Name: Ada Shen
External links: Website
Candidate: International Chair
Member since: 2007
Country/Countries: France (2017-present), China (2007-2017)
I live in Paris, vote in Orange County, CA. Living abroad 20+ years has given me a rich life experience. Some highlights.
Internet/media startups, San Francisco
Film Producer, China
- Production management — schedules, budgets, teams, craziness; routinely ramp teams from 0 to 300+ over weeks and back down again
- Pretty much bullet proof now (almost ready for DA politics)
Director, Major Humanitarian Aid Organization, China
- Raised money and built partnerships for life-saving disaster relief programs. (Perspective, people.)
Climate Change Policy for Cities, Consultant, China/France
- Built bridges with constructive policy dialogue, across languages and cultural differences. Political will is key.
Volunteer with Democrats Abroad since 2007
- DA China (2007-2017) - country committee in formation lead, GOTV organizer
- DA France (2017-current) - GOTV and Database/IT Officer (two roles), and current National Chair
Describe your volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment.
In 2007 I started with DA organizing voter registration in China. I created one-stop shop voter help and trained volunteers. In 2012 we added SMS; in 2016 social media / QR codes. We had 10x membership growth, from 300 to 3000 in 2008 (thanks Obama!) I led China to become a CC in 2017, building a strong bench of leaders including the first country chair, Aaron Kruse. In France, as an Officer and Chair, I supported fresh approaches to longstanding problems. We have grown our membership by 37% and reinvigorated our leadership. I served the DPCA on GOTV, Bylaws, Comms, Finance committees, and a Global Caucus. All of these have furthered my admiration for who we are and why we fight.
Why are you running for this office?
Friends, we are out of time. We face challenges that need a whole-of-civilization response — the climate crisis, weaponized bigotry, extreme inequality. DA must fight for economic and social justice FOR ALL. We must unify around shared values to meet these threats. I’ve lived on three continents and see a world on fire over these issues. The world we all live in. We bring perspective as small-a ambassadors to our friends, family, and elected officials back home, but we must organize better to cut through the noise. I have led one of the newest country committees in AP, and one of the oldest in EMEA. I listen, recruit, and elevate to build coalitions of support. I champion reform and innovation, while standing on the shoulders of giants, because I know this is how we win. I am ready to do what it takes as Chair to ensure our efforts succeed in 2022 and beyond. We are no longer a party outpost based in Europe. We are 200K worldwide, and must organize like it. I have a deep understanding of our organization, our potential, and a vision for how we can meet the future. Thank you for your vote.
How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA's success?
I never lose the big picture: What are we here to do? Are we doing it? Do our structures and teams support our goals? The chair sets the tone. I’ve proven my ability to create something from nothing in China and to revitalize one of the original CCs, France. I’ve worked in the DPCA, seeing the connections from the bottom to the top of our organization. As chair I will take a collaborative approach to leadership that will see Democrats Abroad flourish. In 2020 we tried everything. We had to. It worked! Now we must consolidate — keep the best and improve the rest. Through this process I will pull in more leaders, deepening our bench. I look to bring out the best in people, helping them thrive. I listen, collaborate, and encourage. I build structures and create conditions that allow people to succeed. This is what democracy looks like.
Are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address should you be elected?
As chair, I will:
Focus on enabling country committees, caucuses, groups, and our members. We must make sure that every leader has the tools they need to mobilize volunteers and members at their level.
Make data-driven decisions. Let’s measure where we can, and use the results of those measurements to improve effectiveness of everything we do.
Build out technology that our CCs and other leaders can use best in their local context.
Foster innovation across the organization. Lots of small experiments, finding the things that work, and spreading the knowledge. Keep things up-to-date. Leaders and members shouldn’t need to search for the latest news, events, or actions.
Expand our reach. We all know that the best organizing is local. I’ll build systems that take small groups of committed volunteers and turn them into effective organizing teams, caucuses, and country committees.
Field plan to include staffing up and drawing down over time.
