“New Era’s quirky approach to politics is refreshing”5280 Magazine
We have some big news to share…
When we started New Era 10 years ago, I never expected that we’d grow this quickly, to have the impact we’re having now. We’ve engaged more than a million young people face-to-face, and added well over 100,000 of them to the voting rolls in Colorado. We’ve passed innovative policies to begin tackling our generation’s biggest challenges, and we’ve modernized our state’s elections to make our democracy more accessible for all voters.
But, I’ve always felt that even if we all vote, and even with the best ideas to fix what’s broken, we still need one key ingredient–an ingredient that serves as a catalyst for change more than anything else: leaders.
In other words, we often know what needs to be done–but sometimes we just need more leaders to help with the how.
That’s where Lizzy Stephan comes in. I first met Lizzy in 2010 when she volunteered for New Era in Colorado Springs. She joined our team in 2012, moving quickly from Organizer to Organizing Director to Deputy Director.
And soon, Lizzy will lead from a new role: Executive Director.
New Era’s Board of Directors unanimously and enthusiastically voted to make Lizzy Stephan New Era’s next Executive Director, as of April 18th.
Over the last four years, Lizzy has been the engineer of our most effective organizational innovations. She’s brought our work to a new scale, while making what we do more strategic, data-driven, and systematized. And along the way, she’s trained interns to run voter registration drives in Waldo costumes, prepared dozens of volunteers to testify in front of Colorado’s legislature, and she’s punched thousands of Vote, F*cker buttons. In short, Lizzy bleeds the New Era kool-aid and will ensure we continue to always beat our best. She has the vision and the experience to lead New Era into our next chapter.
I’ve spent ⅓ of my life as New Era’s Executive Director, so it’s bittersweet to transition out of that role. However, I genuinely can’t think of anyone I’d rather have take over the amazing privilege of being the leader of New Era Colorado. I’m confident Lizzy will take this organization to new heights and I’m incredibly excited for the future. As for me, in mid-April I’ll transition into the role of Strategic Advisor for the transition period to help everything go as smoothly as possible and ensure we don’t miss a beat for the upcoming 2016 election.
Until then, I invite you to bombard Lizzy with congratulatory notes and gifs. You can drop her an email here: Lizzy@neweracolorado.org.
Steve & the New Era Colorado Board of Directors
We just kicked off our 2016 voter registration efforts and are excited to announce that we’re already at 1,379 registered voters. Volunteer with us and let’s break youth turnout records this year.
Who are these people? And why are they pointing at the ceiling?
A few short weeks ago, we said a big ‘ol “WELCOME, EVERYBODY!” to our biggest internship class ever. We couldn’t be more excited to work with this crew all spring. Stay tuned to see what these movers + shakers accomplish in the coming months!
In the summer of 2006, I stepped on stage and took the mic at Club Vinyl. I welcomed a big crowd of people who probably weren’t quite sure why they were spending their afternoon at a Denver nightclub. Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff joined me on stage. At that moment, they were probably having serious doubts about their staff’s judgement in adding this stop to their schedules.
The event was the kickoff party for a newly-minted organization, whose purpose was to “reinvent politics for a new generation.” We called it New Era Colorado.
I don’t remember what I said on stage that day. But I do know that I had no idea what the next ten years of my life were about to look like.
In those early days, we took a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to getting New Era off the ground. Budgeting, fundraising, and management structures were learned via some serious “on the job training.” I was 22 years old. Managed by a board of 22-year-olds. I kept my tie hanging in my closet pre-tied out of fear of not remembering how to do it next time.
Looking back, serving as the Executive Director for New Era has been both the hardest and most meaningful thing I’ve ever done. I feel enormously lucky to have had the opportunity to pour my heart into something like this.
I told myself over the past few years that as soon as I felt like New Era was in a place where it could be handed off, then I would do that so someone else can shepherd the organization into its next ten years. Thanks to the incredibly talented and dedicated staff team, our board of directors, and our generous supporters, I feel that now is that time.
So, here goes nothing: I’m writing to you today to announce that I’ll be transitioning out of my current role at New Era in the spring of next year. This week, the Board of Directors will be kicking off a comprehensive hiring process to find New Era’s next Executive Director.
