Help us change the way Washington works

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My name is Robert Weissman, and I am very excited to join Public Citizen as its new president.

For nearly 40 years, Public Citizen has pioneered cutting-edge advocacy on the crucial issues of the day. As a result, we all are a lot safer and healthier, our government works for more people and our democracy functions better.

But for all we’ve achieved, powerful corporate interests have managed to shape the policy agenda. On each of the top-line issues of the day – climate change, health care and financial re-regulation – corporate interests are blocking the changes we need for a more just and ecologically sustainable future. The majority whip in the Senate even says the banks “own the place.”

We can’t allow Big Business to continue to set the agenda and write the rules. And we won’t.

As we look forward to the challenges ahead, Public Citizen will continue to do everything it has done so well for nearly four decades.

We are going to do some other things, too. We will be more creative on the Internet. We will develop new ways to work with you, so that together we build new forms of citizen power. We will invest more in organizing people, both online and on-the-ground. Together, we will innovate ways to change the way Washington works.

For the past 20 years, I’ve worked on corporate accountability projects at Essential Action and the Center for Study of Responsive Law here in Washington, D.C. I’ve also edited a magazine, Multinational Monitor, which tracks the activities of multinational corporations and reports on the global economy. I’ve seen the panoply of organizations working on consumer, environmental and corporate accountability issues. Public Citizen has always stood out for its extraordinarily talented and committed staff, with deep expertise in a wide set of issues. I’m thrilled to join this team.

Public Citizen has also been unique for its fierce independence, its commitment to advancing the public interest across a broad issue spectrum, and its insistence on focusing on root problems and solutions. I promise that we’ll maintain those characteristics as we go forward.

For 27 years, Joan Claybrook provided Public Citizen with inspirational leadership, boundless energy and good humor, strategic vision and the force of her personality. She has been deeply committed to advancing health and safety, defending victims of corporate wrongdoing, and campaigning for a better and more responsive democracy. I am deeply honored to follow in her footsteps. She remains on our board and will continue to guide us.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for the generosity you have shown to Public Citizen. Your commitment and dedication are what allow this organization to thrive, and I hope it will continue for years to come. Public Citizen is an organization that belongs to all of us.

I am humbled by the enormity of the task ahead but know that with your help, we will build new forms of citizen power together. Please tell me what you’d like to see in Public Citizen’s future by posting a comment below or sending an email to president@citizen.org. I’d love to hear from you.