Al From (born May 31, 1943, in South Bend, Indiana) is the founder and former CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council. His ideas and political strategies during the past quarter century played a central role in the resurgence of the modern Democratic Party. From is the author of The New Democrats and the Return to Power, released in December 2013.
Early Life and Education
In 2000, at a speech at Hyde Park, President Bill Clinton said, "It would be hard to think of a single American citizen who, as a private citizen, has had a more positive impact on the progress of American life in the last 25 years than Al From."
From began his career working for Sargent Shriver’s War on Poverty right out of graduate school, assigned to the Southeast region including Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.
Before founding the DLC, From was executive director of the House Democratic Caucus from 1981 to 1985, chaired by Representative Gillis William Long (D-LA). For two years—1979 and 1980—he was deputy advisor on inflation to President Jimmy Carter and from 1971 to 1979, he directed the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, chaired by Senator Edmund Muskie. As staff director, he worked on the Congressional Budget Act, helped shape the stimulus package during the 1973-74 recession and was called a "legislative genius" by Washingtonian Magazine.
The Democratic Leadership Council
He founded the DLC in 1985, at a time as Roll Call writes, "Democrats appeared to be on the brink of a permanent excursion into the political wild following Walter Mondale’s 49-state drubbing by incumbent President Ronald Reagan in 1984.”
From played a prominent role in the 1992 election of President Bill Clinton – and served as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Clinton Transition – prompting USA Today to write: "The ideas at the crux of the Clinton candidacy were largely drafted by the DLC."
Today, many of the ideas that comprise the core of the Democratic Party's agenda come from work done under From's leadership at the DLC. National service, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, welfare reform, charter schools, community policing, expanded trade and re-inventing government were all championed by scholars and analysts at the DLC before becoming public policy.
In 1998, with First Lady Hillary Clinton, From began a dialogue with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders, and the DLC brand – known as The Third Way – became a model for resurgent liberal governments around the globe.
In April 1999, he hosted an historic Third Way forum in Washington with President Clinton, Prime Minister Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Prime Ministers Wim Kok of the Netherlands and Massimo D'Alema of Italy.
In November 1999, joining President Clinton, From moderated the first-ever live Presidential town hall meeting on the Internet.
From is a controversial figure in the Democratic Party, drawing criticism in liberal circles and from blogs like DailyKos.com and MyDD.com among others. In 1991, the Reverend Jesse Jackson called the DLC “Democrats for the Leisure Class,” and in 2003, former Democratic National Committee Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean sharply criticized From and the DLC as the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.
In 2013, From authored The New Democrats and the Return to Power. President Bill Clinton authored the foreword. In the book, From “outlines for the first time the principles at the heart of the [New Democrat] movement… and why they are vital to the success of the Democratic Party in the years ahead.” The book received praise from President Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said, “it should be read, re-read and underlined by anyone who wants to know what it takes to be successful in American politics today."
His new venture, The From Company, LLC, offers strategic advice to private clients.
From serves on the Advisory Board of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard University, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Chamber Foundation, the Board of Trustees of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the National Advisory Board of The Roosevelt Institution, and the Executive Board of the University of Maryland’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors in 1999, and served as chairman until December 2002 when his term expired. His writings have appeared in numerous national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report, and Politico.com.
From lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife, Ginger.
- Kuhn, David Paul. "Al From Won." RealClearPolitics. 16 June 2009
- Davis, Lanny. "Al From, a founder of today's Democratic Party." The Washington Times. 29 June 2009 
- Grove, Lloyd. "Al From, the Life of the Party." Washington Post. 24 July 1992:D01 
- Brownstein, Ronald. "Democrats' Advantage With Women and Minorities Isn't Enough." The National Journal. 5 December 2013 
- "Speech by President at Democratic Leadership Council Retreat." William J. Clinton Center Online Library Archives. 21 May 2000 
- Elder, Shirley. Washingtonian Magazine. October 1978
- "The DLC: Changing the Face of American Politics." DLC Video. 16 June 2009. 
- "A Tribute to Democratic Leadership Council Founder Al From." C-Span Video Library. 16 June 2009. 
- "Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) - Tony Blair's Remarks To Al From Tribute Dinner." 16 June 2009 on YouTube.
- Murray, Matthew. "A Moderate Superstar Retires From the DLC." Roll Call. 12 March 2009 
- Adam Nagourney. "Democratic Council to Play Key Role in Administration." USA Today. 4 December 1992:A4
- Kramer, Michael. "The Brains Behind Clinton." Time Magazine. 4 May 1992. 
- Branegan, Jay. "The Third Way Wonkfest." Time Magazine. 18 May 1998
- Various authors "The Third Way Goes Global: From New Democrat to New Labour to New Middle." The New Democrat Magazine. 1 May 1999. 
- Lacey, Marc. "History is Made by an Old-Fashioned chief.gov.” New York Times. 9 November 1999 
- Transcript: NBC Today Show. 6 May 1991
- Gold, Matea. "Dean, Centrist Branch Spar." Los Angeles Times. 23 December 2003.