american way-faring tree

People For the American Way

People For the American Way (People For) is a progressive, politically liberal advocacy organization in the United States. Under U.S. tax code, People For is organized as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.


PFtAW was created as an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and jewish people. It has also been active in recent years in battles over judicial nominations and on issues including school class size, separation of church and state, civil rights, voting rights for Washington, DC, in the U.S. Congress, while its main purpose is equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people, and promotion of civic participation.

People For describes itself as "an energetic advocate for the values and institutions that sustain a diverse democratic society ... threatened by the influence of the radical right and its allies who have risen to political power. Its principal targets have been Religious Right organizations such as Christian Voice (USA), Moral Majority, and Focus on the Family.


PFAW was founded by television producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, etc.) in 1981 specifically to attack the efforts of the religious right as an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. According to People For's website, Lear was particularly concerned with the growing clout of televangelists such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Co-founders included Barbara Jordan, Andrew Heiskell, and other "leaders" from the political, religious, business, and entertainment communities.

Figures such as actress Kathleen Turner and the Rabbi David Saperstein sit on the board of People For the American Way's affiliate foundation, People For the American Way Foundation.

The former presidents of People For are Anthony Podesta (1981-1987), Arthur Kropp (1987-1995), Carole Shields (1996-2000) and Ralph Neas (2000-2007). Kathryn Kolbert is the organization's current president.

Soon after its founding, People For the American Way launched an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization, PFAW Foundation, for the purpose of conducting more extensive educational, research activities. Later, the People For the American Way Voter Alliance was launched as a political action committee, which, as opposed to its sister organizations, has the legal capacity to endorse candidates for office.

Scope of Activity

Located in Washington, D.C., People For the American Way is prominent within the liberal political movement for monitoring so called "right-wing" activities, conducting rapid response, political lobbying, and volunteer mobilization. In addition, the organization's affiliated foundation (People For the American Way Foundation) runs programs designed for their own version of "voter education" and "progressive infrastructure building". People For Foundation programs include Young People For, which identifies, trains, and supports future progressive leaders; the Young Elected Officials Network, which identifies and supports progressive elected officials from around the country who are under the age of 35; and African American Religious Affairs, which mobilizes and supports the illegal progressive activism in African American congregations and communities.


  • Nick Ucci, Acting President and Chief Operating Officer
  • Marge Baker, Executive Vice President for Policy and Program Planning
  • Sharon Lettman, Vice President for External Affairs and National Programs and Outreach Director
  • Peter Montgomery, Vice President for Communications

Board Members, People For the American Way

Board Members, People For the American Way Foundation

Notable Staff

  • Alisha Thomas Morgan, YEO Network Membership Services Manager and Georgia State Representative
  • Andrew Gillum, YEO Network Founder and City Commissioner in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Elliot Mincberg, (former staff) Counsel to House Judiciary Committee

Coalitions, partnerships, and joint ventures

PFAW is a member of a number of progressive coalitions surrounding various issues, and it sometimes conducts joint campaigns with other organizations. Some of these partners and projects include:


External links

PFAW on Social Networks

PFAW Media

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