Burns Strider

Founder Eleison Group, President American Values Network and Senior Advisor to Chair of American Bridge

Burns Strider, a native of Grenada County, Mississippi, is the founder and principal of Eleison LLC, President of the American Values Network, and Senior Advisor to the Chairman of American Bridge. Strider is best known as the Democratic Party's "faith guru" and advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the nation's diverse and complex tapestry of religious thought and communities. He was senior advisor to Clinton in her 2008 campaign for President.

Strider is one of the 12 most influential Democrats in the nation on faith and values politics according to the Religion News Service.

Eleison Group is the nation’s leading consulting firm committed to creating common ground between the political, business, and non-profit worlds with America’s diverse values-based communities. Strider advises a broad clientele including Reverend Jim Wallis and Sojourners, The Democratic National Committee, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, NRG Energy Corporation, the United Methodist Church, Catfish Growers of America, The Faith & Politics Institute, Oxfam America, Bread for the World, Harbor Wing Technologies and has advised over the past 3 electoral cycles on more than 100 U.S. House, Senate, statewide and national campaigns.

The American Values Network (AVN) is a nonprofit committed to educating, enrolling, and activating Americans in progressive causes. In its first year, AVN had a budget of over two million dollars largely focused on climate change and clean energy initiatives. A TV advertisement written and produced by AVN calling for ratification of the New START Treaty was recognized by the 'Campaigns and Elections' as the best issue advocacy advertisement in the nation for 2010.

American Bridge, its Correct the Record Division, employs a dedicated research, video, tracking, communications, and digital operation providing rapid response to false attacks from Republican politicians, party committees, and right-wing interests groups to meet its mission of electing a Democratic President in 2016.

Strider has served in an array of positions including Director of Policy for the U.S. House Democratic Caucus, Senior Advisor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Director of the U.S. House Democratic Faith Working Group and Rural Working Group, regional Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Ronnie Shows (D-MS).

Strider began his career as an intern in the early 90’s for then-Congressman Mike Espy (D-MS) and then-Senator Al Gore (D-TN). He also served as speechwriter to Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus.

In the mid-90's Burns spent three years in Hong Kong as a Missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention serving as youth minister at International Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist mega church on Hong Kong Island.

He has been a commentator for National Public Radio and has taught and lectured at various universities and workshops around the nation including Trinity College, University of Virginia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State University, Georgetown, Delta State University, Princeton, Harvard, Democratic National Conventions, Young Democrats of America and Camp Wellstone. He is a contributing blogger on Huffington Post, Faithful Democarts and The Mississippi Business Journal.

He is the son of the late and legendary Grenada County Sheriff Jesse A. “Big Daddy” Strider, who served Grenada County, Mississippi from 1966 – 1984 bringing about racial reconciliation, tearing down barriers and building bridges. He endorsed a young Mike Espy for Congress in 1986. This endorsement and the subsequent television advertisements help make Espy the first African American Congressman in Mississippi since reconstruction. David Halberstam, among others, has written about Sheriff Strider and his efforts for racial justice.

Burns’ oldest brother, today, serves as Grenada County sheriff and his family, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and others, live in Grenada, many on the Strider family farm.

Strider and his wife, Karen, a native of Kentucky, live in Washington, DC. They raise two nearly perfect boys, Will (12) and Pete (10). They are members of First Baptist Church of Washington.

Got a tip?

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.