people into the room to work together; many women in tech who have what she calls a “hive brain” and a “fleet” of women, a “surge of problem solvers”, leading together to unlock the power of everyone around them. Thiers hit early on the fact that there is a new type of leader on the left—that she calls a “political builder” that does not wait to lead to make change. This type of leader follows a more Obama-like model in that they build first, and run second.
What is the goal? Genevieve saw after Trump won that there was a cloud of logos scaring donors away. There were so many new groups forming, and each one with a new leader at the center, but no organization to coordinate things in the center and aid them in making a coordinated voice. This is what NewFounders has become. Her group talks a lot about “winning the future”. How about a future where it is not only easy to vote but fun to vote? How about a future where it is cool to vote? How about a future where running for office is not so incredibly hard to do!? How about a future where we don’t care just about party issues and being hired back into our roles but on problem-solving instead?
Genevieve and her fleet of problem solvers will be meeting for this two-day conference, Wednesday, May 30th and Thursday, May 31st at the New Founders Conference #forthewin at Savage Smyth at 920 North Franklin Street in Chicago 60610. You can be there too and add your voice as well as hear about the remarkable new energy and new groups rising up out of the grassroots across our country. It’s pay what you can, and tickets can be found at www.newfoundersconference.com.
The conference starts on Day 1 with a look at GOTV efforts from major national leaders, incuding heads of MoveOn, Swingleft, Turnout PAC, DCCC, DNC, Rapid Resist and Let America Vote, then dives locally to highlight voices from ILDCCA, Chicago Women’s March, Chicago Votes, League of Women Voters, MarchOn and more. Day two begins with Parkland kids/MFOL activists, who will speak about their work against gun violence, and continues with leaders like Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Lauren Underwood, Crowdpac, Heidi Sieck, Sarah Sullivan, and more. The vibe of the conference is unique. Thiers likens it to SXSW meets TED meets a political conference. From presidential pretenders to cartoonists making personalized posters for attendees to the Jeremy McCarter book Young Radicals, there are many touches that a normal political conference might not have.
Intense, issue focused break-out sessions are also the focus of the conference. From how to fill empty seats to how to increase and collate our election data to how to help struggling towns to how to achieve gun reform in the face of the NRA funding of candidates, how to change access to and collection of election data, the group is examining serious issues and making white papers that wil be spum out post conference, each with 30 or so names on the front and a graphic novel format. From increasing voter registration in areas with poor turnout to how to engage millennials this November and in 2020, the group plans to work hard to show new and refreshing points of view.
These topics and many others are going to be presented by some of the most important new voices and thought leaders of our time. Many groups will be represented at this event including Swingleft, Let America Vote, DCCC, TurnoutPAC, MoveOn, Indivisible, Women’s March Chicago, Mobilize America and many more. And Brian Babylon, the comedian, will also be there to emcee and to entertain because politics and voting needs to be more fun, People!
If you care about what is happening to our country and you want to fix it, join this conference, the New Founders Conference #forthewin, and meet a lot of likeminded people and add your voice to the surge of problem solvers. This work is not easy. Thiers likens it to hemherroging money while punching herself in the face repeatedly. She has been the primary funder of her work, but this year the group has worked hard to bring a circle of donors around their initaititves so that they are sustainable for the future.