It is Meet the Team Monday! Today, we continue our blog series with an interview with our National Vice Chair, Chapter Liaison - Meredith Wheeler.
Meredith Wheeler is the National Vice Chair - Chapter Liaison for Democrats Abroad France (DAF), and her role consists of coordinating efforts among the 12 chapters.
Meredith has been an active member of Democrats Abroad France for the past 16 years. In 2003, she helped found and chair the Toulouse chapter.
“Like many Americans across Europe, we were organizing to oppose the disastrous war on Iraq … and so I started the Toulouse chapter in southwestern France. We were the second chapter in France (after the Riviera) and very quickly became one of the largest and most dynamic.”
Prior to moving abroad, Meredith worked as a writer/ producer for ABC News in New York and London, with Peter Jennings, Sam Donaldson, and Barbara Walters. Her experience in journalism has been a great asset to DAF.
Now, onto some fun facts about Meredith:
- Her favorite political icon is Barack Obama.
- Her top 3 issue areas are climate change, gun control and defeating the Republicans at every opportunity, “especially ridding the White House of Trump!”
- Her first political memory was President Kennedy’s assasination.
Of the numerous initiatives she’s worked on, Meredith is most proud of the Obama Bridge Project—to which Susan Vaillant of DAF Strasbourg gave the magic tagline: Yes We Span! The project entailed photographing Obama supporters at famous and scenic bridges (the bridge being a metaphor for him). People on every continent took part!
It is Meet the Team Monday! Today, we continue our blog series with an interview with our National Counsel - Julia Grégoire.
Julia Grégoire is the National Legal Counsel for Democrats Abroad France (DAF), and she works to ensure DAF’s compliance with the relevant laws and regulations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born in France and raised in America, Julia is an active lawyer in both countries and a member of the Paris, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island bars. Her current practice specializes in the intersection of French and American legal issues for businesses and individuals.
Prior to working in Paris, Julia worked in New York as a human rights lawyer, where she helped develop public defenders’ offices in Haiti and Bolivia and assisted with advocacy efforts for disenfranchised Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic.
Julia initially became involved with DAF in 2016 when she spotted DA volunteers at their usual spot outside of Shakespeare & Co. registering voters. After attending several events, she joined as member and then decided to run for Counsel.
Now, on to some fun facts about Julia:
- She votes in Rhode Island.
- Her favorite political icons are Barack and Michelle Obama.
- Her top issue areas are education, income inequality, healthcare, and gun control.
- Her first political memory was “voting in my elementary school election for Bill Clinton against George H.W. Bush and counting the ballots in the ballot box for a Clinton victory.”
And if she were President of the United States for a day, she responded:
“I would have people take part in an exchange program where they would switch places or spend one day with someone from a totally different background from themselves - someone of a different race, different sexual orientation, different socioeconomic background, different religion, and even better, a different political background! Seeing and understanding each other's differences will bring us closer. “
It is Meet the Team Monday! Today, we continue our blog series with an interview with our National GOTV Coordinator - Mickey Farrance.
Mickey Farrance is National “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) Coordinator and the DA France Grenoble Chapter Secretary.
After the 2016 elections, Mickey founded in Grenoble a chapter of Indivisibles-France, a group dedicated to resisting threats to democracy and human rights worldwide. Mickey became involved with Democrats Abroad when the Indivisibles chapter merged with the DAF Grenoble chapter, noting that “alliances make us more effective and further our reach!”
Mickey votes in California and currently resides in Grenoble, where she is a marketing manager for a software publishing company.
Now, on to some fun facts about Mickey:
- Her favorite political icon at the moment is “Liz Warren, the politician I wish I could be…”
- Her top 3 issue areas are 1) fixing our broken government that is riddled with abuses of power and corruption. That means 2) fighting voter suppression and 3) neutralizing manipulations like gerrymandering.
- Her first political memory was the Watergate hearings. ("Yes, I'm I-remember-Nixon old!")
And, when asked what she would do if she were President of the United States for a day, she responded:
“What can anyone do in a single day!? Kick #MoscowMitch in the butt maybe? Wouldn't change much, but it would be highly satisfying.”
It is Meet the Team Monday! Today, we continue our blog series with an interview with our National Treasurer - Brooke Burns.
Brooke Burns is the National Treasurer for Democrats Abroad France (DAF), and has been successfully managing DAF’s resources for the past two years. In addition to organizing national resources, Brooke maintains positive working relationships with all the DAF chapters. Her most recent project centered on digitalising the financial processes for members, events, and GOTV efforts.
Brooke had been an election volunteer in her home state of Washington since before she could vote. “My first political memories were voting at Challenger Elementary School with my mother and skipping school to volunteer as a poll judge for Obama's 2008 election at the last in-person voting year in Washington State before the implementation of electronic voting,” Brooke explained.
So when she moved to France to work in communications, she sought out local political volunteering opportunities and found DA France.
“I was volunteering with my legislative district (WA-5!) while living abroad, and it became too much/overwhelming to manage. So, I googled local political volunteering opportunities and DA appeared, with enough time before the elections to submit a candidate statement.
I emailed Sheila (Malovany-Chevallier), I think, telling her that I wasn't sure that I had the experience to be the treasurer but I'd be happy to help whoever was elected. She wrote back, simply, 'if you want to run, run!' and so I did.”
Brooke’s fun facts include:
- She still votes in Washington.
