Meet Andy Levin
In this moment of political division and crisis, people are looking for leaders they can trust to fight for them. Andy Levin is a strong, consistent voice for working families in Congress, and brings the integrity and the bold ideas needed to restore the dignity and value of work and defend the rights of all.
The House Democratic Caucus named Andy to two committees that allow him to continue his life’s work: Education & Labor, where his colleagues elected him Vice Chair, and Foreign Affairs.
Andy Levin has spent decades fighting and winning battles for the middle class, both inside and outside of government. A lifelong Democrat, he has a strong track record of accomplishments that have improved the lives of Michiganders and people across the country. He is taking the fight for working people to the halls of Congress.
Andy is hard to pigeonhole. He is a successful entrepreneur, but also an equally successful union organizer and advocate for workers’ rights and human rights. He has been at the forefront of progressive causes for decades – while also building highly effective programs within government. He has created many entities that have had a positive and lasting effect on people’s lives and society, from Union Summer to No Worker Left Behind to Lean & Green Michigan to Detroit Jews for Justice.
As the former director of worker training for the state of Michigan, Levin created and ran No Worker Left Behind, the largest job-retraining program in the country. No Worker Left Behind provided training to 162,000 Michiganders during the great recession, the majority of whom went on to get good paying jobs.
Later, Andy founded his own clean energy business, creating good jobs while reducing carbon emissions and improving public health, air and water quality. Levin has proven that he can bring together Democrats and Republicans, business and labor. He’ll do that as the 9th District’s next Congressman, putting what’s best for the middle class at the center of every policy decision.
Most importantly, Andy Levin brings an authentic desire to unite Americans in a quest for a just society. That means pursuing bottom-up economics to restore the middle class; fighting a moral and economic crusade to save our planet; recognizing the need for full rights and opportunities for everyone; and reviving our democracy to bring everyone’s voice to the table.
National Leader in Workforce Training
From 2007-2011 Andy served as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth and as Michigan’s first Chief Workforce Officer. When Michigan’s workers were down on their luck the most during the Great Recession, Andy created and ran No Worker Left Behind, the largest experiment by any state in modern times in serious worker training.
No Worker Left behind put 162,000 unemployed and underemployed Michigan workers back to school to study for certificates and degrees leading to in-demand jobs in Michigan. The program was enormously popular, with waiting lists in many counties across the state. No Worker Left Behind simplified and tamed the immense complexity of the federal workforce system, creating simple eligibility criteria (family income below $40,000) and clear benefits (up to $10,000 for two years’ worth of tuition and supports).
The program was seen as a national model, and Andy has spoken widely about workforce training. More importantly, No Worker Left Behind helped thousands of Michigan families find a new foothold in our changing economy. Andy served on the board of the National Skills Coalition until the fall of 2017 and continues to advocate passionately for the right of all workers who lose their jobs or need new skills to obtain the training they need to prosper. He knows it can be done!
Clean Energy Entrepreneur
After leaving state government in 2011, Andy founded and ran his own company, Levin Energy Partners, LLC. He has created a statewide market to finance clean energy building improvements called Lean & Green Michigan. Andy came up with the idea of building a statewide program to implement newly available property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing – and has been implementing it across Michigan, largely with sweat equity. In the process, 34 local governments joined the program, steering completely clear of the politics of division.
Every kind of jurisdiction joined, usually by unanimous votes of their legislative bodies – from the Upper Peninsula to Kalamazoo County to Huron County at the tip of the Thumb to Wayne County; from the most conservative to the most liberal; from rural to suburban to urban. By the time Andy stepped down to enter Congress, 68 percent of all Michiganders lived in a Lean & Green Michigan jurisdiction, and they had started to choose energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy projects on every manner of business and non-profit building.
Union Organizer and Workers’ Rights Expert
Andy helped striking cap and gown workers as a sophomore in college by getting Williams College seniors to agree to graduate unrobed rather than wear robes made in a factory where workers were on strike. He has never stopped advocating for workers since. From 1983 to 1988, he organized health care workers in America, helping hundreds of workers in Michigan, Indiana, Massachusetts and Rhode Island join the Service Employees International Union, always against the fierce and often intimidating opposition of their bosses.
Andy later served as Assistant Director of Organizing for the national AFL-CIO for 11 years, helping workers across the country organize for a better life with a wide variety of unions. He created the Union Summer program, which put more than 1,000 young people on the front lines of union campaigns in the summer of 1996. Union Summer has lived on and been copied and emulated for over 20 years by unions, universities, and law firms.
