Special Edition
National Canvass Director Training

Washington, DC.

Grassroots Campaigns’ staff from dozens of US cities gathered in Washington DC for one of our annual training sessions. Over 60 campaign professionals conducted mock simulations of face-to-face street canvassing and door-to-door field organizing. Partners from the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, and others provided in-depth briefings on the current state of democracy in America as our team gears up for a 2017 summer of activism, campaigning, and resistance.

Grassroots Campaigns’ leadership & staff train the trainers in preparation for the National Canvass Director Training. From Left to Right: Steve King, Assistant National Canvass Director (back); Erich Schrader, Regional Canvass Director; Ellee Peterson, Canvass Director; Nina Wheeler, Canvass Director; Gavin Caster, Regional Canvass Director; Bart Comegys, Canvass Director. (Photo Credit: John R. Gagain Jr.)

In the world of campaigns, there’s a lot of noise on the Internet. It’s not easy keeping up on the most important news stories out there. Hence, we present to you “Deep Dive”. In every monthly publication of GrassTops we’re presenting those “must read” long-version stories related to our progressive campaigns. These are stories you cannot miss. These are stories highlighted by our own Grassroots Campaigns’ staff. Grab a coffee, tea, or whatever; sit back, and take a Deep Dive in these important and relevant stories below.

Wilson Karaman, Senior Advisor, Outreach, Grassroots Campaigns, commenting on Harvard Business Review (HBR), A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email, “This article is about the power of personal connection. It’s about human-to-human interaction. People who can communicate and elaborate on a central message — to donors, to voters — are people with tremendous value. And that value is growing exponentially, in a straight line alongside our technology. You can cast a wide net on social media, through online interactions, and across digital platforms of all kinds. But those are all impersonal appeals. They lack for immediacy or power.”

Read here…


John R. Gagain Jr., Director of Communications & Outreach, Grassroots Campaigns, comments on Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dr. David Elliott column: How the Syrian civil war turned a Richmond surgeon into a thief, “I looked into the eyes of Dr. David Elliott as he told stories of his patients (at our recent National Canvass Director Training in Washington DC). I was only a few feet away from him as I watched him choke up emotionally as he described each severely wounded patient he tried to save in Syria, Jordan, and Sudan. The stories of his work at Doctors Without Borders were scary, sad, and fiercely human. I knew then, more than ever before, that our work at Grassroots Campaigns is vitally important. Every time someone on the street, or at their door, gives a donation to one of Grassroots Campaigns’ canvassers for Doctors Without Borders; they’re giving to Dr. David Elliott and helping him continue God’s work. While you and I might refer to Dr. Elliott as a truly exceptional human being doing unspeakable admirable humanitarian work, he refers to himself as a “meddlesome American surgeon.” Oh the humility. Read this piece by Dr. Elliott and you, like me, will have a whole new appreciation for the word “meddlesome.”

Read here…


Steve King, Assistant National Canvass Director, Grassroots Campaigns, comments on Fast Company, How The ACLU is Leading The Resistance, “ACLU’s new Political Director, Faiz Shakir visited Grassroots Campaigns’ National Canvass Director Training. For 97 years, the ACLU has won in the courts and legislatures on really important issues like marriage equality, reproductive rights, freedom of speech and many more. But, Faiz pointed out that when every level of our government is hell-bent on stripping away fundamental Constitutional rights and protections, our best hope to stop the government is the American people. The people need to rise up with a loud and continuous voice to say, we won’t stand for this. Since Election Day 2016, the membership of the ACLU has quadrupled up to 1.6 million members and it’s growing everyday.”

Read here…

National Canvass Director Training in Washington DC also means getting out on the streets and telling the story of our partners. In this case, Nina Wheeler, Grassroots Campaigns’ Chicago Canvass Director hit the streets of our nation’s capital with Rich Matta, Grassroots Campaigns’ Controller — out of our Boston central office. Yes, we even have our controller pounding the pavement. Yes, he was testing tablet-based technology on the canvass. And just having good plain old fun.

Chelsea Nkrumah started at Grassroots Campaigns in New York City in 2015. She’s now based in Boston and serves as Data Flow Administrator. Chelsea also served in other important positions including National Canvass Administrator and Legal Administrator. Here’s why Chelsea works at Grassroots Campaigns — in her own words…

“I was hired by GCI as an Assistant Director after graduating with my Bachelors in June 2015. My first few weeks with GCI enlightened and expanded my knowledge in what a true grassroots movement is and can accomplish. I gained an understanding that progression comes from communicating about the issues in a productive manner, coming up with solutions and actually following through with groups of people who want to see progress happen.”

Sue Moran, co-founder & principal at Grassroots Campaigns opens session with Amaya Henry, former Grassroots Campaigns staffer, currently at SEIU Local 500. (Photo Credit: John R. Gagain Jr.)

Amaya Henry stopped by our national training to talk about the work she did with GCI and how it prepared her for her work as an organizer and working with unions. She worked for Grassroots Campaigns from 2007 to 2009, in Washington, DC, and on Grassroots’ 2008 electoral projects in New Hampshire, Colorado and Wisconsin.

Amaya currently works for SEIU Local 500, where she started as an organizer and now works on contract negotiations, representation, dispute resolution, etc. She started law school last year at UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law, as a part-time evening student.

Amaya says, “I learned A LOT working at GCI, half of which I didn’t even realize I was learning at the time, and it has served me well in life. I think the soft skills you develop from that kind of work is extremely valuable in and outside of the workplace. I miss the energy of being around so many young, talented, like-minded, dedicated, activists, fighting for so many important causes. I also miss all the wonderful friends I made who are now sprinkled across the country, but lucky for me, I get to catch [fellow Grassroots alum] Sam D’Agostino rockin’ the free world with Second String Band to ease the pain.”