The man, the legend

Bob Fulkerson

Photo By David Robert

Bob Fulkerson, 45, has been head of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada for some 11 years. He co-founded the group with Jan Gilbert in 1994. His name is associated with just about any cause that can be thought of as “liberal” in Northern Nevada. Among too many interests to list, he’s on the Washoe County Growth Management Task Force, and he’s a part-time teacher of yoga. He’s the son of a favorite local artist, Mary Lee Fulkerson, attended Reno High School, and has a daughter who’s a sophomore at Whitman College. Recently, he won the 2005 Leadership for a Changing World award. PLAN can be reached at 348-7557.

How did the award come about?

Tim Hay, the former consumer advocate [for the State of Nevada] nominated me. We had worked together when he was in [Richard] Bryan’s governor’s office. I was at Citizen Alert back then working on … [musical interlude]. Sorry, that was my cell phone.

Rockin'. What song was that?

“All Along the Watchtower.” Dylan. Yeah. Starts out, “There must be some kinda way outa here.”

We were on Tim Hay.

Tim nominated me. This Leadership for a Changing World award sends out e-mails far and wide, and we were talking last year, and he asked if he could nominate me. I said, “Absolutely.” It was a pretty rigorous application process, and they narrowed it down from like a thousand nominees to like a couple hundred. And we had to submit essays, and then out of that, they did site visits to like 29 semi-finalists. And out of 29, they narrowed it down to 17.

It’s $100,000, right?

It’s $100,000 to PLAN and $15,000 for an individual-learning account for me, which I’m going to use to travel a little bit. I’m going to Costa Rica to learn Spanish for almost a month. And then I’m going down to Bolivia and to Chile. In Bolivia, I’m going to learn some of their amazing grassroots techniques to fight water profiteers and privateers in a place called Cochabomba, which is where the cutting edge work is being done against private-water corporations. And down in Chile, I’m going to work on human rights stuff.

So what’s PLAN going to do with the rest of the money?

Well, our budget is $600,000 per year. We’ll be able to keep the doors open two extra months. I mean, it’s great, but it’s not as if it’s an endowment or anything. We have eight people on our staff in Reno, Las Vegas and Carson City. We’re a big alligator to feed, and we have a lot of bills to pay. One of our top priorities is to fight the anti-tax people, for next year.

It seems like the countdown has started toward next November’s elections. How active are you guys going to be?

We’re going to be very active fighting Sharron Angle’s Proposition 13 and fighting Bob Beers’ even stupider idea of the taxpayers’ bill of rights. Both of them are out of the Grover Norquist playbook, and their goal is to shrink government to the size of a bathtub. If people want to fight fires or educate their kids or fight crime from out of a bathtub, they should vote for these stupid things. … I think a lot of that [anti-tax posturing] was thrown out the window last Tuesday when Grover Norquist and the anti-taxers got their hats handed to them by the voters in Colorado by beating back the anti-tax initiative there. That’s not to mention the governor races [in New Jersey and Virginia].

What else is on your mind?

One thing is how inspired I am by the people I work with. We’ve got a number of volunteers, students and retired people who are volunteering with PLAN. I work also with an incredibly talented, dedicated staff as well as an all-volunteer board of directors who are putting their hearts and souls into making Nevada a more humane place to live. They’re the reasons that I can kind of look so good winning this award. It’s really because of them.