Longtime government watchdog, democracy reform advocate, and recent gubernatorial candidate Mike McCabe has agreed to become We Are Many–United Against Hate’s first executive director, Masood Akhtar, the group’s founder and president has announced.
“I am honored and beyond excited to take on this new challenge,” McCabe said in a statement. “Our country is being torn apart. A house divided cannot stand. Those words remain as true and apt to current circumstances as they were nearly two millennia ago when they appeared in scripture and more than a century and a half ago when Lincoln invoked them in one of his most famous appeals to preserve the union. With the repeated eruptions of hate-fueled violence we are witnessing, we need a moral reckoning and a new social contract describing what we all are called to do for our country and each other. We need to figure out how to have civil conversations and build solid relationships with those we have been conditioned to see as enemies. No nation filled with hate can be great.”
Madison-based “We Are Many: United Against Hate” – a non-partisan, non-profit, state-wide organization made up of common people who seek equal protection for all and are united against hate, bigotry and racism – was founded by Akhtar.
Akhtar pointed to McCabe’s decades of experience running nonprofit organizations, strong communication skills, and his dedication to We Are Many–United Against Hate’s mission as among the chief reasons behind his selection as executive director. McCabe has been serving on the group’s advisory board since nearly its inception.
“The public response to our mission and various initiatives has been heartwarming and inspiring, but also overwhelming for an all-volunteer operation,” Akhtar said in a press release. “It has become increasingly clear that we need to build organizational infrastructure and capacity if our movement is going to continue to grow and prosper. Mike has both the skills and the passion to help us do that.”
McCabe brings a farming background and a lifetime of experience in politics, journalism, nonprofit leadership and public sector management to his new role. Born and raised in Wisconsin, McCabe got his start in life on the farm milking cows and working the land with his family. He has lived across the rural-urban divide, with a foot in both worlds, having spent nearly half of his life out in the country and the rest in the state’s second-largest city and state capital.
McCabe is founder and president of Blue Jean Nation, a grassroots citizen group started in 2015. For 15 years before that, he led the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, an independent watchdog group that tracks the money in state elections and works for reforms making people matter more than money in politics. In that role, McCabe blew the whistle on wrongdoing by elected officials and earned a reputation as one of the nation’s best political money trackers. McCabe has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists and Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council as the “Citizen Openness Advocate of the Year” for 2012, and the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 2015.
Though only in its infancy, We Are Many–United Against Hate has already gained national recognition, as Akhtar received the FBI’s National Director’s Community Leadership Award in May 2019. In 2017 Akhtar’s efforts were saluted by the Southern Poverty Law Center with a Certificate of Appreciation for his contributions to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America. Akhtar’s name was added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama to provide inspiration to all those who choose to take a stand against hatred.