Please join us in congratulating our 2021-2023 National Officers and Voting Representatives for Democrats Abroad France! Thank you to all the amazing candidates who stepped up to #RunForSomething!
National Chair – Jonathon Holler. Jonathon supports the Equal Rights Amendment, Medicare for All, and strengthened labor unions, and a DPCA charter providing for more equitable voting and more inclusive gender parity rules.
First Vice-Chair – Danielle Follett. Dani is committed to continuing the work DAF accomplished to broaden the organization by welcoming new voices, expanding membership and raising voter turnout.
Second Vice-Chair (Chapter Liaison) - Drew Lombardi. Based on his past organizing experience in New York and Boston, Drew plans to launch a “50 state strategy” across all 12 local chapters to boost active engagement, recruit new members and deliver decisive electoral victories to Democrats.
Secretary – Alejandra Roman. New to France, Alejandra was DA Mexico City chapter Membership Chair and aided GOTV efforts leading up to the 2020 elections.
Treasurer – Marjorie Bernstein. A past Treasurer and Secretary of DA France, Marj will apply her qualities of thoroughness, dedication, and enthusiasm (as well as her degree in Mathematics!) to her reprised role as Treasurer.
Counsel – Julia Grégoire. Julia is licensed to practice law in both France and the US and begins her second term as Counsel. She has assisted with two thorough revisions of the DA France Bylaws and ensured compliance with French law governing non-profit organizations.
Database/IT Manager – Max Dunitz. Max begins his second term as Database/IT Manager. He added many new tools to our digital organizing toolkit, from peer-to-peer texting to state voter file data to inform voters about ballot deadlines, rejected ballots, and voter assistance options.
GOTV Officer - Dori Schwartz-Laboune. During the 2020 election cycle Dori recruited and engaged volunteers, doing outreach and phone/text banking. She is committed to increasing our efforts to turn out voters for the midterm primaries and 2022 elections.
Communications Officer – Amy Porter. Amy’s objectives are to build out the Comms team; coordinate the use of our multiple channels—social media, website, email—for recruiting new members, increasing current member engagement levels and helping members to vote, and to work closely with the chapters and caucuses in support of their communications efforts.
Issues, Program and Events Coordinator – Gretchen Pascalis. A founding member of the DA France Rhone-Alps chapter (now Grenoble) and organizer of many memorable events in her region, Gretchen believes that events make organizations come alive, energize and inform members, and help recruit new members.
Membership Outreach / Volunteer Coordinator – Florent Marchais. Flo has a record of dynamic, energetic youth organizing in Texas and France. In his new role, he plans to engage alongside the GOTV and Events officers to mobilize volunteers to participate in phone-banking, social-media activism, and in-person volunteering and rallying in solidarity for international causes like climate action and Black Lives Matter.
DPCA Voting Representatives
Alex Rehbinder (Alternate)
Susan Fitoussi (Alternate)
Ricky J. Marc (Alternate)
Gretchen Pascalis (Alternate)
The French media has always had a fascination with the American presidential election system. Every four years, they trot out “US experts” who explain the arcane Electoral College to their baffled French viewers, and point out what the red and blue areas on the map mean. And, being French, they engage in one of their favorite exercises: moderating debates.
We had a hunch that French media interest in the 2020 US Presidential election would be particularly intense, and we wanted to ensure that we were ready to meet the triple challenge of explaining the role of Democrats Abroad in helping overseas Americans vote, educating the French public about the American election system, and promoting the Biden-Harris ticket as well as the down-ballot Democratic candidates. To do so, the DAFrance national leadership prioritized expanding the experienced spokespersons pool so that it better represented the diversity of our leadership and our regional geography.
If you’ve never been a press spokesperson, you probably can’t imagine what a perilous exercise it can be to go on live TV and radio to answer questions from journalists who excel in getting their guests to say something controversial. You must be careful about every word that comes out of your mouth, because you are there not to give your personal opinion, but rather to “carry the word” of the organization you represent. [The French word for spokesperson– “porte-parole”– expresses this perfectly.]
To be an effective spokesperson for an organization such as Democrats Abroad, there are many elements to master: knowing what to say, knowing how to say it, answering difficult questions, and, of course, skillfully wielding the spokesperson’s specialty: NOT answering certain questions, but rather pivoting to a slightly different topic. (If you’ve ever watched a politician being interviewed and thought “well, what he just said was interesting, but he didn’t really answer the question”, you know what a pivot is.)
So, the DA France leadership and Comms team recruited leaders who had relevant experience, or were willing to learn, and would have the time to devote to the team’s effort once the requests started pouring in. We set up a training program, led by former professional spokesperson, Amy Porter. It quickly became clear to all that you don’t magically become a media spokesperson: it involves training, homework and practice.
