Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America Bylaws

Amended 2/24/2024


1. NAME: The name of this organization is the Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America, an Ohio not-for profit social welfare corporation. (Hereinafter, Cleveland DSA)

2. PURPOSE. The Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America seeks to facilitate the transition to a truly democratic and socialist society, one in which the means and resources of production are democratically and socially controlled. Along with the national Democratic Socialists of America, we agree that:

We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships. We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for building a majority movement that will make democratic socialism a reality in America. We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that this class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population. (Democratic Socialists of America, Constitution, Article II.)

3. NATIONAL AFFILIATION: Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America is a local chapter of the national organization Democratic Socialists of America (hereinafter, DSA). Cleveland DSA is governed by the Constitution and Bylaws of the national organization and by the bylaws detailed herein.

4. GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE: Cleveland DSA will organize members within the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), inclusive of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Medina, and Lorain Counties in the State of Ohio.

5. BRANCHES: Ten or more members in good standing in a specific location may petition the membership to establish a branch in any of the counties or specific cities included in the geographical scope of Cleveland DSA. Those seeking to open a branch must create a proposal that lists the ten members and outlines how the branch will operate in conjunction with the chapter to build working class power. The proposal must be presented during a General meeting and receive ⅔ votes in approval of becoming a branch to move forward.

Branches will receive a charter from Cleveland DSA specifying the scope of their operations, the rights and privileges of branches within Cleveland DSA, and the conditions and procedures for their dissolution.

6. MEMBERS: A member of Cleveland DSA is any member in good standing of the national DSA who resides within the geographical area of Cleveland DSA.

Members in good standing shall have full voting privileges and may hold any office, serve as a chair or member of any committee, and may bring business before the membership at any time.

DSA Members in good standing who live outside the geographical area of Cleveland DSA may elect to be members of Cleveland DSA provided they are not active members of another chapter or organizing committee within DSA. Members in good standing of any YDSA chapter within the geographical area of Cleveland DSA hold full rights and privileges as members of Cleveland DSA.

Any member of the public who supports the mission and purpose of Cleveland DSA may participate in the activities and organization of Cleveland DSA, but may not vote, hold office, or chair a committee.

7. DUES: The Membership shall determine any local Dues or Pledges, which shall be separate from dues paid to national Democratic Socialists of America. Members who pay local dues or pledges are granted no additional rights or privileges, nor may any separate classes of membership be established.


1. GOVERNANCE: Cleveland DSA is governed and led by the democratic participation of its Membership. The Membership exercises governance through regular General Meetings. Much of the chapter’s work is conducted at other meetings, but the general meeting is the ultimate democratic governing body of the chapter.

2. MEETINGS OF THE MEMBERS: Public meetings of the members shall be held monthly, unless the membership finds a compelling reason to postpone or defer a general meeting. At minimum a general meeting will be convened quarterly. An annual meeting or convention may be called by a motion of the Membership.

3. QUORUM: A quorum for General Meetings shall consist of twenty members in good standing.

4. NOTIFICATION OF MEETINGS: Membership will be notified of general meetings at least one week in advance. The Steering Committee shall set the agenda for public meetings, and provide Membership with the agenda and notification of any new business added by the Steering Committee or its officers. Members of the chapter who want to get items added to the meeting agenda can reach out to a member of steering, or introduce an amendment to the agenda at the meeting itself per Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised. Notification of meetings, new business, and elections shall be made by any means of communication authorized by the membership.

5. PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY: The Rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern Cleveland DSA in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order Cleveland DSA may adopt.

6. VOTING AND ELECTIONS: Elections will be held for Officers, Delegates to national, regional, or state conventions, and any other office created by the Membership. Any and all members in good standing are eligible to vote, nominate candidates, or hold office.

The Steering Committee shall take all measures to ensure the greatest participation of membership.

Elections shall be held by secret ballot.

The Steering Committee will be responsible for preparing ballots and sharing the results of elections.

7. STEERING COMMITTEE: The Steering Committee shall be elected by the Membership to execute the decisions of Membership and administrative duties required for the operation of Cleveland DSA. The Steering Committee shall ensure that Cleveland DSA meets all requirements of the National DSA specified in the DSA Constitution and Bylaws and shall ensure communication between Cleveland DSA and the national organization.

