By Alex Woodward, OFA Digital Organizing Director
Meet Debra. A Michigan native, Debra worked in a union — and served on its board — at General Motors all her working life.
During her many years there, she contributed to a pension for herself and her family that would have evaporated if President Obama hadn’t saved GM. Since then, she’s been dedicated to organizing with OFA, “committed for life to keep making change for people who think they don’t have power — because they do.” And it didn’t stop with GM: Debra’s daughter was able to stay on her health care because of the Affordable Care Act, too, which was huge for their family.
She’s in Houston now, originally just there temporarily to babysit for a family member, but she stuck around when they moved back to Michigan. “I’m glad I’m here,” she says. “It’s been great to watch OFA grow and grow.”
That’s where she fell into organizing her neighborhood. Inspired by then-Senator Obama, she jumped right in after he announced he was running for President: “I just went online and signed up and started organizing in my community. I’ve still got great, lifelong friends through the journey. Then, after the 2016 election, I jumped back in.” Over the course of her organizing journey, she’s also been involved in Battleground Texas and My Brother’s Keeper, where she’s a Milestone 6 Team Lead. In other words, she’s been busy.
While her union days set her up well, she says she had to learn a lot in order to organize at the community level. She’s developed relationships with many OFA volunteers and other progressive groups, including Swing Left TX-07, which has strengthened her impact on the ground. And she knows how to motivate others to get involved. “I can tell my story very convincingly,” she says, which has helped her recruit volunteers. And she’s good at it: “The person I had my first one-on-one with is now running for Congress! One-on-one, face-to-face meetings really help you understand someone’s values and strengths. That’s my priority: spotting and developing leaders.”
Now, Debra is focused on developing a strong cohort of OFA Fellows — people taking their first steps into community organizing. Part of this team will be working on OFA’s Rubber Stamp Reps program to hold members of Congress accountable — like Representative John Culberson, who has voted in-line with this administration’s agenda 99 percent of the time, even though the majority of constituents in the district didn’t vote for it in 2016.
Debra’s passion and deep commitment to her community is an inspiration for us all.
Want to get involved? Here are those programs we mentioned:
If you’re new to organizing, join the OFA Fellows program and learn how to make a difference in your community. You’ll be guided by a leader just like Debra, who’ll teach you the skills to take action on a local issue that matters to you. Apply here (applications closing soon, so don’t delay).
If you’re ready to organize folks in your area to hold your representative accountable, take a look at our Rubber Stamp Reps program! This campaign is focused on dozens of representatives, like Rep. Culberson, who continually disregard their duty to represent their constituents, and instead enable the White House’s discriminatory, destructive agenda in order to win political points. Find your representative and get started at RubberStampReps.com.