- Yael Borofsky (Zurich)
I am sure every member of this organization can agree that the political events of the last year and a half have been devastating. After living in Zurich during nearly all of campaign season, I came back to Cambridge, MA last September, just in time to watch Donald Trump win the election and then become inaugurated as the president of the United States. Despite the factthat I never imagined myself as an activist or a protester, since the election I have attended various events in the Cambridge/Boston area to either build community in the face of Trump’s lunacy or to protest (specifically, so far, for women’s rights and against the travel ban on Muslims from seven countries). Through these experiences, it has become increasingly clear to me that we cannot expect a tolerant, forward-thinking democracy as the default mode in the US or any country. Instead, we must work hard to protect this ideal at all times.
I am running for Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad Switzerland because I realize that now is both a surprisingly difficult time to live outside the United States — separated from those whose pain we share — and an urgently important time. Organizing ourselves now for the 2018 mid-terms, and eventually the 2020 elections, will not only be our way of staying engaged and making our voices heard from afar, but our activism can also be a set an example for our Swiss and European neighbors. Through Democrats Abroad events and outreach we can find new venues to discuss the difficult issues we care about (even if we disagree), learn more about what we can do to protect the rights of those who are more vulnerable than we are, and demonstrate that Americans are actually better than our slogans – that we really do value, above all, liberty and justice for every person.
I hope to bring to the post of Vice Chair my experience co-founding and running an MIT discussion forum focused on energy and human development, as well as my background in journalism, policy, and urban studies and planning. Most of all, though, I would contribute a newfound personal commitment to civic engagement. A commitment that is necessary now, in the face of the current challenges, and also, perhaps especially, in the future, when tolerance, justice, and peace may not seem so broadly threatened, but such ideals will be no less in need of protection. I look forward to meeting other DACH members on March 25.
- Cresten B. Mansfeldt (Zurich)
Briefly, I am originally a DFLer from the True-Blue State of Minnesota (the last Republican Presidential Candidate to win Minnesota was Nixon in 1972). I received my Bachelors in Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota and my PhD in Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. During my tenure at Cornell, I participated in student governance for five years, eventually being elected the President of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and assisting in the formation of the Cornell NYC Tech Campus. After completing my studies in 2013, I assisted a colleague in establishing a tech startup in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 2015, I was recruited for a research scientist position at the Swiss Federal Aquatic Research Institute (Eawag) and have been enjoying my time in Zürich ever since.
My vision for the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee falls into three sequential phases: diversification, support, and transition.
With the energized interest in DACH throughout Switzerland, the Vice Chair position enjoys the opportunity of delegating tasks that were championed by Vice Chair Peter Butterfield to newly formed positions, caucuses, and volunteers. This process of delegation will strengthen the network of DACH, maintain activity in the various roles, and realize the highest marginal utility received from the diversity of expertise housed in DACH. Therefore, the initial goals of the Vice Chair should be to (1) agglomerate the institutional knowledge amassed by the outgoing Vice Chair Peter Butterfield and the Executive Committee as a whole, (2) meet with the volunteers in the emerging positions to determine which tasks performed previously by the Vice Chair would be best distributed, and (3) delegate the appropriate tasks and focus the role of the Vice Chair in a manner to best serve the Chair, the Executive Council, and DACH members.
As the roles of the new format become more clarified, the Vice Chair should support the Chair, the Executive Council, and the new positions. This role will require flexibility in tackling issues and opportunities as they arise. Essentially, the Vice Chair should be a jack-of-all-trades fix-it position smoothing the expansion process. Communication with all members of the Executive Committee, collaboration with the international network, and involvement in the forming caucuses are key functions of the Vice Chair position.
Finally, I believe a cornerstone of my role as Vice Chair would be to assist in ensuring the strength of DACH by training and recruiting a pool of talent that potentially can not only replace me, but achieve more as a future Vice Chair.