Transforming Ideas into Impact


Our Mission

New Left Accelerator's mission is to empower progressive leaders to transform their ideas into impact. 

We accomplish this by running an accelerator program and serving as a resource clearinghouse for promising new progressive organizations.

Get in touch

Contact us ▸


P.O. Box 40579 San Francisco, CA 94140


What We Do

Accelerator Program

NLA runs a year-long accelerator program for emerging progressive organizations poised for growth.  

NLA staff and consultants work closely with leaders to help them identify strengths, challenges, and needs, and then match them with appropriate trainings, resources, and experts.  We focus on core capacity fields such as strategic planning, diversity and inclusion, organizational development, communications, and fundraising, among other areas.

In short, we provide the capacity-building resources new organizations need to become sustainable, effective advocates for change.

NLA selects a limited cohort (between 4-8) organizations each year.  Organizations are eligible for the program if they work to resist the erosion of civil liberties, educate the public and elected officials about progressive policy issues, or their work leads to adoption of progressive policies at the local, state, or federal level.

While we are fans of civic tech, NLA does not accept for-profit companies even if they have a social justice or civic-minded mission.

NLA’s 2018 cohort includes Sister District, Lawyers for Good Government, Ragtag, and Women Lawyers On Guard. If you are interested in receiving additional information about the next open application process, please sign up HERE.

Resource Clearinghouse

NLA provides resources and technical assistance to new founders in the early stage of organizational development.  Each week, NLA offers a limited number of hour-long appointments.  In these appointments, an NLA staff member conducts a needs assessment and then connects new founders to existing capacity-building resources.


Organizations We Work With

New Left Accelerator's 2018 Class includes The Movement CooperativeSister DistrictWomen Lawyers On GuardLawyers for Good Government, and Ragtag.

NLA has provided technical assistance and support to more than thirty other new progressive groups founded in the wake of the 2016 election, including Indivisible (national), Flippable, Swing LeftWall-of-Us, ActLocal2017, Action Together Network, Vote.org, among others.  



Who We Are


Founder/Executive Director

Deborah Barron

Deborah is an attorney who led a prior life as a political junkie and consultant for Democratic political candidates, not-for-profit and advocacy organizations, and foundations. She started her career in politics as the Field Director for Congresswoman Lynn Wolsey and eventually served as the Communications Director for Chellie Pingree's 2002 U.S. Senate Campaign. In between, she worked at numerous political-consulting firms and advocacy organizations, including Staton Hughes & Shafer, Spitfire Strategies, and Americans for Gun Safety. She then became an attorney. After practicing law for nearly ten years, she left her law firm in September of 2016 to work on the New Left Accelerator full time.

Deborah has a law degree from U.C. Berkeley School of Law, a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University, and a M.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley. She currently serves on the board of Women Lawyers On Guard, lives in San Francisco, and is the proud and tired mom of Ryder Jane (almost 4) and Hudson Townes (almost 2).


Director of Operations and acceleration

Jen Cheyne

Jen developed a passion for process, planning, and systems through her time working for political and grassroots campaigns including the Obama Campaign and Organizing for America.  She honed her skills in the nonprofit world as the Director of Acceleration Services at Citizen Engagement Lab (CEL). There she oversaw a fiscal sponsorship program that provided organizational development and fundraising services to social change start-ups, including Vote.org, 18MillionRising, and MPowerChange. Jen has extensive experience in building effective grassroots organizations, running organizational systems, and nonprofit infrastructure. Jen lives in Oakland, California with her husband and dog Stanley.

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Senior Advisor/External AffAirs

Mera Granberg Paul

Mera Granberg is a serial social entrepreneur with experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.  She was the founding executive director of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, bringing philanthropic support to public health.  She went on to lead a national sales program for Endymion Systems, Inc. Mera is currently a strategic advisor to The Sustainable Preservation Initiative and sits on the board of The Weekend to Be Named Later and Rag Tag.  A San Francisco native, Mera lives in her hometown.

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Senior Advisor/Strategic initiatives and programs

Barbara Reiss

Barbara has a successful track record of more than 25 years experience as a coach and consultant, working with the leadership of emerging and established for profit and nonprofit organizations to achieve growth, scale, and impact.  In addition to having her own consulting firm Barbara was a co-founder of UpStart, a nonprofit accelerator providing ongoing business strategy development and fostering innovation for social entrepreneurs. During her tenure at UpStart, she worked with over 50 social entrepreneurs giving them the tools to develop and execute on their organizational strategies and goals.  Barbara holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley.  She serves on a number of boards, including the Board of the Northern California Association of Strategic Planning and Facing History and Ourselves (SF region).  Barbara enjoys hiking, bicycling, and skiing, and treasures her time with her husband and sons.


