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Don't Forget: Party for Progressives Networking Happy Hour is Tomorrow Night!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Join Virginia is for WINners, Arlington Young Democrats, Democratic GAIN, DC for Democracy, the DC Democratic Party, DC for Obama, DC Young Democrats, Generation Obama, South Asians for Opportunity,  Montgomery County Young Democrats, Gertrude Stein Club, NARAL - VA and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington

As we partner for the second Membership Happy Hour in our series…
Party for Progressives: Let's Keep Virginia Blue!

Thursday, October 22 at Current Bar and Lounge
6:30 – 8 pm

We will be joined by OFA Executive Director Mitch Stewart, who will briefly speak about how we can get involved to help win in Virginia! Time to mobilize and organize!

Grab a drink with progressives from across the DC area to gear up for the upcoming Virginia elections, learn about what you can do to help, and sign up to volunteer!

New WIN members who sign up between October 14th and October 22nd receive two free drink tickets! So tell your friends!

*Happy Hour drink specials will be available until 8 p.m.

Tags:  networking 

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Interview with Matt Thornton

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We continue our interview series exploring the various career paths of working in politics.  Check out our recent article, "The Bubbles of Working in Politics" for an overview and to check out other interviews.

Today, we interview Matt Thornton,  Communications Director for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).  Like many, Matt started in politics working on campaigns and has been working on the hill for two years.  

1) Please give us a quick biography. Touch on how you got your first job in politics and why you decided to stick with politics as a profession.

I don’t remember the exact moment that I decided I wanted to be involved in politics, but it was at some point in high school.  I grew up in Kansas where I became progressively aware of the fact that I was a Democrat – not an easy position to take in Kansas in those days.  It was an easy decision to study political science and history in college and government administration in grad school.

After finishing my education, I hit the campaign trail, getting my start as an operations guy for Allyson Schwartz for Congress (PA-13) in ’04.  I then went on to head up the online communications for Jim Davis for Governor (FL) in ’06.

From there, I started on Capitol Hill as the Press Secretary then Communications Director for Congressman Zack Space (OH-18) then to my current position as Communications Director for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).

2)  Did you begin your career thinking the federal legislature was where you wanted to end up?

I began with an eye toward national politics.  I always expected that I would end up in Washington at some point.  Early on, I expected that working in Congress would be an exciting experience, but I had no idea just how thrilling it would be.  After two and a half years on Capitol Hill, I still get chills walking into the Capitol Building.

3) What do you like most and hate most about it? 

What’s not to like?  I get the opportunity to be in the middle of the great debates of our time.  History is made every day around here, and in a very small way, I play a part in that.
I wouldn’t say that I particularly hate anything about the job.  I suppose I could point to the high stress levels on the Hill, but, to be quite honest, I think that is part of what makes this place so exciting.

4) In general, do you recommend starting a successful Hill career on a political campaign or rather beginning a career on the Hill at the entry-level?

I always encourage people just starting out in this business to take an honest assessment of what they really want to do in their careers.  If the end goal is definitely working on the Hill, then that is where they should focus their attention.  There are a number of people who start out in the campaign world expecting to transition to the Hill only to find out that there are actually very few campaign jobs that have equivalents on the Hill (communications being one of them).  People make the jump, but it is tough.

5) Should one have a different approach to looking on the Senate vs. the House?  What are the major differences between the two bodies when it comes to working there?

In transitioning to the Senate, the main difference that struck me was the pace is a lot different over here than on the House side.  Representatives are frequently competing with each other for coverage and attention, and the nature of the body is much faster.  Senators do not have to deal with that quite as much, so it is much less rough-and-tumble. 

6) Has there been a difference between how you expected the Hill to be and how it is in reality?

Growing up, I always had the impression that Congress was an abstract place full of smart, faceless people that you read about in books.  It was impersonal, remote, and austere.  The thing that struck me was just how diverse and interesting the staffers are.

7) What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career?

This is not an easy business.  You really need to make sure this is what you want to do before throwing caution to the wind and jumping in.

8) Do you have any parting thoughts that haven’t been covered?

Network.  There is nothing more valuable in this town than the personal connections you make with people.  If you have a job in mind, call a few people who have similar jobs, ask them to give you an informational interview, and get their ideas on how to get the position.

Tags:  capitol hill  career advice  career development  learn from pros 

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NOI Webinars - Passing the info along

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Just passing on this information from NOI - they all sound great, so check them out. 

