Here at GAIN Power, we are always looking to spotlight different political progressives and changemakers. If you or someone you know would like to be nominated, please fill out this form!
Our spotlight series is featuring Samantha Bauman! They are the Run to Win Manager at EMILY’s List. Keep reading on to hear more about their story and amazing work!
Can you give a brief background and introduction about yourself?
SB: My name is Sam Bowman (they/them) and I have been at EMILY’s List for almost four years now with the Run to Win program. Before that, I had been working in campaigns in multiple states across multiple kinds of campaigns–I kind of did it all. That was what led me to the position I have now at EMILY’s List, as they were looking for somebody who’s done a little bit of everything.
What does your day-to-day work look like?
SB: One of the really fun things about what I get to do is that it’s always a little bit different everyday. Run to Win is our almost entirely digital training program at EMILY’s List. Every single day, I get to talk to different people and kind of be like a virtual campaign manager of sorts for thousands of women. Whether that be a conversation with someone on Facebook, our online community, or sending a text out to people who are running right now in 2023 to ask what sort of support they need.
Why did you choose this line of work?
SB: I grew up in a family that really believed in civic engagement, and we were recently doing this icebreaker where we talked about like our earliest political memories, and my earliest political memory is passing out voter registration forms when I was 4, so when it came time to like college, someone recommended political science as a degree for me. I thought that I was going to be a lawyer; I really wanted to do something that was within employment rights.
Then, in 2013, I got to watch Wendy Davis’s filibuster, and at the time Wendy Davis was actually my State Senator. Hearing this person who was fighting for all Texans to have the right to an abortion, and this bill was going to really eradicate most of the clinics because it required hospital privileges and most people who provide abortion care do not have hospital-admitting privileges changed everything for me. It was a lightbulb moment.
By October of 2013, Wendy had already announced her campaign for governor, and I was a fellow from the beginning. So I’ve been doing campaigns since then, and that has really started me on my entire path. It really does boil down to the fact that campaigns and legislation are all people-centric; you have to organize in order to win and get to that stage of getting to the legislature or other offices. And now, a decade later, those reasons are literally why I’m still doing what I do.
How does your work impact the political climate we live in?
SB: We are like a huge accessible program–we do free trainings, in-person bootcamps, though in the pandemic, we switched everything to be virtual. This means all of our resources are publicly available; you can sign up for the training center, or just the text list. We try to have different ways to meet people where they’re at.
What is one issue that you think progressives could better message? Why?
SB: Abortion. We have a lot of tag lines that come along with abortion that we are still struggling to get rid of, like “I want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare.” Well, abortion has always existed as long as pregnancy has existed, and abortion will always exist. We don’t need to say it like that. We need to move forward towards using ‘reproductive justice,’ and using corrupt language like ‘anti-choice’ when talking about people who are against abortion and they get in the way of people being able to access abortions.
And, to a greater extent, there is more that could be done to encompass all people who have abortions and who get pregnant. It is not as well-tracked about how many people who non-binary or gender expansive who are able to have abortions. We’re looking and relying on a lot of thought partners on how to talk about pregnant people and how people prefer to be talked about in that case.
What advice do you have for young professionals looking to get into politics?
SB: Do not make decisions or pick things if it’s ultimately going to sacrifice your mental, physical, and economic health–and for some, your spiritual health. This kind of advice is a lot harder to follow when you’re getting started, but it’s meant for longevity.
There are a lot of people who just got started in the pandemic and are feeling burnt out on campaigns, and some of that has to do with the fact that you’ve learned how to do everything on the fly in a new way. There are a lot more jobs and ways to find these jobs than when I started a decade ago. Just make sure you’re making decisions that take care of you if this is something you’re super passionate about and want to do long-term.
Lastly, for fun, if you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
SB: I love to get my nails done, and as a kid I always thought that getting to be a person who named nail polishes had the coolest job that anyone might be able to have. So, I’ll go with that; I would for a day be a person who gets to name nail polishes.