The First Donors to Stacey Abrams Now Backing McClellan for Governor

Ten years ago, Susan Sandler and Steve Phillips were the first donors to invest in Stacey Abrams’s work, and they are now throwing their support behind Jennifer McClellan. 


“The same leadership qualities that drew us to Stacey and her work in Georgia in 2011 now compel us to support Jenn and the movement she is part of in Virginia,” said Phillips, a lawyer, author and podcast host.


Over the past 20 years, Sandler and Phillips have been national leaders and early investors in some of the most important political and social change work in the country. They each served on the board of the national progressive donor network The Democracy Alliance, and they were founding members of progressive donor collaboratives in Texas and California. In addition to being the first and largest backers of Abrams, they were among the early supporters of Kamala Harris’s first bid for statewide office in 2010 and Reverend Raphael Warnock’s Senate candidacy. They have hosted dinners in their home for Barack Obama, Abrams, and Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Attorney General who oversaw the prosecution of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd


“The country is in the midst of a profound transformation as the population becomes increasingly racially diverse,” said Phillips, author of the New York Times bestseller Brown is the New White“With the leadership of Jennifer and organizations such as New Virginia Majority, the Commonwealth is on the cutting edge of the movement to build a new progressive, multi-racial majority.” 


Sandler and Phillips are encouraging their peers across the country to back McClellan’s candidacy. “We are reaching out to our peers in the donor community, letting them know that we see in Virginia and in Jennifer what we saw in Georgia and Stacey,” said Phillips, “and we invite everyone to join us in this important cause.”


“I am proud and humbled to receive the endorsement of Susan and Steve,” McClellan said. “Their work over the years to identify and support promising leaders of color has made America better, and it’s validating to know that our work in Virginia is attracting such support. Their support is a huge sign of the growing momentum urging a new perspective in the governor’s office as we rebuild from the pandemic. I’ll bring that new perspective to the table and will put equity at the forefront on day one.”


McClellan has been a leader fighting for racial justice, systemic reform, and generational progress in the Virginia General Assembly for over 15 years. In the legislature, McClellan serves Vice Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. McClellan was also Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia and a member of the Democratic National Committee. As governor, McClellan will continue to be a fierce advocate for racial equity and rebuilding Virginia with no community left behind. 


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