Josh Silver, Represent.Us

Last modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Job title: Co-founder and director, Represent.Us, Florence

Age: 45

When business opened: November 2012

Your duties: Create and execute a political strategy to confront the undue influence of money in US politics; recruit staff; raise money.

How did you start your business? After co-founding and running Free Press — a national media reform organization based in Florence — for 10 years, I concluded that the winners in Washington and state capitols are most often those with the biggest wallets, not the best ideas. The result: the most basic public interest policies fail to advance. From action on climate change to education, the list goes on. I crafted a new political strategy to address the problem, raised money, got an office in Florence, hired a team, and launched the Represent.Us campaign.

What’s most challenging about your work? Overcoming the public’s rational belief that money-in-politics corruption is so entrenched that there is no way to fix it.

What do you like about it? I love working on the issue that is the primary obstacle to making progress on nearly every challenge facing our government and our country. It feels good to identify the root of the problem and take a real stab at actually fixing it.

The way to win is through the creation of a massive anti-corruption movement that enlists grassroots progressives, conservatives and everyone in between. Ours is a movement of the people, not political parties.

Did your business add or lose any employee positions in 2013? We added four positions in 2013, and have 12 full time staff.

What role does technology play in your business? Huge. We use sophisticated Web properties, viral videos, blogs and social media to further our public education efforts.

Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? I was raised in the Hilltowns of Franklin County, and wanted to live in the Valley to be close to family. There are so many skilled people who live right here in the Valley, and it is an attractive place to live for employees we recruit from afar.

What has surprised you most about your new business endeavor? Even if you have a lot of experience and a great Rolodex, it takes time to get your strategy refined and built up to scale.

Name a few of your goals for the coming year: 1) Enlist 1 million citizen cosponsors of the “American Anti-Corruption Act.” 2) Recruit and mobilize activists in 100 House districts across the U.S. in 2014 to get every public official on record as for or against reform. 3) Help shift the reform debate toward corruption and away from other terms. 4) Pass a statewide Anti-Corruption Act ballot initiative (in Montana).

Tell us a little-known fact about you: I like to run on trails between the Hilltowns — Goshen, Conway, Chesterfield — and Northampton a couple times each year to discover the extensive trail networks that surround the Valley.

What is your advice for others seeking business success: If you have an idea for a business, make sure it’s a winning idea, make sure the market is not already saturated. Get focused, get to work, hire superstars, let mediocre performers go and always be kind and respectful of colleagues and competitors.


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