Paulette Askinoff: A New Generation of Advocacy

PAULETTE ANISKOFF: Every day that I worked at the White House — especially during four years running President Obama's White House Office of Public Engagement — I was inspired and energized by the passionate advocates who came through our doors. Many came to promote causes the president cared deeply about: combating climate change, advancing gun safety, reforming our criminal justice system, striving for LGBTQ equality, fixing our broken immigration system, and ending sexual assault on campus, to name just a few.

While these advocates were united in their sense of purpose and urgency, I also saw them employ vastly different advocacy tactics and philosophies. Some became close partners to the President and his team, while others adopted a more adversarial approach. Some mastered the tools of 21st Century advocacy and played a central role in driving historic reforms, while others came away from the Obama years with little tangible progress.

The media, public policy and advocacy landscapes are evolving at a dizzying pace. Yet there are clear and enduring lessons from the Obama years that can inform how groups of citizens maximize their power to shape our nation's political and cultural agenda.

Each week this semester we are digging in on a specific area of policy, first reviewing how the Obama White House and outside organizations came together to promote reform, and then assessing results and lessons learned. And in all our conversations we are weighing how successful approaches from the Obama years can be adapted to a new generation of advocacy in the era of resistance and as the 2020 battle lines are drawn. Join our conversation on Thursdays from 4:00pm - 5:30pm.


Paulette Aniskoff is an Obama ‘08 campaign alum and the former Director of the Office of Public Engagement (OPE) at the Obama White House. She launched Citizen 44 LLC in early 2017, which oversees President Obama’s engagement with political organizations around the country. She is also a GU Politics Spring Fellow.

Max Magid