Having enjoyed a 20-year career in Washington, D.C., most of it on Capitol Hill, Nilmini Gunaratne Rubin thought she knew how the political system worked—until two years ago. “I got nervous about things happening with the media, racial rhetoric, and voting rights,” she says. “I worried about how fragile our unwritten, cultural norms can be when people don’t want to comply with them.”
So Rubin, whose previous work had been in the foreign policy sphere, pivoted her career toward election integrity and democratic reform in the U.S. She co-founded Fix the System and became a founding member of the Leadership Now Project.
Fix the System is a cross-partisan coalition of grassroots, business, and national organizations, and Rubin helped them develop strategies to promote election integrity, voter rights, and fair redistricting. “We brought Democrats, Republicans, and Independents together on all of the work,” Rubin says, “so we were able to engage some different people.”
The Leadership Now Project, which she joined with other women MBAs, calls on business professionals to strategically invest and participate in democracy reform. Rubin drove engagement efforts. “It’s an important signal to people who might want to push against the rule of law to show that the business community is opposed to that,” she says.
The 2020 election was a stress test for democracy and exposed weaknesses, Rubin says. Going forward, her organizations will work on fixing laws and advancing cultural changes in the name of reform. “We need to pay more attention to the health of our democracy,” she says.