Think Big Campaigns, Political Campaign Consulting
Job Title: Political Consultant
Q: Tell us about yourself, how did you get where you are today?
A: As a political consultant, I’ve done my fair share of moving around from campaign to campaign in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. I started doing political consulting in 2016 as an internship to see what it was like, and with no idea what to expect. I was thrown into a very scrappy grassroots campaign in Western Massachusetts and learned quickly in a “trial by fire” kind of manner. After that, I just kept rolling from there, managing campaigns. I came to Pittsburgh in 2019 to be with my fiancé, who was graduating from Pitt that spring. She finally pinned me down to one city.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you? / With the current project you are working on?
A: I’m currently working with a good government group, theCommittee of Seventy, which is based out of Philadelphia to bring forward legislation that will allow Independents to vote in the primaries. This will open Primary elections up to more than a million voters. This is incredibly important because in 2020, about 90% of the elections in Pennsylvania were determined in the primary and not competitive in November. This year is the first time in Pennsylvania history that we have an open primary in both parties for the governor, a senate seat, and new congressional and legislative maps - making it an incredibly consequential primary election.
Q: What has been your biggest success story?
A: Most recently I managed a judicial campaign that elected the 5th black woman to the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County’s history. Working with the other judicial campaigns, we also elected the 6th and 7th black women, a black man, and three more women - creating a generational change and level of diversity in the courts.
Q: Tell me about a challenge you had to overcome and how that process has gotten you to where you’re at today?
A: In my line of work, you must learn that you can do a really good job and still lose. My win rate is something around 50%, which is pretty good for the industry. You can make your win rate much higher if you pick easy races. I haven’t shied away from the hard races which make the work much more intense and the losses even more difficult. It’s a weird skill to have, but I think it’s applicable any time life throws something unexpected at you.
Q: How do you get motivated when feeling unmotivated?
A: One of two things (1) I’m unmotivated because I am overwhelmed and unable to figure out what to do next. In this case, I take a step back, make a list, and prioritize or triage the work I need to do, or (2)I’m unmotivated because I’ve been grinding away at my work, in which case, I take a break. Sometimes you just have to take a walk.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not in the office?
A: Lately, my free time has been consumed with playing with my five-month-old sheepabernadoodle, Wally.
Q: What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
A: (1) Value yourself and your time - This industry will seek to pay you little and ask for all your time. Take time for yourself and demand pay that is appropriate for the work you do.
(2) Lead by listening - The success of political campaigns and candidates comes from the people that support them, not the candidate at the top. Those people will have insightful perspectives and life experiences. Learn from them.
(3) Work smarter, not harder - There is always going to be “more to do,” so take time to think critically about priorities, delegation, and implementing systems that make the work routine and predictable.
Q: Where do you see the future of your industry?
A: Technology - particularly social media combined with targeted digital advertising has rapidly changed political campaigns over the course of the last decade. This obviously has its downsides, and that has become even more clear in recent years.
My hope is that the future of this industry is one that takes those tools and uses them for good, to ensure voters have better access to voting and to correct information about their choices.
I’d also like to see the industry become more diverse and accessible to everyone. Since political consulting is mostly done as an independent contractor, there are regularly a few months out of the year where we are not working or making income. Likewise, we do not have access to the same benefits employees typically have.
This has the effect of keeping people out of this line of work who don’t have the financial security to do that, and typically those people deterred are from communities that need to be on the front lines of political advocacy more so than any other. My hope is that will change. In recent years we have seen some pressures for that to change, so I hope it will continue.
Q: What do you want people in the coworking community to know about Alloy 26?
A: I think Alloy 26 is a great space full of friendly people. I have enjoyed my ~2 years here and have found it incredibly beneficial to have access to this space. I find that I’m far more productive when I have an office space to go to without distractions of the mess around the house, or now the distraction of my dog, Wally.
Q: Who/ what is your inspiration?
A: I grew up in a small, impoverished, town in rural Pennsylvania and saw firsthand the struggles of too many Pennsylvania families. Every day I wake up and try to make the world a better place for people less fortunate than me. My passion is politics, so this is how I’ve chosen to do that.
If there’s anything else you’d like to include as a plug, let us know!
A: Here’s my plug: get out and meet your neighbors! Politics, especially in the national media, can feel so divisive and partisan. The reality is the national media is divorced from everyday concerns, and that most people just want to get their street paved and their trash picked up on time. You can do your part in dismantling that division by just taking a walk through your neighborhood and meeting your neighbors. You’ll be surprised how grounding that can be.