February 14, 2019
By Pavitra Abraham
NDTC is proud to have trainers throughout the country that spend their weekends teaching at our incredible Blue Bench Trainings.
Each month, we will spotlight one of our trainers to learn more about their backgrounds and their favorite part of being a trainer at NDTC!
This month, we are featuring Amanda Clarke, who lends her expertise to teaching our Field curriculum.
Tell us about yourself! What has your professional life looked like? How did you get your start in politics?
I stumbled into politics by accident!
I signed up for a phone bank as a volunteer having no idea what I was doing, but looking to put some additional experience on my resume (shameless, I know.) I realized that there was this amazing, empowering way to directly impact people’s lives in a tangible way, and I just fell in love with it.
I quit my job as a legal assistant and joined a Congressional campaign in California, having never left the east coast before, and moved across the country. Best decision I ever made!
Since then I’ve worked on campaigns, big and small, local and presidential, in over half a dozen states. I’ve had the opportunity to run one of the largest voter registration programs in the country in 2016, win a presidential caucus, and meet incredible people along the way.
What is your current fulltime position?
I am a Regional Director at Run for Something.
What inspired or compelled you to start training with NDTC? What is your favorite part about the trainings?
I started training with NDTC because running for office is entirely too hard. Like so many systems in this country, the political system was initially created by and for a specific group of people (spoiler: it was rich white dudes). NDTC’s programming makes running for office more accessible; it is democratizing democracy.
At Run for Something, I work with young, progressive candidates running for the first and second time at the state and local level, and NDTC speaks directly to our mission: build a democratic bench and lower the barriers of access to running for political office.
(Editor’s note: That’s why they’re a fantastic partner of ours! We’re lucky to work with them and are grateful for all they do to recruit and support progressive, young candidates around the country!)
I firmly believe that somewhere in the country, a future president is out there, and will only run for office because the resources and information she needs are available FOR FREE to her.
My favorite part about the trainings is seeing so many people who care so deeply about their communities in one place. It takes a lot to step up and do something scary, and seeing so many people do it all together is truly inspiring. (I am tearing up thinking about it! Seriously!)
How do you practice self-care?
Lots and lots of cuddles with my dog, Ruthie. I play piano every day and set aside time to go to the gym or do something by myself, for myself, every day — recently, I’ve been doing Muay Thai. I also don’t check my work email on Sundays or while I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. That’s a hard and fast rule for me until October when election season gets a little wild.
What’s a piece of advice you’d like to give to other candidates or potential candidates?
Knock on doors. Talk to voters. Listen to their stories.
Not just because that’s the key to winning (it is), but because it makes you remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Don’t lose sight of the fact that behind every policy platform, there are people whose lives will be directly impacted by it.
And a bit of practical advice: don’t ask people to do things you’re not willing to do yourself, and always be the hardest working person in the room.
Coffee or tea?
Favorite tv show?
Friday Night Lights
Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook?
What are you currently reading?
The Real All Americans by Sally Jenkins (it’s a reread, but it’s SO GOOD)
If you weren’t working in politics, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a lawyer — I was applying to law schools when I started my first campaign. (Never finished the application.)
Biggest pet peeve?
When people smile at me before I’ve had coffee.
What is the theme song for your life?
Currently, it’s Dime Store Cowgirl by Kacey Musgraves
If you’re interested in being notified of NDTC live trainings near you, please register here and provide your zip code. Whenever we’re in your neighborhood, we’ll let you know in hopes that you can join us and get #NDTCtrained!