By Julia Himmelberger, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
I’ve been interested in politics and social change since high school, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I got involved in the political campaign world. It was a blustery cold day in early January of 2020. I walked into the Concord, New Hampshire campaign office for Elizabeth Warren, unsure of what I was getting myself into. Immediately, I was greeted with huge smiles and excited voices by the campaign staff who were eager to train me on how to talk to voters about the upcoming February primary. I found this month of volunteering — knocking on doors, making phone calls, and writing postcards to prospective voters — extremely energizing. I learned so much about the campaign process and voter outreach from the campaign staff, including Morgan Stahr, an organizer in the Concord office. In a conversation with Morgan, she mentioned Blue Future, a non-profit she founded during her time in college that supports young progressive organizers. I made a mental note to look into it for the future.
Flash forward to the fall: the general election. Back on campus for virtual classes at my school in Minnesota, I was eager to find a way to get involved in campaigns again. Although unable to be part of the Blue Future program officially, I committed myself to attend their virtual phone banks for the two weeks leading up to the election. I was impressed by the number of young organizers leading the sessions and it was great to reconnect with Morgan, even if it wasn’t to elect our favorite candidate.
Seeing the state of our country after the election, I knew it wasn’t enough to elect blue candidates. We also had to hold them accountable. I had spent the past year listening to voters and the issues they cared about. Now it was time for my representatives to listen to me.
I enrolled in Blue Future’s Spring for Progress and Change program ready to learn how to advocate for issues I care about and make my voice heard. In a cohort of over 100 young changemakers, I worked closely with eight other organizers to brainstorm how to amplify youth voices in Massachusetts and connect MA youth to political decision-makers. Through this process, MACYAC was born. MACYAC, the Massachusetts Coalition of Youth Advisory Councils, is an organization dedicated to connecting MA youth with their representatives to advocate for policies they care about. MACYAC members serve on youth advisory councils for their representatives and meet monthly as a coalition to coordinate policy goals, voter engagement, and political outreach. Bringing this organization to life was incredibly rewarding, as we got to put our goals, visions, and dreams into action and ensure that Massachusetts youth have a place at the table for years to come.
Creating MACYAC took many weeks of discussions and brainstorms. We decided on the structure of the organization, how to recruit a diverse group of youth from across Massachusetts, and how to ensure the organization was sustainable for years to come. Our shared passion for youth political representation helped focus our efforts to connect youth with the political decision-makers in their communities. Since creating MACYAC, we have met with staffers from three of the regional offices to begin establishing youth advisory councils with our representatives. It was exciting to be so well received and see a future of Massachusetts representatives listening to their youth constituents.
Through participating in Blue Future’s program, I’ve learned how to accomplish tasks in a short period of time, organize productive meetings, manage my time, and problem solve in order to create an organization that serves its intended purpose. I learned that the other side of political campaigning is holding our representatives accountable and advocating for issues we care about, that it’s important to dream big, and that when given the resources, young people can get stuff done.
I’d like to give a special thank you to Morgan for introducing me to Blue Future, and to my MACYAC teammates for all your hard work and determination. The future is bright!
About Julia: Julia Himmelberger (she/her) hails from Wellesley, MA. She is a junior studying French and Political Science with a concentration in International Relations at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Julia is passionate about youth leadership, women’s rights, and climate justice, and hopes to continue advocating for these issues post-graduation.