Keeping Tabs: Alumni Colin Lever

After graduating from Lake Forest College with a B.A. in Politics, Collin Lever headed back East, to his home state of New Hampshire, where he found employment as a grassroots political campaign organizer with the state’s Democratic Party organization.  In the run-up to the New Hampshire primaries (in January of 2012) through the presidential and Congressional elections (in November of 2012), Collin did a wide-range of election-related activities.

Initially, he was involved in volunteer recruitment and training - attending community events, organizing campaign-centered programming, identifying volunteer leader prospects, and establishing relationships with existing community leaders and identifying prospects.

From there, he spent much of his time working with established volunteer leaders and reinforcing the party’s campaign’s strategic messaging framework via targeted direct voter contact efforts. Through empowering the volunteer leaders to do message and task training, he focused on program management, running the office, handling logistics, and problem solving.  “I did everything I could to keep the volunteers happy.  I was oblivious to how much prep, maintenance, and wrap up went into everything on a daily basis,” he says.

Finally, as the November election drew near, he gave more responsibility to his volunteer leaders, emphasizing projects only staff could “touch” (office visits by surrogates, press events, data, new staff training, relationship transfers, last minute changes to game plan, large-scale volunteer recruitment efforts etc.). In a given day, he would recruit 30 people to canvass, phone bank and meet with town chairs to coordinate with down ballot campaigns and with volunteer leaders to monitor progress.  “I did more by lunch on Tuesday than most people I know do in a week,” he continues, “working between 70 and 110 hours and week and getting paid very little.  It is an experience that you cannot really put into words, sort of like what I imagine combat experience is. I think my being in New Hampshire had a large role to play in the experience. The culture here is such that people expect to be ‘close’ to the campaign.”

Collin’s hard work has definitely paid off.  He is now employed full-time as a staffer in the office of one of New Hampshire’s two members of the House of Representatives, addressing constituent services.