Progressive States Network Welcomes New Executive Director and Chairman of the Board

March 18, 2011

Progressive States Network is pleased to announce the appointment of Ann Pratt as Executive Director and the election of State Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa) as Chairman of the Board.

Read the letter from Senator Bolkcom welcoming Progressive States Network's new Executive Director, Ann Pratt.

Read the letter from State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (Texas), Progressive States Network's outgoing Chairman of the Board, welcoming Ann Pratt and Senator Bolkcom to their new leadership roles.

Ann Pratt, Executive Director

Ann brings thirty years of community organizing experience to Progressive States Network, including ten years of building and directing a diverse range of community organizations including neighborhood organizations, large social service agency, labor unions, regional faith-based organizing initiatives and statewide parent and child advocacy organization. Most recently, Ann directed the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, a statewide advocacy organization committed to improving outcomes for young children. She has worked extensively on advancing progressive policies in Connecticut, including the nationally recognized “Sustinet” health care legislation, and recently spearheaded an initiative calling for the creation of a Department of Early Education that would serve children from birth to five years of age.

Ann’s extensive history of organizing includes working with the Greater Hartford Interfaith Coalition for Equity and Justice, a regional faith-based organization; serving as the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), a 25 year-old community organization working to improve the quality of life for Hartford residents; spearheading a faith-based initiative supporting the organizing activities of the CT State Council, SEIU; and serving as a national trainer for Building One America, an organization committed to addressing social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic growth.

Ann graduated from Oberlin College in 1991 with a BA in Political Science. She is married and is the proud mother of a 19 year old son.

Senator Joe Bolkcom, Chairman of the Board

Senator Joe Bolkcom was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1998 and is currently serving his fourth term representing residents of Iowa City and University Heights. He previously served for six years (1993-1998) on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Senator Bolkcom was elected a Senate Assistant Majority Leader for the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions and is the current Chair of the Ways & Means Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Commerce, Natural Resource & Environment, and Human Resources committees, as well as the Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee.

Before becoming a County Supervisor, Senator Bolkcom worked for three years at the Johnson County Public Health Department addressing the county’s leading health issues, including youth access to tobacco products and environmental health concerns.

Prior to that and for nearly a decade, Senator Bolkcom helped found and direct two senior citizen advocacy organizations fighting for lower health care costs for seniors in Iowa and Illinois. He has also been active in state and local environmental protection efforts.

Senator Bolkcom lives in Iowa City. He graduated from Saint Ambrose University and earned a masters degree in Public Affairs from the University of Iowa.

Dear Friends,

The work of Progressive States Network could not be more needed or important at this time in our history. Working people and the middle class are currently under assault in statehouses across the nation, while states face worsening budget crises and a right-wing machine focused on using the states as venues to push our nation even further backwards.

For the past five years, Progressive States Network has been on the front lines of these battles, helping to build a national movement of advocates, legislators, and activists across multiple issue areas in all fifty states dedicated to protecting the economic security of working families and advancing prosperity for all.

As the new, incoming Chairman of Progressive States Network, I am proud to report that with new leadership of both our Board of Directors and staff, we are ready and prepared for the fights that lie ahead.

First, Progressive States Network’s Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome Ann Pratt as Progressive States Network’s new Executive Director. Ann brings the kind of vision and experience that will be critical in taking our work to the next level. Ann was most recently the Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, and brings to Progressive States Network thirty years of organizing experience working with a diverse cross-section of constituencies including local, state, and national community organizations as well as an extensive history of organizing work with faith leaders, parents, early care and education advocates, and labor.

Second, Progressive States Network is pleased to welcome a new member to our Board, Ellen Bravo. Ellen is the Executive Director of Family Values @ Work Consortium, a former National Director of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, and a national leader within the women’s and work-life balance movements. In addition to being a valuable ally of Progressive States Network, Ellen also brings a wealth of organizational and strategic expertise to the leadership of PSN.

Progressive States Network’s current good standing in the face of national challenges is due to the hard work of our board and staff under the leadership and vision of our outgoing Board Chairman, Texas Representative Garnet Coleman. Together with our current board and staff, I would like to offer my deep thanks to Rep. Coleman for his hard work and many contributions to our organization and our states. Under his leadership, Progressive States Network has built a strong foundation for advancing progressive state policies by developing relationships with key legislators and allies in every state in the country.

I would also like to recognize the dedicated, hard work of current Board members Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Lisa Seitz Gruwell, Colorado Senator Morgan Carroll, Wisconsin Senator Spencer Coggs, Cathy Duvall of the Sierra Club, Maryland Delegate Tom Hucker, Washington Senator Karen Keiser, Kerry Korpi of AFSCME, Georgia Senator Nan Orrock, former Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree, and Inga Skippings of SEIU in stepping up to prepare for our future.

I come to my new responsibility as Chairman after serving three years on Progressive States Network’s Board. I am an organizer at heart. Thirty years ago, I accepted an organizer position with Older Americans for Elderly Rights, where I worked to organize low and moderate income seniors in Western Illinois around health and income security issues. I’m now serving in my thirteenth year representing the residents of Iowa City in the Iowa Senate. I have also served as Assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa Senate, as a County Supervisor on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, and as a public servant within a county public health department.

In my state, as in every state, we are facing historically critical challenges: the increasing concentration of wealth and income disparity, an assault on the rights and job security of workers, opposition to investments in green jobs and 21st century infrastructure, economically destructive attempts to scapegoat immigrants, insecurity in our health care and pension systems, and a virtual corporate takeover of our political system that helps enable all of the above.

As we have seen just in the past few weeks alone, the battlegrounds for these fights – and the opportunities for success in the future – are the states.

We have work to do. The new leaders of Progressive States Network and our financial supporters are ready to take this on.

Very best,

Joe Bolkcom
Chairman of the Board, Progressive States Network

Back to top

Dear Friends,

I joined the board of the Progressive States Network in 2005, and in 2008 I became co-chair. It has truly been a pleasure to watch the organization grow and build an influential voice, both on the state and national level.

The work that we're doing at PSN is crucial to building a progressive movement across the country. The nuts and bolts involved in building the progressive agenda can be found on the state level, and PSN has done incredible work in tapping into that vast network of resources.

As the organization has grown, it has been a joy to watch the development of the annual lawmaker retreats. These retreats have helped to create lasting partnerships between lawmakers and influential advocates and individuals from across the country who share our goals and objectives, creating a lasting partnership.

What I'm most proud of is PSN's advocacy and collaboration with statewide and national partners, Congress and the White House in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Achieving healthcare for all Americans is a landmark accomplishment that will positively impact our nation for generations to come. It is now up to the states to ensure that those reforms are available for all Americans, and PSN is doing an excellent job ensuring that policymakers have the tools they need to continue this important task.

It's a sincere pleasure to welcome my friend, Sen. Bolkcom as our new Board Chair and Ann Pratt as our new Executive Director. I look forward to both of them bringing their strong leadership to Progressive States Network in their new positions as our organization enters this new and exciting phase in its growth.

I remain committed to the fundamental mission of PSN, and I look forward to working with Chairman Bolkcom and Ann as we move forward together.


Garnet F. Coleman
State Representative, Texas House of Representatives
Board Member, Progressive States Network


Back to top