History is being made as Secretary Hillary Clinton officially takes her place as the first female presidential nominee for a major U.S. political party during the Democratic National Convention. And LaDavia Drane has held a front row seat as the presidential campaign’s former Director of African-American Outreach and newly named Deputy Director of Congressional Affairs. Drane got her start on President Obama’s campaign and shares her journey on the Clinton trail, why we should tune in to the DNC, and what’s at stake in the November election.
Name: LaDavia Drane
Title: Deputy Director of Congressional Affairs, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign
City: Washington, DC
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
The gig: This is a historic moment for our nation. Whatever race you are, the fact that this is the first major party to nominate a woman is huge. I really do believe that Hillary Clinton is going to do amazing things in working hand in hand with our community. She’s been doing this for a long time, especially having African American women working closely with her and advising her for many years.
The journey: I was previously the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus after working on President Obama’s campaign. My son was just turning one when I was offered the job. I knew I had to take the assignment. While it was difficult knowing that I would be away from him, I knew this is the job that I needed to take to make sure that Black folks are at the forefront as much as I could. I’ve worked with giants who I only read about like Vernon Jordan and Alexis Herman.
Her DNC can’t miss moments: President Obama, Bernie Sanders and former President Clinton will all take the stage. The mothers of the movement will also speak. These women came out strong and hard and have been a part of her campaign from the beginning. Having these relationships and understanding what our community’s facing with respect to policing, and gun violence, will have an impression on her administration. I am a mother of a Black boy and this hits home.
Traveling with Secretary Clinton: She’s a loving and caring person and it shows. I met up with her in Chicago once. She had seen my mother-in-law in a previous city and she wanted to talk about my family. I thought, “Of all the things that would be on her mind, she remembered meeting Pat and she wanted to talk to me about my family and how I was doing.” It dawned on me that that this woman will likely be the President and she actually cares about my family and cared enough to ask about them. She also really does like some spice. I had the opportunity to fly with her in May. On the plane I tried this carrot salad with spicy vinaigrette that she really likes. I’m not a spicy food person, but the Secretary now has me loving spicy food and dressings.
Lessons from the Obama campaign: At 24, I walked away from my job as a first year associate at a law firm with a really nice salary because I knew I had to be a part of helping him to become President. I had never done political work. I registered voters and organized in Kansas City, a place I had never been. That helped me in this campaign because I knew what the folks in the states were up against. These elections are won in the states. God put me in that position back in 2008 and it came full circle by me joining the campaign this time around.
Her campaign highlights: This was not an easy election. Social media has changed a lot of things, especially engaging with the African American community. We endured. She endured. She overcame. She did not pretend to be anyone that she’s not. I’m very proud of her. I knew it was going to be tough. I knew that God was stretching me. I didn’t know that God was going to stretch the Secretary as much as he did. She not only beat Senator Sanders. She had the most votes of this primary, including Donald Trump. This woman kicked butt. As a woman, that’s huge. She’s victorious. No one can take that away. I don’t know where she got the energy, but I have to believe as a believer, and she’s a believer, that it came from above.
Why we must vote: It’s important that folks get out to vote. We cannot sit this out. We came out in monumental numbers for President Obama. We did it in 2008 and we did it in 2012. Black women carried that vote. We’ve got to vote down ballot and vote in every election for local offices. Those are the people who we run into in the grocery store. Not to mention especially with respect to criminal justice, those are the folks that prosecute our people and that are supposed to make sure that the right folks are serving and protecting us.
The issues that matter most: Folks think that some of the more traditional issues matter to African Americans the most. The number one issue impacting us is the economy. If we’re not working and we can’t buy our children books and make sure that they can go off to college, and have what they need. The fact that millennials have so much student loan debt but don’t have jobs that pay what they need to get paid to be able to live and pay their debt is a problem. Her plan for our economy is what’s going to be most important to us. We’re talking about direct investments that are going to create jobs and good paying jobs here in the United States.
Her tech fix: I love the iPhone wallet, to keep myself organized with all my travel documents. Amazon Prime helps me remember to order items for home like Pampers and toilet paper.
Her power accessories: When my eyelashes are done, I feel like a boss. I also keep a matte red lipstick and blazers with me. You won’t make it in high heels when you’re campaigning for Hillary Clinton. We are on the move.