International Chair- Hozefa Merchant - Democrats Abroad


Name:                  Hozefa Merchant

Gender:                 Male

External Links:

Member since:         2008

Country/Countries:  India



I’ve never held any position at DA chapters around the world. If you believe that past experience is essential for this role, then there are other options to choose from. However, if you believe an outsider could bring new energy and vigour to the role then do read on. 

My last 15 years were spent raising climate debate around the world. As a strategic communications professional, I work towards decarbonizing the global power sector. We’ve already achieved quite a lot in key geographies around the world. 

While on the job, I’ve acquired several skills relevant to this role. Community organizing, fundraising, digital outreach, crisis communications, as well as increasing member engagement. The last one is key to this role I believe. Increasing member engagement to ensure maximum voter turnout in the 2024 elections takes priority. And to do this, we’d need professional-level skills in fundraising, media outreach, as well as marketing. I bring all of these skills to the table. 

Describe your volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment.

I have been a member of the DA since 2008 or earlier but I’ve never volunteered at the DA directly. In 2008, while completing post-graduation in the UK, I organized the US student community at Cardiff University to ensure they cast their votes in time. Super important to register for an absentee ballot.

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for the office for two reasons – I believe President Biden needs a second term to seal the deal. And I believe there are several changes that could better serve American citizens living abroad. 

President Biden spent the last few years undoing the wrong done by the previous presidency. We have a choice here. Whether we go back a decade and undo all the progressive goodness or we work night and day to ensure President Biden gets 4 more years to seal the deal. 

American citizens living abroad have several benefits but may not be well represented in regulations and policy change debates.

Here are two examples, self-employed citizens living abroad are forced to pay “self-employment tax” on as little as 400 USD in income whereas those employed overseas are exempt from paying any tax on as much as 120,000 USD – how is this fair?

Back home, student debt forgiveness gets a lot of media attention, but do these policies take into consideration the situations of US citizens engaged in charitable work overseas?

If you are an American citizen working for a charity or a not-for-profit organization overseas, the only way you can qualify for a student loan forgiveness program is if the non-profit organization is registered in the US. However, several US citizen working for organizations that are doing some amazing work but aren’t US-registered organizations are left out of the program – how is this fair?

These are some of the issues I plan to work on. I am sure there are many more, and listening to DA members would be key to identifying more bugs we could together fix. 

How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA’s success?

Do refer to my response to the first question where I list some of my skills that would be relevant to DA's success

Should you be elected, are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address?

I've always found it challenging to add feedback or comments on draft legislatures and make suggestions on changes that might make the lives of Americans overseas easier. This could be one of the first things I do, initiate a way to listen more to Americans overseas and institutionalize it

How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?

This is an important question and perhaps the most important one to address given the 2024 realities. There are several ways to do this, but the best way to get anyone's attention is by speaking their language. And by this, I don't mean learning a new language, I am merely referring to better marketing skills. It's all about understanding your audience and taking on issues that matter to them the most. 

We could use several marketing tactics, A/B message testing via emails and social media, as well as offline events could be instrumental in engaging with American Voters abroad