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J.J.: Track Star Turns Operations Superstar

J.J. Nicastro

J.J. Nicastro
Hometown: Scranton, PA
Assignment: Operations Fellow in Richmond, VA

What would lead a Penn State senior track star from Scranton, Pennsylvania to pack up and move to Richmond, Virginia for a summer and beyond?

If you’re James “J.J.” Nicastro, it’s your love of learning and your love of politics.

J.J. is an Operations Fellow in the Richmond office, specializing in a little bit of everything. Although he’s done voter registration and phone banks, he gets to see a different side of the campaign: shipping equipment, helping in the search for field organizers, updating office locations, ordering supplies, and organizing literature for events. Technically, Team Ops is the problem solver for every other department. He loves that his job is unconventional and spontaneous. Each day is different. To date, J.J.’s crowning achievement has been finishing a complete remodel of an office—from gutting to grand opening.

But it’s the stories from the individuals affected by President Obama’s success that J.J. loves. His favorite moment was during a rally and house party, celebrating the LGBT community and the support they’ve received from President Obama. J.J. heard story after story of people touched by the President’s initiatives for LGBT folks. One of those people was Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who was discharged from the United States Army, a casualty of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. J.J. says that in that moment, he realized just how much the President does for individuals.

J.J. has faced some challenges since relocating to Richmond to serve the Obama campaign. At first, he made the half-mile walk from the office to his home into a three-mile journey. Then he realized that with a quick turn, the 30-minute commute pared down to 7. J.J. loves the artistic and bohemian feel of the city, and he’s found some good running routes to stay conditioned for the Penn State track team.

J.J. is thrilled to be working with the amazing field organizers in the Richmond office, people who, he says, “are the brightest people. They teach us how to be community organizers within the campaign by building neighborhood teams, running phone banks, canvassing neighborhoods and registering voters. They make us better people by teaching us from their dedication. From them we learn how to include and empower everyone.”

While we are no longer taking applications for fellows this summer, there are still so many ways to get involved. Step up and sign up below.


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