Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kate Blogs the College Democrats of America National Convention: Day Two

On Friday morning, CDA arranged a White House Tour! I ended up sleeping in instead since I went on a White House Tour a year ago and I knew I would not be getting much sleep for the rest of the week, but everyone who went really enjoyed it!

At 9am I met up with the Massachusetts delegation for the Morning Plenary. Christine Pelosi came to run a Leadership Bootcamp based off her book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders. After giving a quick speech, she asked people to stand up and share their stories, concerns, etc. about health care. Dems stood up and talked about everything from not being insured themselves and the challenges they face to specific advice they would like to give Obama as he reforms health care. I stood up and talked about healthcare fairness for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV since I am working on Lambda Legal’s Health Care Fairness Campaign this summer.

After taking a quick break for a book signing, we listened to a panel on the Policy of the Obama Administration featuring Karen Richardson, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement; Greg Nelson, Associate Director, Energy, Environment, and Technology; and Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Then during lunch, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) came on a live webcast to talk to us!

After lunch Mitch Steward, the Organizing for America Director, gave a presentation on OFA and we had a Training Plenary with OFA Deputy Director Jeremy Bird and National Training Director Nicole Derse. They all told funny stories about their experiences campaigning in both the primaries and in the general for Obama. I believe it was Jeremy Bird who told stories about working for Obama in the Pennsylvania primary and making the horrible mistake of suggesting that Obama go bowling…we all know how that ended.

Next we split up and attended Training Sessions, many of which were run by the OFA staff members who spoke to us. Nicole Derse led sessions on Field Organizing, Alec Schierenbeck, the CDA National Vice President, led sessions on Building Your Chapter, and there were also sessions on Communications and an E-Board Open Session on What CDA Can Do for You. I attended sessions on Fundraising and Creating a Small Donor Base and a Women in Politics Media Training. In the Women in Politics Media Training we talked about the lack of women in the media, how to write an effective Op-Ed, and the importance of getting both women and young people writing Op-Eds, blogging, etc.

Friday evening I went to the LGBT Caucus, which featured Brian Bond, Deputy Director, White House Office of Public Engagement. Mr. Bond spoke a lot about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which is a primary focus of both the CDA LGBT Caucus and the CDA Veteran’s Caucus. He assured us that the President is focused on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and said it would be sooner than expected, hopefully even before the 2010 mid-term Elections! Mr. Bond spoke about ENDA, DOMA, the White House Stonewall Celebration this past June, the importance of the LGBT voice in the health care debate, and other topics important to the LGBT community. We got a chance to ask questions and Mr. Bond encouraged us to contact him with questions. He was fantastic! He also spoke about how he was blown away at the number of students (the caucus had a record turnout) that were able to be out on campus since he was not able to be out as a college student. He also took a minute to give a shout out to Smith Alum Tammy Baldwin who he refers to as “still a hero to me,” when talking about the LGBT Health Care Bill. He said that her election was one of the defining moments in his life, the other being the election of President Obama.

I also presented Smith’s application for Chapter of the Year to the Awards Committee on Friday night, highlighting all of our accomplishments this past year, especially with our voter registration and GOTV efforts as well as our many successful campaign trips and phone banks! Then I headed out to a local bar for a social held by the DC Federation. It was super fun and we ended the night with a huge dance party on the street!

Dems love,