Community organizing scholar Marshall Ganz is 2022 Haas Center Distinguished Visitor
Marshall Ganz, a prominent thought leader on public narrative and community organizing, will be in residence at Stanford and will deliver the Haas Distinguished Visitor Lecture on January 12. Since its inception, the Distinguished Visitor program has brought to campus prominent individuals whose lives and careers have had significant public impact.
Marshall Ganz will offer insights on social movements, civic associations and politics to the Stanford community during his residency in winter and spring quarters as the 2022 Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor.
Ganz is the Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing and Civil Society in Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He teaches, researches and writes on leadership, public narrative, strategy and organization.
“Marshall Ganz’s work speaks directly to many of the conversations we are having as a Stanford community, including the responsibilities of engaged citizenship, the challenges of working across lines of difference, and our individual and collective roles in contributing to equity and justice,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church.
Ganz’s career as a social movement organizer began in 1964. He left Harvard College a year before graduating to volunteer with the Mississippi Summer Project. Also known as the Freedom Summer Project, the movement focused on promoting civil rights and overcoming voter discrimination and intimidation by registering Black Americans in Mississippi to vote.
Ganz continued this work by joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an organizer, and the following year, he joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in fighting to unionize California farm workers. Ganz worked with the United Farm Workers for 16 years, moving from organizer to director of organizing, and later serving on the national executive board. Following this, he developed organizing programs for many other grassroots organizations throughout the 1980s and designed strategies to mobilize voters at the local, state and national levels.
Ganz returned to Harvard in 1991 to complete his undergraduate degree and went on to receive an MPA from the Kennedy School and a PhD in sociology.
He is the author of numerous publications, and his 2009 book, Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement, explores what made the United Farm Workers’ movement so successful despite overwhelming odds. It won the American Political Science Association’s Michael J. Harrington Book Award, which recognizes outstanding books that demonstrate how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world.
In addition, Ganz played an instrumental role in the design of the grassroots organization for the 2008 Obama for President campaign. As part of the Leading Change Network, he trains and advises civic and political groups on organizing, training and leadership development around the world.
At the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor Lecture on Public Service on January 12, Ganz will be in conversation with Sandra Bass, associate dean of students and director of the Public Service Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The online event is titled “Democracy in America: Busy being born or busy dying?”
Since its inception, the Distinguished Visitor program has brought to campus prominent individuals whose lives and careers have had significant public impact. Previous visitors include author and Native American advocate Gerald Vizenor; Krista Tippett, bestselling author and founder of the On Being podcast; journalist Ted Koppel, MA ’62; Beverly Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College; and community organizer and artist Rick Lowe.
“Each Distinguished Visitor models a different approach to public leadership, and in doing so, highlights both complex challenges we face, and the range of skills and strategies that can be harnessed to address them,” said Juliet M. Brodie, faculty director of the Haas Center for Public Service, which is hosting Ganz. “We are seeing a dramatic rise in high-impact and creative community organizing in our current historical moment to expose and challenge systemic injustice. What’s more, that organizing is engaging new actors and leveraging new tools in the digital age. There’s never been a better time to bring Marshall to Stanford to share his deep expertise in this area and strengthen the capacity of our students to be effective change agents.”
In addition to Distinguished Visitor Lecture, Stanford students will have a unique opportunity to learn directly from Marshall and his team at an in-person training on community organizing from January 21-23. Interested students should complete this application by January 10. Members of the Stanford community can also request workshops or presentations with Ganz in January, March and May through this form. More information about the Distinguished Visitor program can be found on the Haas Center website.