From Student Council to Wellstone

November 12, 2014

Emily ran for student council president, the Wellstone Way.

She was in 6th grade, frizzy hair, not exactly part of the popular group, but determined to make a difference. So Emily got to work, circulating a newsletter, waking up early to greet all her classmates during the morning bell, talking about her ideas to improve the school. She didn't win, but it was the experience that launched her career.

A few years later, Emily Caponetti is our newest senior project manager. “We need to empower more people to be more civically engaged. We need to help people understand their power and how to use it.” Explains Emily, “Wellstone teaches us to be unapologetic about our power, to own it, and to win progress with it. Working with Wellstone means I get to work with an organization aligned with my moral compass.”

It’s a job she’s been working towards for many years. As a college student in D.C., active in student government and women’s advocacy organizations, Emily went to a Campus Camp Wellstone. It cultivated her passion for politics, as Emily puts it, “Campus Camp gave me a language for my feelings. I was angry, I felt rage, George W Bush was sending us to war. But all of a sudden, thanks to Campus Camp, I felt like I had the language, and tools, to have an impact and channel my rage into something productive.”

So Emily graduated from college, packed her bags, and moved to Mason City, Iowa to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. It was a deep dive into field organizing, into retail politics, into motivating people towards action, towards progress. For her, it was proof that progress is going to come from the ground up, not the other way around.

From the 2008 campaign, Emily went on to lead congressional campaigns, work for national organizations fighting for women’s rights, and consult for organizations advocating on behalf of progressive public policy. “It was the Wellstone triangle at work,” she says.

So it was only natural for her to start working for Wellstone, “Wellstone has this incredible focus. There’s a meaningful strategy to have a nationwide impact, but there’s also a deep camaraderie that you don’t see in other political organizations.” Says Emily, “I’ve never felt a sense of community the way I do at Wellstone, from my fellow staff to the people I train, to the partners I work with. That’s the power of Wellstone - there’s an authentic sense of community.”

So Emily’s getting to work, building our youth leadership pipeline, working with progressive campaign organizations to make field work a more sustainable career trajectory.

In the end, she’s doing the kind of work that would make that 6th grade girl, running for student council incredibly proud. “I always knew I’d be part of something bigger than myself, and now I am, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s next.”

And we couldn’t be more excited to see her impact on Wellstone, on our movement, on our country. There’s so much work left to do, and with Emily, we’ve got a strategic fighter ready to get to work. We invite you to join us on the road. 

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