- Her favorite political icons are Nicola Sturgeon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Her top 3* issue areas are healthcare (specifically reproductive rights and body autonomy), current human rights abuses at the border (primarily family separation, denial of aid to individuals crossing dangerous sections of the border), environmental justice, the failure to regulate firearms/weapons of mass murder, etc....More than 3, sorry!
- If she were President for a day, she would fire Mitch McConnell, immediately enact as much of the Green New Deal as possible, end family separation, regulate gun sales/ownership more seriously than a French driver's license, and legislate to the fullest extent of my ability the unassailable rights of women to choose what happens to their bodies. ERA for good measure. Wealth tax if I have time!
It is Meet the Team Monday! Today, we continue our blog series with an interview with our National Database/IT Manager - Max Dunitz.
Max Dunitz is the National Database / IT Manager for Democrats Abroad France (DAF), where he synthesizes voter engagement efforts and IT support.
After arriving in Paris to pursue graduate studies in applied math at ENS Paris-Saclay, Max joined the DAF Youth Caucus and helped create a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) infrastructure for our phone banking campaigns.
“The week before moving to France, I was asked to sign up for next week's shift after canvassing and panicked, so I reached out to DA France leaders to see how I could help boost midterm turnout from France,” explained Max. “I found it very easy to get involved; DA France is very active, and the leadership was able to help me find ways to harness my election jitters into a productive force for boosting turnout.”
Prior to joining DAF, Max wrote software to help local activist groups text volunteers and make their phone banking events more accessible, and he created a web database to help volunteers turnout Democrats living in Hong Kong.
As an avid volunteer, Max has “performed just about every task at a Democratic field office.” He has held leadership positions in progressive activist groups such as Fossil Free MIT, Sunrise Boston, and Cambridge Area Stronger Together.
“Although I prefer campaigning to sitting in front of a computer, I am always happy to put my computer science degrees to use for a good cause!”
Now, on to Max’s fun facts:
- He votes in Michigan.
- His top 3 issue areas are climate change action, progressive foreign policy, and criminal justice reform.
- His first political memory was “being less interested in the viral Jib-Jab videos than the policy stakes of the 2004 election.”
- If he were President for a day, he would pack the courts and give D.C. statehood.
And when asked who his favorite political icon was, Max responded:
“Not to be all Time-in-2006, but YOU! The practice of politics involves not personalities but...practice. Call your reps, attend meetings, talk to your neighbors, canvass, phonebank, text, write postcards, bake delicious snacks for volunteers, clean the field office, work spreadsheets, demonstrate, and RUN FOR OFFICE. As José Mujica, a politician who is quite the icon, said, power comes not from above but from the hearts of the masses.
Ashley Bennett, a county legislator in New Jersey, was not a politician until she saw a sexist Facebook post from the incumbent and decided to show that her rep did not reflect her community's values by winning his seat. Few of us can make the time to run for office. The volunteers who powered Ashley's victory are as much of a politician as she is, and their stories are every bit as inspiring.
Trump is a danger to the republic, and ordinary people--particularly, middle-aged women--are responding to this assault on our institutions, conscience, and sanity by getting involved in ways big and small, and that's far more inspiring than any great orator can ever be.”
We thought that it would be helpful to introduce our members and friends to the Democrats Abroad France National Leadership Team. Today, we start with our National Chair, Ada Shen.
Ada Shen is the National Chair of Democrats Abroad France (DAF),where she leads the national strategy for mobilizing the overseas vote to elect Democrats.
Ada has been contributing to the success of Democrats Abroad (DA) for over 12 years. Originally from California, she initially became involved with DA from Beijing, China in 2007 “as part of a group of folks fired up to take back the White House.” She eventually went on to help found the DA China committee.
“Some of my favorite moments were watching Obama win Ohio in 2008; Obama's surprise win in Florida in 2012,” she explained. “In 2016, a man walked in to our voter registration event announcing that although he was a lifelong Republican and had been a field director for Romney in 2012, he was there to register and vote for Hillary. We became friends, and are still friends to this day."
In 2017, Ada and her husband Emmanuel, a French national, moved to Paris. Prior to being elected Chair in May 2019, Ada served as DAF’s “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) Officer and Database/IT Officer, where she grew voter engagement and participation dramatically by reaching out to the groundswell of those who rose up in the aftermath of 2016 – within DA France and its Caucuses (Youth, Women’s and Diversity), with fellow activist organisations (PAGE, Indivisibles, Our Revolution), and across DA France Chapters.
Under Shen’s leadership, DA France expanded its phone-banking initiatives, SMS and postcard campaigns; voter registration at protests, rallies and special events; hosted voter outreach on campuses and in the community throughout the fall — and connected it to the social media conversation.
Now, on to some fun facts about Ada:
- Her favorite political icon is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Her top 3 issue areas are climate change, healthcare reform (and women's reproductive choice), and common sense gun reform.
- Her first political memory was “either President Ford falling down some airplane stairs or it was Chevy Chase as President Ford falling down some airplane stairs …”
And, when asked what she would do if she were President of the United States for a day, she responded:
“If I was an imaginary magical unicorn President for a day, I would like Thanos-snap my fingers and undo all the damage Trump has done for the last 2.542 years (928 days, 22 hours, and 43 minutes) since he took office. But I'm not a magical unicorn President, and we are not going to get one, so instead as a Nation, a People, and a Party, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work, to take our country back and set things right — not only to save our Republic, but to truly make it as great. This is why we are Democrats, and we will do our part to this end as DA France.”