News

DACH Leaders in the Birthplace of Democracy

DA Switzerland had six in-person attendees, pictured above. From left to right: Meli, Vivian, Farid, Tory, Kelli, and Liz.

From October 11 - 13, Democrats Abroad leaders and volunteers from countries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa gathered in Athens for our 2019 Regional Meeting.

We took in the sights around the city, ate some truly delicious food, networked... And oh yeah! We brainstormed together and shared strategies from our country committees on how to find members, get them registered to vote, motivate new and existing volunteers, and win big in 2020!

This was my third regional or international DA meeting, having previously attended the EMEA regional meeting in Madrid and the Global AGM in Tokyo. By far, my favorite part of these meetings is getting to meet other motivated Democrats from around the world and hear what works for them back in their local chapters and country committees. Some of their ideas can be implemented here in Switzerland, but due to cultural and logistical differences, not every tactic works in every country. Getting to brainstorm ideas with people who have so many different backgrounds and experiences enables us to come up with creative solutions we might not have reached otherwise.

Additionally, many of our members are experts in their field. We had an excellent presentation in Athens by Brady Kiesling called Defending Democracy: Lessons from the Athenians. How often do you get to hear a former US diplomat, author, and archaeologist/ancient historian give a talk about democracy in the very city where it was invented around 2,500 years ago?!

Among the many presentations given, these were some of the highlights:

  • From 2014 to 2018, there was a 147% increase in US ballots cast
  • From 2014 to 2018, there was a 322% increase in civilian US citizens abroad casting ballots
  • From 2014 to 2018, there was a 600% increase in Americans abroad using VoteFromAbroad.org
  • Big Picture Goals for 2020
    • Double the abroad civilian vote from 2016 (send out 1 mil ballots)
    • Take back the White House and the Senate and flip state senates and houses! We can do this; think about the 2019 results in Virginia!
    • Protect the House
    • Save Democracy in the US 
  • Messaging Goals for 2020 

We learned about what it takes to run a Global Presidential Primary and tactics for reaching new American voters. We talked about social media messaging and strategies. We reaffirmed our commitment to fighting fake news and making the 2018 blue wave even bigger in 2020! I think all of the attendees returned home invigorated, excited, and determined to succeed in 2020; I know I did.


The GPP and voter registration events will require lots of volunteers. Are you interested in getting involved? Make sure you've joined Dems Abroad and then sign up to volunteer!


Meet Your DA Switzerland Leaders! #DemsAbroadDay

Hello! Happy Saturday and Democrats Abroad Day!

This is the second annual DA Day, which celebrates all our members and what we do to excite and motivate voters around the world.

In honor of our day, we would like to introduce you to some of our leaders for the 2019-21 term!

You can learn more about all our national leaders here and check out our chapter leaders in Basel, Geneva, and Zurich as well!


Help Us Develop the Democrats Abroad Global Platform

These are dark times and the prospect of taking our country in a more positive direction is an exciting one. Democrats Abroad is working on developing our DA Platform. We will have delegates at the DNC and have enough members globally to be treated as a large state at the National Convention. We’d love to have you involved in the development of our platform.

To allow for as much input as possible, DA is forming Coffee Table Discussions where small groups will gather with a moderator who will collect feedback on what is important to our members and what the platform should look like. The actual discussions will roll out sometime in September but for now we are looking specifically at Phase 1 of this two phase development process.  

We know we have members who are very passionate and knowledgeable about a variety of political concerns, from immigration reform to gerrymandering and everything in between. We can offer you a unique opportunity to have direct input in DA's platform and hopefully the DNC platform as well. If there is a political topic you are particularly passionate about and you’d like to help develop these Coffee Table Discussions, please get in touch with chair@democrats.ch and we will point you in the right direction. Specifically, we need people to gather materials and information about specific topics (of your choice) as well as potential moderators.
This is an opportunity we hope you will be excited about!