TOMORROW: October 7th: Testing, 1,2,3... (beginner track)

Just about everything online can - and should - be tested. Join Jeff Regen, Vice President, Online Marketing and Communications at Defenders of Wildlife, for a lesson on testing your online programs. Jeff will cover testing from a beginner's perspective, running over the basics of what to track and how to adjust your online programs accordingly. Sign up here!

October 14th: Strategies for List Growth (beginner track)

Organizations need to focus on strategies to grow their lists of volunteers, email sign ups, event attendees and the like by using original, engaging methods aimed at the people behind the email addresses on their list. Roz Lemieux, former Executive Director of NOI and Co-Founder/Partner of Fission Strategy, will talk about how your organization can learn from list-building best practices. Sign up here!

October 19th: Exploring Your Options: Career Sector Switching (job advice track)

Erin O'Connor Jones is a Career Advisor on for Sector Switchers and the Director of Candidate Services at the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Erin knows the ins and outs of preparing yourself to switch into a new career field, so come ready with questions. Sign up here!

October 20th: Temp Jobs That Aren't Just Temp Jobs (job advice track)

These days, job searches are taking months -- and employers will want to know what you've been doing to make your time valuable between jobs. Join Ellen Reeves, author of "Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview," to talk about ways to occupy your time between jobs in a positive way. Sign up here!

October 21st: Powerful Emails: Writing to Testing to the Daisy Chain (advanced track)

Lauren Miller, Director of Email Programs for Blue State Digital, has been writing emails for clients for over four years, and knows a plethora of email-writing techniques for progressives. Lauren will give advice to make your organization's emails stand out from the crowd, from scheduling to content to layout to testing to the daisy chain. Sign up here!

October 26th: Using Interactive Video (beginner track)

So, you have a nonprofit video account on YouTube. Now what? Join Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 Communications, as he talks about the latest trends in interactive video, the video daisy chain, and examples of effective interactive video. Sign up here!

October 28th: Likely and Unlikely Bedfellows - Building Coalitions  (beginner track)

Shannon Raybold has been working on online movements since the Kerry/Edwards campaign, running the gamut from campaigns to advocacy to her current work as the Internet Director for the United Nations Foundation. Shannon will be shedding some light on successfully creating lasting partnerships to further progressive goals online. Sign up here!

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FYI: A Better Deal: Securing Our Economic Future NOW Free Conference

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, October 6, 2009
FYI if you haven't heard about this great FREE networking and knowledge building opportunity...

Demos is proud to host the second conference on A Better Deal: Securing Our Economic Future NOW, in partnership with more than twenty leading national youth organizations and other key voices. Please join hundreds of young activists and leaders to advance a bold policy agenda to create a better deal for this generation and the nation.

"A Better Deal: Securing Our Economic Future NOW."
A Demos conference on the economic state of young America.
October 15th and 16th, 2009
The Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, DC
FREE - Register TODAY at

Today's young adults are the first generation in a century who are not likely to be better off than their parents. Compared to previous generations, young people in their 20s and 30s earn less, carry more debt and pay more for everything from health care to housing. The current recession has only exacerbated these conditions, hitting young people of color and those without a college degree the hardest. But the Millennial Generation, a key force in the 2008 elections, is mobilizing to build a new national movement to address today's pocketbook concerns as well as to redress decades of declining economic opportunity and social mobility.

This conference is FREE

(Note:  this is not a Democratic GAIN event, but it is a great networking and skills-building opportunity, so we are passing the information along)

Tags:  networking 

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Reminder: GAIN Member get a BIG discount to AAPC Conferences!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, October 2, 2009
The AAPC 2009 Strategic Outlook Regional Conferences
Politics 2010

Even though 2010 is only a few months away, consultants know that the world of political communication is changing at the speed of light. At Politics 2010, the industry's foremost authorities on political campaigns and strategy will gather for a view into what the future holds.

In this year's topic, 2009 Strategic Outlook, we discuss emerging trends in politics, and how professionals used them and are improving them in time for the 2010 election cycle. These one-day seminars will take place on the West coast in Sacramento on October 5th and on the East in Washington, D.C. on October 19th.

Join the nation's leading experts as they examine, discuss, and speculate about what we will see in 2010.

Click here to get more information and to sign up!

Current dues-paying members of GAIN get a discount of $150 off their ticket price!  Make sure you are logged into your account, then click here to access the discount.

