Tuesdays with T4A: Autumn Sample (02/11/14)

[column size=”1-3″ style=”0″ last=”0″][staff name=”Autumn Sample” position=”Director of Strategic Partnerships | T4A.org” img=”https://www.t4a.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Autumn-Sample1.jpg”]Autumn is the Director of Strategic Partnerships. Prior to T4A.org, she specialized in fundraising – building, strengthening and leveraging major donor relationships in Northern California and the Northwest. Autumn started her career in Washington State working on behalf of a slate of female political candidates during the 2004 and 2006 elections. During college, Autumn swam for Purdue University, where she served as team captain. She resides in San Francisco with her fiancé Chase Kurtz.


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[spoiler title=”Where did you grow up, and what do you remember most about it?” open=”1″ style=”1″ color=”#b6e400″]I grew up for my first 12 years in Escondido, a suburb of San Diego. I was homeschooled by my mom until the 3rd grade which was a lot of fun and made me very imaginative… we did crazy things like go to operas on Friday nights and all week we’d dress up to act them out beforehand so we would understand the story. We lived out in the country and one of my sweetest memories is being able to ride my pink bike on the dirt roads in the warm weather late at night. My dad was a Naval aviator and was away on aircraft carriers for close to half my life by the time he retired. I remember missing him.

In sixth grade, we moved to Pullman, WA. My dad went back to school to become a Veterinarian. When we got there my sister and I were like, “where are the freeways?!” I swam, a lot. My social life basically consisted of attending PAC 10 games. It was a great place to grow up! Go Cougs![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What was your first job?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#daee00″]I used to lifeguard in the summer in high school at Wazzu.  The WSU football team used to come in everyday after their morning training camp and I distinctly recall a few lineman not being able to swim. They would wade out to where it got just too deep and keep me on my toes![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your first political memory?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]When I was six, my mom went to go visit my Dad in Korea during the 1988 presidential election – Bush vs. Dukakis. My little sister Natalie and I went to stay with our grandparents in Yosemite for a few weeks. We had never been exposed to so much television and I was riveted by the political coverage, though I don’t think I had a horse in the race.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your favorite book?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#ffc600″]I don’t read books as much as I should! I like reading magazines. My fiancé Chase is certain I’m the only person in the world that subscribes to both Foreign Affairs and Us Weekly. [/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”Who is your role model and why?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I really admire Sec. Madeleine Albright. I’m inspired by her resilience and how she’s continued to pick herself up after adversity in all parts of life to charge ahead. I’ve read a couple of her memoirs and she is incredibly funny, yet, so powerful and humble and honest. I’m fascinated by her unlikely road to prominence with her wandering career path and how she balanced raising three kids. I ended up studying International Relations in college in part because of her. To date, I still have only ever traveled to Canada and Mexico – so probably not on my way to becoming an international head of state![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”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?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I believe we all have a responsibility to dial in and know what is going on. Although, I am at an advantage for having a predisposition to politics and wanting to be engaged. I hope others can find the inspiration to want to plug in too and have a voice, America doesn’t work best with just Autumns in the room![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”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?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I think it comes down to ultra-partisanship, gerrymandering, intense fundraising, the short-term focus of officials to be reelected.

I don’t have the answer on how to make Washington work, but I have been inspired by officials we’ve sat down with – like Senators Warner, Moran, Murray, and Kaine – and some we haven’t – like Congressman Ryan – who are dedicated to working across the aisle to get things done. Their leadership strengthens my hope for our country’s future.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”Are political parties becoming less relevant today, particularly for young adults? Whatever your answer, why do you think that is?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]As someone who was a DNC employee for 6 years, I would say they are becoming less relevant. From witnessing the groundswell of support in 2008 by Millennials,  it was obvious that their inspiration and loyalty wasn’t the party – it was the person. From my perspective, parties stifle representatives and prevent them from accurately and responsibly serving their constituents. As a millennial myself (I think I make the cutoff by a month), I admire when people on both sides of the aisle come out of their foxholes and do what they were elected to do, rather than cower to a party line and vote against their electorate.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What do you think the private sector (or really anybody who doesn’t have the experience) would be most surprised to learn about life on a campaign? Positive and/or negative.” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]It is a start-up! Sometimes it is shocking at how much power lies with such a young and inexperienced few, how that can be detrimental at times and also an asset. Also, you’d be surprised how many are there based on who they know and loyalty, rather than merit.

I think they’d also be surprised in how technologically unsophisticated campaigns have been. Especially when I look back to the 2004 campaign, I am embarrassed how far behind we were.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”There has been much talk recently in the tech sector about the challenges of being a female in a male dominated space. Do you find parallels in campaign/political life?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]On the ground floor, I don’t. I think that for all of the campaigns I have been on, there has been a somewhat equal balance of male and female leaders. Maybe because politically – at least on the D side – campaigns are forced to do that? I have found myself, since working more with tech, more often being conscious of being one of the few women in the room. That said, when you look at female representation on the elected/CEO level, I think it is easy to draw the comparison.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What have you learned in your first year of a startup? Good, bad, or other.” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I’ve learned the value of trust. We have been in the trenches together in the past, which made it all the more possible to begin something new together. It would have been much harder to start something without having the trust our team had already built.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your favorite journey?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]When I was 7 we drove across the country to Philadelphia where my Dad was stationed for a year. It took us over a month and we stopped at any and everything along the way that was educational. So many of my memories are from that part of my life! When we got to Philly, we lived in a high-rise building for a few months. My sister and I loved to wear the prairie hats we picked up in Oklahoma and would roller skate to the Ben Franklin museum each day wearing them. We must have looked crazy to city dwellers – downtown rollerskating prairie girls![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?!” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]Cate Blanchett[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your proudest moment?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]

Feb. 21st, 2004 – My senior year of college at Purdue, I qualified for finals at the Big Ten Championships in the 200 Butterfly and finished 6th. It was my final swim of my career (today is almost 10 years to the day!). Even though it wasn’t my fastest time, I was elated and satisfied and proud that I helped my team and excited for my next chapter all at the same time. It was the most wonderful feeling, I will never forget it.[/spoiler]


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