Rights & Democracy (RAD) is entering a new phase with the announcement of its next executive director, Kiah Morris. Kiah steps into the role after serving for nearly two years as the organization’s Vermont Movement Politics Director, and is a leader on issues of diversity, equity, and leadership.
She will lead RAD and it’s sister c3 organization, the Rights & Democracy Institute (RDI), across Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as steer the organization as it continues to work alongside national partners like People’s Action and the Center for Popular Democracy.
“Kiah was part of my inspiration to start Rights & Democracy in the first place. I knew we needed to be organizing across many intersecting issues, but we also needed to get people at decision making tables who actually understood the issues facing our communities and would champion people’s movements for human rights and democracy. She has done amazing work building RAD already. With her leadership on top of adding Alison and Ed as State Directors, I have no doubt the best is truly yet to come for RAD and can’t wait to see what’s next,” said James Haslam, who founded Rights & Democracy in 2015 and now works with its national partner organization Race Forward.
RAD is working to ensure that every aspect of our political and public policy work is grounded in the goal of achieving governing power through “movement co-governance” – or co-governing with elected and appointed government officials who are ideologically aligned with RAD. Through that synergy, RAD’s goal is to advance a shared analysis, vision, and agenda for structural change for economic, political, racial, and gender equity and to organize broader alignments around that agenda.
Kiah is a natural fit for the next phase of this mission, especially given her service in the general assembly as a State Representative from 2014-2016 and 2016-2018 as the first African-American and person of color elected from Bennington County and the second African-American woman to be elected to the legislature in Vermont history. Her groundbreaking legislative accomplishments include passage and advocacy of low to no-cost contraception for all; removal of statutes of limitations for sexual assault; fair and impartial policing standards; and creation of a multisector panel to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems in Vermont.
“The work of Rights & Democracy is a labor of love from people across all walks of life, identities, and locations in Vermont and New Hampshire. Over the last seven years, RAD has become a prominent political and organizing home for those who are passionate about building a healthy multi-racial, equitable and accountable democracy that works for all of us,” said Morris. “I am so excited for the opportunities at hand to make our vision a reality across both states as we reach new heights.”
RAD has set its sights on growth in 2022, at both the community and state levels. Following significant expansion in 2021, the organization added two new leadership positions, State Directors for Vermont and New Hampshire, which have been filled by Alison Nihart and Ed Taylor. As Kiah steps into the role as executive director, the position of Vermont Movement Politics Director will be filled by Dan Fingas, who has served as RAD’s Vermont Organizing Director since early 2019 and brings years of experience in electoral organizing across the Northeast. In New Hampshire, Ali Brokenshire will fill the New Hampshire Organizing Director position as Isaac Grimm steps up as the interim bi-state Deputy Director.
With these recent shifts and additions, Rights & Democracy is uniquely poised to increase its electoral influence and community organizing in concert with its regional and national coalition partners.