Organization building is where Jefferson’s leadership skills first emerged. Starting in the early 2000’s with the Bus project, Jefferson discovered his ability to not only clearly identify a need, but also organize a living structure to meet the need. He would go on to become a serial, social entrepreneur founding leadership programs like PolitiCorps, Portland Forward, and Onward Oregon, as well as work with countless other social entrepreneurs in the Portland area.

The Bus Project

The Bus Project created a model that spread across the country, spawning the Bus Federation and a network of state-based organizations that transformed voting laws in multiple states. Jefferson and the Bus team launched the innovative training platform PolitiCorps, which educated and inspired countless new leaders. Jefferson and three other state-based leaders launched the State Pilot Project; in Oregon that spawned Oregon Voice, the state’s leading collaborative for pro-democracy nonprofit groups. As for the Bus Federation, evolved into the Alliance for Youth Organizing, a $20+ million network of pro-democracy youth organizations.

Innovating in Education

Jefferson co-founded the political education program PolitiCorps, which ignited dozens of activists into lives of leadership. Jefferson went on to support Michelle Jones, the Founder of the Wayfinding Academy, to launch that innovative tiny college. “The work of Michelle Jones work – adding adventure and personal intentionality to education – remains an inspiration to me.”

Media for the People

Media for the People: Jefferson has worked in multiple capacities to give people voice. Coming off the national Award-Winning “America’s Party,” he co-founded Onward Oregon, a web-based membership portal designed to empower local activists. He was also instrumental in launching four community radio efforts. And he has interviewed hundreds of activists, elected officials, and academics, including as the host of the ongoing podcast Democracy Nerd. “Democracy requires giving people voice – in fact, giving voice might be what democracy is. And perhaps the most powerful way each of us can use our own voice is amplify the voices of others.”

Portland Forward

Registered voters matter. Engaged, registered voters matter more. This is this thinking behind PDX Forward, a Portland-based organization co-founded by Jefferson that empowers ordinary citizens to access political leaders, pass policy, and organize their communities in agents change in a democracy.


Conceived as a “human gratitude engine” Jefferson co-founded SuperThank to strengthen the community by magnifying and amplifying acts of gratitude. The centerpiece of the effort was live and recorded storytelling that publicly featured everyday folks expressing radical appreciation for meaningful things, moments, and people in their communities. “When I was down and just crushed,” Jefferson says of the impetus behind SuperThank, “gratitude for the good work of others was the only thing that gave me much hope or light.”