Summer Report: Zurich Stands in Solidarity with Lights for Liberty

On July 12, I participated in a vigil in solidarity with the "Lights for Liberty" movement, which organizes for the end of detention centers in the United States. This organization has witnessed and protested the subhuman conditions that asylum seekers and anyone crossing the border without a U.S. visa encounters. Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, lawyer, activist and organizer argues that, "the immigration policies and detention camps of the Trump administration meet the United Nations definition of genocide and crimes against humanity."

According to a report from June 2019 by the Office of Inspector General from Homeland Security, all four ICE detention facilities that they inspected “had issues with expired food,” that the “segregation practices violated standards and infringed on detainee rights,” and that “detainees were not provided appropriate clothing and hygiene items to ensure they could properly care for themselves.”

I attended the vigil here in Zurich because I myself am an immigrant and advocate for our human and civil rights. I went especially as a Guatemalan and Central American, since a high percentage of migrants are coming from my region and encountering human rights violations, and death, in these centers. CNN News reported this June that since the Trump Administration came into power, 24 migrants have died in ICE custody. Half of the people who have died in custody are under 45 years of age, and three of them were children, all from Guatemala:

As we lit our candles, I thought about the lives of separated families, of the sons and daughters who died in detention, and of all those who have died along the migrant trail trying to reach the U.S. Mexico border. May we never forget these images of terror and may we continue to denounce the crimes that the U.S. government is committing. This is happening today, right now as I write, and it will be happening when you read this. May we identify these violations in every country where we live, and may we continue to resist xenophobic discourse and policies that do not serve our vibrantly diverse world. Seeking asylum is a human right, not a crime. 

Written by Maya Márquez Román


Geneva Pride Celebration 2019

Join the Genevois for the 2019 Pride week celebration featuring numerous events including a parade on Saturday, July 6! For more information, go to genevapride.ch.

Note: This is not a DACH-sponsored event, but may be of interest to our members.


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Zurich Chapter Invites Committee Nominations

Zurich - Wasserkirche by night by Lukas Schlagenhauf, on Flickr
Zurich - Wasserkirche by night by Lukas Schlagenhauf, on Flickr

The Zurich Chapter of DA Switzerland will hold its Annual Chapter Meeting on Saturday June 22, when we’ll elect our new Chapter Committee. We seek candidates to stand for the four committee positions of Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

DA Switzerland and the Zurich Chapter have a long history of helping many Americans vote from abroad, working to build a broad member base, and hosting different events to increase community and socio-political knowledge among Americans in the Zurich region.

Let’s continue this journey together as an active chapter. There will be plenty of opportunities for any member to get involved over the course of this year and the 2020 Presidential Election year. If you are motivated to take a leadership role in getting out the American vote in Swiss Germany, please consider running for a Chapter office! Details about the Annual Chapter Meeting with elections will be announced ASAP.

The four committee positions are described below. Each officer is elected for a two-year term. To nominate yourself or someone else, please write the Zurich Chapter Nominations Committee at zurich-elections@democrats.ch. Include the name, address, telephone number and email address of the candidate, plus the position desired and a brief statement of intent. Nominations should arrive by end of Saturday, June 1st and will be publicized the first week of June; later nominations will be less publicized to voters.

If you are interested in volunteering now but not in seeking a position, please don’t hesitate, contact Liz Voss, DA Switzerland Secretary at secretary@democrats.ch.

 

ZURICH CHAPTER COMMITTEE ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

CHAIR

  • Lead, mobilize, and encourage current and new Zurich chapter members
  • Oversee and coordinate the business functions of the chapter
  • Report as necessary to the national committee
  • Ensure that the core work of the Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer is accomplished
  • Create & appoint other positions as necessary for effective functioning of the chapter
  • Represent DACH-Zurich as a member of the DACH Executive Committee (ExCom), and report to the ExCom on chapter activities
  • Hold regular meetings, direct the activities of DACH in this region of Switzerland and keep members informed about activities and events
  • Contribute to DACH fundraising and ensure all activities are conducted in compliance with FEC and campaign finance laws, as established by the ExCom
  • Coordinate with other leaders & volunteers to assist the event managing & fundraising activities of the chapter
  • Coordinate with DACH GOTV for membership and voter outreach in the Swiss regions where no chapter is yet established.

