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.

Writings

Blog

By / 8.20.2019

Watching the nation’s political leaders tie themselves in knots over minor changes in gun laws, I can’t help but wonder if America hasn’t become the “pitiful, helpless giant” Richard Nixon warned about decades ago. Nixon conjured up this arresting image to rally public support for his unpopular plan to invade Cambodia. But it seems more […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 8.4.2019

Thanks to CNN’s penchant for elaborately staged political melodrama, it’s easy to dismiss Round 2 of the Democratic presidential debates last week as a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. But amid all the sniping and squabbling, a larger theme did emerge: Democrats won’t beat an unpopular president with unpopular ideas. The pragmatic candidates […]

Other

By / 6.27.2019

Bombarded by all-over-the-map questions by no less than five NBC interlocuters, the 10 candidates didn’t have time to go deep on anything. Nonetheless, the low-key encounter was revealing. On the plus side, all those on the stage showed they are better qualified by intellect and temperament to be president than Donald Trump. On the minus […]

Other

By / 6.18.2019

Unlike such polarizing issues as health care, immigration and climate change, repairing and updating our economic infrastructure is something both parties say they are for. Yet somehow our political leaders can’t get the job done. President Trump often complains about the shabby state of America’s airports, highways and railways. “The only one to fix the […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 6.10.2019

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are drawing a bead on big U.S. tech companies. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says they have grown too powerful and calls for breaking them up — a stance that’s rapidly become a new liberal litmus test. Meanwhile, European regulators have been slapping stiff fines on Facebook, Google and Apple for a variety […]

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 6.3.2019

Central to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ cantankerous mystique is his anti-establishment stance and uncompromising vision for radical economic change. When it comes to public schools, however, Sanders is no revolutionary. On the contrary, he sides with the education establishment in defending a status quo that is failing poor and minority students. The democratic socialist from Vermont recently […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 5.29.2019

The rise of nationalist movements in Europe has coincided with a steep decline in public support for center-left parties. Despite harboring much residual goodwill toward them, European voters no longer see these parties as offering clear answers to the most vexing questions of the day. That is a key takeaway from a sweeping new survey […]

PPI In the News

By / 5.21.2019

What’s the state of progressive politics and populism in the United States and Europe? PPI President Will Marshall sat down with Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer during #PGS19 to share his thoughts on the path ahead for progressives on both sides of the Atlantic on episode 41 of Social Europe Podcast. Listen here.

PPI In the News

By / 4.15.2019

The U.S. economy is chugging toward a new record for longest expansion, and middle-class families, finally, are seeing decent wage gains. Yet our political leaders, as if stuck in a time warp, keep peddling a bleak narrative of economic victimhood and defeatism. 2020 is Democrats’ chance to channel and implement radically pragmatic, empowering, and innovative […]

Other

By / 2.15.2019

By declaring a national emergency to build a border wall, President Trump has crossed the Rubicon. He has turned a cheap partisan stunt into a bona fide Constitutional crisis. Congress this week declined to give Trump all the money he demanded to wall off Mexico from the United States. The president has declared an emergency […]