A native of Grenada, Mississippi, Burns Strider is co-founder and principal at The Eleison Group and co-founder and President of the American Values Network. He was Senior Advisor and Director of Faith and Values Outreach to Hillary Clinton in her 2008 Presidential campaign. A leading figure in the nation on the cross-section of faith, values, and culture, Strider is known as the "faith and values" guru for the Democratic Party.
Eleison Group is the nation’s leading consulting firm committed to creating common ground between the political, business, and non-profit worlds with America’s diverse values-based communities. Strider advises a broad clientele including Reverend Jim Wallis and Sojourners, The Democratic National Committee, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, NRG Energy Corporation, the United Methodist Church, Catfish Growers of America, The Faith & Politics Institute, Oxfam America, Bread for the World, Harbor Wing Technologies and has advised over the past 3 electoral cycles on more than 100 U.S. House, Senate, statewide and national campaigns. The American Values Network (AVN) is a nonprofit committed to educating, enrolling, and activating Americans in progressive causes. In its first year, AVN had a budget of over two million dollars largely focused on climate change and clean energy initiatives. A TV advertisement written and produced by AVN calling for ratification of the New START Treaty was recognized by the 'Campaigns and Elections' as the best issue advocacy advertisement in the nation for 2010. American Bridge, its Correct the Record Division, employs a dedicated research, video, tracking, communications, and digital operation providing rapid response to false attacks from Republican politicians, party committees, and rightwing interests groups to meet its mission of electing a Democratic President in 2016.
Strider began his career as an intern in the early 90’s for then-Congressman Mike Espy (D-MS) and then-Senator Al Gore (D-TN). He also served as speechwriter to Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus. In the mid-90's, he spent three years in Hong Kong as a Missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention serving as youth minister at International Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist mega church on Hong Kong Island.
Strider first served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Ronnie Shows (D-MS), before moving into national leadership roles. He served in an array of leadership positions, including Director of the U.S. House Democratic Faith Working Group and Rural Working Group, the Director of Policy for the U.S. House Democratic Caucus, and regional Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He has also served as Vice President of American Bridge 21st Century and Senior Advisor to Correct the Record.
Strider also worked as Senior Advisor to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was with Pelosi that Strider began working to expand the voice and scope of progressive politics and issues with the American faith community.
For his efforts, Religion News Service named Strider one of the 12 most influential Democrats in the nation on faith/values issues and politics. Strider has worked on over 100 campaigns, directed 20 of them, and developed a communications plan that was implemented in 60 different races.
He has also been a commentator for National Public Radio, has made appearances on CNN, CBN, and NBC, and has lectured at various universities and workshops around the nation including Princeton University, Harvard University, Trinity College, the University of Virginia, Mississippi State University, Delta State University, the University of Mississippi, Georgetown University, the Democratic National Convention, the National Leadership Council, and the Young Democrats of America training workshop, among others. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Faithful Democrats, and Mississippi Business Journal.
In October of 2014, Strider gave his first TEDx talk in Cape May, NJ. The theme of the event was "Pursuit of Happiness" and Strider's TEDx is called "The Happy Community in 3 Acts." In it, he talks about arriving at a happy community as a nation, and tells stories of friars, mammas, and governors.
In December of 2014, Strider was named to the Board of Governors at The Faith and Politics Institute. This continues his longstanding relationship with the organization, which works to bring people together and advance reflective leadership among members of Congress and congressional staff to bridge the divides that arise in a thriving democracy.
He is the son of the late and legendary Grenada County Sheriff Jesse A. “Big Daddy” Strider, who served Grenada County, Mississippi from 1966 – 1984 bringing about racial reconciliation, tearing down barriers and building bridges. He endorsed a young Mike Espy for Congress in 1986. This endorsement and the subsequent television advertisements help make Espy the first African American Congressman in Mississippi since reconstruction. David Halberstam, among others, has written about Sheriff Strider and his efforts for racial justice. Burns’ oldest brother, today, serves as Grenada County sheriff and his family, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and others, live in Grenada, many on the Strider family farm. Strider and his wife, Karen, a native of Kentucky, live in Washington, DC. They raise two nearly perfect boys, Will (15) and Pete (13).
Connect with Burns on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BStrider, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BurnsStrider or Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/burns-strider. Blog, Translating Big Daddy:http://www.downticketdems.com/?p=1344 Recent Column in the Washington Post by Strider:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/faithfully-democratic/2012/09/05/dccb2a02-f7d2-11e1-8398-0327ab83ab91_blog.html New York Times Article on Strider:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/03/us/politics/03strider.html A favorite of Burns’ he wrote on a coal mining tragedy:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/burns-strider/coal-mines-potato-salad-a_b_530534.html