Meet AnnMichelle, who is hard at work building PTP’s progressive coalition in the Commonwealth of Virgina!
Q: Tell me a little about yourself and your college experience.
I was born in New York but I’ve been in North Carolina since I was three, so I like to consider myself a southern belle. I went to Meredith college, which is an all women’s college in the south and graduated with majors in Criminology and Political Science, and minors in Sociology and Communications. I was really involved in a lot of organizations, including the criminology and political science honors societies, and I was also Student Body President which I loved. I also like to volunteer and give back to the community. I regularly volunteer at a local food pantry where we collect canned goods for local shelters, and I helped raise funds for the Ebola outbreak, which we sent back to Sierra Leone, where my family is originally from. I also worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Iowa and North Carolina, which I really enjoyed. I’m still really sad that she didn’t win but it reminds me that there’s still so much more to do. I’m a hardcore feminist and it was a wake up call for me that sexism still exists. In my free time I like to go out and try new foods (living in the south, I like everything that’s deep fried and bad to eat).
Q: When did you first become interested in politics?
I have always wanted to be an attorney and fight for things like eliminating the gender wage gap. When I was a junior year in high school I had an amazing history teacher who made us give a presentation on current events each morning. I remember staying up and watching the news in order to prepare, and that was when Obama was running against Hillary in the Democratic primary. It was fun being encouraged to present on what I thought about the world, and I remember being very sad when Hillary lost against Obama (although I will now admit that Obama was an amazing president). When she announced that she would run again, I knew I had to be on the campaign. Going to an all women’s college teaches you a lot about strength, empowerment, and what it means to be a leader while fighting for those who don’t have a voice. I knew that I wanted to be involved in politics and help the right people get into office because ultimately we need someone who helps spread opportunities to all.
Q: What specifically about PTP appealed to you?
I really like the fact that PTP is a newer organization looking at the numbers in order to figure out ways to make sure that Democrats are in office. While working on the HRC campaign there was a system that you had to follow regardless of what city or state you were in, which was great in some aspects but not entirely. So I like what PTP is doing because every place is different. I love PTP’s focus on one-on-one communication with voters because it’s so much more real, and I want to be part of an up-and-coming organization that is going to pave the way.
Q: What skills are necessary to being an effective community organizer?
I think it’s important to want to learn from the community and not just come in expecting to know everything. Knowing that you need resources and information from strong local leaders to help you find your way in the community and find a voice is important. It’s ineffective when organizations come into a place and just try to make their name known without actually meeting with people and making sure the community feels valued. The volunteers I met in Iowa understood that I was there not only to help enrich their community as a representative of my organization, but also to help transfer their wants and needs to my organization in order to strengthen the community. You have to listen to people and find the middle ground in order to be successful.
Q: What was the most memorable experience you had while working in politics?
Working in Durham County was great, every event was packed. I remember Will Ferrell came into town once, which brought a lot of excitement and attention to getting people out knocking on doors. There were people outside our building and over 400 people in our office, which made the news. Robby Mook even gave my team a shout out and Will Ferrell said it was the best event he had ever seen. Of all the people who came, 90% went to knock doors after, which felt incredible (when Will Ferrell tells you to knock on doors, you have to do it). It was so satisfying.
Q: You want to be an attorney in the future. What issue are you most passionate about?
Gender issues. That’s one thing I liked about working on a campaign, because you make the same in each position no matter your gender or race, which is obviously not always the case in the real world. I remember working as a hostess during college and finding out that a new male hire was making more than me despite his lack of experience, but when I brought it up to my manager their response was “you shouldn’t talk about this, don’t bring up wages with your colleagues.” Why is that even a thing?
Q: If you could ask Hillary something what would it be?
I would love to know what keeps her motivated. How is she able to come back to political life and continue pushing the issues that are important to her? How does she continue to be passionate about politics? She inspires me everyday.