From top left (clockwise): Joe Smallhoover, Philip Breeden, Amy Below, Didier Moutou, Gretchen Pascalis, Kate Barrett, Julia Grégoire, Fred Hoffman, Amy Porter.
Our team of 18 trained spokespeople, reaching every corner of l'Hexagone, was comprised of diverse profiles: from teachers and fitness coaches to former State Department staffers, lawyers, and constitutional law experts. They each attended practice sessions where we tried our darndest to get them flustered! Armed with frequently updated Talking Points, the team handled more than 130 media hits by election day, of which 100 were done between November 3rd and 8th. In this whirlwind of activity, some spokespeople did as many as 5 interviews per day, including:
- Panel discussions, interviews, and debates with Republicans.
- National media outlets, such as LCI, BFM, M6, FranceInfo, RTL, FranceInter, France24, Libération and Le Parisien as well as numerous local television, radio stations and newspapers.
The appetite for debates in the French media was seemingly endless, as was the stream of Republican spokespeople. But we outmatched them: the people invited to TV studios had not benefited from the professional training that our spokespeople had undergone, and were armed only with “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories. In that respect, they accurately represented their candidate… Some of those debates got a “bit” heated. But our team rose to the occasion time and again, showing calmly and patiently that truth prevails over lies.
We continued to comment on the election results through mid-November, and expected a quiet few weeks until Inauguration Day. That calm came to an abrupt halt with the Capitol Insurrection on Jan. 6th, which we were compelled to comment on in real time as the events of the day unfolded! No amount of training or talking points could have prepared us for that… But we persisted, and were again asked to comment on TV, radio and print through the Biden-Harris Inauguration Day, doing an additional 49 hits in January, after which we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Here are a few examples of DA France spokespeople in action (and a trip down memory lane):
November 1: Le Progrès (Lyon) with Diane Sklar
November 4: France 24 with Amy Below
November 5: France 3 (Paris/IdF) with Didier Moutou
November 6: FranceInfo with Fred Hoffman
November 7: France 24 with Gretchen Pascalis
November 7: Libération with Ada Shen and Amy Porter
November 8: BFM with Philip Breeden
January 19: 20 Minutes (Toulouse) with Scott Stroud
January 20: LCI with Julia Grégoire
February 9: LCI with Amy Porter
DA France is proud of the work done by the Media team, which has led to a higher profile in France for Democrats Abroad, supporting our mission around the world. Now, we stand ready for whatever the news cycle throws our way.
Thanks to our spokespeople! (in alphabetic order)
- Kate Barrett (Paris)
- Reed Kennedy (Paris)
- Amy Below (Paris)
- Didier Moutou (Paris)
- Philip Breeden (Marseille)
- Gretchen Pascalis (Grenoble)
- Victoria Gonzales (Paris)
- Amy Porter (Deputy National Communications Coordinator)
- Julia Grégoire (National Counsel)
- Ada Shen (National Chair)
- Rebecca Grossberg (Lille/Normandy)
- Diane Sklar (Lyon)
- Fred Hoffman (Paris)
- Joe Smallhoover (International Legal Counsel)
- Jonathon Holler (National Vice Chair)
- Scott Stroud (Toulouse)
- Aimee Johanssen (Brittany)
- Erik Teetsov (Bordeaux)
- Barbara Wells (Strasbourg)
Leading with Purpose: Tackling Structural Barriers to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Professor Kanter will unravel questions such as: Where has there been progress? What challenges and pitfalls remain? What issues are universal, and which vary by ethnicity, race, and social class? How can we “think outside the building” (beyond current structures and constraints) to mobilize activists for a more just and equitable world? Join us on Tuesday, September 21st at 11 am EDT to gain insights from this formidable leader on working towards a more just and equitable world.RSVP below! You will receive your link with a reminder mail shortly before the event.
ROSABETH MOSS KANTER
Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, specializing in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights guide leaders worldwide through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations, governments, and start-up ventures. She co-founded the Harvard University-wide Advanced Leadership Initiative, guiding its planning from 2005 to its launch in 2008 and serving as Founding Chair and Director from 2008-2018 as it became a growing international model for a new stage of higher education preparing successful top leaders to apply their skills to national and global challenges. Author or co-author of 20 books, her latest book, Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time, has won a number of accolades.
