Vote for Lanya!

26 Apr 2010 by Guest Blogger, 2 Comments »

Dear Tractivists,

I’ve hijacked the listserve to toot Lanya’s horn!

Traction’s phenomenal founder and leader, Lanya Shapiro, is a finalist for a major award recognizing progressive activists.


The Maria Leavey Tribute Award is given each year by the Campaign for America’s Future. The award recognizes a progressive who is:

  • A Convener
  • A Persistent Advocate
  • A Selfless Organizer
  • An Idea Generator

If you don’t think those four traits describe Lanya, then just read the nomination statement that Traction Board Chair Celeste Richie wrote on her behalf (the statement is below).

Personally, I don’t know a single person who is better qualified for this recognition. I was at the first organizational meeting that Lanya convened to share her vision for Traction. Over the last 5 years, I’ve seen how Lanya has thrown herself fully into creating a progressive movement that draws on the talents of young people who will make a difference in the long haul.  Traction has accomplished a ton already, and will bear fruit in so many ways for years to come.

There are five finalists for the award. We need you to show how much you value Traction and Lanya by voting for her in the online balloting.

VOTING ENDS THIS FRIDAY and it just takes one minute.  Please vote today!  And then please post this as your status on Facebook and send it on to anyone else you know who will support Lanya’s amazing progressive leadership.


Graig Meyer
Educator, Lanya-lover, Tractivist

Nominating Statement from Celeste Richie:
Lanya is a kick-ass social entrepreneur, a tireless activist and organizer, and part of the vanguard of the modern progressive movement.  Her most recent cutting-edge endeavor is Traction, a Durham NC-based offline social network designed to turn young voters into energized and engaged activists who will, over time, power the progressive movement as volunteers, donors, board members and elected officials.

Lanya’s work with Traction hits all your notes: she worked for years without pay (persistent advocate, selfless organizer) to launch this innovative organization (idea generator) which leverages the power of community (convener) in order to create more passionate activists.

Traction has made a name for itself with creative and provocative events and collaborations, and we think deserves partial credit for turning NC more progressive in 2008.  A few highlights: Electile Dysfunction (about the Voting Rights Act), Drop Beats not Bombs, Festivus for the Left of Us, Green My Ride, Speed CandiDating, and Below the Belt: Religion, Reproductive Rights and O.P.P.  Who else would think to educate young folks about mercury in NC’s waters by throwing a Radical Sushi-making workshop?

Lanya identifies and mentors young activists and “potential” activists. But Traction’s model is about more than just reaching individuals. It’s about advancing the movement. By putting a creative spin on classic progressive issues, Traction helps the forward-thinking nonprofits with whom it collaborates to reach and engage a younger audience, something these nonprofits and the movement desperately need in order to remain viable over the next 20-30 years.  Partners include Demos, Nat’l Women’s Law Center, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, and MANY local orgs.

Lanya is no one-hit wonder. During the three years before she started Traction, her political organizing in the Dean grassroots earned her the respect of DFA staff; when Bush brought his Social Security privatization tour to Raleigh in 2005, Lanya organized the counter-rally.  Lanya served on Durham’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which advises local electeds on CDBG allocation and helped transform the CAC into a force that the council/commissioners are aware of and actually listen to.  She served on the NC Democratic Party executive committee and NAACP-NC’s political committee and currently serves on our local Planned Parenthood affiliate’s Action Fund board.

Her work in 2005 to elect a grassroots-focused NCDP chair (Jerry Meek) included an event which had DNC members and over 20 members of the state executive committee listening (!) to over 100 local activists’ hopes for the party, and was covered in US News & World Report.

Maybe the secret to Lanya’s effective political activism is her solid graduate and professional training in public health and social work. She spent years designing and managing award-winning large-scale behavior change programs. While the behaviors back then were health-related (condom use, cancer screening), she applies the same social marketing expertise to promote progressive activism through Traction.

P.S. Upcoming…
Sat 5/8: Pick your own organic Strawberries!
Sat 5/15: Civil Rights Walking Tour of Durham:
Mon 5/31: Memorial Day at the Eno:
Plus a conversation group on race and privilege:, a workshop on work / life / community balance, and much more…


  1. nfl 17 coins says:

    Good web site you’ve got there

  2. Lorenzo says:

    Right On, Lanya! Right On, Traction!

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