The Steering Committee will consist of a chapter Treasurer, Communications chair, Secretary, two Membership Coordinators, an Education Coordinator, and one Priority Projects Coordinator.

All members of steering are responsible for coordinating with ongoing priority projects, attending steering meetings, and generally implementing the will of the membership as expressed at the General Meetings.

Except where genuine issues of confidentiality, security, access, or other insurmountable practical barriers exist, all steering members shall work to delegate the responsibilities below to rank-and-file membership as part of the Membership Pipeline system. Steering may delegate new responsibilities to its members as need arises.

Steering will hold regular Steering Committee meetings open to the membership.

Branches of Cleveland DSA, if any, will supervise the election or appointment of a delegate who will be a full member of the Steering Committee with all the rights and duties of any Officer.

Each Officer of the Steering Committee will serve a term of one year, or until a successor is elected. Elections shall be held in December and the beginning and ending of terms will correspond with the fiscal year.

A quorum for conducting business of the Steering Committee shall consist of two-thirds of its members.

The Steering Committee shall meet at least four times a year, and meetings of the Steering Committee will be announced to and open to the attendance of all members in good standing

The Steering Committee shall have the power to decide by a majority vote to spend up 10% of the chapter’s unallocated funds per month, the amount being determined by the balance after the month’s general body meeting. Such a decision must be communicated to the membership, along with the reasoning for why the spending had to occur before it could be approved at a regularly scheduled general meeting.

TREASURER: The Treasurer shall, as directed by the Steering Committee, have care and custody of the general funds, securities, properties, and assets of Cleveland DSA.

The Treasurer shall ensure that the funds and securities shall be deposited in the bank(s), trust companies or depositories designated by the Steering Committee. At the direction of the Steering Committee, the Treasurer will ensure disbursement and disposal of the same, taking proper voucher for such disbursements. The Treasurer will have the discretion to reimburse expenses up to forty dollars ($40).

The Treasurer will ensure that accurate books of account are kept in accordance with commonly accepted accounting principles, recording therein the amount of all monies, funds, securities, properties and assets in the Treasurer’s custody, wherever located, and showing the amount of disbursement made and the disposition of properties. The Treasurer shall exhibit said books and records when required by the Steering Committee, Members, or government agency of appropriate regulator jurisdiction pursuant to law.

The Treasurer shall also be responsible for the collection of any local dues or pledges.

The Treasurer shall prepare and present a yearly financial report

The Treasurer shall sign or countersign all certificates, contracts, or other instruments of Cleveland DSA with the approval of the Steering Committee except where otherwise designated in these bylaws.

The Treasurer shall provide reports as needed to the National Office or National Political Committee of DSA concerning the financial status of Cleveland DSA, and ensure the completion of all appropriate reporting to local, state, or federal agencies.

The Treasurer may initiate fundraising efforts or offer advice with respect to fundraising efforts initiated elsewhere in the chapter.

The Chapter’s two Membership Coordinators shall be responsible for building a team of mentors and implementing the membership pipeline.

The Chapter’s Education Coordinator shall be responsible for facilitating work aimed at politically educating the chapter membership, including but not limited to: recurring Socialism 101 courses, book club, and specialized education events. The Education Coordinator will also work closely with the Membership Coordinators and any education-focused priority project roles to coordinate education efforts.

The Chapter’s Priority Projects Coordinator will be responsible for representing steering at Priority Project and Priority Project Development Working Group meetings, generally facilitating the creation of Priority Project proposals and the process of priority project development, and creating political education events related to the priority projects.

The Communications Coordinator shall be responsible for checking and responding promptly to inquiries at the address.

The Communications Coordinator shall be responsible for overseeing the external communications work of the chapter, including but not limited to overseeing social media work, communications with coalition partners (if applicable in collaboration with any representative/delegate elected by the General Meeting), and anything otherwise produced for an external audience.

The Communications Coordinator will also oversee internal communications work, including emails to membership, workspace announcements, and sending out the General Meeting agenda.

SECRETARY: The Chapter Secretary will be responsible for overseeing the maintenance of chapter documents, minutes, and other records, overseeing the agenda creation process for General Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings, scheduling meetings, updating the Chapter Calendar, and managing access to chapter accounts

VACANCIES: All vacancies of Officers or members of the Steering Committee, whether resulting from death, resignation or otherwise, may be temporarily filled through appointment by the Steering Committee until a vote of the general membership can be held to ratify the appointment or elect a successor.

