Get to know your Leadership

Are you frustrated by the state of politics and ready to do something about it?

Welcome to The Centrist Project.

If you’ve found your way to this website, our story is probably similar to yours. We are disheartened and concerned by what we’re seeing in Washington. And we’re committed to making things better.

I’m first and foremost a policy guy. I teach public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and taught at the University of Chicago before that. Over the past decade, it became clear our country was not dealing in any meaningful way with significant policy challenges: the fiscal situation, climate change, an infrastructure deficit, mediocre K-12 education, and so on.

Charles Wheelan, The Centrist Project

I would never argue that there is a right answer for any of these challenges. I am certain there are a range of things we could, and should, be doing—all of which are better than what we are doing now.

I increasingly found that I was a person without a party. Do I want to be a Republican and pretend that climate change isn’t happening? Or do I want to be a Democrat and pretend that our entitlement programs are not a fiscal disaster waiting to happen?

More and more people I spoke to felt exactly the same way.

Meanwhile, the dysfunction in Washington kept getting worse. I wrote The Centrist Manifesto when the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan collapsed as the two parties kowtowed to their most active and vocal members.

The book was just the beginning. The Centrist Project was born to turn ideas into action. It has attracted a dedicated and growing group of people trying to solve problems by making the political process work better.

This is really about political innovation. If you think what we are trying to do makes sense, then join us.


Charlie Wheelen, Founder


Charles Wheelan, Founder


Charles Wheelan is the founder of The Centrist Project, a 501(c)4 creating the first political home for centrists. The organization is based on his book, "The Centrist Manifesto" (W.W. Norton), which outlines a set of centrist principles: fiscal responsibility, environmental responsibility, social tolerance, and genuine economic opportunity for all. The book also outlines an innovative electoral strategy to elect five centrist U.S. senators empowered to broker deals across party lines. The Centrist Project's ultimate goal is to help pragmatic leaders and voters solve America's greatest policy challenges.

Wheelan is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Dartmouth.  He has served as the Midwest correspondent for The Economist, as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and as Director of Policy and Communications for Chicago Metropolis 2020. In 2009, he was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Illinois' 5th District.

In addition, Wheelan previously served as the speechwriter for Maine Governor John R. McKernan, Jr. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, and is currently at work on An Introduction to Public Policy.

 Wheelan received an BA from Dartmouth, an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a PhD in public policy from the University of Chicago's Harris School in 1998. 

Colston Young, Treasurer


Colston Young is the founder of Whiteboot, providing content marketing for high-touch professional services firms. He has deep finance experience in the technology sector. Colston has held positions at Sapphire Ventures, Credit Suisse, and Bear Stearns. Colston also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia. Colston received a BA from Williams College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Colston previously founded The Big Middle Alliance. 

Executive Director

Nick Troiano


Nick joined the Centrist Project’s Founders Circle in 2014, Operating Board in 2015, and staff in October 2016. He has spent the last decade leading political reform campaigns.

Most recently, Nick helped launch Change.org’s new elections platform as the company’s Senior Politics Manager. Previously, he co-founded and ran The Can Kicks Back, an organization that advocated for bipartisan deficit reduction proposals. Nick also ran for U.S. Congress as an independent in 2014 in Pennsylvania’s 10th District, winning over 22,000 votes and gaining firsthand experience with the challenges facing independent candidates.&nbsp

Nick graduated with a MA in American government from Georgetown University and was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for Law & Policy in 2016.

Email: nick@centristproject.org
Read Nick's story

[View the entire Centrist Project staff here]

Operating Board

Jeffrey Binder — President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Immucor, Inc.; Senior Advisor, TPG Capital

Leonard Gail — Partner, Massey & Gail, LLP

Katherine Gehl — Former CEO, Gehl Foods; Policy Advocate and Impact Investor

Jim Jonas — Political Consultant; Campaign Manager, Greg Orman for Senate '14

Derek McDowell – Co-Founder of Boyne Capital

Marc Merrill — Co-CEO & Co-Founder of Riot Games

William Obenshain — Executive Director, Center for Financial Services, DePaul University

Greg Orman – Former Independent Candidate, U.S. Senate (KS) & Author, "Declaration of Independents"

Founder's Circle

Michael Porter — Professor, Harvard Business School

Kathryn Quadracci Flores, MD

Cory Gilchrist  President and Owner, KCG Holdings I LLC

Shawn Riegsecker — CEO and Founder, Centro

Scott Sipprelle — Founder, Westland Ventures

Michael Walsh — Managing Director, Merrill Lynch, Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc.; Chair, City Year Los Angeles 

Owen Thomas — CEO, Boston Properties


Chris Ashby — Founder, Ashby Law

Gregg Brockway – Co-founder and chairman, Chairish; co-founder, Hotwire & TripIt

Matthew Dowd — Chief Political Analyst, ABC; Former Chief Strategist, Bush for President ‘04

Pam Peak – Principal, ALEA Strategies; former Executive Director, Centrist Project

Senator Larry Pressler — 2014 U.S. Senate Candidate (Independent – South Dakota); former U.S. Senator (Republican – South Dakota); former Member of Congress (Republican – South Dakota)

Lisa Rice – Political and external affairs strategist and marketing executive

Dan Schnur – Director, Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California

Jim Thomson – President emeritus of the RAND Corporation; professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School

Russel Verney – former Chairman, Reform Party; former Campaign Manager, Perot for President ‘96

Dane Waters — Founder, Tipping Point Strategies

NextGen Leadership Council 

Marc Merrill, Co-Chair - Co-CEO & Co-Founder of Riot Games

Kellen Arno - Partner, Grandview Campaigns

Morgan Beller - Corporate Development, Facebook

Jesse Beyroutey – Partner, IA Ventures

Kyle Butts – Founder, Hinge Intel

Patrick Cason – Director of Engagement, Satchel Health

Jeff Cruttenden – Co-Founder, Acorns

Jesse Draper – Founding Partner, Halogen Ventures

Ben Goldhirsh – Co-Founder & CEO, GOOD 

E.J. Kalafarski – former Presidential Innovation Fellow

Sean Kelly – CEO, SnackNation

Akshay Khanna - ‎Vice President of Strategy, Philadelphia 76ers

Allie Klun – Innovate Your State

Anna Squires Levine – Head of Growth, Industrious

Nanxi Liu - Founder & CEO, Enplug

Vishal Lugani – Investor, Aspect Ventures

Ross McCray - Founder & CEO, VideoAmp

Mike McCormick - Principal, Comet Labs

Megan Neal – Vice President, Ovation TV

Liya Palagashvili – ‎Assistant Professor of Economics, SUNY Purchase

Steven Place – Founder, Corillian

Raven Robinson - CEO, Political Strategist at Pr2Politics

Tommy Sobel  – New Media Creative Executive, Amblin Partners

Nithyaa Venkataramani – Portfolio Investing Manager, New Profit