I had the great fortune to work on your 2012 re-election campaign in the Compliance Department. I began my journey in politics when I moved from my hometown of Highland Park, IL to Washington, D.C. in 2008 to attend college. After graduating with a degree in Politics from Catholic University of America, I immediately joined the campaign. It has been a great honor to be one of the youngest staffers to serve under your leadership. I am thankful for the opportunity to join the OFA family and I am incredibly grateful for all my fellow colleagues who have inspired me along the way.
My career in politics has always been driven by my family’s history. On my mother’s side, my great grandparents moved their family from Mississippi to the south side of Chicago during the early days of the Great Migration. My great grandparents were born in the 1910's and they lived as poor sharecroppers. They barely spoke about their education because they were never afforded the opportunity to continue school past the second grade. Growing up, they would tell me stories of life as a poor family in the Mississippi Delta. At a young age, they were limited to tending the farm and working in the fields picking cotton. Although they lacked education, they desired change and had the will to move forward!
My father’s family history in the military also influenced my career in politics. I grew up with a great grandfather who served in the United States Army in World War II. My grandpa, followed by my father and older brother all served in the United States Navy. My younger brother, Wesley, is currently carrying the family tradition serving in the Navy stationed in Japan on the USS Ronald Reagan. All my life I have looked to my family as an example of how to dream, believe and achieve. They showed me how to be disciplined, courageous, genuine, respectful, and gracious. As a family, we have lived and traveled all over the world, making our home in Guam, California, and Illinois. I am proud of my family’s legacy and I am continuously motivated by their strength to persevere.
The day I was chosen to join the Obama for America family was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was proud to carry the spirit of my own family into this new life chapter of working on the campaign. It has always been my dream to carry the family torch, serving my country. The past eight years have been life changing in all the best ways for me. I went from a college student interning on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to becoming a Compliance Manager for the Democratic Party before I was 25. In September 2015, I was invited to greet Pope Francis and welcomed him to the United States on the first day arriving in the country. Since then, I have traveled to 45 states in the US and several countries, including Israel. I’ve taken the lessons that I learned on the campaign and transformed my life into the visions of my ancestors.
I am truly honored and humbled to have contributed to the campaign. I cherish your vision and leadership. I am beyond appreciative of all the advice you have shared with us on this incredible journey. You have changed my life. I am forever grateful for your words of wisdom. As a woman of color, I can not help but appreciate the impact of First Lady Michelle Obama on my life. Her passion, beauty, grace, and presence transcends time. As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve witnessed the praise and admiration for the first family. I’ve seen the past eight years transform the lives of so many people around the world, including my own.
It has been the highest honor to be among the new generation of inventors, creatives, and future leaders that follow your legacy. Thank you for taking the dreams of my ancestors and making them a reality. I’m excited to start a new chapter, expand my territories, and be a positive shining light for years to come.
May God Bless you and the United States of America!
Vania Marie Kinard