Name: Art Schankler
External Links: www.facebook.com/art4da
Member since: 2004
Country/Countries: Czech Republic 8 years, Serbia 10 years
I have been a Democrat all my life: stuffing envelopes for John Kennedy, going door-to-door for Gene McCarthy and George McGovern in high school, working as a staffer in a presidential campaign in Washington, and working with Democrats Abroad to get out the vote as a CC volunteer, CC Chair, International Treasurer, Fundraising Chair, and International Vice Chair. Professionally, I have spent the last 30 years financing and developing infrastructure projects in the US and Eastern Europe - with a particular focus on clean water programs - and am deliighted to see the Biden Adminstration's progress on improving infrastructure. In my latest work in the Western Balkans, I managed a team of over 100 local and international consultants. Prior to working in finance, I taught English in Singapore and worked in refugee camps in Asia and Africa, and worked for the World Bank in DC. I have a BA in East Asian Studies -- and was editor of the college newspaper -- and an MBA.
Describe your volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment.
I began as a volunteer with Democrats Abroad in Prague in 2004 and spent years registering voters in the local bagel shop -- and handing out bookmarks to Americans on the street. In 2010, I helped create an official CC in the Czech Republic and became its first Chair with Julia Bryan as Vice Chair. In 2012, I moved to Serbia for job reasons, but continued to be active in DA, serving as Deputy Regional Vice Chair for EMEA under Shari Temple (and invigorating our outreach to Study Abroad voters) and elected Global Treasurer in 2013. In 2016, I was appointed International Vice Chair. In 2017, I was named Fundraising Chair and was elected International Vice Chair in 2021. As Vice Chair, I helped solidify our relationship with the DNC and gain an unprecedented $300,000 contribution. But my greatest accomplishment in DA was not MY accomplishment, but the accomplishment of all of our members and volunteers - raising over $700k in 2020 which helped elect a Democratic President and Congress.
Why are you running for this office?
I believe that my experience at both the local and international levels of DA can contribute to our future success. Knowing what we have done in the past can help us to continue to be innovative in our goals of getting out the vote for Democrats and pushing for issues such as fighting income inequality, reversing environmental destruction, tax reform for overseas Americans, and expanding voting rights. I am always open to new ideas and prepared to evaluate issues and options based on their merits and not on my own preconceptions. An openness to new ideas and ideas that are not necessarily your own or ones that you agree with is a key to success in helping to lead a UNITED organization. We have had increasing success over the years. The organization has grown as has our influence on elections and issues. But there is more to do and the challenges of the 2024 elections will be great – increased Republican voter suppression and continuing Republican disinformation campaigns. As noted, I have been a Democrat all my life and believe in the principles of the modern Democratic Party. I have helped the organization thrive and grow over the past decade and if I can continue to help us meet those challenges in the future, I welcome the opportunity. But the decision is yours.
How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA’s success?
My experience at the CC and global levels of DA will help us build on the progress we have made over the years in GOTV and advocacy. I have been on the International ExCom, served on the DNC, been part of the Association of State Democratic Committees – experiences that need to build on in pushing for change and greater support and cooperation from the larger Democratic Party. We need to continue to be innovative, but we can't always know which new ideas will work. My experience within DA has given me the tools to evaluate ideas and help us decide on the initiatives that will have the greatest impact on achieving our goals. In my professional life, I have often been the glue that brings different people together. DA, frankly, continues to be an organization that is divided. As someone who listens to all sides, I think I can help bring us together to achieve what we all want to achieve – a successful Democratic Party that improves the lives of people in the US and around the world.
Should you be elected, are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address?
We have made extraordinary progress as an organization over the last 10 years. Our global caucuses have expanded our reach to a wider and more diverse population of Americans overseas and helped us focus on issues that matter. Our expanded use of social media – paid and unpaid – has led to tremendous growth in our membership AND in the number of overseas voters. And in this past election cycle during which I served as Vice Chair has seen significant changes: creation of State Teams to help us mobilize voters from individual states (particularly battleground states) in our GOTV efforts; the development of a new - and improved - website; use of state voter roll data to help us to reach out to non-DA members; significant funding from the DNC, and the recent hiring of an Executive Director But, in looking ahead to 2023 and 2024 elections, we need to make sure that we are using our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. Because of this, I am a great believer that we should continue to improve our data analysis to identify where we should be putting our resources – both money and volunteer time. We should also be expanding these lists of overseas Americans, utilizing info from commercial vendors. Millions continue not to vote – and we must get our GOTV message to them.
How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?
In my time as a volunteer with DA, I have spent a lot of time and effort raising money for the organization. This has been crucial in leveraging the efforts of our tremendous volunteers - and allowed us to reach out to Americans through social media and other advertising vehicles. But I continue to believe that we can do more in the area of free advertising or as it is often called, "earned media". In the 2020 election cycle, DA received support from highly visible Americans like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hillary Clinton, etc. In 2022, we had many successful webinars with mid-term candidates. But the audience for these continued to be largely limited to those already part of DA. We can do more, together with the wider Democratic Party, to raise our profile - and get Americans to vote - by recruiting "celebrities" (politicians, entertainment figures, those with large online followings, etc.) who appear in overseas and US media to promote our GOTV efforts.