Keynote Speaker

“Don’t Just Resist, Refuse: Why Progressives Need to Play Offense Even When They’re Down” by Gloria Totten, Founder and President of the Public Leadership Institute

Gloria TottenGloria A. Totten has directed nonprofit organizations and led advocacy and electoral campaigns on the federal, state and local levels for 25 years. She is the President and Founder of the Public Leadership Institute (PLI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy and leadership center organized to raise public awareness on key issues of equity and justice and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. PLI provides leadership development and communications training, develops and disseminates model legislation on a range of issues, and houses the nation’s largest network of progressive elected officials, comprised of nearly 13,000 lawmakers.

Prior to starting PLI, Gloria formed and ran Progressive Majority from 2001-2015 with the distinct mission to identify, recruit and elect progressive champions at the state and local levels. Progressive Majority became the largest, most comprehensive progressive candidate recruitment operation in the nation.

Gloria served as Political Director for NARAL from 1996-2001 and Executive Director for Maryland NARAL from 1993-1996. In her home state of Minnesota, Gloria worked on a number of electoral and issue campaigns, as the Education Director for Pro-Choice Resources, President and Lobbyist for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Media Chair for It’s Time Minnesota!, a campaign to expand anti-discrimination protections to GLBT individuals under the Minnesota Human Rights Code.

Gloria serves as chair of the board of directors for Brave New Films and as a board member for the New American Leaders Initiative and PowerPAC+ . She is an Advisory Committee Member for Oakland Rising Lead East Bay, Progress Now, Wellstone Action and the Women’s Information Network. Gloria was named a “Rising Star of Politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine and was awarded the “Progressive Champion Award” by Campaign for America’s Future and the “Progressive Leadership Award” by Midwest Academy. Gloria is the co-author of Voicing Our Values: A Message Guide for Policymakers.

We are excited to share that Gloria Totten has agreed to also lead a “Voicing Our Values” workshop for NH Progressive Summit participants!


Previous NH Progressive Summit Keynotes:

Arshad HasanArshad Hasan is the Chief Engagement Officer (CEO) for Greenpeace USA. As CEO he leads Greenpeace’s overall engagement efforts, enabling the organization to build stronger people-powered campaigns for change.

Previously Arshad served as Executive Director of ProgressNow & ProgressNow Education, strengthening the network’s core capacities and working with a talented, savvy team of communications professionals in 23 states. Before joining Progress Now, Arshad was the Executive Director of Democracy For America (DFA) for six years. In that time he doubled and then nearly tripled the size and reach of the organization, leading it through the challenges and triumphs of running a progressive political organization active in all 50 states. Arshad originally joined DFA in 2005 where he built the organization’s training program, growing it into one of the largest programs of its kind and training tens of thousands of activists online and in-person, including establishing the popular grassroots training programs DFA Campaign Academy and DFA Night School.

Prior to DFA, Arshad worked with a variety of PACs and non-profits on legislative issue campaigns, corporate accountability campaigns, grassroots fundraising and electoral campaigns. He began his career as an environmental organizer in the late 90s, canvassing neighborhoods to discuss national forest policy.

Active with a variety of organizations in the progressive world both locally and nationally, Arshad was honored to be elected Chair of the Board of Directors for Netroots Nation. Arshad has built a career building and developing the progressive movement’s modern generation of organizations, harnessing technology to build people-powered movements. He also occasionally takes a leave of absence to work for progressive campaigns around the country.

Arshad lives in Burlington, Vermont with his husband Abbott and fun-loving puppy Cole, and is known for baking bread while on long progressive planning conference calls.


Fekkak Mamdouh

Fekkak Mamdouh

Fekkak Mamdouh is a co-founder of the country’s first national restaurant worker organization, Restaurant Opportunities Center United, and co-author of The Accidental American, a high-profile book about his life and the story of ROC.

Fekkak Mamdouh came to the United States from Morocco in 1988 at the age of 27. Working in New York City restaurants since his arrival, he started at the restaurant Windows on the World in 1996 where he became a shop steward for the union and stood up for the rights of all workers. Workers from all shifts and positions turned to him for help and assistance on the job.  After September 11th, 2001, Mamdouh led search parties for the families of 73 victims who lost their lives at Windows, and was later hired by the union HERE Local 100 to staff a temporary operation known as the Immigrant Worker Assistance Alliance (IWAA) to provide relief services to his fellow displaced workers and to the families of his brothers and sisters who had lost their lives at Windows. In April 2002, after IWAA shut down, Mamdouh co-founded ROC-NY the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York; and in January 2008 he co-founded the country’s first national restaurant worker organization, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, which works to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s 10 million restaurant workers by raising restaurant industry standards. Mamdouh is the co-author of The Accidental American, a high-profile book about his life and the story of ROC.

Ariel JacobsonAriel Jacobson is the Development and Communications Director at ROC-United.

