Tributes to Donna Parson

Donna was the best. Personally, she was a trusted friend and wise mentor for more than 30 years… She was an extraordinary citizen activist and progressive staff leader, making her mark at the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Demos, and, most recently, Common Cause. We are better people for having known Donna and her grace and wisdom leaves our world a better place, as well. – Nick Nyhart, President, Public Campaign.

Donna taught us “organizing.” She was the first person who impressed on us the notion that people will ultimately only support what they help create. She was the first person I ever heard use the phrase “own the agenda,” as in people must feel that they own the agenda if you expect them to stay involved.

Donna led by example, coached, and mentored a generation of activists, and in the “behind-the-scenes” way of a true organizer, changed the face of her home state.” – former Sierra Club President Susan Merrow.

Donna was a model for us all. She was an unwavering champion of “the little guy” — in society wherever there was injustice, and even within the organizations she touched. She mentored countless people, particularly young women just joining the movement. We were lucky to have been shaped by her for 13 years at Demos, and are all stronger, wiser, and more compassionate for having known her.” – Heather McGhee, President of Demos.

“Donna’s impact on Connecticut, and across the country, cannot be measured. Her wisdom, humor, and insights helped develop hundreds of organizers and to shape efforts to build a more just society… While we mourn the loss of Donna, we pledge to celebrate her zest for life and to continue the fight for social justice that she had dedicated herself to. – Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group.

One thing that stands out for me, a common thread in so many of the comments people are making, is what incredible friendships Donna nurtured and maintained… Never have I seen a closer ‘chosen family’ or one that took better care of each other over such a long period of time.  – Rutgers University Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations Janice Fine.