Campaign Leaders Spotlight

Table of Contents

Ellie Pérez

Political Director at the Arizona Education Association
Campaign: Invest in Ed

What was your greatest learning experience working on the ‘Invest in Ed’ campaign? 

Being part of INVESTinED/Prop208 has definitely reinforced the fact that I was lucky to grow up in Arizona Public Schools. Educators have taught me to really think outside the box and to truly maximize the time our volunteers can commit to our cause. Sometimes they can only give us 30 mins – but in those 30 min slots they give us 110%. 

What surprised you the most? 

It was more inspiring than surprising to see Arizonans go out of their way to find a signature hub during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to collect over 200,000 signatures to make the ballot, and with large gatherings out of the question, seeing the IMMENSE support from the public and educators was and still continues to inspire our work. 

What have you found most encouraging about your time working on the campaign? 

I have the best job in Arizona, I get to work for and with members of the Arizona Education Association, who are building up the next generation of leaders. I get to be a small part of the change in our state through their vision of providing quality education for all Arizona students no matter what district they’re in.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to share with us that we didn’t ask you about but should know?

Growing up as an undocumented Latina in AZ Public Schools, I know I owe every teacher, classroom aide, lunch lady, bus driver and every person in those buildings who taught me to not give up! Through this work I hope to be able to give back to them even a small portion of all they gave me.

Katrina L. Rogers

Campaign Manager, Louisiana for Personal Freedoms
Campaign: Louisiana’s Amendment 1: No Right to Abortion in Constitution

What has been your greatest learning experience working on the campaign?

This is the first time I’ve been able to use my work as an organizer to help build an entire campaign. I’ve never had a campaign experience that aligned with my organizing that uses a Black queer feminist lens, so being able to build a statewide effort that truly is committed to and focused on those who’ll be the most impacted is an honor. 

What I’m experiencing is that we don’t have to take an either/or approach and that we can build a campaign designed to win and do it in a way that never forgets “voters” are human beings.

What surprised you the most?

Reproductive health, rights and justice has been under attack for such a long time, that sometimes, I think people forget we’re on the right side of this — that we can win. I’m surprised by the defeatism I’ve seen, but I’ve experienced much more excitement and belief in our potential than negativity from people in this fight. 

Seeing people who are committed to sharing their stories, showing up to phonebank and to volunteer in other ways gives me so much hope. The positive feedback on how we’ve run the campaign and who we’re centering has also been really special.

What did you find most challenging?

Bureaucracy and gatekeeping. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, an active assault on our democracy, the lack of economic stability for so many in Louisiana and across the globe and catastrophes including half a dozen named hurricanes headed to Louisiana this season. It baffles me that people, and organizations, refuse to actively speak and work against all of the systems that are keeping us away from what we rightfully deserve. I shouldn’t have to convince people, especially those who say they’re on our side, the people of Louisiana deserve to be fought for and protected.

Not having access to VAN (AKA Voter Activation Network) until four weeks ago wasn’t great, either.

What have you found most encouraging about your time working on the campaign?

It’s been an honor, and responsibility, to use this space to not only talk about protecting abortion access but to discuss all of the many ways people are being harmed by those who are more committed to corporate profits than making sure people have access to what’s needed to not just survive, but be well.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to share with us that we didn’t ask you about but should know?

Invest in the South, be honest about how we got to this point. Take ownership for how you’ve neglected, abandoned and overlooked us. Do more than ask or expect Black women to save you every four years, we need and deserve more than just representation. Black people can uphold white supremacy and women can uphold patriarchy so representation without aligned values means nothing. If you say you’re going you #TrustBlackWomen, then trust our leadership 100% and know that we’re not fighting to save you or to placate your feelings, we’re fighting to save ourselves, our communities and the most vulnerable people. 

Campaigns require a seismic investment to begin with, and campaigns in the South have often been ignored because the populations are largely Black and economically-exploited and/or abandoned. When people from historically and systemically marginalized communities are running campaigns that center those very people, we deserve so much more investment, not less.

Julian Camera

Field Organizer, ACLU Colorado 
Campaign: Colorado’s Amendment 76: Citizenship Requirement for Voting

What was your greatest learning experience working on the campaign? 

I learned a lot about the power of language. Amendment 76 has many complex layers that will have a rippling effect on voting in Colorado, but will change just one word in the constitution. We had to find the best way to explain simply what 76 is, while stating the many reasons why we oppose it in a way that was digestible to voters.

What surprised you the most? 

If Amendment 76 were to pass, it would take away 17 year olds’ right to vote in primary elections. Because of that, we have a lot of students on our team and I was really caught off guard by their dedication to our campaign. On top of their schoolwork, they showed up to our meetings, provided feedback and perspective, made phone calls, handed out flyers on the weekends, wrote op-eds, and more. It just goes to show how much students care and how important it is that we protect their right to vote on issues that will impact them for years to come. 

What did you find most challenging?

The most challenging part was working to unravel all the components to Amendment 76. We know the immediate changes, but the long-term impacts continue to arise. For example, because 76 is a restrictive voting law, it will likely bring more restrictive voting laws to Colorado which we know, historically, have the most negative impact on houseless, low-income, naturalized immigrant, and BIPOC voters. 

What have you found most encouraging about your time working on the campaign? 

We came into this campaign with very little money and resources and we’ve come out with a whole coalition of partners and students who are collaborating and doing everything they can to stand against the hateful messages behind Amendment 76. We could not do this work without them and I feel very fortunate to work alongside such great people who value voting as a right and not as a privilege that is only accessible to certain people.

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to share with us?

This is the first campaign that I’ve ever worked on/managed. I’ve learned so much about collaboration, partnership, planning, strategizing, and the many different functions that help a campaign run smoothly. I’m very grateful for this experience.

Brad Christian-Sallis

Voting Rights Advocate
Grassroots Organizer + Strategist
Campaign: Nebraska Amendment #1

What was your greatest learning experience working on the campaign? 

My greatest learning experience has been how much can be done with no paid staff, even though having no paid staff should never be the case. I’ve never worked on a statewide campaign that has been all volunteer before, and while it’s been tough for everyone to balance this work and their day job, I’m proud of what we have done.

What surprised you the most? 

The issue of removing language from the constitution that allows for slavery as punishment for a crime can seem symbolic to some voters even though it’s not, so I’ve been the most surprised about how people are still willing to volunteer and give their time in the middle of a pandemic. 

What did you find most challenging?

By far, the most challenging piece for me has been moving from being focused on traditional field tactics to mostly digital tactics. Part of the challenge has been making sure we are still reaching Black and Brown voters in large cities and rural areas, as well as other populations in Nebraska. Rural voters may not have internet access at home, so it’s something that has required creativity.

What have you found most encouraging about your time working on the campaign? 

The amount of people we have been able to educate on the fact that there is that exception which allows for slavery and the history behind it. It’s something that has made people rethink what they believe about Nebraska and inspired them to want to make it better.