Progressive Policy Institute
Will Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), established in 1989 as a center for political innovation in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he has been one of the chief intellectual architects of the movement to modernize progressive politics for the global age.
Called “Bill Clinton’s idea mill,” PPI’s policy analysis and proposals were the source for many of the “New Democrat” innovations that figured prominently in national politics over the past two decades. The Institute also has been integral to the spread of “Third Way” thinking to center-left parties in Europe and elsewhere. Marshall is an honorary Vice-President of Policy Network, an international think tank launched by Tony Blair to promote progressive policy ideas throughout the democratic world.
Few Washington think tanks can match PPI’s record of translating ideas into action. Many of PPI’s signature policy reforms have been enacted into law, touching the everyday lives of lives of millions of Americans. Examples include voluntary national service through the AmeriCorps program; public charter schools, which now serve more than 2 million students nationwide; “work first” reforms that created incentives for work and ended welfare as we knew it; community policing, which has made crime-ridden neighborhoods safer; as well as wide-ranging efforts to “reinvent government” by breaking down bureaucracy, decentralizing power and demanding higher levels of performance from public programs.
Over the past decade, PPI has applied its trademark philosophy of radical pragmatism to a new array of challenges. For example, it has been in the vanguard of efforts to design a distinctly American hybrid of public-private action to assure affordable health care for all; to cap carbon emissions and create incentives for energy efficiency and innovation; to defend free trade and integrate the Muslim world into the global economy; to restore progressive taxation and fiscal responsibility in Washington; and, to shape a genuinely progressive alternative on defense and security.
Marshall is editor or co-editor of many books, including Memos to the New President (PPI, January 2009); With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); The AmeriCorps Experiment and the Future of National Service (PPI, 2005); Building the Bridge: 10 Big Ideas to Transform America (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997); and Mandate for Change (Berkley Books, 1992), PPI’s best-selling policy blueprint for President Clinton’s first term. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and many other newspapers, as well as The American Interest, The American Prospect, Democracy, and other journals.
Marshall also serves on the Washington, D.C. Public Charter School Board, which oversees 59 innovative “public charter schools” serving nearly 26,000 students in the nation’s capital. The Washingtonian magazine has said this of Marshall: “A University of Virginia graduate and former Richmond-Times Dispatch reporter, the wily Marshall plots ideas campaigns the way Robert E. Lee mapped strategy for the Confederates. His small but nimble “New Democrat” think tank, an arm of the Democratic Leadership Council, has kept “Old Democrats” off balance with a fusillade of proposals to reform traditional party thinking on welfare and other issues.”
In 1985, Marshall helped to found the Democratic Leadership Council, serving as its first Policy Director. Marshall’s previous campaign and political experience includes posts as press secretary, spokesman and speechwriter for the 1984 United States Senate campaign of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, speechwriter and policy analyst for the late U.S. Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; and, spokesman and speechwriter in the 1982 U.S. Senate campaign of former Virginia Lt. Governor Dick Davis.
Before becoming involved in politics and public policy, he was a journalist in Virginia, including a stint with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1952, Marshall is a 1975 graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History. Marshall and his wife, Katryn S. Nicolai, live in Arlington, VA. They have two children, Olivia and William.
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