VICE-CHAIR

  • Assist the Chair in all Zurich chapter activities
  • Partner with the Chair to take on some of his/her responsibilities
  • Work with the Chair, leadership team, and volunteers to assist the event managing & fundraising activities of the Chapter
  • Substitute for the Chair when needed
  • Attend DACH ExCom meetings in the absence of the Chair
  • Participate in key discussions and decisions as part of the Leadership Team.

SECRETARY

  • Distribute meeting agendas, take minutes of all meetings and distribute to the Chapter Committee and DACH ExCom
  • Maintain files and administrative records of the chapter (Google Drive)
  • Manage and maintain the Zurich Chapter membership and volunteer lists in coordination with the DACH Secretary. This may require training on the DA database
  • In collaboration with event organizers and any respective committee members, ensure event publicity (social media, DACH website, print, etc)
  • Work to boost DACH Zurich’s social media presence in collaboration with appropriate committee members or event organizers
  • Participate in key discussions and decisions as part of the leadership team
  • Assist the leadership team and chapter volunteers in event managing & fundraising activities.

TREASURER

  • Manage the cash needs DA Zurich in agreement with the Zurich Chair and the DACH Ex-Com Treasurer
  • Maintain accurate financial records and make financial reports as required
  • Ensure all financial matters conform to local rules and regulations as well as to those of the FEC and campaign finance laws of the United States
  • Educate the Zurich chapter members on financial compliance guidance for Democrats Abroad
  • Participate in key discussions and decisions as part of the leadership team
  • Assist the leadership team and chapter volunteers in event managing & fundraising activities.

To nominate, or for further information, write zurich-elections@democrats.ch.

 


Nominees for Geneva Chapter Committee 2019-2021

On April 1 the Geneva Chapter's Nominations Committee issued a call for candidates to serve on the new Chapter Committee. We are now pleased to announce the nominees as listed below. At the Annual Chapter Meeting elections on May 7, further nominations will be accepted from the floor, and encouraged for the open secretary and treasurer positions. We invite all Geneva/Vaud members of DA to attend the annual meeting, meet the nominees and vote, and plan for the coming two years and presidential election with the new committee.

Candidates are listed here according to office, in the same order the offices will be elected at the ACM.

Nominated Candidates

Office: Chair (1)

  • LAURA MESSENGER

Two years ago, I was asked to take the leadership of the new Geneva chapter of Democrats Abroad Switzerland. I must admit, I did so with some reluctance – although I, like so many other Americans, felt compelled to get more involved in civic activities after the 2016 presidential elections, I wondered if I was the right person to be in charge of such an important undertaking. And then I realized that it was not an undertaking I would assume alone. I was right. Together, all of us, the many dedicated people who volunteered their time, talents and money, helped bring the Geneva chapter to fruition, with special events, speakers, book group discussions, voter registration drives, and meetups where we just sat and talked.

Now as we begin the next two years of existence as a formal chapter, we’re looking toward another presidential election, one in which we have the chance to correct the grave injustices that have been brought upon our country by a man that I believe to be the worst president in American history. We in Democrats Abroad have an important part to play in that decision, and we need to make our voices heard. I ask you to give me a chance to help in that mission by electing me for a second term as chair of the DACH Geneva chapter.

Over the last two years, we have been able as a chapter to build a sense of camaraderie and connection to the elections and other issues impacting us as Americans and have worked diligently as part of the country and global DA committees to educate voters abroad of their rights to vote while living outside the country. We will continue to do so in the lead up to November 2020 by continuing to reach out to potential members, to raise funds for use in global primaries and voter registration, and to encourage current members to stay connected to the process through attendance at local and national events and membership in one or more of the DA caucus groups. Our efforts paid off handsomely in 2018. Together, we can do the same in 2020.

