Washington, DC – Today, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University launched its first major initiative since the passing of Senator John McCain: #MavericksNeeded, a nonpartisan campaign calling on Mavericks to stand up, speak out, get in the arena and vote on November 6th. #MavericksNeeded is the first phase of what will be a broader initiative running at least two years – through 2020 – to inspire and educate Americans about the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and abroad, a cause Senator McCain dedicated his life to advancing.


In March 2018, the McCain Institute began an ambitious research project to better understand American public opinion on human rights. The results found a significant lack of common understanding and support for the need to protect basic human rights and freedoms in the world, a strong preference for focusing on issues here at home, and no common language for discussing these issues – particularly among younger Americans. Addressing that challenge is the long-term goal of this initiative.


A centerpiece ad, titled “A Call For Mavericks,” features audio from Senator McCain’s speech to the Munich Security Conference in 2017 (available here: https://youtu.be/5-MaKKmLY6E  and below). The ad will run on digital/social media platforms across five markets – Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; and Phoenix, Arizona – where there will also be #MavericksNeeded digital and physical billboards – all driving people to the new website mavericksneeded.org to take the Maverick Pledge, and join the movement:



In addition, a building-sized #MavericksNeeded banner will be installed at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) today on the Fulton Center in the center of campus at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona:



This first ad will run through Election Day, November 6th, and a second version without the call to vote will run after Election Day through through March 2019. Subsequent phases of the initiative will continue to grow and activate the network of Mavericks built through this initial push in concrete ways to move the needle on human rights.


“Now more than ever, America needs a new generation of Mavericks to stand up, speak out, serve causes greater than themselves, get in the area and vote on November 6th,” said Cindy McCain, who was elected Chair of the McCain Institute last week. “The ideals that John spent his life fighting for weren’t just his, they are American values — and it’s time to fight for them again. I am proud of the McCain Institute for continuing John’s work with the #MavericksNeeded initiative.”



Watch Cindy McCain’s video message launching the #MavericksNeeded initiative here:

“The McCain Institute was founded on the belief that courage and character matter, a great legacy of Senator McCain that is needed now more than ever,” said Ambassador Kurt Volker, Executive Director of the McCain Institute. “We need to stand up for our values. Through its programs, the Institute trains the next generation of leaders to take on tough challenges, fights injustices like human trafficking, and advances human rights and democracy in pursuit of a safer, more prosperous world.”


The McCain Institute, founded in 2012 as part of Arizona State University, is located in the heart of Washington, DC. Inspired by the leadership of Senator John McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute is a nonpartisan, action-tank dedicated to advancing character-driven leadership and civic engagement in the U.S. and abroad. The Institute advances security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity.


The McCain Institute has partnered with the Los Angeles-based creative agency Wondros and its EMMY-award winning Founder/CEO Jesse Dylan, who directed the famous “Yes We Can” ad for then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, and has worked with some of the world’s leading human rights organizations, including Bono’s ONE Campaign. Wondros will work on in partnership with the McCain Institute’s Executive Director, Ambassador Kurt Volker, a former legislative fellow in Senator McCain’s office who was appointed U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO by President George W. Bush, as well as the McCain Institute’s bipartisan board of directors, which includes former Senators Kelly Ayotte and Joe Lieberman, General David Petraeus, Asia Society President and CEO and UN Special Envoy to Haiti Josette Sheeran, and Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow, among many others.


“At Wondros we share Senator McCain’s deep belief in and commitment to promoting human rights,” said Wondros Founder/CEO Jesse Dylan. “We’re proud and honored to partner with the McCain Institute to carry that work forward with this initiative. Perhaps now more than ever, this is a message that needs to be heard.”


Longer-term, this initiative aims to build a grassroots movement to reinvigorate America’s commitment to human rights at home and abroad. This is a signature legacy of Senator McCain, who spent his entire life as a champion for the cause of human rights and dignity for all people, and as an advocate for America’s leadership in promoting those values. In his final book, Senator McCain wrote, “I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.”


“Like no one else in public life, John McCain understood that living up to America’s highest ideals is essential to our nation’s character, and that our ability to be a force for good in the world depends on it,” said Elisa Massimino, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights, former President and CEO of Human Rights First, and McCain Institute board member. “I can think of no better tribute to Senator McCain’s life and legacy than a long-term, creative effort to galvanize Americans behind our most cherished principles.”