People / Staff

Will Marshall

Will Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), established in 1989 as a center for political innovation in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he has been one of the chief intellectual architects of the movement to modernize progressive politics for the global age.

Called “Bill Clinton’s idea mill,” PPI’s policy analysis and proposals were the source for many of the “New Democrat” innovations that figured prominently in national politics over the past two decades. The Institute also has been integral to the spread of “Third Way” thinking to center-left parties in Europe and elsewhere. Marshall is an honorary Vice-President of Policy Network, an international think tank launched by Tony Blair to promote progressive policy ideas throughout the democratic world.

Marshall is editor or co-editor of many books, including Memos to the New President (PPI, January 2009); With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); The AmeriCorps Experiment and the Future of National Service (PPI, 2005); Building the Bridge: 10 Big Ideas to Transform America (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997); and Mandate for Change (Berkley Books, 1992), PPI’s best-selling policy blueprint for President Clinton’s first term. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and many other newspapers, as well as The American Interest, The American Prospect, Democracy, and other journals.

In 1985, Marshall helped to found the Democratic Leadership Council, serving as its first policy director.

Marshall currently serves on the board of directors for the National Endowment for Democracy.

Marshall’s previous campaign and political experience includes posts as press secretary, spokesman and speechwriter for the 1984 United States Senate campaign of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, speechwriter and policy analyst for the late U.S. Representative Gillis Long of Louisiana, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; and, spokesman and speechwriter in the 1982 U.S. Senate campaign of former Virginia Lt. Governor Dick Davis.

Before becoming involved in politics and public policy, he was a journalist in Virginia, including a stint with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1952, Marshall is a 1975 graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History. Marshall and his wife, Katryn S. Nicolai, live in Arlington, VA. They have two children, Olivia and William.


Op-eds and Articles

By / 4.8.2020

The 2020 presidential election, like almost everything else, hangs in suspended animation as Americans ride out the coronavirus pandemic. When it resumes, we will learn more about whether another kind of contagion—illiberal populism—is advancing or retreating here. Over the past decade, populism has been rewriting the rules of party competition across the West. Sparked by a […]


By / 4.5.2020

For many of us, the coronavirus calamity is a humbling reminder of all we don’t know and can’t control. But for the ax-grinders, hobby-horse riders and zealous partisans among us, it’s just another opportunity to advance pet causes. So from certain right-wing politicians and propagandists, we get the lunatic theory that the pandemic is a Democratic or […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 3.20.2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders has signaled his imminent departure from the nomination contest. His sooner-than-expected exit frees presumptive nominee Joe Biden to fire up his general election campaign to defeat President Trump in November. Except that the coronavirus pandemic has put presidential politics in suspended animation, along with the economy and almost every other aspect of […]

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 3.19.2020

Sadly, education has been all but ignored in this year’s Democratic primaries. But a new poll commissioned by the Progressive Policy Institute points toward one reason Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have not lived up to their supporters’ hopes: Their embrace of free college and paying off all student debt strikes many voters as […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 3.18.2020

As Americans go into isolation to slow the spread of coronavirus, we are sadly lacking in diversions. No March Madness, spring baseball or Premier League. No bars, restaurants or St. Patrick’s Day revels. Even the long-running Democratic nomination battle seems to be shutting down. Continuing his electoral hot streak, former Vice President Joe Biden decisively swept all three Democratic […]


“Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair sat down for a discussion at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, with the president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, Will Marshall. They discussed several topics, including the rise of populism in the U.K. and the U.S., Brexit, the impact of the coronavirus, the future of […]


  In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes. He won in the Electoral College by flipping states Barack Obama carried in 2012: Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Florida. But while Florida and Ohio are bellwether states that swing back and forth, the […]