In 1994-1995, Andy served as staff attorney to President Clinton’s Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. At the AFL-CIO, Andy created and directed the Voice@Work campaign, which won nearly universal Democratic support in Congress for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have overhauled America’s labor laws to allow employees to bargain for better wages and working conditions. Andy has been involved in many acts of civil disobedience to demand workers’ freedom to form unions.
Advocate for Human Rights and Diversity
Andy has advocated for human rights across the globe, as well as celebrating diversity at home. In college he was a leader of the Williams Anti-Apartheid Coalition, which conducted a weeklong hunger strike that garnered national attention in an effort to convince the trustees of Williams College to divest from companies that did business in South Africa.
Andy traveled to Hong Kong and China during the summer of 1989 and published photographs and writings about his eyewitness observations of the Chinese crackdown on dissent in Chengdu during the Tiananmen Massacre. He published a lengthy, exclusive interview with and a newspaper article about the Dalai Lama when he won the Nobel Peace Prize for seeking human rights for Tibetans in their own land.
Andy has been especially active on human rights in Haiti. He learned to speak Haitian Creole while organizing Haitian nursing home workers in Boston, and served as an observer to the first attempt at presidential elections in 1987 after the end of the Duvalier dictatorship. He watched in horror as anti-democratic forces shot at voters lining up at the polls and viewed the aftermath of a massacre of voters at a school. He spent the summer of 1992 in Haiti for Human Rights Watch and was the principal investigator and writer for that organization’s book-length report, Silencing a People. He has published writings on Haitian civil society and what an effective U.S. policy to support democracy and economic development in Haiti would look like.
Andy joined the campaign to close the Rowe Yankee nuclear plant near his college almost 40 years ago and has remained active on environmental causes ever since. A true believer in the spiritual and economic importance of wilderness, Andy’s idea of a good time is to hike or paddle as far from civilization as possible and live off what he and his companions can carry and catch. He was involved in the campaign to prevent drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where he once paddled for two weeks with four friends. He believes we have a moral obligation to protect and preserve our natural resources.
Person of Faith
Andy grew up in a rather secular Jewish household, but has been very committed to Judaism in adulthood. He has been a board member and leader of Jewish congregations in suburban Washington, DC and Detroit. He was formerly the president of Congregation T’chiyah. He also served as chair of the steering committee of Detroit Jews for Justice, an organization he helped create to activate Jews of all ages to fight for racial and economic justice in Detroit.
Andy married his high school sweetheart Mary Freeman in 1991 and they have four kids, Koby, Saul, Ben and Molly. Mary and the kids are the center of his life, and time with them and gatherings of the extended Levin and Freeman clans take precedence over just about everything else. Andy believes supporting families in all their forms is crucial to building a healthy, sustainable economy.
Son of the 9th District
Andy’s roots in Detroit and Southeast Michigan go back well over 100 years — Andy’s great-grandfather operated a general store in the 1890s in the little country town of Birmingham. You can see a historic plaque commemorating the store at Maple and Old Woodward at what is now the opposite of a general store — Starbucks! Andy was born and raised in Berkley in the 9th District, where he attended Berkley Elementary School, Anderson Junior High (now Middle) School and Berkley High. As a kid, he delivered the Daily Tribune after school rain or shine, worked as a restaurant busboy, operated A&B Lawn Service with his friend Brian, and played hockey, baseball, basketball and tennis.
After working in our nation’s capital for 12 years upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Andy moved home with his wife Mary Freeman and their four kids. They have lived in the 9th District’s Bloomfield Township for the last eleven years. The kids have attended West Maple Elementary School, Berkshire Middle School, Groves High School and the International Academy. Andy and Mary have attended scores of soccer, hockey, baseball, softball and basketball games as well as plays and choir performances — and loved every one of them!
Proud Levin Family Son
And yes, Andy is Sandy Levin’s son and Carl Levin’s nephew. Andy has been steeped in politics almost from birth – when his dad was Oakland County Democratic Party chairman. He remembers meeting Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, and other Democratic luminaries as a child, often in his family home or station wagon. Andy has spent his life debating politics and policy with others in the family, and observed closely how Sandy and Carl Levin operated in Michigan and Washington. Their legacy of integrity, humility, moral purpose and hard work in public service are his biggest influence.