The same day President Donald Trump fired his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, another chief of staff, Sasha Borowsky, was contemplating the slippery slope of what’s become a divisive political domain.
Borowsky’s organization, No Labels, wants to split the difference—not hairs. Twelve months after the controversial presidential election, this national grassroots advocacy group continues its mission to bring the country’s two major parties together for the good of the country. Not a third party and with no intention of becoming one, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit tries to get the two-party system to work by finding middle ground through conversation, then action. The goal: to halt governmental gridlock. “It’s worse than it’s ever been, but it’s also more important than ever,” says Borowsky, a Wynnewood native. “Other groups have come and gone, but now multiple publications are calling us ‘the force in the middle.’”
Borowsky focuses on fundraising, external development and membership, coordinating 20 paid staff members and helping to spearhead 200,000 citizen members who interact largely via social media. “Our whole orbit is about a million people,” she says.
In December 2010, No Labels was launched as a citizens’ movement to probe interest in the organization’s essential slogan, “Stop Fighting, Start Fixing.” “As you can imagine, it was very popular,” Borowsky says. “We were building a citizens’ army.”
No Labels began as a reform group looking to make Congress work harder—and together. There was a 12-point plan, which included a push for bipartisan seating in committee hearings and joint meetings of Congress, a measure to prevent incumbents from engaging in negative campaigns against other incumbents, and a “No Budget, No Pay” law, the latter which passed.
By 2012, the group started reaching out more directly to members of Congress, landing leadership in New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer and New York Republican Tom Reed, co-chairs of what’s become the Problem Solvers Caucus, a voting block that’s split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. In late summer, they publicly announced a bipartisan plan for stabilizing the health insurance markets in the country.
No Labels’ critics say that bipartisan action is both a relic of the past and a fool’s errand. “It’s been like a baby being born, and it’s very gratifying,” Borowsky says, keeping it positive. “There are no special interests. Our guys truly believe in what’s best and getting in a room to start talking.”
Collectively, other No Labels objectives include supporting a National Strategic Agenda—and more than 80 House and Senate members have signed on. It’s made up of four goals: create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years; balance the federal budget by 2030; secure Medicare and Social Security for the next 75 years; and make America energy secure by 2024.
It’s no surprise that Borowsky, a self-described workaholic, is a rising star. After graduating from what’s now the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, she was a political science major at the University of Vermont. Admittedly, she wasn’t someone who loved school as much as mock trials and track and field—but she always “wanted to be incredibly busy.”
Borowsky’s path to success began at home. Both her grandfather, Irvin, and her father, Scott, became media moguls. Irvin later founded the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. She inherited an unimaginable work ethic, and she grew up needing to make something of herself. “We’re political entrepreneurs,” she says. “No one has charted these paths. Many have these ideas, then give up.”
Borowsky’s grandfather also instilled in her the need for tolerance. An existing interest in politics was later fostered during an internship with Pat Meehan in his first run for Congress. “I knew I wanted to do something that meant something,” she says. “I’m mission driven, and I loved that summer [with Meehan].”
Internships followed, and Borowsky was always learning, growing and networking. After her junior year at Vermont, Securing America’s Future Energy’s Sloane Hurst told her that if she was going to specialize in fundraising, she had to learn from Nancy Jacobson, the volunteer CEO at No Labels. Borowsky called, visited the same day, and was offered an internship going into her senior year. It wasn’t long before she was doing the work of a staffer. “Sasha is mature beyond her years and will not rest until the job is done,” Jacobson says. “I’ve seen many young people walk through our doors over many years, but she’s different, possessing the skills of leadership and commitment.”
At 26, Borowsky is speaking before crowds, running an office, and learning things she might not have discovered for another decade. She’s grateful and enjoys seeing results. “I remember people laughing us off, people who thought we were a coffee club,” she says.
The public is disgusted, Borowsky says, truly believing that the country is in the middle—though it’s never presented that way. “People are either turned off by it or not interested in it—or it’s not something they see that they can have a tangible effect on every day, so they don’t pay attention,” she says. “Or there’s only the far left or far right, but the ones who are disgusted are a lot of those people in the middle. It’s hard to be passionate in moderation, but that’s what No Labels is trying to do—to bring passion back to the middle.”