The Vote.org executive director grew up with a family legacy of working to change unjust laws and policies
As executive director at vote.org, Andrea Hailey is doing what she loves to do – engaging people and ensuring everyone who can vote will have their voices heard. On Super Tuesday this year, the site attracted over 1M people.
“I really believe that people want to participate and vote and it is up to us to find ways to lift barriers in order to maximize participation,” said Hailey.
She grew up in Indiana with dinner conversations that revolved around the law – both her parents were lawyers – and the implications of laws. She was raised to see the injustice of some laws and policies and was taught very early that it is up to each generation to make our country and communities more fair.
When her dad ran for parliamentarian of the American Association for Justice (then American Trial Attorneys Association), Hailey ran the “Kids for Hailey” part of the campaign and was hooked. As a teenager, she met Rep. Kennedy at an event and promised him that she was going to grow up and track him down for a job.
She did just that.
After her junior year at Skidmore College, she was offered an intern position for Rep. Kennedy. She started that position on September 11, 2001.
“Most interns went home after that,” said Hailey. “I wanted to stay because I felt like we were helping people. Eventually, I was offered a full-time position in ‘constituent services’ where I was able to help people navigate government systems, grants and other funding structures. I thought I would do that work forever. I loved it.”
She never went back to Skidmore and, instead, transferred to Georgetown so she could continue college and her work. Several jobs and several years later, she is still working to make the country more just.
“At Vote.org we are doubling down on what we do best – digital online registration and GOTV [get out the vote],” said Hailey. “We have over 30 million visitors and are able to switch field tactics to digital in real time, which has been especially important this year.”
In many ways, the work she is doing now is very similar to her first job with Rep. Kennedy. She is fighting to ensure access for people, now on a much larger scale.
“My very first job, working for Rep. Kennedy, responding to constituents and this one have been my favorites by far,” said Hailey.
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Holly Armstrong is a political and communications strategist in Denver, Colorado who also grew up at dinner tables discussing issues around justice. She can be reached at [email protected] and found on Twitter @hollyjarmstrong.