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Barbara Jordan Leadership Award
The Barbara Jordan Leadership Award is given to a young elected official who has shown dedication and support to the YEO Network and has a distinguished record of public service to their community and the progressive movement at large.
Based on this criteria, the YEO Network has nominated five outstanding YEOs:
- City Council Member Melvin Carter
- State Senator Jamie Eldridge
- Town Council Member Angela Garretson
- County Legislator Nathan Shinagawa
- County Commissioner Dave Woodward
The winner will be announced at the 2011 YEO National Convening in June. In the spirit of a convening for YEOs by YEOs, this award will be given to the nominee voted for by YEO Network members.
Council Member Melvin Carter (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Melvin W. Carter III represents Ward 1 on the Saint Paul City Council. A native of Minnesota, he attended Florida A&M University and became engaged in electoral politics after his brother was turned away from a Florida polling precinct during Election 2000.
Council Member Carter is passionate about building the progressive movement and helping others engage. He serves as Minnesota State Director for the YEO Network, and has trained organizers and candidates in 26 states with several national organizations, including Wellstone Action, People For the American Way Foundation, and Progressive Majority. Back home, he can often be found hosting unique events, such as "Candidate Karoake," an annual candidate forum where participants have to sing before they can speak!
Inspired by the work of the Harlem Children's Zone, Carter in 2009 created the Frogtown/Summit-University Community Investment Campus, a partnership between city, county, school, and community leaders to support high quality education outcomes for all children. Just one year later, this initiative won a highly competitive federal Promise Neighborhoods Grant to continue that work on a larger scale.
An advocate for transit equity, Carter has fought tirelessly for residents and businesses along Saint Paul's planned Central Corridor Light Rail Line. As part of a broad community movement, Carter has worked to secure additional stations, support local businesses through construction, and create employment training and affordable housing opportunities along the Corridor.
Carter holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida A&M University, and has studied at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. His wife, Alecia, is an occupational therapist in the Saint Paul Public Schools, and they have two daughters, Maylena (5) and Naomi (3).
State Senator Jamie Eldridge (Massachusetts)
Jamie Eldridge has served as State Senator for the Middlesex and Worcester district in Central Massachusetts since January 2009. Previously, Jamie served as State Representative for the 37th Middlesex district, after being the only "Clean Elections" candidate to be elected to public office in Massachusetts history in November 2002. Jamie is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Boston College Law School.
As a progressive, Jamie is known for his leadership and independence on behalf of his constituents. During his time in the Legislature, he has been one of the leaders of the movement to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts, proposed and passed the state's newest anti-poverty program (Individual Development Accounts), helped lead the successful effort to close corporate tax loopholes, and was part of any effort to overhaul the way education is framed in Massachusetts, resulting in significantly more state education aide for local communities. Jamie has also been a strong and vocal advocate for campaign and ethics reform, increased environmental protections, and universal access to health care.
Town Council Member Angela Garretson (Hillside, New Jersey)
Council Member Angela R. Garretson was elected to the Hillside Township in 2009 as an at-large member. As a former School Board Member, she advocated to empower future generations of youth, and continues to serve the needs and interests of the intergenerational community. Garretson is committed to providing a fiscally responsible approach to budget spending, and advocating policies based on open dialogue, consensus building, and the exchange of accurate information.
Council Member Garretson is the Newark Schools Research Collaborative (NSRC) Community Liaison. She is currently leading the evaluation of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Mayor Cory Booker's community engagement initiative, conducting a Ford study on prinicipal hiring practices in Newark, and researching young elected officials and leaders locally and nationally. She also teaches university courses in Government and Nonprofits, the Urban Experience in the United States, and the History of Education. Garretson continues to serve as a legislative staffer in the 29th district that covers Hillside and Newark, NJ.
Council Member Garretson enjoys her roles because she loves fostering community development and working with residents, community members, students, and government officials. Council Member Garretson received her undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and is a doctoral candidate in education policy at Rutgers University.
County Legislator Nathan Shinagawa (Ithaca, New York)
Nathan Shinagawa is a progressive county legislator representing Ithaca, NY. He was elected at the age of 21 and is the first Asian American ever elected in Tompkins County. For over five years, he's led the county on health care reform, environmental protection, and alternatives to incarceration issues.
Nathan strongly believes that good leaders train and develop other leaders. He serves as a trainer for the Front Lines Leaders Academy and has served on issue and Convening steering campaigns for the Young Elected Officials Network. Locally, he has led successful campaigns to elect three young people (under 25 years-old) to the City Council.
As a legislator and the County's Budget and Personnel Chair, Nathan led negotiations of a $147 million budget. He has also served as the Chair of Public Safety and Health & Human Services for Tompkins County. In 2006, the Central New York State Labor Council named Nathan the "Friend of Labor" for his legislative work to provide affordable health care access to working families. In 2008, the Japanese American Citizen's League named Nathan a "Rising Champion" in the Asian American Community.
In addition to holding office, Nathan serves as an Administrative Director for Guthrie Healthcare System - a nationally recognized health care system for its high quality and low costs. He leads Guthrie's campaign to change the culture of health care. This change includes breaking down punitive hierarchies, promoting safey, and empowering workers to contribute to the exceptional care of patients. He also speaks widely throughout Central NY on health care reform.
Nathan received his Bachelor of Arts and Master in Health Administration from Cornell University.
County Commissioner Dave Woodward (Royal Oak, Michigan)
County Commissioner Dave Woodward has been a young elected official for more than 12 years. At the age of 22, he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, where he served the maximum terms under term limits, and was then elected to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners where he is serving his fourth term.
Some of Dave's policy accomplishments include: fighting to protect the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit which helps poor working families meet basic family needs; securing $1.5 million annually to support sexual assault nurse examiner programs across Michigan; and creating the Oakland County Microloan Program that helps microenterprise and small businesses gain access to $2 million in new capital when banks deny credit - the program is estimated to create or protect 400 jobs.
Professionally, Dave has spent the last six years training other progressives to lead change in their community by becoming more effective activists, organizational or campaign leaders, and candidates for office. Through his work as the state director for Center for Progressive Leadership, and most recently the state director for Progressive Majority, Dave has trained hundreds of progressive in Michigan and across the county.
Dave's commitment to social and economic justice doesn't stop at public serve or professional work. In a volunteer capacity, Dave led an effort to form Oakland Health Plan, Inc., a nonprofit providing health care to nearly 6,000 low income individuals. Currently serving as president of the board, Dave continues to push for innovative ways to increase access to health care for county residents.
Dave and his wife Stacie, an education consultant, have a daughter named Alice, with another daughter arriving in August. They live in metro Detroit, MI.