The Fulcrum Democracy Forum Meets Nick Troiano, Founding Executive Director of Unite America

By Brian Clancy, Citizen Connect, Co-founder: A Project of the Bridge Alliance

Nick Troiano is the founding executive director of Unite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Primary Solution: Rescuing our Democracy from the Fringes (Simon &Schuster, February 2024)

Since 2019, Unite America has invested over $70 million to help win 25 state reform victories and 25 municipal policy victories. In 2014, Troiano ran for the US House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 10th District and was both the youngest candidate of the cycle and the most competitive independent Congressional candidate nationally in over two decades.

Nick earned both his BA and MA in American government from Georgetown University and, as an undergraduate, cofounded an endowed Social Innovation and Public Service Fund. He regularly provides commentary to a range of media outlets on topics of democracy and politics, and he has been featured in three documentaries: Follow the Leader (PBS), Broken Eggs, and Unrepresented. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Connect with Nick on LinkedIn


In a divided America, the biggest solvable problem fueling political extremism and dysfunction is hiding in plain sight: party primaries. The Primary Solution shows how to fix them.

Congress has become an unproductive and unaccountable mess. Polls show that only 20 percent of Americans think it’s doing a good job—yet 90 percent of incumbents are reelected. This shocking discrepancy is a natural outcome of our system of party primaries and their polarizing incentives.

Party primaries were invented over a century ago to democratize candidate nominations, but today their exclusionary rules and low turnout guarantee the exact opposite: only a small fraction of voters wind up deciding the vast majority of our elections. The result is a Congress that, rather than representing a majority of Americans, is instead beholden to the fringes of both major parties. This is the “primary problem” in our politics today. Fortunately, the solution is both powerful and practical.

Nick Troiano, founding Executive Director of Unite America, makes a bold proposal to abolish party primaries in our country. Doing so does not require a Constitutional amendment or an act of Congress. In fact, several states have already replaced party primaries with nonpartisan primaries that give all voters the freedom to vote for any candidate in every election, regardless of party.

As America heads into another critical election year, The Primary Solution offers voters across the political spectrum a realistic roadmap to a more representative and functional democracy.

Brian has been deeply involved in America’s civic renewal movement for more than a decade now. His signature accomplishments include launching Citizen Connect – a powerful online platform that puts 600 nonpartisan organizations working to address our toxic politics at every American’s fingertips. Brian is also a board member at the Listen First Project – the organization that hosts the groundbreaking National Week of Conversation and highly innovative programs like America Talks.

Among other career adventures Brian was the CFO of Fidelity Management and Research, led the team that launched and was responsible for systems planning and analysis at the world’s largest investment management organization. He also has a strong social entrepreneurship track record that includes co-founding the Center for Financial Inclusion. The Center has become a global thought leader in poverty alleviation via microfinance and has partners and funders that have included the Gates Foundation, McKinsey, Mastercard, Harvard Business School and the World Bank. He also has experience in the rough and tumble world of city and state politics through his tenure as President of the Boston Public Library Foundation. Brian did his undergraduate work at Cornell University and has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn