Nataly is no stranger to life-changing transitions, coming from a family that relocated to the US from Mexico when she was 3. But she was surprised when her first stop after graduation from Middle Tennessee State University in May 2012 turned out to be Yakima, Washington.
In 2008, as a newly minted citizen, she’d been thrilled at the prospect of voting in her first presidential election.
“I was so excited about the voting, that I just had to get others involved,” she said. “So I signed up as a volunteer, and my first event was a phone bank.”
In 2011, she heard President Obama speak. When he said the time to get involved was now, she took it to heart. As she was finishing her journalism degree, she applied for the Spring Fellows Internship Program with Organizing for America and was later appointed a Field Organizer in eastern Washington.
In Yakima she found a community already involved in the election and very willing to work.
“In Washington it seems like they treat all of the races--governor, presidential, and local--with the same importance. People here have pride in volunteering, and it's very motivating. What could be more important than getting Jay Inslee and Barack Obama elected?"
Nataly has a strong personal connection to her work.
“My main reason [for getting involved] is Barack Obama’s determination to do something for those who had no choice in coming here and to make sure that everyone has a fair chance once they’re here. I want to fight for Barack because he’s fighting for women, Latinos, and young people.”
That sense of community Nataly feels is one she believes is paralleled in the structure of Organizing for America.
“In Yakima, there are folks who've been doing this a long time. Usually, once the election is over, the campaign packs up and leaves, and they don't hear from them again. Because of the relationships formed during the campaign, we'll continue to be a community of activists.”