8. REMOVAL: Any Officer, At-Large Member, or Delegate the Steering Committee may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the membership with or without cause. Any Officer or member of the Steering Committee may resign in writing.

Should a member of the Steering Committee not attend 50% of the meetings of the Steering Committee over a three month period (beginning at the time of the first absence), automatic removal from office will be initiated. The member will be considered to have resigned unless a written explanation is provided to the other members of the Steering Committee and accepted by a majority vote thereof.


1. PRIORITY PROJECTS: The ongoing work of Cleveland DSA shall be primarily run through democratically chosen membership led priority projects, hereafter referred to as “priorities.”

Priorities will be strategically focused, with clear specific goals to advance the cause of socialism and build power for the working class. Priorities should involve organizing for power, as well as mass mobilization of DSA’s membership. Priorities represent significant long term commitments of time and resources on the part of Cleveland DSA. Cleveland DSA shall have no more than two active priority projects at any time.

Members can initiate a Priority Project Development Working Group at any time with signatures from 5 members on an announcement. Announcements shall be read at the subsequent General Meeting. Priority Project Development Working Group meetings will be placed on the Chapter Calendar.

A Priority Project Development Working Group’s sole mandate is to develop a Priority Project proposal or Non-Priority Activity. It may not carry out work under DSA’s name or otherwise utilize chapter resources. The Priority Project Coordinator is expected to ensure this as part of their stewardship of the Working Group.

Priorities will be voted on by membership. If there is no competing proposal, a two-thirds majority vote at a general meeting is required for a priority to be adopted. An upcoming priority project proposal vote must be announced at a general meeting at least one month earlier.

Once a new priority is approved nominations will open for Priority Project Leadership.

To lead the priority until an election can be called and a slate of candidates put forward, an interim priority steering committee shall be established. The committee will be composed of two members of DSA Cleveland and the Priority Projects Coordinator. If the interim committee is not appointed at the General Meeting at which the priority was approved, the Chapter Steering Committee shall appoint one at earliest convenience. The interim committee will automatically disband at the next General Meeting.

Priority Project leadership will be elected at the General Meeting one month after the approval of the Priority. This leadership will be responsible for overseeing ongoing operations of the priority project.

Any member is eligible to run for priority project leadership.

Reauthorized Priorities will elect their leadership at the same meeting in which reauthorization takes place. Membership Coordinators, outgoing Priority Project Leadership and Priority Project Coordinators share responsibility for finding candidates during the preceding month, and the Priority Project Coordinators and outgoing leadership are responsible for assisting new leadership with the transition during the first month post-reauthorization.

At least every six months, a priority must be reapproved by a simple majority vote at a general meeting, and new priority leadership must be elected. There are no term limits for priority leadership. A priority may be reapproved with significant changes to the priority project operations or structure, in which case these changes must be clearly communicated to the general membership at least two weeks prior to the vote.

An initial budget will be voted on by the membership when a priority is adopted. The budget will be considered adopted if a simple majority of members in good standing at the meeting vote in the affirmative. Additional budget requests may be approved by membership at general meetings in the same fashion.

PRIORITY PROJECT PRIVILEGES: An adopted priority project represents a democratically agreed upon priority of the membership of Cleveland DSA.

Priority projects may plan actions, mobilize membership, release statements, and otherwise work to accomplish the goals and carry out the strategies approved by membership when the priority is adopted.

If a priority project wishes to deviate significantly from the plan that was initially proposed and approved by membership, membership should be made aware of the proposed changes at a general meeting, and vote to approve them via a majority vote.

PRIORITY PROJECT CLOSURE: A priority shall be terminated when its stated goals are achieved, or if it is not renewed by the membership on reaching its reauthorization.

A proposal to end a priority project mid-term may be brought to the steering committee with 5 co-signers, the steering committee will be responsible for giving membership advance notice (of at least a week) ahead of the vote, and the proposal will be advanced to the following General Meeting where it will require a majority.

A priority project may also be suspended by both a two-thirds vote of priority project leadership and a two-thirds vote of the chapter steering committee.

A priority project suspended in this way may be either resumed or terminated by a two-thirds vote at the following general meeting.

