Andrew Friedman is Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy.
Andrew came to CPD after 15 years building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically-run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including the organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance departments.
Andrew has worked with the Latino Workers’ Center, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Center for Urban Community Services, the Government Benefits Unit at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and MFY Legal Services Mental Health Law Project. Andrew has been awarded the Union Square Award of the Fund for the City of New York, the Cornerstone Award of the Jewish Funds for Justice, and the Community Health Leaders Award of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his work at MRNY. Andrew was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow, a Senior Fellow at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He has worked as an adjunct professor in New York University School of Law’s Clinical Program, NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service and the New School for Social Research, and serves on the Board of Directors of Make the Road New York, and the Make the Road Action Fund. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.
Make The Road by Walking
Oona Chatterjee and Andrew Friedman, co-founders of Make The Road by Walking, ended up finding their calling--and launching their feisty Bushwick community activist group--through starkly different paths.
Friedman, 29, in 2000, was a punk rocker during his high school days in Washington, D.C. He gravitated from that culture of protest to global activism, demonstrating outside the Nicaraguan embassy in his teens, and against Columbia University's South African investments while a student there.
Chatterjee, 28, grew up near Philadelphia and went to Yale to study English; once she got there, she was inspired into political involvement. "A couple of my activist friends at Yale were very articulate about their work," she recalls. After moving to New York, Chatterjee worked as a campus organizer.
But both Chatterjee and Friedman have political activism in their blood. Chatterjee's maternal grandparents were freedom fighters against the British Raj in India. Friedman's were members of the Communist Party USA.
Today, both have become part of the immigrant mosaic of Bushwick, running this three-year-old organization with the aim of "showing the community how to determine its own future." What that means, in part, is setting up seminars and study groups showing young people how to organize for the causes they care about most, like after-school programs and safe streets, and mobilizing welfare recipients to push for their rights. Chatterjee's home is literally an extension of her work: She lives above the organization's office on Grove Street. Friedman lives only a few blocks away. "We wanted to live in the community where we work," Friedman says.
Q: How have people responded to your efforts?
Chatterjee: There are immigrants here who've come from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Ecuador...from countries already struggling for social justice. This is not new to them.
Q: How do you feel about the generation before you?
Friedman: I feel there's a gap in understanding the structure of an activist group. Older activists tend to organize their groups along strictly hierarchical lines. We make decisions by committee.
The Unity Statement Signed by Those Arrested was signed by 56 activists arrested in New York City, in front of 26 Federal Plaza June 1 2010, the "third in a series of civil disobedience actions in New York aimed at highlighting the growing human tragedy and unsustainable moral crisis caused by a broken U.S. immigration system badly in need of reform".
Signatories included Andrew Friedman SEIU.
National Leading From the Inside Out Alum
Local Progress Board Members
Local Progress Board members, As of August 10, 2018:
- David Alvarez, San Diego, CA
- LaToya Cantrell, New Orleans, LA
- Gregorio Casar, Austin, TX
- Helen Gym (Vice-Chair), Philadelphia, PA
- Megan Green, St. Louis, MO
- Bill Henry, Baltimore, MD
- Robin Kniech, Denver, CO
- Brad Lander (Chair), New York, NY
- Marcelia Nicholson, Milwaukee, WI
- Meghan Sahli-Wells, Culver City, CA
- Andrew Friedman, Center for Popular Democracy
- Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO
- Bob Master, CWA
- Becky Wasserman, SEIU International