Nonprofit Exec Running for Governor in Louisiana Leaves Organization to Avoid Political Retribution

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October 1, 2011; Source: Times-Picayune | Running for office? Increasingly we see nonprofit execs tossing their hats into the ring for electoral office. 

In Louisiana, Andoniki “Niki Bird” Papazoglakis has put her name in as a Democratic candidate for governor hoping to run against Governor Bobby Jindal in the general election. Last week, she announced that she would take a leave of absence from her position as policy director of PAVE: Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, an advocacy group advocating on issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse. 

Niki Bird said that she wanted to prevent retaliatory actions against her organization. She said that PAVE lost a $5,000 contract with the Louisiana Department of Community and Family Services because of the Jindal administration’s response to her candidacy. But a gubernatorial spokesperson said was due to PAVE’s lack of licensing for professional clinical social work. 

We’ll bet that there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of nonprofit executives running for municipal, state, or even federal office this coming election. Nonprofit experience is no longer just a resume burnisher for politicians, but a legitimate stepping stone into public office. Witness the election of Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District after a nonprofit career that included her founding of the National Network to End Domestic Violence as well as service as executive director of the Arca Foundation.

So, NPQNewswire readers, are you running for office? Are your colleagues running? And if so, how are you or they dealing with running for office while working for a nonprofit?—Rick Cohen

  • Kelly Kleiman

    There must be something in the air: last week I made a pact with the ED of a Chicago women’s nonprofit that I’d run if she would. Maybe we’ve finally figured out the truth of the adage, “The intelligent person who stays out of politics gets ruled by his/her inferiors”!

    Seriously, I wonder whether the assault on funding for social services, and particularly on women’s health services, is pushing women that one final step into the kind of public service that comes with a franking privilege instead of a budget hole. Maybe we’ve got another “year of the woman” coming up?