New Era’s next Executive Director will be inheriting an organization with a track record of always striving to beat its “best”–and a roadmap of how to continue to be one of the most innovative, impactful and fun organizations in the country. Over the past several months, the board and staff have been investing considerable time into creating a strategic plan for New Era’s future. The intention isn’t to write a step-by-step plan, but to articulate a “North Star” for our work–to solidify the values and truths that have been core to our organization’s success–and to provide enough direction for our next generation of leaders to blaze a trail of even more impact.
I don’t know exactly what’s in store for New Era’s next decade, but I do know that it will continue to be an organization that thinks big and takes risks. It will continue to break down the barriers which prevent young people from shaping their own future. It will continue to invite new voices into the political process to be a force for a more fair, just, and sustainable world. And, of course, it will continue mobilizing a generation that will solve the problems nobody else can.
But, I’m not going anywhere just yet. I’ll still be here for several more months and there’s a lot to do to make sure New Era runs the biggest and best statewide young voter engagement program next year. And when I do transition out, I will remain involved in whatever capacity is most helpful.
In the meantime, thank you for helping us “make it.” It’s been an incredible honor. For now, let’s get back to work. There’s more to be done.
It’s been a year since you ignited our Campaign for Local Power and put us on the path to defeat Xcel Energy 2:1.
Since, Boulder’s taken some big steps towards forming our own local electric utility, and we thought you’d want to know about ‘em.
First of all: last week, it came out that Xcel “inadvertently” included campaign expenses in its request to raise rates on Colorado customers. It was almost half a million dollars. Oops?
Now, here’s the quick & dirty version of updates from Boulder:
The city of Boulder is making a ton of progress so far. They’ve taken the first steps towards transitioning the utility’s infrastructure (i.e., poles & wires) from Xcel, and they’re launching a two year-long pilot program to learn more about Boulder’s energy usage so that the utility can better serve our community.
Unsurprisingly, Xcel’s refusing to cooperate–they’re suing the city of Boulder & organizing some sketchy opposition–the latest in its efforts to keep Boulder from creating our own city-owned utility.
Despite Xcel’s shenanigans, things are really moving. It’s incredible. Thanks for helping us get here–we wouldn’t be able to update you on the progress of our local electric utility without the huge swell of grassroots support that powered our campaign to this point.
Big news–on Saturday, New Organizing Institute announced that we won their “Most Valuable Campaign of 2013” award!
To say that we’re excited and grateful would be an enormous understatement.
We just wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you. Thank you for believing in us–in local power–enough to invest whatever you could in this campaign–be it your time, your support, or a donation.
You saw right away that this campaign was bigger than Boulder, and you stepped up. You gave us hope and renewed our faith in the power of communities to build the world we dream of.
This award belongs to all of you. We can’t thank you enough.
Are you one of our future interns? We sure hope so.
We’re now accepting applications for our 2014 spring internship programs in Denver & Boulder! You, yes you, should apply.
Here’s the scoop – quick & dirty version:
WHAT: New Era’s spring 2014 internship program, focused on building grassroots campaigns to impact policy makin’ during Colorado’s legislative session. Fine-tune your leadership skills, get your hands dirty, & learn to advocate for the issues you care about like the boss you are & the leader you were born to become.
WHO: We are looking for a solid crew of energized of folks who are pumped (excessively so) to learn the ropes. No experience necessary! Seriously.
WHEN: The program starts in early February, ends in late April. We’re accepting apps on a rolling basis, so get yours in!
Sold? Ok great – here’s where you can download an application. Get that sucker in ASAP, got it?
Still not sold? Check us out on Facebook to get a feel for what we’re all about, creep on former interns, or email us (info(at)neweracolorado(dot)org) to grill us about the program. Or just read more here.
Email info(at)neweracolorado(dot)org with questions, concerns, or gift ideas for fathers because we’re having a hard time with it.
Tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day, a statewide, 24-hour blitz to support Colorado nonprofits.
We are writing today to ask for your support, because you of all people know what we can do if we head full-force into 2014.
