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Recent grad on election’s front lines in battleground state of Pennsylvania

Northeastern graduate Chelsie Ouellette has spent the past year-and-a-half working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. From managing teams of campaign workers and training volunteers, to engaging with voters and developing strategies to reach them, all of it has been with an eye toward Tuesday—Election Day.

“I’m about to wrap up a very long chapter of my life,” Ouellette said.

Ouellette, AMD’11, is the statewide organizing director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and has been stationed in Philadelphia for the past six months. In recent weeks, her primary focus has pivoted from voter registration to get-out-the-vote. Over Halloween weekend, she led a dry run of her team’s Election Day strategy for connecting with Clinton supporters and making sure they’re headed to the polls.

She knows the stakes are high; Pennsylvania is an important battleground state. She’s exhausted, but she’s energized for the sprint to the finish line. “We’ve been working a lot of hours to get ready,” she said. “I’m excited. At the end of the day, it’s all coming down to our organizers and volunteers being equipped to turn out the vote.”

I know co-op and my experiential learning courses gave me confidence to try new things and always be reaching outside my comfort zone to tackle whatever is happening in the workplace. Back then, I didn’t think I’d be helping organize a campaign, but that [experience] helped me get to where I am today. It’s my true passion. I’m where I’m supposed to be.
—Chelsie Ouellette

Ouellette’s journey began in April 2015, when she was brought on as a regional organizing director in New Hampshire, and later became deputy organizing director. She spent nearly a year there until being dispatched in March to Missouri ahead of the state’s primary. Clinton ultimately carried Missouri over Bernie Sanders by a mere 1,531 votes. “I remember that moment sitting in the boiler room and finding out that we’d won,” she recalled. “It was an absolutely amazing experience, knowing that you’d done something that helped shape the campaign. It came down to margins, decisions made here or there.”

She hopes to have that same feeling Tuesday night.

Chelsie Ouellette (center, at end of table) with members of her team on the night of the Pennsylvania primary on April 26.

Chelsie Ouellette (center, at end of table) with members of her team on the night of the Pennsylvania primary on April 26.

Six years ago, Ouellette was working on co-op at the White House in the Office of Media Affairs. She said she never could’ve imagined being on the front lines of a presidential race back then, but she said her Northeastern experience prepared her well for the job.

“Northeastern gave me the skills I needed to be an organizer and manager,” she said. In particular, she pointed to learning how crisis communications works in a course taught by associate professor Elise Dallimore and to the mentorship and guidance she received—and continued to receive after graduation—from associate professor Greg Goodale, with whom she took three courses. “He is someone who always believed in me and challenged me to think critically and act on my convictions.”

She added: “I know co-op and my experiential learning courses gave me confidence to try new things and always be reaching outside my comfort zone to tackle whatever is happening in the workplace. Back then, I didn’t think I’d be helping organize a campaign, but that [experience] helped me get to where I am today. It’s my true passion. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

Goodale and Dallimore both still remain in touch with Ouellette and are hardly surprised by her professional success. “Every time she stepped into the classroom she elevated that classroom,” said Goodale, adding that she leads by “generosity and collegiality.”

Dallimore said Ouellette’s “sense of humanity and sense of decency equal if not exceed her drive, her ambition, and her intellectual ability.”

“When she was a student in my class,” Dallimore said, “there was no doubt in my mind that she would go on to be a decision-maker, and not just on a small scale, but on a scale that had national if not international implications.”

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