Friday, December 2, 2016

WISDEMS Executive Director Opening

By Jeff Simpson

Kory Kozlowski, the WISDEMS Executive Director is leaving his job and the State of Wisconsin after the latest election debacle.  

Kory Kozloski, executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, plans to leave his post in January, a party spokesman said Tuesday.
Kozloski, who was hired about a year ago, told state party leaders in a memo that he and his wife plan to leave the state.
Weathersby said in an email that Kozloski "made a deal with his wife long ago that if she would like to move from WI at any point he would support her and come along."

Kory came to much fanfare from Chair Martha Laning:

Madison - Martha Laning, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, announced today that Kory Kozloski has been named DPW’s new Executive Director.
“Kory’s extensive political experience combined with his passion for Wisconsin politics will be a great addition to our team,” said Laning.  “Kory knows how to find the best candidates and get them ready to run. We intend to win races next November and I have no doubt Kory will help make that happen.”
“After 6 years of failed Republican policies the majority of Wisconsin residents believe our state is headed in the wrong direction,” said Kozloski. “I look forward to working with party leaders, candidates and activists across the state to win elections up and down the ballot, and outline a strong new vision for moving Wisconsin forward.”
Now this is not meant as a look backwards, so I will not be critiquing Kory's performance(that was already done here) but pointing out where we need to go moving forward.   

It appears that Chair Laning, has no interest in posting the job and only wants to give it to a specific person, so there is no posted job description.

So I took it upon myself to do just that(using the open position in Hawaii as a guide):

  • POSITION TITLE: Executive Director, Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • REPORTS TO: Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • LOCATION: Madison, Wisconsin
  • The Executive Director, working with the State Chair and Party officers, oversees all programmatic and fundraising activities of the state party. The Executive Director is responsible for managing the headquarters and daily operations of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He or she must be reliable, honest, loyal and discreet. The Executive Director reports to the State Chair.
  • Primary responsibilities and duties include, but are not limited to: 

  •  *   Serve as the chief strategic and tactical executive of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

  • • Work with the Treasurer to manage the organization’s finances, track income and expenditures, pay bills, and maintain records and accounts in order to produce financial stability.
  • • Work with the Chair, Treasurer, State Central Committee, and Executive Committee to develop and adhere to an operating budget.
  • • Develop, implement, and monitor a fundraising plan in conjunction with the Chair and fundraising committee.
  • • Manage all staff and interns, including conducting annual performance reviews.
  • • Knowledge and understanding of the WISDEMS platform, resolutions, and governing documents.
  • • Ensure the organization and staff complies with all applicable laws governing political parties, including timely filing of required state and federal reports, and the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Work with the Chair to manage political relationships both in-state and around the country.
  • • Work with the Chair to assist and facilitate the needs of the County Committees.
  • • Manage the external and internal communications of the WISDEMS. Work with the Chair to issue press releases, respond to time-sensitive media events, and present the Democratic Party in a positive, professional light. Refer media inquiries to the Chair. (Executive Director does not serve as the spokesperson for the WISDEMS.)  Make sure the Chair is responding and getting her message out to the media. 
  • • Oversee development and production of party-building and message delivery tools, including print and digital.
  • • Coordinate with WISDEMS Secretary in preparing written reports for all meetings of the State Central Committee, Executive Committee and State Convention.
  • • Liaise with the staffs of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), and the Association of State Democratic Executive Directors (ASDED).
  • • Organize logistics for all meetings of the State Central Committee and Executive Committee; Organize calendar and schedule activities and meetings held at the WISDEMS headquarters.
  • • Demonstrate an understanding of all aspects of winning elections including state-of-the-art campaign techniques, new technology, campaign planning, targeting, polling, election law, grassroots initiatives and get-out-the-vote programs.
  • • Develop, strengthen and grow the grassroots volunteers and leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Working with the Party Secretary to develop, update, and implement guidelines for the use and maintenance of Party files and records, including archiving, storage and disposal. Assisting Party Secretary with all data management operations of the Party, including the membership database and voter database systems.
  • • Ensure proper maintenance of all WISDEM computers, including providing appropriate security and back-up systems. Does not give John Podesta access to any passwords, smart phones or laptops.   

