San Diego, October 26, 2008
— To recognize its nationwide efforts to provide training and leadership for the progressive movement, the group Wellstone Action received the 2008 American Public Health Association (APHA) Presidential Citation.
The group, whose mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, education, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive organizations and individuals, was recognized at the 136th APHA Annual Meeting.
Paul Wellstone served in the U.S. Senate from 1990–2002, becoming known for his outspoken advocacy of mental health parity, health care reform and other so-called “progressive” issues. His wife Sheila established herself as one of the nation’s leading experts on domestic violence and played a critical role in her husband’s Senate campaigns. The couple, their daughter Marcia and three campaign staffers died in a plane crash in 2002 en route to campaign events in northern Minnesota. Their sons, Mark and David Wellstone, chair the Wellstone Action board of directors, carrying on the mission of “empowering underrepresented communities to engage in life.”
The group’s work includes Camp Wellstone, a two-and-a-half day training for candidates, campaign workers and advocates focusing on grassroots politics. Advanced Campaign Management School offers an intensive, three-day training about the fundamentals of a winning campaign. The group also offers custom training for labor unions to help build capacity, leadership and infrastructure.
Other programs offered by Wellstone Action include trainings for college students interested in advocacy, a Native American leadership program and the Sheila Wellstone Institute, which works to build power and visibility to ensure that ending violence against women and children is a national priority. Resources are available for non-profit leaders and community members wanting to work on issues such as clean air and mental health parity.
Wellstone Action was founded in 2003 and offers tools for those unable to attend trainings. Those tools include action steps for “Running a Doorknock Operation” in which advocates and candidates go door-to-door seeking support for an issue or campaign, tips on building a volunteer program, a guide to increasing voter registration and information on being a successful citizen activist.