Senior Vice President
I’m a policy guy. I’m passionate about identifying economic and social problems and inequalities and developing creative legislative and regulatory solutions to address them. And I’ve been pretty successful. I’ve helped enact over 60 state, federal and international laws and regulations.
These include the successful passage of the first U.S. civil rights law in over twenty years, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a federal law protecting Americans from genetic discrimination.
But things have changed on Capitol Hill and in many statehouses since.
It’s become impossible to start a conversation. It’s become impossible to get a hearing. Our elected representatives have become increasingly less accessible, and increasingly less willing to welcome proposals that don’t fall within the confines of an agenda set by their party elites.
My experience is far from solitary. My colleagues in policy based organizations across the country have become frustrated in advancing agendas that address the challenges our country faces.
I came to Open Primaries because I want to engage the partisanship in our legislative bodies and help change the dysfunctional culture that bars progress. I want to get our government healthy again; ripe for innovation, new ideas and new solutions.
I am able to translate all of my work at Open Primaries to my life. As an actor, I now strive to continually question, to make choices that are creatively inspiring to me even if it's not the career advice the casting director would give, to always choose collaboration over a predetermined acting choice. I recently had a director say: "decisions an actor has made can be deadly.
So often we watch actors who have made a decision for their character, rather than a character making those decisions in the moment. Decisions kill discovery." I think that same notion applies to everything but especially politics. We need to support an environment of discovery. If we close ourselves off from new discoveries or conversations we prevent innovation.
This movement has lead me to lead a life where you question, you use your imagination more in problem solving, you communicate more fully, you empathize more freely and you remain optimistic. Optimistic because while there are still some wrong choices, there are so, so many right choices out there that you just don’t know about yet.
Jessie Fields, MD
Board Member and National Spokesperson
When I finished my medical training in the late 1980’s I began practicing medicine in the poor Black community of Lawndale on the Westside of Chicago. There I got to know the social and economic conditions of poverty and how those conditions determine a person’s health. It became acutely clear to me that I had to go outside the clinic and become involved in the political and social development of the community. I searched for ways to give the community a stronger voice to improve housing, economic development, education and health care.
Breaking down the barriers to full democratic participation at the grassroots level, empowering ordinary people and building partnerships and bridges between all people: including people of color and white, rich, middle class and poor, attracted me to the open primaries movement. I am proud to serve on the Board of Open Primaries and help to give all Americans full and equal voting rights in all stages of our elections.