Hans Johnson, WOMN ’92

Social and political change is possible only through sustained organizing built on trust and advocacy informed by history, effective strategy, and fluency with diverse communities. I did not learn this in kindergarten, though I had a great teacher there. I learned this in Women’s Studies, beginning at Wooster and continuing thereafter in Washington, DC, and through 25 years of work in every one of the 50 states.

My political consulting firm Progressive Victory has allowed me to teach and keep learning from others, build and advise organizations, and lead coalitions on the front lines of struggles for civil rights for women, LGBT people, and immigrants and to protect the environment.

In California, through such coalition efforts that bring together diverse leaders, we have led the shift away from destructive waste policies that worsen pollution and toward smarter policies that reduce dumping and costly blight and preserve the environment and climate. In 2014 Californians won the first statewide law in the country to ban throwaway plastic grocery bags, as part of the ongoing shift to reusable bags. In 2016, we secured that law through two victories in statewide ballot measures that were aimed at undermining and undoing the law.

As the late poet Adrienne Rich once wrote, “We must use what we have to invent what we need.” To win public policies that serve the public interest and create a more just and humane society requires that same tenacious and resourceful spirit.