Here at NDTC, we are incredibly lucky to have plenty of talented and hard-working staff to help Democrats all across the country.
This month we want to spotlight one member of our staff, Allyson Raines, who lends her talents to our Staff Academy Program. Allyson’s grassroots background and dedication to reproductive rights make her an amazing addition to the NDTC team – we’re sure you’ll agree!
Tell us about yourself! What has your professional life looked like? How did you get your start in politics?
I am here today because some damn good organizers saw something in me and decided to invest in me! I would have never known this was a real career path available to me if two mentors – Shoshana and John – hadn’t given me the opportunity to learn and take action.
Under Shoshana and John’s guidance, I lead a group of students from the University of Michigan in a partnership with Planned Parenthood of Michigan to organize students on access to affordable birth control on college campuses. It was the first time I experienced the individual POWER I had to make change. Political action is transformational and my career moved full steam ahead from here!
Upon graduating, I took a paid organizing internship with a grassroots organization called the Harriet Tubman Center for Community Organizing where I was responsible for developing community leadership teams within a faith community and a group of young leaders to take action on food access, neighborhood blight, and youth safety issues. It was the first time I had the privilege of identifying leaders and helping them recognize and engage their power to change their community. I was hooked, but after a few months, also feeling pretty burned out. I realized I needed to be organizing on issues that impacted my life. It was time to get back to healthcare advocacy.
I returned to Planned Parenthood and after a brief stint as a sex educator in Chicago Public Schools, I was organizing again. I spent eight years leading teams to achieve legislative and electoral victories (and to survive to fight another day after some hard losses). My proudest achievement with Planned Parenthood was reinventing our approach to engaging volunteers as leaders on electoral campaigns. I ran the four largest, grassroots-driven electoral campaigns in organizational history with volunteers knocking on over 200,000 doors!
What is your position at NDTC?
Staff Academy Program Manager
What do you hope to accomplish at NDTC?
I have always had two north stars for my career.
- Because of how transformational political engagement can be, I want to be that person for others and invest in the development of strong leaders. My goal is to look around the movement and see folks who I helped grow do amazing things! Your impact can grow exponentially when you invest in people.
- I want to ensure that everything I touch is stronger than when I found it and will last well beyond my engagement in the project. For me, this is all about building sustainable infrastructure for our movement. That is how you make lasting change.
Working on the Staff Academy program allows me to do both of these things in very real ways!
How do you practice self-care?
I learned early on in my career that self-care starts before you need it!
I try to focus on strong personal management practices that allow me to stay on top of my work-load and prevent things from becoming a stress burden because I am behind or overwhelmed at the last minute. I’ve found that this has reduced my work stress significantly and helps me make decisions based on my well being.
Will working late tonight actually save me a bunch of stress for the next three days? Cool – I am going to choose to do that because it is what is best for me overall.
I also think a lot about work-life integration instead of the concept of balance. Our lives ebb and flow in intensity. Sometimes work needs more of me and sometimes my friends or family or passions do. Making the time for things when called for – like going to the doctor or working that late-night or taking a day because you simply need a break to be your most effective self – are what make you successful at life!
If you could tell all potential staffers ONE thing, what would it be?
If I could tell potential staff ONE thing, it would be to eat real food while working a campaign. Figure out how you make it to a grocery store, find some prep time even if it is at 6 am or midnight, and have a real meal! Fast food will drain your wallet, line your arteries, and cost you time! No one can effectively do their job when hungry. (And to be clear, I am TERRIBLE at this! I see you 10 lbs of unhealthy weight gain during the 2016 election!)
Coffee or tea?
Favorite tv show?
Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook?
What are you currently reading?
If you weren’t working in politics, what would you be doing?
Helping my husband Mike go after his dream of lots of land with like 50 dogs on it! My princess pup Ms. Reggie Rita Raines would still be my number one gal!
Biggest pet peeve?
What is the theme song for your life?
If you’re interested in learning more about Allyson’s work with NDTC’s Staff Academy Program, make sure to check out the Staff Academy page on our website! Applications for the 2020 program open Fall 2019, so make sure to keep an eye out for more information.