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Strickland, Coons, Benjamin Announced as Honorary Chairs of NewDEAL

May 13, 2021

Will guide network of innovative state and local officials as they focus on pandemic recovery and racial equity

Washington, D.C. - The NewDEAL announced today that Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Senator Chris Coons (DE), and Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC) are new honorary chairs of the organization, which identifies, cultivates, and provides policy support to a network of 175 rising state and local Democrats. The new leadership team will have a two-year term and takes over from long-time honorary chairs: Senator Mark Warner (VA) and former Delaware Governor Jack Markell. 

Coons, Strickland, and Benjamin will help guide the pro-growth progressive network as it focuses on promoting and spreading policy ideas for “building back better” and creating a more equitable society, while also providing its members with a community of fellow public officials and thought leaders as they advance in public service. NewDEAL Leaders are selected for their innovative, forward-thinking approach to expanding economic opportunity, and will work with the chairs to elevate best practices, aiming to influence other state and local governments as well as Washington.

Dozens of NewDEALers have ascended to higher office during the last few years. Past members include Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Stacey Abrams, Jason Kander, and six leaders who have been elevated to the U.S. House and Senate since 2018, such as Strickland.

“The COVID crisis has spotlighted the vital role of state and local leaders in coming up with innovative, practical solutions to the country’s biggest challenges, as well as the impact of effective federal-state-local government collaboration,” said Strickland, who was a member of NewDEAL as Mayor of Tacoma, Washington. “As funds I fought to secure in the American Rescue Plan for state, local, and tribal governments are finally disbursed, I cannot imagine a more critical time to support this network so we can work together to support jobs, families and workers as we get our nation back on track.”

"One lesson I learned during my 10 years in county government is that state and local officials solve problems," said Coons, who got his start in government as County Council President and County Executive in New Castle, Delaware. "At this historic time, the efforts of state and local leaders will be critical to our recovery, and we will build back better and stronger when we can share ideas and learn from one another. I'm excited to work with the NewDEAL Leaders to tackle the country's biggest challenges, while also developing our next generation of leaders."

“As a proud long-time NewDEAL Leader, I am honored to tackle this new role at a time when NewDEAL Leaders are on the frontlines of simultaneous crises around public health, the economy, racial justice, and climate change,” said Benjamin, who recently served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and will continue to be an honorary chair of NewDEAL after his term expires in Columbia at the end of this year. “With a true partner to state and local leaders in the White House, NewDEALers have more potential than ever to develop and spread good policy that gets to the root of the many crises we face.”

NewDEAL Leaders also participate in task forces created by its sister organization -- the NewDEAL Forum -- that develops and supports implementation of policy recommendations to address issues like education, the future of work, climate change, affordable housing, and broadband access.

“Senator Coons, Congresswoman Strickland, and Mayor Benjamin epitomize the type of leadership that NewDEAL was created to foster,” said NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan. “They are thoughtful and effective leaders who understand how the world is changing and have a practical approach to the unprecedented challenges facing our country. Their partnership will be invaluable as our members advance the Biden Administration agenda to build back  from the pandemic with a stronger and more equitable economy.”  

About NewDEAL

The NewDEAL brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is equitable and sustainable. Most importantly, the organization facilitates the exchange of ideas among its members and connects them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private sector leaders. 

Learn more about the NewDEAL and its members by visiting   

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.