 

Office: Vice-Chair (1)

  • NATHALIE GONS

The harsh wake-up call of 2016 has driven home that we cannot take anything for granted. I never thought I would see our democracy as fragile and battered as we see it now. Living in Geneva made me unsure about what I can do from afar, until I discovered Democrats Abroad. DA has helped me connect with other Americans, stay more deeply informed about the realities and issues that our country faces, and inspired me to act from abroad. Collectively, Americans who vote from abroad can make a real difference!

I personally really appreciate our book club, where we help each other critically examine and articulate ever more clearly what we stand for and why it matters now more than ever, so that we can reach out here and back home to our communities and make our case.

As Vice-Chair for the Geneva Chapter, I look forward to supporting our Chair in organizing events that keep us informed and connected with other concerned citizens, and that keep us actively engaged in our political processes.

 

Office: Secretary (No nominee)

Office: Treasurer (No nominee)

 

The Nominations Committee thanks those engaged members who have stepped up to serve, and hopes to see a large gathering at the election meeting on May 7. For any questions, comments or to nominate yourself or someone else, please write the Committee at geneva-elections@democrats.ch.

 


Elections for 2019 DA Switzerland Executive Committee

Published Nominations for the nine elected positions on the 2019-2021 Executive Committee (ExCom) of Democrats Abroad Switzerland, and for the three elected DPCA Voting Representative positions, closed on Sunday March 3. Listed below are the nominated candidates. All offices will be elected on Sunday April 7 at the DA Switzerland Annual General Meeting. At that meeting, additional nominations will be allowed from the floor. All candidates will be given time for a brief statement to the members.

Candidates below are listed according to office, in the same order the offices will be elected at the AGM. Within each office, candidates appear alphabetically by last name, showing their city of residence and their statements. In the interest of readability, we display here only the candidates' names. Click the office title to see their full statements on the pages that follow.

 

Nominated Candidates

Office: Chair (1)

  • Kelli Brouillet (Basel)

Office: Vice-Chair (2)

  • Farid ben Amor (Geneva)
  • Vance A. White (Buus, Basel region)

Office: Secretary (1)

  • Elizabeth Voss (Basel)

Office: Treasurer (1)

  • Meli Hughes (Basel)

Office: Counsel

  • (No Nominations)

Office: Member-at-Large – Communications and Media (1)

  • Lyndsay Obbarius Grieder (Basel)

Office: Member-at-Large – undesignated (3 positions)

  • (No Nominations)

Office: Voting Representative to the DPCA (3 positions)

  • (No Nominations)

 

Voting Method

Americans who are DA members as of Friday April 5th may vote. Please register at the online form here to indicate your attendance at the AGM. You may vote in one of the following ways:

  • In-person voting: Printed ballots will be distributed at the meeting.

    If you cannot participate in person, a second possibility is available:
  • Vote by proxy: Request a proxy form from elections@democrats.ch. Send a copy of your completed and signed proxy form to us by April 5th, and give it to your chosen attending proxy member before the AGM. Any voter at the meeting may hold at most two proxies.

 

Election Process

At the meeting, the twelve offices will be elected one by one, in the order shown above. Nominations for office may be made from the floor, as write-in candidates. This includes listed candidates who did not win their announced race. All candidates will be given two minutes to address the members. Voting by advance ballot will not be available.

This election process aligns with that used at DA international meetings. Voters will be able to meet and hear the candidates in person, before choosing.


Office: Chair

The Candidates

 

Kelli Brouillet (Basel)

BIO: I’m a Washington State voter that grew up in Maine and has lived in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Texas. My husband and I have spent 3 to 5 months in places like China, Thailand, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and India, where I voted from in the last primary. I have been in Basel for almost 3 years, most of that heavily involved with Democrats Abroad.

My original degree is in Public Administration and in my 40’s I went back to school to become an RN. I worked in hospitals in Emergency, Telemetry, Critical Care and Neuro units in WA and TX. This background has honed my communication and prioritization skills. I spent many years coaching creative problem solving teams with children grades 3 through high school, which taught me much about teamwork. This was invaluable in my nursing career as well.

