Remembering Ady Barkan

Today, we are celebrating the incredible life and mourning the heartbreaking loss of our friend and leader, Ady Barkan.

The outpouring of love for Ady and his family that we’ve seen already is a testament to the truly remarkable and incomparable human he was. Many of us will remember him for the impact he has made on our lives; many more will benefit from the legacy of his work.

Ady was many things. A proud father, son, and husband to whom family was everything. A fierce organizer who was remarkably brilliant, wickedly sharp, and wildly ambitious. A fighter who refused to back down when things got tough (especially after his ALS diagnosis) and used every opportunity to speak truth to power. And a true friend who was uncommonly kind and unbelievably funny. 

He was also the founding director of Local Progress. While working at the Center for Popular Democracy, Ady helped envision what is now a network of more than 1,500 local elected officials across the country. All based on a belief that instead of giving up on the institutions that fail us, we must double down on changing them. That by organizing inside and outside of them, we can make sure they work for everyone. He saw the untapped potential in what could happen if we changed what was possible at the local level. For those who knew him during his years at LP, you know that he is the architect behind so much of what you see and feel as part of this network. He infused his brilliance and political savvy into changing the way people thought about governance — helping people understand that elected officials, like all people, are more effective when they’re organized. There’s a line from his book, Eyes to the Wind, that we come back to time and time again:

“Speaking alone my voice is weak. But when we come together, our voices echo so loud.” 

It is a reminder and a call to action. It’s probably one of the more subtle and truly poetic ways he’s called us to act with the boldest leadership possible, reminding us that our courage and conviction to do this work is grounded in love, support, and community.

LP is one of the many legacies Ady is leaving behind, alongside his fight for universal access to life-saving and life-giving healthcare. We honor his memory and carry on his unfinished work as we continue to fight.

We’re holding Rachael, Carl and Willow in our hearts and are so grateful for how much of Ady and themselves they’ve shared with us over the years. Here’s one way you can support them during this time. 

As we remember Ady’s life and legacy, we hope that you’ll share your own memories, learn more about the work that will live on through Be A Hero, or just take time to feel inspired. The road ahead is long, but Ady has paved so much of it for us already.