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By Levi Perrin

Andrea Hailey

Andrea Hailey stares off into the distance recalling how it felt to watch her parents engage with voting rights. From driving voters to the polls to staffing the booths—from a young age she was keenly aware that the political rights given to her could be taken away.

“I was born to do this work,” she said. “There was never a beginning to this work for me. Voter mobilization is just a part of what it means to be in a community.”

Fast forward. Hailey is still doing the work as CEO of, the nation’s largest nonpartisan digital voter engagement organization. Under her leadership, boasts record-breaking growth during the 2020 U.S. Presidential and the Georgia runoff elections—helping more than four million people register to vote, three million to request mail-in ballots, and led a 50-state get-out-the-vote operation which made over half a billion voter contacts.

“What surprises me most about voter mobilization now versus when I started is the drastic change in technology,” Hailey explains. ”When I first started out, we were knocking on doors and registering by hand. But now we’re registering millions of people at a time because we have the digital capability to do so. I didn’t even dream that this could be a possibility.”

Committed to touching as many voters as possible, strives to move a step beyond registration to be a space that has the latest information across the country to keep people informed on all of the issues that they might care about.

“Our conversion rate from registration to the ballot box is 81 percent, which is a staggering number, but I think it’s due to our constant communication with voters.”

Long before, Hailey dreamed of picking up the baton from some of her heroes, like the late Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Ted Kennedy, and paying it forward for her generation. But first, she had to figure out how to get her foot in the door.

“As a child, I really admired the Kennedy family and decided to look up the contact information for then Representative Pat Kennedy. I called his office every single day, until he agreed to let me work for him.”

Not afraid of hearing no, or showing up until the door of opportunity opened, Hailey went on to launch the Civic Engagement Fund. The organization promotes and partners with like-minded individuals to build creative solutions for today’s civic engagement issues. This ranges from state legislatures limiting access to waning enthusiasm from young voters.

“To young voters I often say, there are a bunch of people out there that don’t want you to vote, and that is for a reason. If there’s a population of people that do not participate, then politicians feel no need to address your concerns because they know that there are no repercussions.”

A few years ago Hailey joined Representative John Lewis’ Faith and Politics Tour in Selma, Alabama. The event, featuring local and national voices, made a commemorative trek across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Hailey, pen and paper in hand, sifted through the crowd determined to ask Lewis what she believed to be the question of the century—what is the tool or tactic that he used generations ago that we are forgetting now? What is the thing that could fix it all?

Lewis, never missing a beat, looked at her and said, “You have to keep your joy.”

“That answer stunned me,” Hailey confessed. “But after the last few election cycles, I know what he meant now…yes, build community; yes, vote; yes, fight for what you believe. But, joy is the thing that propels us all forward.”

Now, with two decades of voter engagement experience under her belt, Hailey reflects on notions  of the little girl who  still lives within her, wide-eyed and excited for the future.

“I think she would be so proud and excited to see me now . . . and I think she would say that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”