Coordinate our comms channels so that we are not exhausting our lists and members with too many emails. Democrats Abroad is the home of overseas Democrats, and I am committed to making it work for us all.
How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?
We are the party of Voting Rights and Voter Protection for overseas voters. Our members vote in every race across the nation, and we deliver the margin of victory for Democrats in many of them! I will better connect our internal and external comms with how we mobilize our entire organization, based on field planning for 2022.
All politics is local, and how we organize is too, but we can see patterns to the strategies that work or don’t and why. We can raise our profile internationally through traditional and social media while supporting and integrating efforts at the local and community level. Each of our countries, teams, and caucuses reach their constituencies through relevant channels and influencers. As your leader I will help connect the dots, enabling everyone to understand and contribute to the whole. Providing organizational support as well as funding our fight will be my focus.
Endorsement from Jonathan Holler, First Vice Chair DA France
Having served as First Vice Chair under Ada Shen’s leadership of Democrats Abroad France, I wholeheartedly offer my support for her candidacy for the position of Global Chair of Democrats Abroad. With Ada at the helm, DA France has been focused, goal-oriented, and principled. Ada actively reached out to members for fresh ideas, encouraged innovation, and never failed to devote time and effort to helping chapters and caucuses grow, mature and activate their base. Her guidance sealed the success of new projects, such as our “postcards-to-voters” campaign and our voter hotline, while ensuring a relevant, and impactful voter registration campaign. She established a forward-thinking, coalition-building approach in our team, consisting of inclusiveness toward other organizations in France and of prioritizing actions with both their short-term and long-term relevance in mind.
Most of all, Ada Shen has demonstrated a deep understanding of Democrats Abroad’s capabilities as a network of enthusiastic individuals driven by the same goal of making our voices heard.
Endorsement from Angela Fobbs, Chair Global Black Caucus, DPCA Representative Germany, Candidate for International Chair
It's my pleasure to endorse Ada Shen for International Chair of Democrats Abroad.
I met Ada in 2017 on the Global Comms team; she lived in China at the time. One of the first things that I noticed about Ada is that she was a brilliant and dynamic person. She always had ideas and information to contribute to the group, plus she is a diligent worker. Her openness made me feel more comfortable as a new person to the team and DA.
Later in 2017, she moved to France and was elected as Chair in 2019. Ada has a passion for politics and a desire to make a difference in the world. Under her leadership, DA France expanded all aspects of its voter outreach and communications.
Ada has an excellent understanding of the organization, having worked in both the EMEA and AP regions and being a founding member of the AAPI caucus. She embodies progressive values and has demonstrated a commitment to Democratic Party values. Ada has contributed to Democrats Abroad (DA) 's success for over 12 years and would make an awesome International Chair.
Endorsement from Aaron Kruse, DNC Representative Asia Pacific (2020-present), Platform Committee Chair 2020), Bylaws Committee Chair (2019), DA China Chair (2017-2019)
It is my pleasure to endorse Ada Shen for Chair of Democrats Abroad.
I'm one of thousands of active members as a direct result of Ada’s tireless organizing. I first met her after she had been organizing China for nearly a decade, and was conducting the first-ever DA China country elections.
With the election of Trump, I was alarmed — a newcomer looking to make a difference. But I had just started a new job, I was unsure if this was for me.
She convinced me. She saw DA as a party of the people, a place where I could throw my energy, passion, and love of packed to-do lists at something serving millions of Americans living overseas.
I became China’s first elected Chair, later leading the Global Bylaws and Platform committees, and now I am a member of the DNC.
Ada sees people's best qualities and puts it to work. She has deep experience with DA at every level, over different organizing conditions. She built a new country committee from scratch in China, and helmed France, one of the oldest and largest, through many reforms. She gets details, while looking for scale -- she'll patiently unjam a printer to bank one vote, while training teams of volunteers to mobilize thousands. For this next critical moment of growth for DA, we need to lead with all our best. I will be voting for Ada Shen for Chair of Democrats Abroad to lead us.