Meet the AAPI Staffers Behind the 2020 Presidential Candidates: Jenn Liu

 
 

AAPIs are more engaged in the political process than ever before, representing our community at all levels, including going into the 2020 Presidential elections. Leading up to the first-ever AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum, we’re featuring AAPI staffers on some of the 2020 Presidential campaigns. We recognize that, as role models and leaders, they are paving the way toward a more diverse and inclusive America.

For this feature, we had the chance to sit down with Jenn Liu from the Kamala Harris campaign.

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Meet Jenn Liu

I got into politics by accident while I was in college at Boston University through Deval Patrick, the former Governor of Massachusetts. I worked for the Governor for about 4 years primarily in a fundraising capacity but also did a brief stint in the Governor's political affairs office at State House, too. After leaving the Governor's office, I worked on a special congressional election in MA-05 and then on Martha Coakley for Governor. Unfortunately, we did not win that one and I ended up moving to DC for a job at the DCCC in 2015. Shortly after taking the job at the DCCC I interviewed to be Senator Harris's finance director for her US Senate race and moved to LA by the fall of 2015. I continued to work as the Senator's finance director and as her leadership PAC director from 2016 through 2018. I now serve as the Senior Advisor for Revenue on the Presidential Campaign.

Why is it important for AAPIs to engage with this election cycle? 

It's important for ALL Americans to participate in this cycle given how much is at stake for our country, however, as the Asian American population grows our participation in politics should also grow. In the next 25-30 years the Asian American population is projected to make-up about 10% of the country. With all of the political uncertainty and issues that need addressing, the AAPI community has a vested interest in the decisions that will be made by elected leaders in the coming years. Regardless of political affiliation or ideological identification, overall one of the most important things that I believe we all need to work towards is making sure that our political process, campaigns and government are all more reflective of the diversity of our country.

It is imperative that the AAPI community be adequately represented in our political process. As the saying goes: "If you're not at the table then you're on the menu." This is particularly true in this era of hyper partisanship and extreme polarization. In order to ensure greater representation we need to begin with engagement. We need to activate the AAPI community (particularly younger voters) because we need to continue to build the bench for the current fights and future political battles to come. In other words, in addition to just voter engagement we also need to work on grooming the next generation of operatives and on training folks to run for office. The decisions that are made by our government in the next few years will affect Americans of all backgrounds for decades to come.

What does working on a presidential campaign mean to you?

This particular campaign means the world to me. Kamala Harris has been and continues to be many firsts, and I am honored to be working for a female, mixed race presidential candidate of Asian American descent who values diversity in our process as much as I do. Kamala has always made it her personal mission to ensure that her staff both on the campaign side and in the Senate are as diverse as possible. I have joked that I have never seen so many other Asian staffers until this campaign because I've been so used to being the only one! (With the exception of Roger Lau when I was in Massachusetts!).

In all seriousness, it is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am grateful to be where I am. It's cliche to say that the next election is the most important election of them all, but by many measures this is entirely true in 2020. It brings me immense joy and gratitude to be working at the highest levels of politics for a candidate who is uniquely qualified to take on the opposition and win this election.

Furthermore, I know how much it means for people who look like me to see a woman of color and of AAPI descent, to be considered for the most powerful position in the world. Being a part of this historic candidacy is incredibly meaningful and exciting, albeit challenging at times. But even when things are tough, I am heartened to remember that there are little girls and boys who look like me and my family, who are watching Kamala Harris climb the ranks in the highest echelons of American politics, and believing that could be them someday.

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Our voices matter! AAPIs deserve to be heard. Raise your voice on September 7-8 at the AAPI Community Action Summit and the first ever AAPI Presidential Forum. This is a great opportunity to engage with the issues facing our community and hear from 2020 Presidential Candidates. For tickets and information, click here.

 
Rebecca Lee