Election 2016

What The Woman Responsible For The DNC Wants You To Know

Image provided by: DNC | Source: Refinery 29 | By Torey Van Oot

"The Rev. Leah Daughtry sees two options for tackling obstacles and injustices in life: "You can complain about something, or you can do something about it." 

For Daughtry, a pastor, political operative, and former senior administration official, the choice is and always has been clear: do something. 

And as chief executive officer of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, there's a lot that needs doing. 

It's the second time Daughtry has been tasked with overseeing the planning and execution of her party's presidential year convention — the other was in 2008, when President Barack Obama became the first African-American nominee for president.

Now, eight years later, it looks like Daughtry is once again presiding over a historic gathering, as Hillary Clinton appears poised to become the first woman to win a major party's nomination when delegates cast their votes in Philadelphia this July. 

Daughtry spoke with Refinery29 about the upcoming DNC, her own path to political activism, and why it's so crucial that women vote this fall. 

What does the CEO of the DNC do?
"What I say is I am responsible for all aspects of the planning and execution of the quadrennial nominating convention…" 

So that’s not a tough job at all...
"[Laughs] No, just a few details here and there. That means everything from hotel contracts to bus routes to the laying of cable, the design of a stage, and the planning of a program — all of that falls within my jurisdiction."


You’ve said you want this to be the most diverse and forward-looking convention that we’ve had in recent history. What are you doing to achieve that, and why is that such an important goal to you? 
"We pride ourselves as Democrats on being the big tent party, which means we have room for everyone. When we talk about diversity, we mean diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, but it’s also diversity in terms of ideas, opinions, geography, background, family composition — all of that is part of diversity. We think, not only are we stronger as a party but we are stronger as a nation when we celebrate differences, when we celebrate diversity and recognize that we all bring something to the table…When you get a wide array of people in the room, what you learn is you don’t have to be just like me to be just like me — we have a certain set of values, the things that connect us as human beings.

"As Democrats, there are certain things we care about. We care about our neighborhoods and our kids, and we think that government has a role to play in ensuring that people have the tools they need to be successful and that governments ought to be in the business of supporting as opposed to restricting access for people to have the capital that they need and the opportunities they need to be successful and to realize the American dream. We want to have delegates from every walk of life. Of course, we’ll have every state in the union, but able-bodied and disabled, straight and gay, transgender, Black and white and brown and Native American and Asian Pacific and Native Hawaiians, all of that — all of the 57 states and territories that come to our convention. When you turn on our convention, you can see America on our convention floor, because we are so diverse and because we make it a point to be diverse." -- Torey Van Oot, Refinery 29

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