Prior to joining the organization, Jacobson was the Program Manager for Economic Justice at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an international human-rights organization. She has also worked with organizations focused on grassroots community development, the rights of women and Indigenous Peoples, and youth leadership development, including MADRE, the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

About ROC: Using tactics that include organizing workers, litigation, and public pressure, ROC demonstrates public consequences for employers that take the ‘low-road’ to profitability, such as violating workers’ rights and offering little chance of upward mobility. ROC recognizes that it is primarily workers of color who are concentrated in the industry’s “bad jobs” and that these restaurant workers have nowhere to turn for help, as most of the industry is non-unionized. For many, reporting abuses would mean losing their jobs; some fear deportation. Nationally, ROC has led and won 13 major campaigns against exploitation in high-profile restaurant companies, organizing more than 400 workers and winning more than $7 million in financial settlements and improvements in workplace policies.


Richard-Kirsch1Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of ‘Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States, published in February 2012 by the Rockefeller Institute Press.

In his current work for the Roosevelt Institute and as a Senior Adviser to USAction, Richard focuses on how progressives can tell a powerful, value-based story about our core beliefs. He also focuses on issues related to creating good jobs and writes about implementing the Affordable Care Act. Richard’s blog posts appear regularly on Next New Deal, the Huffington Post, and Salon.

Prior to joining the Institute, Richard was the National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now from the Campaign’s founding to its successful conclusion in April 2010. HCAN is a 1,100-member coalition, led by major progressive organizations, which deployed staff in 44 states and spent $47 million to organize for comprehensive health care reform. As HCAN’s chief spokesperson, Richard appeared on PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, ABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning America, Fox, CSPAN, and The Colbert Report and was frequently quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other national newspapers, as well as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace.

Richard led successful campaigns to provide affordable, comprehensive health coverage to more than 1 million working New York families. He is an author of New York’s Managed Care Consumer Bill of Rights, among the strongest HMO protection laws in the country. Richard helped direct a 1998 ballot initiative campaign that resulted in dramatic improvements in New York City’s system of providing public financing of elections.

Follow Richard on Twitter @_RichardKirsch.


Long-time political reporter and editor Michael McCord on political times and his forthcoming political satire “The Execution Channel: A Political Fable”.


Arnie-ArnesenD. Arnie Arnesen is a radio and TV commentator based in New Hampshire. Arnie currently hosts a daily two-hour talk show called “The Attitude” on WNHN 94.7 Concord NH. She has been recognized by the NH Association of Broadcasters as both Radio and TV Personality of the Year. Prior to her media career, Arnie worked as a low income advocate and an adult educator. In 1984 she was elected to the NH House of Representatives, where she served until 1992 when she ran against the former Democratic Party Chair and 5 term congressman to become the first female Democratic nominee for Governor.

In 1997 Arnesen was selected to be a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics at Harvard and began writing for the Boston Globe’s NH Weekly. For the last two decades Arnie has lectured at leadership programs across NH and has addressed a wide variety of groups from the Massachusetts based Theological Opportunities Program to local Rotaries and Chambers of Commerce to the Monadnock Summer Lyceum to the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women for Women and Politics at Iowa State to national Union groups across the US.

Arnie is a regular political commentator on Iowa Public Radio, WGBH, and WKBK in Keene NH. Every four years Arnie provides Presidential Primary analysis for such outlets as: New England Cable News, TV Ontario, SBS TV Australia, CNN and Al Jazeera English. Arnesen graduated from St. Olaf College in 1975 and received her JD from Vermont Law School in 1981. She currently resides in Concord, NH and can see the State House Dome from her house.


Richard ParkerRichard Parker is a Lecturer in Public Policy and Senior Fellow of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kenney School of Government.  An Oxford-trained economist, his career before coming to the Kennedy School in 1993 included journalism (he cofounded the magazine Mother Jones as well as Investigative Reporters & Editors, and chairs the editorial board of The Nation); philanthropy (as executive director of two foundations he donated more than $40 million to social-change groups); social entrepreneurship (he grew environmental group Greenpeace from 2,000 to 600,000 supporters, helped launch People for the American Way, and raised over $250 million for some 60 non-profits), and political consulting (advising, among others, Senators Kennedy, Glenn, Cranston, and McGovern). From 2009 to 2011 he was an economic advisor to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

His books include The Myth of the Middle Class, an early study of widening U.S. income and wealth distribution and Mixed Signals: The Future of Global Television, a critical assessment of the spread of satellite-based news and its political impacts. His intellectual biography, John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics, which traces the history of 20th century economic theory and policy through the career of Harvard’s most    famous economist, was described by William F. Buckley as “the best biography of the century”, by Sean Wilentz as “the best progressive history I’ve read in 15 years”, and by Keynes’ biographer Robert Skidelsky as “an unparalleled achievement.”

His academic articles appear in numerous academic anthologies and journals and he writes regularly for magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Nation, Harper’s, Le Monde, Atlantic Monthly, and International Economy, among others.


During the 2010 Roots Camp hosted by Granite State Progress and supported by partner organizations, former State Senators Maggie Hassan, Jackie Cilley, and Betsi DeVries kicked off the event with a discussion about what progressives need to do to build power and create lasting change for Granite State families and small businesses.