by Mary Hopper
Job opportunities for women passionate about issues
Looking for a job where passion and enthusiasm count for more than credentials? Better yet, a job that allows you to acquire new skills that might pay off long term? It can be part or full-time, adjusts to your availability, is rewarding and is guaranteed to earn you friends to last a lifetime…
Volunteer to work on local political campaigns
Women, long the backbone of political campaigns, are needed this year more than ever. However, we must be strategic about where we work given all that is at stake.
Jobs are open immediately, some in your own neighborhood.
Campaigns will feed you from time to time, dress you in colorful tee shirts and teach you valuable skills. Still not convinced? Here are a few testimonials:
It is a concentrated period of time where the team members work cohesively, recognizing the individual talents of each member, setting aside egos for the goal, making fast collective decisions and meeting people from all walks of life.
– Melanie Sizemore, Kinsey Campaign
For Kathy Hill, her first forays were volunteering for phone banks and door knocking in the 2008 presidential race. But then she got drawn into a race closer to home.
Elyse Dashew was a leader at my child’s school who was clearly working for the greater good. When Elyse decided to run for school board, I was excited to join her team of advisors – all passionate and talented women and men, educators and others, who were willing to donate their time and skills to public education.
Being at the table for her campaign was an enlightening experience. It was an insider’s view of the candidates and the issues; it was helping decide what was important to highlight and what wasn’t. In the long view, being involved helped me be a better citizen, and to more effectively advocate for the issues I feel strongly about. I showed up whenever I could; I wrote a check when I could; I helped out at meet and greets; I gave out campaign cards at the polls. I learned that one person, and one small team, could make a big difference. – Kathy Hill, Dashew Campaign
SMALL AND LARGE SKILLS NEEDED
Although the expertise needed to run a campaign is constantly evolving, “people skills” remain invaluable. Just last week I had my first door-to-door canvass by a County Commission candidate and her two sons, bringing home the importance of face-to-face encounters. While robocalls have been appropriately cursed, neighbors calling a precinct list on their personal cell phones sealed a number of City races in 2017. Personal endorsements by e-mail or snail mail speak volumes.
Like to entertain? A meet-and-greet in your neighborhood can be added to a schedule, the earlier the better. Just be sure you can gather a crowd… oh, and a few checks. And don’t feel restricted by your district; candidates need all the help they can muster, regardless of where you live. In fact, every candidate needs a CC&BW (Chief Cook & Bottle Washer): a chauffeur, a person to extricate her from one event and on to the next, someone to hand out campaign flyers and take names of people who offer help. These are the things we women do effortlessly in our own homes – donate your organizational prowess… a good scheduler is like spun gold in a campaign.
Some skills are specialized but learnable. The Board of Elections has videos as well as downloadable precinct lists. The lists can be made into mailing, phone and canvassing databases. Today’s smartphones streamline the process of adding video and photos to websites and other social media outlets… instant coverage of your candidate at work… just point your phone and tap the screen.
PERSONAL PAYBACK POSSIBLE
Any fundraising task you master on your first campaign will become a marketable skill moving forward in life. Likewise, tackling the social media aspect of the campaign can lead to gainful employment. Friends who volunteered and excelled are now being paid to run campaigns.
I warmly recall sitting in Susan Burgess’s living room, consuming the staples of the campaign diet – pizza and red wine – and relishing the people I was meeting. This was the team that would carry her into office time and again and I was glad to be along for the ride. – M.H., Burgess Campaign
Here are a few examples to offer a sense of the rewards that are possible at the end of this volunteer job. The first campaign I ended up running (if such were possible with just the two of us) was in 1973.
My now-oldest friend Pat Locke Williamson and I can laugh at how we stormed around Charlotte in my white Pontiac convertible. Pat became the second woman elected to City Council; I was hooked. Sequestered in Liz Hair’s pool house, Women’s Caucus friends and I tackled a series of General Assembly campaigns to press for ERA ratification. In 1978, I was hired to run the night shift of the all-volunteer phone bank for the liquor-by-the-drink campaign. Toast me the next time you are out in a bar. That work raised my professional visibility so I was invited to serve on airport and neighborhood improvement bond initiatives. I was a paid consultant on the earliest transit planning as well as on road, trolley and connectivity projects.
More important than the professional advancement that came from what began as a volunteer gig are the friends I made along the way and the satisfaction gained from knowing I made a difference.
No matter your motivation, get out there. Fuel the power to the polls… we need your fire this year more than ever.