2013 has been an incredible year for us, to say the least–and we’re ready for an even bigger 2014, because it’s critical that young people have a strong say in shaping the future of our state.
This year, we ran the biggest campaign in our organization’s history–and we need to be bigger next year. We helped pass game-changing elections access legislation–and we need to make sure young voters take advantage of it next fall.
After a year like this one, it is clear that what we are doing is working. And there’s more where that came from.
We want to increase the youth vote share in Colorado, train dozens more leaders, and engage hundreds more volunteers. And we’re ready for it: this year alone, we made over 100,000 voter contacts. In the last two years, we have registered over 40,000 voters.
If you believe Colorado deserves a more hands-on democracy, if you know young voters will shape our state in 2014 and beyond, and if you think we’re the right organization for the job: please support our work today to have a lasting impact on Colorado tomorrow.
Thank you for your support–past, present, and future. It means the world to us.
-Steve, Carrie, Alexis, Nina, Lizzy, and Molly
Last week’s victory in Boulder was the result of a transformative grassroots campaign made possible by literally thousands of individual people.
We won this round because of you—and we need you to commit to helping us win the next one by becoming a monthly member. A small monthly donation of any amount ensures that we can keep fighting, but on a larger scale—and it ensures that we stay innovative, independent, and nimble.
In honor of our campaign this year we’re hoping you can help make 310 (Xcel’s ballot measure) our lucky number and get us to 310 monthly members by the end of the year. Our efforts this year shouldn’t just go down in history as defeating a bad ballot measure–they should represent something so much bigger than that, which requires long-term work.
Monthly members allow us to grow this movement and engage young people in our democracy on a larger scale than we would have imagined before all of this. It’ll also allow us to keep tabs on Xcel in Boulder to ensure what we fought for becomes reality.
Thank you again for getting us this far. Here’s to moving forward together and reclaiming our democracy for all our communities.
Tonight, we stood up. We stood up and said NO to corporate control of our energy future. But more importantly, we said yes to something so much bigger: people.
Yes, this was a campaign about energy. About our planet. About a corporation that just refuses to change. But all along what it was really about was people. People made this victory possible.
People like you: The one who lives in Alabama and mailed us your laptop for our phone-banks. The one we phone-banked to talk about the issue and then came by our office an hour later to drop off drinks for our volunteers who were working late. You sent us the only money you had in your pocket, you brought us food, you spent every Saturday volunteering, and you sent us the kindest notes from around the world that kept our team going. You have moved us to tears, energized us to reach beyond our capacity, and sustained us through each day. You renewed our belief that our communities are strong enough to bring about the changes we need–and you made us certain that we would prevail.
For the second time, our grassroots campaign defeated a coal industry giant.
And for the second time, it is crystal clear: Xcel’s dirty money can’t buy community, trick voters, or inspire young voters to enter the political process. It can’t spark neighbor-to-neighbor outreach. It can’t mobilize a diehard army of volunteers.
Only people can do that. And boy–did we have people.
Over 1 million of you watched the story of our campaign. Over 6,000 of you gave to grow our reach. And because of that support, our volunteers and organizers were able to log over 100,000 voter contacts. In short, this has been the definition of a grassroots campaign because of you.
For those of you far away: This fight has always been as much about our community as it is about yours. Thank you for supporting us, for sticking with us till the end. Honestly, without you, we might have lost our democracy to the highest bidder this round.
But now, with this behind us, we are able to continue working to create a model for how communities around the country can take control of their energy future.
Our communities need an impactful strategy to combat climate change. We are proud to have fought for this one alongside each of you, and we look forward to the work ahead.
For now, though, we have this to say: Go home, Xcel. Your money is no good here.
Now get some sleep.
Steve, Carrie, Becca, Molly, Lisa, Nina, Jenn, Alexis, Getzan, Gary, Lizzy, Nina, Brian, Chris, Elena, Kate, Jonah, Ellie, Kaitlin, Rhiannon, Jill, Susan, Arielle, William, Nathan, Becca, Jackson, Galen, Alayna, Gina, Toni, Sidney, Kathryn, Jourdan, Mitchell, Nora, Becca K, Daniela, Julia, and Lauren