Morgan Kull
By Morgan Kull on February 24, 2023

Staffer Spotlight: Claire Cilien

ABOUT CLAIRE

Looking for a career in campaigns can be daunting, especially when you're just starting out. That's why internships are crucial for aspiring politicos like Claire, a Long Island native who attended the University of Tampa and graduated in 2020 with a Political Science degree and a Sociology minor. 

In the summer of 2021, Claire took the leap and joined Grassroots as an intern. This opportunity was especially meaningful to Claire, as it was her first experience in her desired field of politics. She took the internship in stride and left with the connections and skills necessary to make a difference on a campaign. 

WORKING FOR CONGRESSMAN MONDAIRE JONES

After leaving her internship at Grassroots, Claire landed a job as a Call Time Manager for Congressman Mondaire Jones. Looking back on her time with the Congressman, whom she called "a true treasure," Claire reflected on everything she had learned. "Being organized with your work is very important. I was fortunate because Mondaire has a great memory which made call time smooth," she recalled. She emphasized the importance of Call Time Managers taking diligent notes as, "even if you don’t remember a donor, the donor remembers when a Congressman calls them. So the little details go a long way."

Overall, Claire found her experience working for Congressman Jones to be incredible. She felt a strong connection with him and appreciated his policy decisions and messages for youth and queer people of color. "It was great working for a Congressman who represented who I am," she said.

For Claire, the best part of her job was the trust people put in Congressman Jones and their willingness to share personal stories with him. However, her favorite call was more personal, when a donor took the time to candidly talk with her about her role. "It was great to have someone take the time to chat with me and take the time to tell me about her grandkids," Claire recalled. As she knows, call time is most enjoyable when you get to talk to the right person with a great story and donations to give. 

LEADERSHIP AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE ROLE

Just a month into her job, the Congressman's team found themselves without a finance director for a brief period. As a result, Claire was tasked with achieving the fundraising goal of half a million dollars for the quarter, despite this being her first experience as a finance staffer. However, at the end of the quarter, they exceeded their goal, leaving Claire with a sense of validation. "It was confirmation that I could do my job well even with a small team. My only political experience was with GA. They took a chance on hiring me and I crushed it," she said. 

ADVICE FOR STAFFERS

As anyone who has worked on a political campaign knows, it can be a grueling experience. As Claire put it, "campaigns become your life - you eat, sleep, breathe the candidate and the campaign. Advocating for yourself is key, especially with small teams. Advocate for your needs and the time you need to do your job well."

When asked for advice for those starting out as a Call Time Manager, Claire emphasized the importance of self-advocacy and proper data management. Clean, organized data is crucial to ensure uniformity with other staffers to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

RETURNING TO GRASSROOTS ANALYTICS 

When Congressman Jones lost his re-election, Claire knew she wasn't ready to give up on the cause of helping progressive candidates. She returned to GA to be involved in campaigns and campaign finance, all while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

At GA, Claire works with candidates and campaigns across the Southeast, creating finance plans, call time scripts, and training for finance staffers. She has a special fondness for Call Time Managers and enjoys the opportunities to "speak on best practices when it comes to tracking and fundraising as well as donor relations."

THE TAKEAWAYS

For those working on a campaign now, or a hopeful campaign worker, Claire wants to make sure that you prioritize yourself and your mental health because it’ll make you a better staffer and a happier person. In fact, she challenges you to join her New Year's Resolution of, “doing at least one new thing per month to explore and challenge yourself.” 

Well said, Claire, and thanks for the interview! 

Want your own spotlight or do you know someone we should feature? Email morgan@grassrootsanalytics.com.

Published by Morgan Kull February 24, 2023
Morgan Kull