POLITICS

Key Progressive Group To Be Absorbed By Wellstone Action

NOI's RootsCamp to be postponed.

WASHINGTON -- After a year of tumult, the New Organizing Institute is being folded into another progressive organization, Wellstone Action, which was founded after the death of iconic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, sources told The Huffington Post.

NOI is most known for its trainings of radical and progressive organizers held during RootsCamp, which the group calls its "unconference," as well as other digital training camps.

The next RootsCamp was scheduled for December, but is being pushed back until early 2016.  

"I’m grateful for everything the NOI community has done and built together. While NOI as an organization is ending, I’m excited about this new chapter, and thrilled that Wellstone will continue this important work," NOI co-founder Judith Freeman said in a statement provided to HuffPost.

NOI's unraveling was hastened when a group of its senior leaders presented its board with an ultimatum: They would walk if the organization's executive director was not fired in a short amount of time. The board didn't immediately concede to the demand, and the staffers resigned. The executive director was later removed from his job. 

While abruptly presenting a board, without prior warning or conversations, with such a demand might seem unusual, anybody who has worked with the new millennial generation (an exception, of course, being the well-adjusted staff at HuffPost) would recognize the move.

"There is an entire new generation of online strategists in the world today who, while brilliant, don't always have much patience for stuff or knowledge of those who paved the way," said one source familiar with the NOI situation and staffers. 

Ben Goldfarb, Wellstone’s executive director, said in a statement he looks forward to working with the former NOI crew.

"The NOI community has so much to be proud of," he said. "We’re humbled by the opportunity to integrate this work into Wellstone’s programs for progressive leaders and organizations across the country and build on the foundation that NOI created."

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m. -- The dig at millennials aside, NOI trained thousands of people over its tenure, launching a generation of activists that work across a broad swath of organizations, government institutions and issues. Sources on both sides of the dispute say the attempted intervention by the staff, however it may have been handled, was made with the best interests of the organization in mind. Likewise, sources on both sides say, an autopsy of the situation confirmed that the executive director made significant mistakes before that intervention.

In a statement to HuffPost, the board of NOI distanced itself from the swipe at millennials above.

"The board of NOI disagrees with, in the strongest possible terms, the anonymous person quoted by the Huffington Post. This is a time for progressives to come together and build the digital training programs that will continue to drive the success of our movement," the statement read.

Below is the announcement the group has since sent:

A Message from NOI’s Board and Advisors

Dear Friends,

As NOI’s strongest and most steadfast supporters, we want you to be the first to hear this news: today, we announced that our friends and partners at Wellstone Action will carry forward our work to develop the next generation of progressive data and digital strategists.

You already know that NOI was founded on the belief that well-trained organizers who can harness new technology and information can change the way we organize and win campaigns. For 10 years, we’ve trained both emerging and advanced progressive leaders in the cutting- edge tactics of organizing, digital strategy, and data management.

The programs you know and love – Data Bootcamp, Digital Bootcamp, and RootsCamp, among others – will continue under Wellstone’s leadership. We believe that bringing these programs under Wellstone, with its reputation for excellence, its deep commitment to social justice, and its expertise in training candidates, campaigners, and organizers across the country, is an exciting moment for our movement. Tens of thousands of progressive leaders already turn to Wellstone to deliver the skills and strategies we need to make big change. While NOI as an organization is ending, this move will ensure that NOI’s foundational work to develop the next generation of data and digital strategists will continue for years to come.

We are so very grateful for everything our NOI community has done and built together, and truly excited about this new chapter. We are also excited to introduce you to Ben Goldfarb, Wellstone’s Executive Director. Ben, and the team at Wellstone, are eager to hear from you right away about everything you’ve loved about our work at NOI, and everything you’re hoping for in this next chapter. Lend your voice here.

Thank you for all you’ve done to build the best leaders and strongest movements of our generation. We look forward to joining you as Wellstone continues this work.

With deep gratitude,

Becky Bond, James Rucker, and Judith Freeman of the NOI Board of Directors & Ari Rabin- Havt, Cammie Croft, and Larry Huynh of the Advisory Committee

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