Reflection on the Organize for Democracy Program: Haley McGehee
Blue Future teamed up with Grassroots Democrats HQ to create a compensated program to train young people in virtual organizing, which we called Organize for Democracy. At the conclusion of the program, we asked our wonderful participants to write a reflection on their time in the program.
When I had just graduated from the University of South Florida with a major in Sustainability Studies and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy, I was still determining my post-graduate career path. I knew I wanted to continue working with nonprofits and the 2022 midterm election was around the corner. I had a friend pass along Blue Future’s and the Grassroots Democrats HQ Organize for Democracy program.
I only had experience with text banking for youth voter mobilization in Florida, so phone banking was new territory for me. I have always been the one in my family and among my friends that has been politically active and would provide resources for voting or give my two cents on candidates when asked. I applied for the program and was not confident I would receive a response because that was how my job search was going at the time.
I was excited to learn I was accepted into the Fall cohort along with other engaged young people who held many similar values to mine, such as climate justice and abortion. After the 2020 election into the 2022 midterms, there was an emphasis on how “democracy was on the ballot” which reiterated the importance of phone banking for candidates who will fight for the people’s rights. The program taught me more than just phone banking, they provided trainings on organizing, volunteer recruitment, strategic planning, fundraising, and meeting facilitation. The program also allowed young people from all over the United States to participate and have an opportunity to meet multiple candidates we were phone banking for.
While the elections in Florida were disappointing it was encouraging to see that most of the races we phone banked for in other states won their races, and the youth vote, most importantly the Gen Z vote, was overwhelming while favoring democrats. Organizing is difficult work, but it is crucial, and I am honored to have been part of a group that wants to create social change.
About Haley: Haley McGehee is a first-generation college graduate from the University of South Florida, where she received her bachelors in Sustainability Studies and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. She is passionate about climate justice and knows that engaging youth in the voting process is essential to a more sustainable future. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and friends, practicing yoga, going to the beach, watching shows and movies, and listening to podcasts.