Faces of the campaign: Amber Meshack

Barack Obama

Name: Amber Meshack
Job title: Regional Field Director, north-central Las Vegas
Hometown: San Diego, California—but I consider myself an Angeleno
Based in: Las Vegas, Nevada

Q1. What does a day at work look like to you?

I don’t want to give my age away too much, but I’ve been an organizer for about 20 years. For the last 10 I’ve been working for the city of Los Angeles, and before that I was a union organizer and a living-wage organizer.

On this campaign, I don’t have a typical day so far—it’s only my fifth day on the job! But I’ll be doing whatever it takes to ensure that field organizers, summer fellows, and volunteers have all the support that they need to get the job done. I’ll be providing information, pep talks, trainings, guidance, materials—anything. And we have all this technology now—back when I first became an organizer we used old-school maps, and now we have GPS and iPhones.

Q2. How did you first come to the campaign?

My mom died when I was seven years old and I was raised by my great-grandmothers, who were both born in 1904—one of whom was raised by her own grandmother, a former slave. If she was born today she’d be a senator or a CEO, but she lived in a time when those opportunities just weren’t there.

Nana watched the news every night, she read the paper, and she was a hardcore Democrat—growing up, we’d throw barbecues to raise money for Democrats in the backyard. That’s how I was raised and how my values were formed. Today, I always have Nana in the back of my mind. She lived through the Great Depression, Jim Crow, civil rights, and I’m not going to go backward on the sacrifices that my Nana made.

So, I volunteered in 2008, and then went to President Obama’s inauguration. I was sitting on the lawn, crying with joy, and I said no matter what I’ll work on the next campaign. This year I reached out to African American Vote Director Stefanie Brown—I had a contact with her from the NAACP—and that’s how I ended up working in Vegas. I have family here, so I was able to make a really smooth transition.

Q3. What’s your favorite part of your job?

As an organizer, I am inspired every single day by the stories of the people around me—they remind me why I’m here. One volunteer leader here told me she had moved from California, where she lost her house when she was laid off in the tech bust. Another summer organizer, who has two small children, was foreclosed on during the Vegas housing crisis. She was laid off, but she’s been able to rebuild her life because she got into school on the extended Pell Grant program.

All the statistics in the news affect real people’s lives—and in this line of work, every day we get to wake up and make sure we’re on the right side of history.

Q4. What’s the most unexpected part of your job?

In some ways, the thing that has surprised me the most is the support I hear from friends and family, my old coworkers, people on the street—they say, “Yeah, go get ‘em—give ‘em hell!” I feel like I’m carrying their wishes and hopes in this fight.

Q5. Tell us a fun fact about yourself:

I once was a contestant on the quiz show “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” There was an extensive testing process—you’d think they were testing people out for NASA! When I got on camera I froze, but at least I answered a question about Camp David right. Also, yesterday was my birthday! It was my first time working on my birthday in 15 years—but I got a lot of love on Facebook and by phone, so that was good.

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