Meet Gina, our North Carolina State Director!
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.
I was born in New York, grew up in Richmond, VA, but identify as an adopted North Carolinian. I moved to North Carolina a week after I graduated from University of Richmond with my bachelor’s in psychology. I discovered my love of organizing when I started volunteering as a student to re-elect President Obama. I went on to take a fellowship position with the Virginia Democratic Coordinated campaign in 2013. After a taste of victory and what that means for the greater good, I jumped at the opportunity to move to Shelby, NC to re-elect Senator Kay Hagan. I immediately fell in love in the community and knew North Carolina was going to be my new home. I now live in Raleigh and travel the state frequently. When I’m not working you can catch me at Wrightsville Beach or in Asheville enjoying the beautiful mountain views.
Q: Tell me a little bit more about your experience with Progressive Turnout Project before joining Progressive Takeover as the North Carolina State Director.
After the 2016 elections, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Progressive Turnout Project. I was hired as the North Carolina State Director in February of 2017. I immediately loved the position because it merged my two favorite things, year round organizing and data-driven tactics. I wholeheartedly believe that continuous organizing is the key to making change. Our work never stops, even if there isn’t a high profile election coming up. I was able to create a program called Protect Our Vote NC which collected over 10,000 postcard petitions which called for an end to gerrymandering and more protections of our voting rights. I was also part of PTP’s country-wide Turnout Tour, where I took our research-based tips and tricks out into competitive districts across North Carolina and Virginia. I loved the experience of being in the field, with so many people who are fired up about this year. I’m so excited to bring my knowledge and experience gained from PTP, and translate it to our Progressive Takeover program this year.
Q: What specifically about PTP/Takeover appealed to you?
The state legislative focus of Progressive Takeover really appealed to me. North Carolina’s General Assembly continuously infringes on the rights of North Carolinians. From the most recent #SuppressionSession to being cut out of the budget making process, the people of North Carolina aren’t being listened to. Our program this year seeks to uplift the voices of the people, not stifle them.
Q: What’s your most memorable experience working in politics?
The Virginia Coordinated Campaign in 2013 was the most memorable experience I’ve had working in politics. It was my first campaign where I signed on as an actual staffer. I had the best summer working side by side with two amazing organizers who I still consider mentors to this day. It felt like such rewarding work to get all the Democrats elected up and down the ticket. I felt like I really made a difference in those six months. I would never trade that experience for anything.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to working in North Carolina?
The biggest challenge to working in North Carolina, is watching the North Carolina General Assembly continue to ignore the voices of their constituents. I have been to numerous meetings where the floor is open for public comment, a large majority of the public will be in opposition of the bill, but yet it will still pass. A number of these meetings have also been scheduled at the last minute with very unclear information, that makes it difficult for the public to even show up. North Carolina doesn’t seem like much of a democracy to me anymore.
Q: Who inspires you in politics and why?
Hillary Clinton is my biggest inspiration. I admire her so much for everything she’s accomplished over her life. She never took a backseat. She was always at the forefront, trying to make the world a better place. My favorite Hillary Clinton quote from the 2016 campaign is “Organize with heart, engage with purpose, win everyday.”
Q: If you could have dinner with one former President, who would it be and why?
I have to choose President Obama, but Michelle has to be there too. I want to meet the whole family honestly, including Bo. I want to hear all the stories that President Obama and Michelle have about their organizing work. I want to know what current projects they’re working on. Just so many questions I could ask them. We would talk for a long time.
Q: Other than voting, what is one of the the issues that you’re interested in?
I’m really passionate about feminism and women’s rights. I studied women, gender, and sexuality studies in college which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I think more women should get involved in politics and try to always uplift other women I see trying to work their way up in this field. We’re stronger together.
Q: If you could ask President Trump one thing, what would it be?
I would give my question to one of the children who have been separated from their family at the border. President Trump should have to face these children, and tell them why they’re not with their families. #FamiliesBelongTogether
Q: What would you say to anyone who feels defeated or cynical by the state of our politics?
In the words of President Obama, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” I’ve always found that going to a field office immediately makes me feel better. The energy you gain from being in that environment is undescribable. It makes you feel like as a team, that we can move forward.
Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest lessons the left should learn from 2016?
We can’t just rely on our base. We have to be willing to have hard conversations, and actually spend time building relationships. Transactional organizing needs to be a thing of the past. We need to meet people where they’re at. Organizing based on relationships is how we’re going to win.
Q: What’s something on your bucket list?
I want to travel to every continent. I haven’t gotten to travel out of the country much yet. Looking forward to lots of trips after 2020.