Welcome to New Politics Leadership Academy!


"There was a time when politics was for dreamers; When politics was for the people who dreamed a world that never was.  And I think there was a time where we lost those dreamers.  But what is so exciting about now, the reason why I am here, is because I believe that this generation has found that dream again.  They have found that dream in classrooms in Los Angeles where generations of kids never believed they would have seen a high school graduation, let alone a college graduation -- and they served there.  They found that dream in villages in Africa where they built infrastructure to provide running water to villages that never had it before. They found those dreams in people willing to sign up and wear a uniform and serve this country to bring peace and democracy to people that have never known that in their entire lives.  

 These public servants are dreamers of the most powerful sort.  The belief that, if you are called to serve -- whether it is in a school, or a community organizing network, or a City Year, or the Peace Corps, or the Armed services -- that call to service is the same call to service people have been answering for generations by running for public office.  And they should no longer be different.  They should be the same movement, the same mission, the same passion.  So for me, this movement, is about dreamers."

-Mike Johnston, State Senator, Colorado and AmeriCorps Alum

Who We Are

New Politics Leadership Academy is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for service veterans to engage with policy and politics. Through career training, fellowships, networking events and mentorship programs, we create a new pipeline into politics for service members who otherwise would not be able to work in the field. 

We believe that service members are the best problem solvers, "dreamers", and change makers in our nation, and we need their guidance in policy making. By encouraging servant leaders to start careers in politics and policy, we believe we can start to fix our political system and our nation. 

 Our Values

Our core values represent our deepest beliefs and our highest aspirations.  Together, these values comprise our inner compass; through adhering to these values, we maintain the clarity, focus, and drive required to powerfully serve others. 

1)    Servant Leadership
We dedicate ourselves to serving others, and we pursue politics as a path that expands our capacity to serve.

Inspired by the work of Robert Greenleaf, we understand servant leadership to involve three elements:  First, it is grounded solidly in the desire to be of service to others.  Second, it involves a conscious choice to step into leadership roles because power expands our capacity to serve others.  Finally, the true test of servant leadership is whether those we aspire to serve grow as people, becoming more healthy, wise, capable, independent, and able to thrive as a result of our efforts. 

2)    Courage
We are committed to taking purposeful action in the face of fear, uncertainty, and discomfort.

To lead is to take a purposeful stand in the face of uncertainty, adversity, and discomfort.  Leadership is only possible, then, with courage, which is not the absence of fear but the willingness to move forward in the face of fear.  We view courage as the value that makes all our other values possible, as servant leadership, integrity, empathy and democracy are all at risk when we allow ourselves to be driven by fear, comfort, and the desire for ease.  We view courage as both a noble aspiration and a daily skill to be practiced in the pursuit of serving others.

3)    Integrity
We are committed to living in alignment with our own deepest values internally, and with a clear-eyed understanding of the challenges faced by our communities externally.

To live with integrity is to live in alignment with our own deepest values and highest moral principles.  We are committed to doing the work required to clarify those values and principles, and to live constantly awake to the question of whether our daily actions and choices remain in alignment with them.  To lead with integrity is also to strive for a clear and accurate understanding of the challenges we aspire to confront in the world around us, out of an understanding that this integrity is essential for developing effective responses. 

4)    Empathy
We strive to see through the eyes of those we are committed to serve.

Effective service to others is only possible when we open our hearts and minds to the experiences of those we serve.  This continuous effort to see through the eyes of others demands humility and builds trust, and is grounded in an understanding that we each have distinct experiences within the context of our shared civic life.  Quite simply, to effectively serve others we must understand them, and we can only understand them through the practice of empathy.   

5)    Democracy
We are stewards of America’s bold experiment in government of, by, and for the people.

Democracy is a system of government rooted in the belief that we the people have both a right and a responsibility to participate in self-government.  Our Founders designed a system of representation to ensure that government would proceed through a process of dialogue and debate among parties with conflicting perspectives.  They created checks and balances to guard individual liberty, protect minority views, and yet still advance through rule by the majority.  It is a system that has endured for nearly three centuries, and we are merely the current stewards of an experiment whose success depends on the efforts of active, engaged citizens.  We commit to boldly pursuing our goals while honoring that we serve not only our constituents, but also this larger system that makes the pursuit of self-government possible.  

