IWIL in Washington, DC

IWIL DC 2014

This month's post comes from IWIL Class of 2014 members Shiva Mohsenzadeh and Rachel Ruttenberg. Here is their summary of the fantastic week!

"On Wednesday, we started at the Union Labor Life Insurance Company. President and CEO Ed Smith, one of our gracious hosts for the trip, welcomed us and told us about ULLICO and why it is important. We then had engaging presentations on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruitment, as well as TV and direct mail campaign strategy, from professionals at Three Point Media and The Pivot Group. After lunch, a seasoned pollster from Celinda Lake Research discussed polling with us.

Then, we headed to the Rayburn House Office Building, where we had the opportunity to talk with Congresswomen Robin Kelly, Cheri Bustos (an IWIL alum!), and Jan Schakowsky. Congressmen Bill Enyart, Bill Foster, Brad Schneider, and Mike Quigley also joined us. One after another, they shared their stories, talked about their campaign experiences, and gave us insight into the governing process in Congress - all while taking turns running to the floor for a vote! It was amazing to get to know these leaders and learn from their personal stories.

Picture with Bustos

Thursday started with a visit with Assistant Majority Leader Senator Durbin in his office in the Capitol. He took us to the Senate floor and, later, we had the opportunity to hear Senate President Harry Reid present a bill. We then had a presentation from Senate Secretary Nancy Erickson and the Senate Historian Betty Koed on the fascinating history of women in the Senate, followed by a tour of the Capitol.  One of the trip highlights was lunch with Senator Durbin, during which we had surprise visits from Senators Claire McCaskill, Elizabeth Warren, Heidi Heitkamp, Patty Murray, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. We had the invaluable opportunity of hearing these inspiring leaders share their personal stories of trials and triumphs as candidates running for public office and as elected officials.

After lunch, we traveled to the Teamsters’ headquarters. There, we had a training on self and opposition research from New Partners Consulting and a presentation by a representative from the White House Office of Congressional Affairs. Lastly, Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice, made an incredibly powerful speech on workers’ rights, livable wage, and economic justice, and their direct correlation to economic development and our core democratic values. This was perhaps one of the most policy-rich presentations to date in our IWIL training.

We concluded our D.C. trip on Friday with a day-long public speaking training with the author of  “A Standing Ovation,” Christine Jahnke. We learned insider information on how to be camera ready, manage an audience, and effectively communicate our message. This was an outstanding training from a true expert in the field.

Overall, our D.C. trip felt like a dream come true! We came home inspired and ready to start our own journeys running for office."