Our Advisors


Advisor And BoaRD MembER

Toby Rubin

Toby is a nonprofit consultant with a focus on executive leadership coaching for startup non-profit executives and leaders of innovative program initiatives.  She is also the Founder of UpStart, an accelerator for early stage nonprofits. During her 10 year tenure as CEO, she built a team of leaders that brought UpStart from an idea to start-up to a high-impact, paradigm-shifting national organization. Prior to founding UpStart, Toby spent 7 years at the BJE-San Francisco filling a variety of roles, including an executive leadership role. Toby holds an undergraduate degree in Political Sociology from UC-Santa Barbara and a J.D. from the University of San Diego.  She currently lives in Marin County to feed her hiking habit, and enjoys nature with husband, Robert Rubin, and visits from their three amazing young adult daughters.

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Jill Alper

Jill is a nationally recognized strategist and consultant with a track-record of winning at the highest level of politics and advocacy. Formerly the Political Director and Coordinated Campaign Director of the Democratic National Committee, Jill has worked with campaigns in all 50 states. A veteran of 7 presidential races, Jill has served as a national electoral strategist for Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore. Though she continues to travel throughout the country, Jill is based out of suburban Detroit, where she’s worked on all but one winning campaigns in Michigan over 29 years, serving as a Senior Strategist for leaders like Mayor Dave Bing, Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator Carl Levin and numerous presidential campaigns; for independent committees to elect candidates like Mayor Mike Duggan; and, on ballot initiatives for stem cell research and to save the Detroit Institute of Arts. As an award winning consultant for strategy and advertising, Jill specializes in building expert teams and strategies for her clients. The American Association of Political Consultants honored her work for Jennifer Granholm as “Campaign Manager of the Year, a recognition often given to presidential campaign managers and seldom given to women.

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Advisor and Board Member

Cameron Holland

Cameron is an attorney specializing in tax, corporate, and regulatory law as applicable to nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations. Prior to opening her practice, Cameron worked as an attorney-adviser for the U.S Department of State, serving as counsel to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.  She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Georgia and worked against trafficking in persons in Poland. Cameron formerly served as Vice-Chair of Programs on the California Bar Association’s Nonprofit Committee and graduated Berkeley School of Law in 2007.  She live in Alameda, California with her husband and three children.



Will Jenkins

Will Jenkins has more than a decade of communications and policy experience at the Obama White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, Congress and international nonprofit organizations. During his time in the federal government, Will served as a spokesperson to news outlets on a wide range of issues, including criminal justice reform, drug policy, immigration, public health, national security and education.  He has trained or advised hundreds of filmmakers and other media makers on social and policy impact strategies through the Sundance Institute, South by Southwest, the Tribeca Film Institute and other organizations. He developed the American Film Institute's first Political Bootcamp for Filmmakers and is co-author of a report series on films and policymaking published through American University (http://cmsimpact.org/report/movies-go-washington-documentary-films-public-policy-united-states-vol-1/). He founded the Democratic Communicators Network, which has organized training and mentoring for hundreds of political staffers, and created the White House Public Affairs Leadership Workshop, a five-month leadership development program for appointees from federal agencies. 


Advisor/Diversity & Inclusion

Alicin Williamson

Alicin has spent her career finding new and better ways to lift up the voices that haven’t yet been heard. As the head of Raben’s NYC office, she draws on her diverse experience conceiving and managing large-scale initiatives in government affairs, media strategy, employee engagement, brand reputation, and communications. Prior to joining Raben, Alicin served as a Senior VP at MTV Networks and Viacom where she created the company’s Corporate Responsibility and Public Affairs Department, oversaw Employee Engagement and worked closely with the Office of Global Inclusion to increase company visibility in diverse communities and aid diversity recruitment efforts.  Alicin lives in Washington, D.C.

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Rob Avrush

Rob is the National Politics Director at Brigade, a civic tech startup focused on building the first voter social network. Rob currently leads Brigade’s efforts to deepen its presence among progressive voters, activists, policymakers, and the media. Prior to joining Brigade, Rob worked at The Raben Group where he helped lead their Diversity and Inclusion practice. As part of his client portfolio, Rob managed the groundbreaking environmental diversity initiative, Green 2.0, and advised corporations, foundations, and advocacy organizations on developing and implementing holistic diversity and inclusion strategies. Previously, Rob worked at FWD.us, the Center for American Progress, and President Obama’s reelection campaign.




Deborah Barron founded the New Left Accelerator in the wake of the 2016 election.  As a founding member of Women Lawyers On Guard, she spent her post-election days working to meet the legal needs of a host of new innovative progressive advocacy groups.  Soon, however, she was relying on her former political consulting and strategic-planning skills to help new founders identify, prioritize, and meet their capacity-building needs.  With a little encouragement and seed funding from Open Society Foundation, she decided to leave her job and create an organization dedicated to providing capacity building resources to emerging progressive leaders.  She has been humbled and awed by the amazing founders and activists that she has had the opportunity to work with and meet.