When Trump was elected, everything changed. Like so many others, Rio Diaz wanted to get as involved as possible. He interned with the National Democratic Training Committee, which jump-started his involvement; he would go on to intern for Kim Walz, be part of the Obama Foundation's Community Leadership Corps program, and ultimately join the DNC’s Organizing Corps.This is where his path in politics really took off.
“I was based in the Wisconsin cohort, and ended up working as a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2020. Nothing was more important than winning the 2020 election, and making sure Wisconsin played a vital part in that.”
Rio is part of GAC’s Finance Staff Match Program, which focuses on advancing careers for diverse, young talent interested in the campaign space. Rio was matched with Mandela Barnes’ campaign for Senate, where he serves as a call time associate. While the majority of what he does is prep for call time (he’s admittedly very organized and efficient), Rio also wears many hats on the Barnes campaign.
“I’m able to use my experience as a field organizer to help in other ways – like leading events, helping with the fellowship program by recruiting students from universities in Wisconsin, and helping scale donors up the ladder of engagement.”
When asked what he’s most proud of, the answer came quickly and easily. “We raised over $1.1 million in our first quarter (Q3 2021), which is the most any first-time Senate candidate has raised in Wisconsin. Mandela had no self-contributions, and still outraised the other candidates in the primary, two of which are largely self-funded. Our average contribution is less than $50, and we’re building a wide coalition of donors and supporters. What drew me to Mandela is how he focuses on leading with values, something we need to focus more on as a party [rather than how bad our opposition is].”
Rio also wanted to give a shoutout to his fellow call time associate, Adam Green, who serves more as a call time manager than associate. “Not only does he make sure Mandela’s on top of his game, pushing him day in and day out, but he also makes sure back-end coding is done right on the digital front. We’re really lucky to have him.”
Keep an eye out for big things from Rio – and Adam – as they work to make Mandela Barnes the next Senator from Wisconsin.
Some people know they want to be involved in campaigns from the onset; others find themselves in the campaign world in a less traditional way. Andrea Cervone falls into the latter category. While seeking a career in journalism, Andrea’s partner, Ted Terry, was working as finance director for John Barrow. This led to a very part-time position in communications on Steve Oppenheimer’s campaign for Public Service Commission, and it took off from there.
What began as op-eds, newsletters, and campaign photography blossomed into a career in communications and campaign management. Andrea and Ted helped start the Nonpartisan Candidate Training at AAAJ Atlanta (which Asian American Advocacy Fund took over in 2019). It started as a small operation, just four candidates in an office on Buford Highway learning about campaign training, with Andrea focusing on comms and Ted handling finance and other client side training aspects. Most recently, Andrea worked on Felicia Moore’s mayoral campaign.
From talking to Andrea, it seems that one of her biggest strengths is creativity – she takes seemingly unconventional ideas and turns them into lucrative outcomes.
“We wrote a persuasion script [for Felicia] and included that script across all platforms – call time, door-to-door, emails, and texts, which resulted in a higher rate of response than any other text sent. This was significantly more labor intensive on the back end because it was testing voter interest areas, but we also included this sampling in Atlanta-centric emails. All of our data was connected and messaging was consistent.”
The result? A 12 point swing in favor of Moore.
In addition to utilizing persuasion to increase an uptick in support for Moore, Andrea also had the idea for a guerrilla art campaign – “Hi, Felicia!” This marriage of her creative background and political career was a fun way to engage young voters around Atlanta.