January 03, 2013

5 From the Nonprofit World Who Will Influence Public Policy in 2013

Bill McKibben,

Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and Middlebury College professor, has sought to revitalize the climate-change movement. Mr. McKibben and his five-year-old nonprofit group,, played a major role in defeating the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which the Obama administration rejected last January. He is campaigning now to encourage colleges to divest from oil stocks and will help host a global youth conference on climate change this June in Istanbul.

Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation

Jim DeMint, a former Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina, is poised to influence Washington’s budget battles from his new perch as head of the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank.

Mr. DeMint, a backer of the small-government Tea Party, takes the helm as Republicans are regrouping following President Obama’s strong win in November. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas,” Mr. DeMint said in a statement.

Cristina Jiménez, United We Dream

The politics are ripe for Cristina Jiménez, an immigrant-rights organizer, to have a strong voice in the debate over how to overhaul the country’s immigration laws. Ms. Jiménez is managing director of United We Dream, a network of youth-led immigrant groups that is pushing Washington to revive stalled efforts to create a path to citizenship for people who are in the United States illegally.

Following November’s election, which handed President Obama an overwhelming majority of Latino votes, Democrat lawmakers said it was time for Congress to overhaul immigration laws in 2013—and some Republicans agreed.

Charitable Giving Coalition

The Charitable Giving Coalition, which unites more than 50 nonprofit associations and other groups, has ignited strong opposition to proposals to limit the charitable deduction as part of Washington’s deficit-cutting efforts.

Thanks partly to the coalition’s work, lawmakers have been deluged with protests, the issue has received widespread news-media coverage, and the White House has been courting nonprofit leaders to seek support for its tax plans—evidence that it now views them as political players.

Among those holding the coalition together: the Alliance for Charitable Reform, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Council on Foundations, and Leadership 18, a network of big national social-service charities.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to uphold the new health-care law gave a lift to foundation and nonprofit leaders across the country whose organizations have been working to improve Americans’ access to health care. Among the most prominent: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is now helping states put the new law into effect.

A sign that Ms. Lavizzo-Mourey wants to step up her foundation’s influence in Washington: The grant maker just appointed its first vice president for public policy.

More from Outlook 2013: 5 Nonprofit High Points in 2012 | 5 Nonprofit Low Points in 2012 | 5 Things That an Eventful Year Taught Charities | 5 Things That Will Change the Way Nonprofits Work in 2013 | 5 Nonprofit Innovators to Watch in 2013

Send an e-mail to Suzanne Perry and Caroline Preston.