STATEMENT: I have spent the last 2 years as Chair in Basel. We are very proud in Basel of our creative team that has built a broad member base, registered many voters for mid-term and special elections and hosted a large number of varied events to enhance socio-political knowledge and foster a sense of community in our group and with our fellow members of Democrats Abroad.

My passion and strength is teamwork. I’d like to bring those skills to help all members in Switzerland work together for the benefit of all. There are so many strengths within our local memberships. I’d like to see skills, ideas, events and expertise shared so all chapters and members can duplicate them and benefit accordingly. Attending the Regional DA Meeting in 2018 made me realize there are many resources to use as a jumping off point.

My priorities are often directed by the team. Whether the task is to register voters, hold our primaries, encourage new memberships and chapters or help Americans gather for support and friendship, if we work together to accomplish those goals, we can do much.

I feel I have the time, skills and drive to help create a strong national team within which all chapters can be as successful. I look forward to it.

 

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Office: Vice-Chair

The Candidates

 

Farid ben Amor (Geneva)

STATEMENT: Perhaps like some of you, I withdrew from activism after the last presidential election - for me the only thing it motivated was my flight to the stability of Switzerland. But after starting to volunteer with Democrats Abroad, I learned that even from over here, we can help make things safe at home again. We may have already been the margin of victory for some elections, and with millions of us abroad, we certainly have the potential to tip more elections.

As a former DNC delegate for Bernie, staffer for Barack, staffer for ACORN, and platform editor for the California Democratic Party, I'm proud to have been part of the broader effort to push our political system to vigorously defend our fundamental principles of protecting the dignity of all people, no matter their backgrounds. I would be honored to advocate for this unabashed progressive fundamentalism on behalf of Democrats living in Switzerland as we ramp up for impeachment and 2020 - especially by motivating those who didn't vote in the last presidential election to vote. Thanks for all your ongoing work to restore our American values from here!

 

Vance A. White (Buus - Basel region)

BIO: I grew up in a suburb of Denver. I recently celebrated my 62nd birthday (and the memory of my mother working on the JFK election in 1960!). I have had the honor of being married to my French husband since September, 2015.

I have a B.S.in Accounting, I worked from 2006-2017 as the Site Director/General Manager of a pharmaceutical firm near Basel. As a result of this experience, I have the ability to have a complete overview of all functions of a business (Production, Quality, Engineering, Health & Safety, HR, Finance, IT, Logistics & Distribution, Sales & Customer Service). This has allowed me to focus on the needs of both the clients and the employees. Previously, I worked in Auditing/Financial Management for oil companies (Colorado and California) and Financial/IT management in pharmaceutical companies (Puerto Rico for 15 years).

I am fluent in Spanish, decent in Deutsch, and I am a good listener for French speakers.

I love the exposure to new cultures which travel provides. My extensive international travel and 28 years of living outside of the continental USA has heightened my sensitivity to making sure that I properly represent the USA as a mix of many cultures and nationalities and I focus on making sure to not expect that other countries adapt to the “American way”.

My passion is food. I experience creative joy in the kitchen by cooking for others and I gain new gastronomic insights by sampling the cuisine offered by talented professionals.

STATEMENT: I am interested in the position of Vice-Chair for Democrats Abroad Switzerland. I have been in Switzerland since 2006 and I greatly admire the work that Democrats Abroad has been doing to help people to register for voting and to publish different deadlines for each state so that people can properly exercise the power of their voting rights.

I am committed to helping to make voting easier for Expats and to expand the overall voting percentage of Americans.

As an expat in Switzerland I am particularly interested in tax reform for Americans living abroad and I believe that helping fellow expats to know how to contact their Representatives and Senators is essential to having our voice and concerns heard at the federal level.

I believe that volunteer work is the bedrock of creating positive change in the world and that Democrats Abroad is a strong grass roots organization to help promote Democratic principles.

 (See Vance's full statement with photo)

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