A Texas As Good As Its People

September 20, 2013

Applications for our 2013 Advanced Campaign Management School (ACMS) are now open. ACMS is a rigorous five-day experience for experienced campaign practitioners to gain significant new skills. ACMS is intense. It’s inspiring. And it’s grounded in Wellstone’s theory of people-first politics that will sustain your work well beyond Election Day. But don’t just take our word for it, check out this profile of ACMS Alumna and Executive Director of Battleground Texas, Jenn Brown. And if you like what you read, think about applying today for the upcoming ACMS.

Size wasn’t something that mattered to Paul Wellstone. Small but mighty was how he was often described, and Paul was never the type of guy to let the size or scope of things – from the powerful corporate interests controlling Washington to his longshot bid to become a Senator in the first place – get in the way.

Wellstone Action still sees this kind of moxie every single day. In the 10 years since Paul’s death, we’ve trained nearly 60,000 progressives who continue his belief that the only real change in this world will come from the everyday people who step off of the sidelines and into positions of leadership to create an America that works for all of us. And one of our alumnae who isn’t about to be swayed by the scope of the battle ahead is Executive Director of Battleground Texas, Jenn Brown.

Texas is at a crossroads, a majority-minority state with a significant and fast-growing electorate of largely Latino and Black voters. And with its diversity and yes, its size, Texas ought to be a place where all elections, up and down the ballot, are hotly contested. That's what Jenn's doing through her work with Battleground Texas, engaging the electorate in every corner of the state to stand up and be counted. This grassroots movement is registering new voters and mobilizing existing voters who have been left behind for years by the Texas electeds, and they’re doing it the Wellstone Way – through a people-first politics focused on improving people’s lives.

Jenn grew up in a small-ish, Northern California town. As a child, she realized early on her commitment and calling – to make sure that “the system” works for all families. Especially with regard to health care, Jenn wanted to ensure that all families had access to the services they need to be healthy and build strong families, and that these services were enacted through good public policy that worked for all communities, not just the privileged few.

Jenn quickly propelled herself into politics. She got involved in several local elections and issue-based organizations in her home state and in Washington, D.C. Jenn went on to serve as Minnesota’s State Director and then as Regional Field Director for the 2008 Obama campaign. Immediately following this historic victory, Jenn sought to further hone her campaign skills and applied to attend Wellstone Action’s Advanced Campaign Management School (ACMS) in 2009. “Wellstone’s ACMS program is the comprehensive training for campaigners,” says Jenn. “It gives you a great sense of all the critical pieces of a campaign – things like communications, fundraising, media and everything else besides field that a campaign needs to do well in order to win.”

After ACMS, Jenn directed the mid-Atlantic Ohio Valley region for Organizing for America, and from there, became the Field Director for Obama for America in the crucial state of Ohio in the lead up to 2012. “The first thing I did when I was hired in Ohio was send my deputy directors to Wellstone’s Advanced Campaign Management School,” says Jenn. “And it wasn’t a tough sell – Wellstone is such a highly respected training organization, and every member of my team knew that they would gain the hard skills that would help them in every aspect of their campaign work, now and in the future.”

Today, Jenn is focused on turning Texas purple, building and expanding its democratic movement at the grassroots, engaging people who want to make a difference in their community, and giving them the skills to win, the Wellstone Way.

Wellstone Action is proud to continue our relationship with Jenn. Just last month, we joined with Battleground Texas, the Texas Civic Engagement Table, and other progressive partners to offer Camp Wellstone Houston, delivering training to grassroots organizers, campaign staff, and prospective candidates on how to win back Texas for the people of Texas. “Wellstone knows how important training is to making Texas competitive,” says Jenn. “They make sure our movement is always focused on training the hard skills for success – it’s one of the most important pieces to guaranteeing our victory.”

Texans are ready, and Battleground Texas is leading the charge toward victory. How will we do it? Says Jenn:

“Register voters, persuade voters, turn out voters – that’s how we’re going to win back our state. We will win this fight on the ground. We will be a volunteer-based, neighborhood-based effort, and we’ll help people understand the impact of you talking to your neighbors about your values, and their values, and the things that matter to both of you in the community. We will teach the value of what it means to be there, at their door, learning what people most care about, how it is affected by politics, and how, through organizations like ours, you can actually make a change. From top to bottom of the ballot, we can change the face of Texas politics together.”

 Yes. We Can.