  • • A proven, successful executive with the ability to provide dynamic internal and external leadership to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to achieve political and financial objectives.
  • *  Someone who is passionate about Wisconsin and makes expanding the diversity of the party priority number one.   It is only a big tent party when people want into the tent.  
  • • Pertinent experience in Executive/Senior level management. Preferred experience: a combination of work in the not-for profit sector, public sector, private sector and/or trade associations, including some experience in local, state or federal politics.  
  • • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain a credible reputation and high profile presence in the community as would be required on behalf of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
  • • Demonstrated ability to develop and execute strategic political strategies and manage the tactical execution to achieve results.
  • • Experience in soliciting and securing donor dollars is essential both in state and nationally.  Also must understand that while money is important, it is the people of the party that make the difference and we can not compromise dollars for message or outreach.   
  • • An excellent internal leader recognized for the ability to develop, motivate, manage and build functional teams that regularly achieve and maintain superior levels of performance.
  • • Proven excellence in written and oral communication and proven media experience are essential.
  • • Knowledge and understanding of the political landscape within Wisconsin is preferred.  Someone who understands that while the members of the WISDEMS are important, that there are millions more people who associate themselves as Democrats, liberals, progressives, who have not joined the party and whose opinions are to be valued and sought after.  Someone who understands that reaching these people is critical to future success.  
  • • An individual who is passionate about the success of the Democratic Party and the quality of life for Wisconsin residents.  Someone who understands that winning elections is the primary and only responsibility of the Democratic Party.   Someone who takes it personally when elections are lost and celebrates when elections are won.   Someone who understands that finishing second in an election is unacceptable and not something to be proud of.   
  • • Fluent in MS Office including Word, Excel, Outlook, as well as internet and social media.
  • • Key Attributes: Excellent manager of paid staff and volunteers, trustworthiness/believability, professional appearance, highly developed interpersonal and communications skills, results oriented, global thinker, diplomatic, ability to multi-task, strong public communication skills, open-minded to differing views, persuasive, quick thinking, outgoing and approachable, excellent time management skills, strong leadership ability, conflict resolution skills, negotiation skills, and ability to influence.
  • • Political Acumen: Knowledgeable in current and possible future practices, trends, and other information affecting the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and the country. Understands the competitive issues; aware of the political landscape for change and how collaborative strategies around the state work for the betterment of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; comprehends how collaborative strategies with national entities work for the betterment of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and candidates in Wisconsin.
  • • Member Focus: Dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external groups; effectively articulates and promotes Democratic Party of Wisconsin programs and services; talks and acts with Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin idea, values in mind; establishes and maintains effective on-going relationships with board members and all groups and gains their trust and respect.

Those are the basics, now in order to actually start winning elections, the next executive director must have the following(the Simpson Job Description):

  • Must know the difference between a Holstein and a Hereford and the difference of a Duroc to an Appaloosa!    
  • Must be more comfortable at the Sawyer County Democratic Picnic than at the Founders Day Dinner. 
  • Must never agree to ever be part of a national candidates "Victory fund" ever again. 
  • Must Understand how important your work is.  When someone takes away your healthcare, collective bargaining rights, , etc.. they are not great people who just disagree with you, they are attacking fundamental rights for people all over Wisconsin and you are many people's only line of defense.  
  • Must understand that climate change is a real threat to the future of our planet, and be willing to discuss it anytime, anyplace, even if the national party pretends it does not exist.  
  • Must never ever look at someone and judge them by how much money they have or how much money you think they have   
  • Must never allow access to a microphone, party award, or endorsement of anyone who does not fully support labor, unions and the working class people of WI.  
  • Must never discuss seats, districts, states that can NOT be won.  
  • Must be comfortable on a farm, in a union hall, at a county fair or a local diner.  Anywhere in Wisconsin. 
  • Must go to work with passion and a love of Wisconsin, not to cash a paycheck or look for your next job. 
  • Must vow to never buy and/or wear a cheese head for longer than 30 seconds. 
  • Must understand that while the elected Democrats represent their districts, the party represents all Democrats in Wisconsin and must act accordingly and be able to speak up when electeds are being unreasonable. 
  • Must immediately end the incumbent protection program of giving incumbents so many advantages in terms of running in primaries, especially not allowing challengers access to the VAN.  You might not want a primary but you should adamantly defend any members rights to run, and remain neutral, in front of and behind closed doors!
  • Must solemnly swear to protect and defend public education at all times!  
  • Must be willing to throw away all how-to guides, manuals, books, pamphlets, etc... of anything that remotely has to do with winning elections that was written before 2015,  
  •  Above all, it is crucial to keep the wolves, out of state consultants, political lifers and lobbyists away from the inner circle or the checkbooks of the WISDEMS.     That includes anyone who worked with the Mike Tate regime and Nation Consulting.   