NON-PRIORITY PROJECT ACTIVITIES: Cleveland DSA may engage in a limited range of non-priority activities which will not be subject to the cap on priorities described in Article III Section 1. These will include the three essential chapter functions of administrative work, outreach work, and political education work. Outreach work and political education work will be accomplished by the Membership Committee and Education Committee, respectively. The coordination of the Membership and Education committees will be overseen by the relevant Steering committee members. The final function, administrative work, will be carried out by any structure deemed suitable by the chapter or Steering committee, and is ultimately the responsibility of the Steering committee. Non-priority activities may also include a limited range of other actions subject to chapter approval.

These actions may be single events such as demonstrations or ongoing work that will not require a significant ongoing commitment of resources by membership.

Any member can propose, advocate for, or initiate a non-priority activity that meets the above criteria at any time. Membership is responsible for judging if the activity is better suited for a priority and should in this case vote at a General meeting either to begin a priority project development working group with the goal of developing the activity into a priority project, or else vote to end the non-priority activity. In addition, non-priority activities that are not democratically approved or part of Steering, Outreach, or Education committee work cannot be represented as a DSA activity to outside groups and cannot have an official DSA delegation or official DSA banner at the activity.

A non-priority activity can gain democratic approval by being brought as a proposal to the general body at a General meeting.

The proposal will require a simple majority of general meeting attendees. For urgent actions between General Meetings any member can bring a proposal with 5 cosigners to the Steering committee.

Should steering vote to not approve the proposal, or judge it to be non-urgent, it can still be approved at the next general meeting.

2. APPOINTMENT OF AGENTS OR SPECIAL POSITIONS: The Steering Committee may appoint agents, officers, or other specific roles as needed, with the approval of the Membership through a ratification vote of a two-thirds at a general meeting. Appointed agents, officers, or other roles will report to the Steering Committee and do not hold voting rights or any other privileges on the Steering Committee beyond those held by members of Cleveland DSA.

3. INDEMNIFICATION: Cleveland DSA shall, to the extent legally permissible, indemnify each person who may serve or who has served at any time as an officer, director, or employee of the corporation against all expenses and liabilities, including, without limitation, counsel fees, judgments, fines, excise taxes, penalties and settlement payments, reasonably incurred by or imposed upon such person in connection with any threatened, pending or completed action, suit or proceeding in which said person may become involved by reason of service in such capacity; provided that no indemnification shall be provided for any such person with respect to any matter as which shall have been finally adjudicated in any proceeding not to have acted in good faith for the best interests of Cleveland DSA; and further provided that any compromise or settlement payment shall be approved by a majority vote of a quorum of the Steering Committee who are not at that time parties to the proceeding.

4. CENSURE OR EXPULSION OF MEMBERS: Any action to censure or expel any member in good standing of Cleveland DSA may only undertaken according to the processes provided by the parliamentary authority and the Constitution and Bylaws of DSA. The Steering Committee’s authority to suspend members in urgent circumstances is limited to 60 days. The language of this provision shall not be construed to allow a member to be expelled from the chapter without a ⅔ vote at a regular meeting or trial.

5. FISCAL YEAR: The Fiscal Year shall commence the first day of January in each year.

6. CHANGES TO THE BYLAWS: Members shall have the power to approve changes to the Bylaws. Amendments to the Bylaws shall be announced to the members one meeting in advance of any vote. Changes may be adopted by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.

Once a bylaw change has been announced, any member may submit amendments to that proposal. Amendments must be announced to membership two weeks before the vote to adopt the proposal. Members shall submit their amendments to steering, who shall be responsible for announcing them to the chapter. Steering may also determine by a vote that a proposed amendment is actually a separate bylaw change, and thus should go through the standard bylaw amendment process. Membership can overrule such a decision from steering by a simple majority vote at a general meeting before the final vote is held.

7. PROHIBITED ACTIVITY: The Cleveland Local shall not engage in activity prohibited by the IRS guidelines established for 501 (c) 4 organizations or similar rules established by the state of Ohio. Nor shall the local engage in any activity prohibited by resolutions adopted by the DSA National Convention.

8. DISSOLUTION: Cleveland DSA may be dissolved by motion approved by two-thirds of the Steering Committee and confirmed by a two-thirds vote of the Membership. The Steering Committee shall ensure that an appropriate agent is designated to complete the dissolution of the organization. Said agent shall ensure that all financial and legal issues are properly resolved.