“Nuns on the Bus” Leader Sister Simone Campbell to Step Down from NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in March After 16 Years Organizing the Faith Community Around Progressive Causes

October 20, 2020

Lee Morrow, lmorrow@networklobby.org, 202-601-7871

“Nuns on the Bus” Leader Sister Simone Campbell to Step Down from NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in March After 16 Years Organizing the Faith Community Around Progressive Causes

Sr. Simone Led Catholic Coalition to Pass and Defend the Affordable Care Act, Will Continue to Organize Community to Protect the Most Marginalized and Disenfranchised Americans

NETWORK Lobby Begins Search for New Executive Director

WASHINGTON DC – Today, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK since 2004, announced she will step down from her role in March 2021. The founder of the “Nuns on the Bus Campaign” pioneered efforts to organize Catholics in progressive politics, protecting access to healthcare for millions of Americans.

“As a child, watching other young people stand up to Bull Connor inspired my passion to seek justice for the most marginalized, and NETWORK provided the focus and direction for the last 16 years of that work,” said Sr. Simone Campbell. “I could not be more proud of what NETWORK has accomplished. From economic justice to immigration; peace building to expanding health care coverage; the environment to voting rights, NETWORK is doing the work needed to protect the most marginalized people among us. Our nation– and world– stand at the precipice of some of humanity’s greatest moral and ethical challenges. This election may be the most critical for our poorest, most vulnerable, and most marginalized sisters and brothers who will continue to struggle to survive a pandemic, live up to their full potential in the face of massive economic inequality, and overcome the obstacles presented by structural racism.”

Sr. Simone continued: “Our faith affirms our responsibility towards one another in these difficult times. There are more Bull Connors in this life that we must oppose, and we must work together to seek fairness, justice and equity for the least among us. This is work I know NETWORK will continue to lead and I will continue to do in my personal capacity.”

Under Sr. Simone’s leadership, NETWORK expanded its brand and reach, specifically in public policy and advocacy for systemic change, mending the gaps in income and wealth in the U.S., and focusing on how those gaps disproportionately affect people of color and women. In her 16 years at NETWORK, Sr. Simone led efforts that:

  • Organized Catholic Sisters to pass and defend the Affordable Care Act, while fighting public criticism from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Vatican
  • Proved the power of the Catholic vote and teachings in American political life by launching the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign in 2012 hosting over 350 events in communities across the country in eight years.
  • Held elected officials accountable to equally sacred values. Under her leadership, NETWORK launched a scorecard to assess voting records of elected officials.
  • Generated public pressure for just tax reform since launching a campaign about the unjust Romney-Ryan budget in 2012 and the 2017 Republican tax legislation..

  • Led NETWORK’s first “non-endorsement” of a candidate, President Donald Trump.
  • Built partnerships with organizations like the SEIU, AFT, CAP, CWA, Interfaith Partners, Unidos, NILC, Auburn Seminary Senior Fellows, and the Women’s March.

“Sr. Simone Campbell is a champion for justice whose life and leadership have blessed our nation,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Throughout her life, she has translated her faith into action in the spirit of St. Francis, who said ‘preach the Gospel, sometimes use words.’ Today, as we face the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, Sr. Simone and the Nuns on the Bus continue to be key partners in safeguarding the ACA and ensuring its lifesaving protections continue to keep our frontline heroes and all Americans safe and healthy.  Today and every day, I say thank God for Sr. Simone.  As she leaves NETWORK after sixteen extraordinary years, I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Today, the NETWORK Lobby Board of Directors is launching a search for a new Executive Director to begin in March. The Executive Director will envision, clearly define, and then project NETWORK’s value to key stakeholders as the organization positions itself after the 2020 election.

“In speaking truth to power and advocating for those whose voices have been long ignored, Sr. Simone has ensured NETWORK’s position as an influential leader in the social justice community for years to come,” said the chairs of NETWORK’s Boards of Directors Rachelle Reyes Wenger and Sr. Mary Beth Hamm, SSJ. “Sr. Simone works untiringly every day to make the world more just and more fair for everyone, and she simply never gives up. Those with the power to make change have heard from our passionate community of justice seekers thanks to Sr. Simone, and NETWORK will be forever grateful for her visionary, creative, and steadfast leadership.”

“Sr. Simone and NETWORK brought a moral clarity to the Affordable Care Act debate that ultimately helped pass the law and will help to defend it going forward,” said Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “NETWORK and the Nuns on the Bus ensures elected officials hear from the most marginalized people in our communities who need the Affordable Care Act to survive. As our elected officials again weigh repealing or replacing the law, now during a public health crisis, I am grateful there is a fearless organization like NETWORK here to make sure the powerless are heard by the most powerful.”

Sr. Simone joined NETWORK in 2004 at the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  In one of her first acts at NETWORK, Sr. Simone sponsored a delegation of Iraqi women to come to Congress and tell members of Congress about the impact of the war on women and children. In 2008, NETWORK created a “Platform for Common Good” designed to help people “claim our place and our role,” said Sr. Simone at the time.  We must urge each other to speak up as we offer our insights during the campaign and then hold elected officials accountable after the election.” NETWORK brought over 3,500 people from 35 states to Philadelphia to ratify the platform at a “Convention for the Common Good.” Then candidate Barack Obama joined the event by video and said, “I won’t ask you to endorse me, but I endorse your platform for the common good.”

In 2012, Sr. Simone refused to back down when the Vatican opened an investigation of NETWORK’s “radical feminism” after the group’s support for the Affordable Care Act. At the time, Sr. Simone noted, “When you don’t work everyday with people who live at the margins of our society, it’s so much easier to make easy statements about who’s right and who’s wrong.” After immense public pressure, the Vatican withdrew their investigation in 2015.

Prior to coming to NETWORK, Sr. Simone served as the Executive Director of JERICHO, the California interfaith public policy organization that works like NETWORK to protect the interests of people living in poverty.  Sr. Simone served as the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service, serving in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, and the Philippines where she negotiated with government and religious leaders.

Sr. Simone has received numerous awards and seven honorary degrees, including the “Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award” and the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action. Additionally, she has been the keynote or featured speaker at numerous large gatherings, including the 2020 Democratic National Convention earlier this year. She regularly appears in national media including on 60 Minutes, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, CNN, and National Public Radio.


Founded in December 1971, NETWORK was formed when a group of Catholic Sisters felt the need to collaborate and engage in political activism around social justice on the federal level. NETWORK now includes tens of thousands of individuals from all walks of life united in answering the call for justice.

NETWORK’s mission arises out of this long tradition of working to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all persons in the sacredness of God’s abundant creation. NETWORK is a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace advocating on federal policy that relates to health care, immigration, racial justice, economic justice, and more.