Institute of Politics

Heather McGhee

Senior Fellow at Demos & NBC News Analyst

Heather C. McGhee joined Demos in 2002 and served as its president from 2014 through June, 2018. A recognized thought leader on the national stage, McGhee is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow, advancing the vision of an equal say and an equal chance through her writing, public speaking and media appearances. McGhee is a NBC News Analyst and regular guest on shows such as NBC's Meet the Press and HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

McGhee is writing a major book to be published in 2019 about the personal, economic and societal costs of racism to everyone in America, including white people. She serves as a contributor to NBC News and frequently appears on shows such Meet the Press. Her opinions, writing and research have appeared in numerous outlets, including The New York Times, The Nation, and The Hill. She has received New York University’s McSilver Award for Leaders in the Fight Against Poverty, and Citizen Action of New York’s Progressive Leadership Award.

Over the years, McGhee’s work has had a profound influence on public policies and issues. Her efforts at Demos as both staff member and president have led to achievements that include: landmark consumer protections to rein in credit card abuses and save consumers over $50 billion in fees; critical contributions to policies that rewrote the rules for how financial institutions operate; billions in wage increases at large companies and for government contractors; four million low-income voters registered at DMVs and public agencies; and pro-democracy reforms, such as public campaign financing, same-day registration, and automatic voter registration, won in a dozen states and Washington, D.C.

McGhee currently serves on the boards of Color of Change, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.


“Progressives on the Front Lines: Moving Big Ideas into the Mainstream & into Law”

Legislative access and success come relatively easily for wealthy donors and corporate lobbyists, but who lobbies for the public? How do everyday people’s biggest unsolved problems get on the political radar? In this seminar, we will get to know some of the people who have proposed bold solutions to inequality and pushed them from the fringes to the center of the political debate. We’ll explore the complicated and increasingly narrow path from idea to law, engaging with questions of power and influence, media and money, research and advocacy.

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