The former chief Editor of Harvard Business Review, Professor Kanter has been repeatedly named to lists such as the “50 most powerful women in the world” (Times of London), and the “50 most influential business thinkers in the world” (Thinkers 50, and in November 2019 received their biannual Lifetime Achievement Award). She has received 24 honorary doctoral degrees, as well as numerous leadership awards, lifetime achievement awards, and
prizes. These include Distinguished Career Awards from the Academy of Management and the American Sociological Association (Organizations, Occupations and Work Section); the World Teleport Association's “Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year” award; the Pinnacle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; the International Leadership Award from the Association of Leadership Professionals; the Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence; the Everett Rogers Innovation Award from the Norman Lear Center for media and society; and several Harvard Business Review McKinsey Awards for the years’ best articles. Other awards honor her thought leadership and community impact.
Before Think Outside the Building, her previous book, MOVE: Putting America's Infrastructure Back in the Lead, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, is a sweeping look across industries and technologies shaping the future of mobility and the leadership required for transformation. Her book The Change Masters was named one of the most influential business books of the 20th century (Financial Times); SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, one of the ten best business books of the year by Amazon.com; Evolve! Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow, one of the five best books of the year by the Toronto Star. Her book Confidence: How Winning & Losing Streaks Begin & End, a New York Times bestseller (also a #1 Business Week bestseller), describes the culture of high-performance organizations compared with those in decline and shows how to lead turnarounds, whether in businesses, schools, sports teams, or countries. Men & Women of the Corporation, winner of the C. Wright Mills award for the best book on social issues and often called a classic, offers insight into the individual and organizational factors that promote success or perpetuate disadvantage for women; a related video, A Tale of ‘O’: On Being Different, is a widely-used tool for diversity training. A related book, Work & Family in the United States, set a policy agenda, honored by a coalition of university centers creating in her honor the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for the best work/family research. Another award-winning book, When Giants Learn to Dance, shows how to master the new terms of competition at the dawn of the global information age. World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy identifies the dilemmas of globalization for cities, a theme continuing in her book MOVE.
She advises numerous CEOs and senior executives through her consulting group and also serving as a Senior Advisor for IBM’s Global Citizenship portfolio from 1999-2012. She has served on many business and non-profit boards, such as City Year, the urban “Peace Corps” addressing the school dropout crisis through national service, and on commissions including the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, the U.S. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and others. She speaks widely, and has shared the platform with Presidents, Prime Ministers, and CEOs at major events, such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and national industry conferences in over 20 countries. Before joining the Harvard Business School faculty, she held tenured professorships at Yale University and Brandeis University and was a Fellow at Harvard Law School, simultaneously holding a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan. --December 2020
Location Local Event Start Time Vancouver, Canada 8:00 AM Minneapolis, USA 10:00 AM Washington DC, USA 11:00 AM London, UK 4:00 PM Frankfurt, Germany 5:00 PM Nairobi, Kenya 7:00 PM Dubai, UAE 8:00 PM Bangkok, Thailand 11:00 PM Beijing, China 12:00 AM + 1 day
Politics is not a spectator sport! Join us every Wednesday as we join together to take political action to help pass the Biden agenda.
Our current project is making calls with Common Cause to constituents of key US Senators and patching them through to their Senators' voicemail to urge them to publicly commit to ENDING THE FILIBUSTER and PROTECTING OUR DEMOCRACY by passing the For the People Act now.
The For The People Act (HR1/S1) will only pass if people like you and me are willing to take action. Join us to make calls to activists in key states and help pass this groundbreaking democracy bill, which would
- Expand the right to vote. The For the People Act would abolish outdated voter registration deadlines and enact online voter registration and automatic voter registration to make voting easier and our voter rolls more accurate and secure. The bill would stop some voter suppression tactics like voter purges and interference with voter registration.
- End partisan gerrymandering. Voters should select their politicians and not the other way around. That's why the For the People Act institutes independent redistricting commissions.
- Stop Big Money from calling the shots in our politics. Congresspeople spend some 60% of their time dialing big donors asking for money. By enacting a system of small dollar elections, whereby a $27 contribution would be matched to become $189, politicians can get off the dialer and talk to constituents, and more women, people of color, and new candidates without connections to donors would be empowered to run for office.
- Hold elected officials (including the executive branch and president) to high ethical standards. Stop regulators from profiting from the very industries they regulate. Require tax return disclosure.
We'll give you all the tools and training you need to call voters in our target states -- asking them to contact their lawmakers who will make the difference between success and failure.
Can't make it but still want to be engaged? First, call Congress. You can call Congress for free from France at 07 555 3 6446 ("Bark at Congress: 07 555 DOGGO") — this connects callers automatically to the US Capitol Switchboard, where you follow the prompts to be connected to your House Rep or Senators. Need a script? Check out 5 Calls, where you can find topical scripts with concrete demands for your legislators on any issue you care about.
Second, reach out to Max Dunitz to get connected with activities from past Power Hour actions, or other volunteer activities like postcarding, phonebanking, textbanking, data work, etc.
Have an action to suggest? Contact Max Dunitz [email protected]
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