Tuesdays with T4A: Jim Green (11/19/13)

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Jim Green
Co-founder and Executive Director | T4A.org
Jim is Co-Founder & Executive Director of T4A.org. Jim founded and led Tech4Obama this past election cycle, working very closely with the tech community, organizing and leveraging the broad support of the community around the President’s re-elect. He also oversaw Northern California and the Northwest for Obama for America. Prior to the campaign, Jim worked as a finance consultant for the Democratic National Committee, Kamala Harris for Attorney General, and the American Association of Justice. Jim started his career in politics working for Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. Jim resides in San Francisco with his wife Cammy, and baby son, James, Jr.

Where did you grow up, and what do you remember most about it?
I grew up in Oakland, CA. It’s a very proud city and I felt that pride from an early age.
What was your first job?
I did odd jobs around the neighborhood when I was pretty young, mostly yard work. Had a paper route early on. First job where I drew a paycheck was at The Pasta Shop in Oakland.
What is your first political memory?
Traveling to Washington, DC with my Dad at age 8. We were in our Hotel lobby one morning when James Baker happened to be coming out of a meeting. My Dad was so excited for his son to meet President Reagan’s Chief of Staff. I hadn’t often seen my father that excited.
What is your favorite book?
Not sure I have a favorite, but recently enjoyed reading Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson.
Whoa! After working on political campaigns for one party for so long, why did you decide to make the change to a nonpartisan organization? And why not just leave politics altogether?
I’m not sure if others sometimes feel this way, but a few years ago, I started feeling like my career suggested something I really wasn’t as a person. It’s not that I have changed or will change parties, it’s just that I’m not really partisan. And it really frustrates me that partisanship has become a major distraction from the real issues we face as a country today. Innovation doesn’t happen in political parties. I’m big on service. I feel like T4A.org is more in the civic and service sector vs political. But, of course, we do meet with many elected officials. And I think that’s very important because the private sector needs to better understand the real challenges of governing. For too long, the exchange between the public and private sector has been atrocious. I think we play a role in making it better.
Your son James was born on March 21st (making him eight months old on Thursday). How has having a child affected the way you look at our work here at T4A.org?
I want my son to be proud of me the way I am proud of my father. And I want to do my part to close some of the growing divides in our Country for him and his generation.
Who are your role models and why?
My Mom and Dad. They are two incredible examples for my brothers and me on what an adult/parent/spouse/citizen should be.
As you look at your community, city/state/country, how do you view your role/responsibility as a citizen? Within that context, how do you view your role as citizen in relation to our Government and Democracy?
For our Democracy to sustain and refresh itself, it needs citizens to continually engage and be active. This is more true today than at any point in my life. Change happens outside-in. And, yes, we need change today. If it happens outside-in, then it requires us at citizens to make it so.
Just about everyone (regardless of political affiliation) sees a large gap between our politics (Washington, DC as well as state capitals) and the reality on the issues we face as a Country. Why do you think that is? I know it's a tough question, but what do you think can be done to close that gap?
There are a number of reasons to point to, but I’ll agree with Tom Friedman who recently pointed to the following: corrosive impact of money in politics, gerrymandering, and shortcomings with the media.

As for what can be done? Well, since change happens outside-in, we need citizens to sustain involvement with government and force the politics to catch up to the gravity of the issues we face. I don’t believe this is a short-term fix. This will require stamina.

Are political parties becoming less relevant today, particularly for young adults? Whatever your answer, why do you think that is?
They are still relevant today because if you are thinking about running for office, it is much more likely that you can win if you are a member of a Party. They bring to bear significant resources. However, as mentioned above, the Parties are stuck in trench warfare, they aren’t innovating, and they consistently play a blame game. People want substance. And technology is helping to shine a light on some of the shenanigans in a way that wasn’t possible until recently. So, I think Parties need to do better, or risk alienating more and more Americans, which will ultimately cause their decline or demise.
What is your favorite journey?
Studying abroad my junior year of college in Perugia, Italy and then spending the Summer traveling around Europe.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?
Tough one. Maybe LeBron James.
What is your proudest moment?
Becoming a Dad.
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