 Our People


Emily Cherniack

Founder, Executive Director

Founder Emily Cherniack is steeped in the traditions of servant leadership. From her service in AmeriCorps and employment with City Year AmeriCorps, to being part of the founding team of Be the Change--where she led a coalition of over 200 organizations to engage 250,000 people for a Day of Action in support of the $6 billion Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009--Emily has worked tirelessly to serve our country and support others who serve.

Emily’s path to politics came when her boss and mentor, Alan Khazei, decided to run for the US Senate in 2009. Khazei asked Emily to become his Deputy Campaign Manager and, although he was defeated, Emily learned a great deal from his campaign and the power of political leaders who chose to serve country before self.

This experience led Emily to conclude that our current system for recruiting political talent is broken. The current talent pipeline is intentionally exclusive, and has significant barriers that prevent transformational leaders from successfully running for office; the only way to change that is to change the pipeline. New Politics was founded in 2013 to address exactly that.

Emily graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a Masters Degree in Education Policy. She lives in Boston.

Contact Emily at emily@newpoliticsacademy.org


Klau-portrait.jpgMax Klau

Chief Program Officer

Dr. Max Klau is thrilled to join the New Politics Leadership Academy team. As Chief Program Officer, he will oversee the design and delivery of the Academy’s leadership development programs focused on building a pipeline of alumni of service programs seeking to run for political office as the next step on their journey as servant leaders.

Prior to joining New Politics Leadership Academy, Max served as vice president of leadership development at City Year, the education-focused AmeriCorps program that engages more than 3,000 young adults across 27 U.S. cities in a year of demanding, full-time citizen service. Max received his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2005. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Leadership Association and his writing about leadership has appeared in Fast Company, the Harvard Business Review, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post.

Dr. Klau’s career has been dedicated to developing the leadership capacities of servant leaders who are deeply committed to improving our communities through pragmatic, collaborative, effective action. He looks forward to continuing the work through this new role at the New Politics Leadership Academy.

Contact Max at max@newpoliticsacademy.org

Doug.jpgDoug Pardo

Senior Director

Doug is responsible for building, scaling, and managing core strategy, development, and operations across New Politics and the New Politics Leadership Academy. His path to New Politics is rooted in a belief that integrity and selflessness are essential characteristics of our elected officials. Doug will help lead the team in its mission to elect leaders who demonstrate the highest degree of values-based, servant leadership. 

He joins the team after a successful private sector career in a variety of senior management, strategy and relationship roles. Prior to obtaining an MBA from Columbia Business School, Doug served with the 101st Airborne Division as an officer and Apache pilot. He has held leadership roles as a lieutenant and captain during combat deployments to Afghanistan in ’02 (Operation Enduring Freedom I) and Iraq in ’03 (Operation Iraqi Freedom I). As a platoon leader, he successfully commanded dozens of combat missions, earning the Air Medal for Valor among other individual and campaign decorations. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Doug remains dedicated to serving his community. He has served in leadership roles as a Committee Chair and Board Member with several alumni and non-profit organizations.

Doug and his family currently reside in Wellesley, MA.

Contact Doug at doug@newpoliticsacademy.org 


David Heifetz

Chief Communications Officer

David serves as a public voice for New Politics and New Politics Leadership Academy, advises our servant leader candidates on message development and policy, and is responsible for devising, managing, and executing communications strategy and outreach across the organization. 

David came to New Politics after serving in the Obama White House as a speechwriter and policy advisor, where he wrote primarily for Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, oversaw messaging for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and advised on engagement strategy around labor and national security issues.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, David served as the speechwriter to Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, press secretary and speechwriter to the late New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, and speechwriter and personal aide to Alan Khazei during his 2011 Senate campaign in Massachusetts (where he first met and worked for Emily Cherniack).

David was born and raised in the Boston area and graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he studied International Relations and Political Economy. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Contact David at david@newpoliticsacademy.org

The Challenge

Our political system has significant barriers of access and entry.  At New Politics Leadership Academy, we are working to overcome this challenge by educating and training servant leaders across our country. Through our work, we have found that there are a series of false assumptions being made about politics, and how these assumptions prevent our nation's best servant leaders from entering the political arena. 


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