Tags:  networking; training 

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How to Hire Great People Webinar with Jerry Hauser

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Please join Jerry Hauser, CEO of The Management Center and author of  the book Managing to Change the World, for a webinar focusing on How to Hire Great People.

In a variety of contexts, the best staff members outperform average employees not by 10% or 20%, but by an enormous margin – like 500%!  Given the difference it makes when you get a great person on your team, every ounce of energy you put into hiring is likely to pay off many-fold - if you know where to put that energy.

In this session, Jerry will discuss the most strategic way to hire, including how you can:

    * Build a strong pool of applicants so you can choose from among the best;
    * Ask interview questions that reveal how applicants really operate;
    * Structure job simulations to get beyond the hypothetical;
    * ...and more.

This 60-minute webinar will be geared toward those individuals who ever have or ever will need to hire staff - whether it's one team-member, or 100.  We hope you’ll join us!

The date is October 22nd at 3pm EST.

This webinar is FREE, but you must register here in order to get call-in instructions. 

Tags:  hiring advice 

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Friday's Science of Direct Voter Contact was really insightful

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, September 28, 2009
Hey everyone - to those of you who missed Friday's training seminar on the Science of Direct Voter Contact, I'm not going to lie, you really missed out!

Gina Schwartz from the Analyst Institute shared some concrete findings on GOTV techniques that have been discovered after years of testing that frankly blew my mind a little bit. 

A few quick findings she shared:
  • When doing GOTV calls, quicker is NOT better.  Having voters tell you their plan increased the likelihood of that voter turning out by something like 5%!  For example, asking the voter the following:  1) Are you planning to vote?  2) What time will you vote?  3) How will you get there?  4) What will you be doing before?  (you don't care about the answers) gets the voter thinking through the process and makes it that much more likely they will follow through and actually vote.
  • Mail pieces informing voters that their voting records are public, and which share the names and voting records of their neighbors increases voter turnout by up to 8.2%!
  • Voter registration mail that looks "official" works much better than mail that looks "campaigny"
If you aren't familiar with the Analyst Institute, you should get familiar.  They are in the business of saving us all time, money and resources by increasing the body of knowledge about what campaign techniques do and don't actually work.  Sometimes conventional wisdom isn't the way to go.  CRAZY!

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Only a couple of spots left for Friday's GAIN Training Seminar on the Science of Direct Voter Contact!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Monday, September 21, 2009
Hey all - just a quick note that we only have a couple of seats left for this Friday's fabulous training seminar, so if you're hoping to join us, make sure you register ASAP!  Once it's full, it's full.

Democratic GAIN is proud to present Gina Schwartz, Director of Communications and Outreach at the Analyst Institute for a training seminar on:

“Testing and the Science of Voter Contact:  What Works and What Doesn’t”

In this 2-hour seminar, Gina will discuss:

    * What a voter contact test is
    * Why we test
    * What best practices have been learned:  Do doorhangers work? What questions can double the effect of your GOTV call?  Do internet banner Ads persuade? AND MORE!

This training is perfect for professionals working with (or wanting to) political non-profits and advocacy groups, consulting firms, or candidate campaigns.  It’s geared toward anyone doing voter contact who would like to learn scientifically proven best practices and take their knowledge and frame of reference to the next level.

This 2-hour seminar is $25, and half-off for current dues-paying members of GAIN.

Space is limited, so sign up today!

Contact Nikki Enfield at with any questions.

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NOI Webinar on Working for the Administration at 3pm EST TODAY!

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Friday, September 18, 2009
Hey all - just passing this along.  Sign up ASAP since it's happening in 3 hours...

The New Organizing Institute (NOI) is having Anna Franklin, White House Presidential Personnel, present a webinar on how to get a job in the Administration - she'll be online from 3pm-4pm EST today.

It's free, and you can sign up here!

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50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America

Posted By Nikki Enfield, Thursday, September 17, 2009
GAIN members are involved in politics because they believe in Democratic and Progressive values and they want to see those policies implemented at all levels of government.  With President Obama's victory last year, we're seeing a beginning to much of that work.  But there are tons of ideas out there and, luckily, someone is collecting them.

Michael Huttner is the author of 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America and has launched a new site to collect ideas from across the country to do just that.  We at Democratic GAIN are honored to be included on the list of recommended resources and we hope that GAIN members will check out the site and submit your ideas.  

Check out the site:

Or you can check them out on Facebook and on Twitter

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