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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Eli Pariser To Give Commencement Address At Simon's Rock College of Bard

Great Barrington - Simon’s Rock College of Bard has announced that Eli Pariser will be the speaker at its 36th Commencement on Saturday, May 14.

Eli Pariser, a Simon’s Rock alumnus, has become a well-known leader in the groundbreaking movement to use the Internet to organize Americans politically. At the age of 20, he created an on-line petition calling for alternatives to a military response to the events of September 11, 2001; within two weeks the petition had been signed by 500,000 people.

His work soon attracted the attention of international news organizations and Wes Boyd at MoveOn, an organization started by Boyd and Joan Blades, two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who shared frustration with the partisan politics in Washington D.C.

The websites of Pariser and Boyd soon merged, as did the forces of the activists. Pariser was asked to run international programs for MoveOn, and since that time millions of Americans and others have become acquainted with him through the Internet and public speeches during the buildup to the war in Iraq and during the presidential election of 2004.

In his young career Pariser, now 24 years old and Executive Director of MoveOn.org and MoveOn Pac, has launched several initiatives and raised millions of dollars for the work of the organizations. MoveOn.org primarily focuses on education and advocacy; MoveOn PAC primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect their values.

He directed MoveOn's campaign against the Iraq war, tripling MoveOn's member base in the process; MoveOn now has 2.9 million members. As Executive Director of MoveOn PAC, he raised over $30 million from over 350,000 small donors to run ads, develop a powerful field program, and support progressive candidates from John Kerry on down.

Pariser has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine, Money Magazine, Fortune, Time, Mother Jones, and many other publications, and has appeared on every major cable news channel and television network. In a March 2003 article about Pariser titled “Smart Mobbing the War,” the New York Times Magazine said: “Dot-org politics represents the latest manifestation of a recurrent American faith that there is something inherently good in the vox populi.”

In the same New York Times article, Dennis Kucinich, then Democratic presidential candidate, said: ''Eli has proven we're in a new era of grass-roots activism. The basis for human unity is not just electronic -- the human unity precedes the electronic, and then is furthered by it. Eli represents 'the advancing tide,' which Emerson said 'creates for itself a condition of its own. And the question and the answer are one.'''

In his work at MoveOn, Pariser continues to organize for long-term political action, saying: “Creative power takes time…We’re just getting started. The momentum that began with the anti-war movement is changing American politics. And I do believe it has the potential to change the world.”

Pariser grew up in Camden, Maine, and like many Simon’s Rock students, began his college studies at the age of 15. At the age of 19, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude.

At Simon’s Rock, he helped to organize and then participated in The American Story Project, in which 12 students and new graduates crossed the country in a school bus interviewing ordinary Americans about their political beliefs. He also organized the New England Student Activism conference, campaigned for socially responsible college investing, and wrote his senior thesis on the origin of corporate rights.

Simon's Rock College of Bard is the only four-year college of the liberal arts and sciences specifically designed to provide bright, highly motivated students with the opportunity to begin college in a residential environment after the tenth or eleventh grade. Students who successfully complete the requirements receive the Associate of Arts (AA) degree after two years of study, and the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree after four.

The commencement ceremonies, which are open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m. on the Blodgett Lawn.


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