  1. Excuse me but wasn't her main qualification supposedly working as an HR executive in Sheboygan?
    At least Tate used to go out and mix it up a bit even though his judgement sucked.
    Her real qualification appears to have been pleasing Vinehout.
    Though I supported Laning for senate (no brainer vs. Lemahue) I was dumbfounded at her lackluster campaign and one TV ad stating that "Republicans have good ideas too!".
    Ive since become referring to her as Princess Valium.

  2. After two years of rearranging the deck chairs, now it's time to squabble about who gets to be the captain. That will go on through June, then another six months or so to get the new (one can only hope) "leadership" "team" up and running. At that point it's late 2017 / early 2018. Democrats will not flip the Assembly or the Senate so 2018 is the last chance for a bite at the apple before another reapportionment. Then another ten years of the same politics as the last ten.

    It would appear that Democrats face a crisis here that goes way beyond their leadership but Jeff, let me ask you this: if there were a person out there in the nonprofit/activist/progressive sector who had the qualifications you outline here, one would think they'd have job security, good income, and lots of appreciation for doing a demanding job in difficult times. Why in the world would they want to do anything like jump into a position with an organization that's such a mess as the DPW?

    1. excellent question I have not thought of. Sense of duty perhaps?

    2. No. "Sense of duty" gets you Martha Laning. "Sense of duty" gets you Mary Burke. "Sense of duty" plus $3.00 gets you a pretty good cup of coffee. If you want a dedicated professional with the resume you're outlining here it takes at least $75K and probably on the way to $100K/year, and a long-time Wisconsin resident, and retired or between jobs, and a masochistic streak a mile wide, and "sense of duty". Certifiably insane would help. Jeff, you probably know all the people in the state who would fit the job you've described, to any of them have that "sense of duty"?

    3. I understand that it's a pipe dream for the wisdems to listen and work to actually improve the party structure. I get that but I am trying to start a discussion on thinking outside the standard box and demanding more from the party!!

  3. Let's boil it down: Union toady wanted. (Trump got 43% of union vote; Hillary 51%).

  4. "Must be willing to throw away all how-to guides, manuals, books, pamphlets, etc... of anything that remotely has to do with winning elections that was written before 2015."

    — Try Robert A. Heinlein's non-fiction work, "Take Back Your Government!: A Practical Handbook for the Private Citizen Who Wants Democracy to Work", written in 1946.

  5. "Must never discuss seats, districts, states that can NOT be won."

    How many times I would have just surrendered to bullies if I'd had that philosophy... instead of which I resolved that, even if they did win, they'd hurt enough for it, long enough afterward, that they wouldn't want to repeat the experience.

    I'd have even more reason if there were someone beyond me, that I was fighting to defend. What message would I send them by abandoning such a fight?

    When we fight a "50-state strategy" — even by just running good honest competent candidates everywhere, not even spending heavily — we force the GOP to spend against them (because they can only bring money to bear, honesty is not their strong suit); when we abandon the field to them, we let them withdraw their money from the "outer reaches" and concentrate spending on the core battlefields... bad for us.

    We also let the people in all those "outer reaches" know we've abandoned them to the GOP... and do you think they'll ever trust us again later? That we'll ever regain those districts, counties, or states? That would be piecemeal, permanent surrender. How craven.