Every week we will sit down with a North Carolina Staffer for an interview. This week we talked to Jessica Rhau, our Regional Field Director for the Greensboro area.
Lets start off with the basics. We talk a lot about our personal stories about how we can to work to reelect the President. What is your story?
I grew up in Evanston, IL. Which I like to call a little bubble. I grew up thinking the world was perfect because my mom worked so hard to make sure I had everything I ever needed and wanted. No one could tell me any different despite the fact that my parents struggled for a better life by coming to the United States from Haiti. My mom worked to the bone to give me the best education and life she wanted for herself and for me and my sister. Yet I thought the world was great. I went to a private elementary school, I went to a great high school and college was the next step because it was all I ever knew. While at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign I double majored in political science and sociology and during my junior year, my mentor told me that I needed to focus and apply myself in a way that could make a difference to my community. I had no idea what he really meant at the time, but that summer I interned working for a local grassroots community organization on the south and west side of Chicago. That summer quickly popped the bubble I always lived in. On my very first day, I was in a neighborhood that I knew nothing about. I was going door to door getting signatures for a petition. The very first door I knocked on I heard a popping sound as a woman answered her door. I thought the popping sound I heard was fireworks, but she quickly informed me they were gunshots and pulled me inside her house. I was petrified and wanted to go back home. I wanted to go back to what I was used to, but I couldn't, I didn't want to live in fear of the unknown. That summer changed my life and I learned so much about myself, communities and the world around me. I found my voice in stepping out of my comfort zone and my eyes finally became opened to what it meant to being engaged and trying to make a difference in one’s community. Once I graduated, I kept working as a community organizer and started working on the Obama campaign and finished out in North Carolina. I remember what it felt like to be in this great state then and I am proud to be a part of the Organizing for America’s North Carolina team now; we have unfinished business.
How would you describe your organizing style?
I would describe my organizing style as relentless. Once your eyes are opened it is impossible to close them and pretend that things are ok. Families are fighting harder than ever before to make ends meet, find a job, put food on the table decide what bills to pay, and whether they can afford to send their child to school or whether they are going to pay their health care bill. This isn't anything new, but there is too much at stake right now that can either make or break all of our lives and future generations to come. I cannot imagine not giving everything I have got to keep fighting to move our country forward and reelecting President Obama. I look to my mother, family, those before me, and every person I come in to contact with on a day-to-day basis every day. I see all the sacrifices they have made to make a better life and I cannot and won't stop. There is so much to do and I, like the majority of the American people want to wake up after Nov 6.2012, smiling and knowing that we did everything we could to once again stand behind President Barack Obama and continue fighting to make our country better.
Who's your favorite band or musical artist?
This is tough! Common and Kanye West hands down, I mean I am from Chicago after all! However, there is a song by the Roots Ft. John Legend that I absolutely adore and recently tweeted about it being my life anthem, so I’m going to go with this one. It’s called “The Fire.”
What is your favorite movie?
These are really tough questions! Favorite movie right now or of all time? Two very different questions, but I’ll go with A Little Princess.
What is your favorite food?
My family is from the Caribbean’s and my mom is a phenomenal chef! You can’t do this to me! I love sweet mashed potatoes though.
Why should the people of the Triad come to volunteer for the campaign?
There is an incredible energy here in the Triad and we are going to continue building an amazing organization. Although our current teams have taken complete ownership of the campaign, we have an incredible amount of work to do, and we need everyone involved. North Carolinians have an unyielding spirit and with so much to fight for-- everything we do from this moment forward affects what happens to the entire state.