“Just Watch Us”: The Kennedy Political Union’s Engaging and Energetic Discussion With Symone Sanders
By: Sonali Doshi, KPU Deputy Director of Communications
What an incredible way to end a semester full of influential and inspiring speakers. On Tuesday, December 1st, The Kennedy Political Union and the Women’s Initiative were honored to host incoming Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for Vice President-Elect Harris, Symone Sanders, for our final event of the semester. Ms. Sanders spoke on her time on the Biden campaign, the incoming administration, the current state of the democratic party, and her personal journey to becoming who she is today.
Symone Sanders rose to prominence in 2016 when she became the youngest presidential press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign at 25-years-old. Since then, she has served as principal for the 360 Group LLC, a strategic communications firm based in Washington D.C., and as a CNN political commentator. Most recently, Sanders served as a Senior Advisor to the Biden Campaign.
As an aspiring public relations practitioner, the event with Ms. Sanders felt like a master class in strategic communication and political storytelling. The conversation began with questions from the moderator, SPA Professor Candice Nelson, about managing President-elect Biden’s campaign amid a global pandemic. Sanders discussed the innovative solutions the Biden team had to develop in order to adjust to the restrictions of the current state of the union. In particular, she noted the smashing success of the “drive-in rally,” events I’m sure we all watched on our television screens in the weeks leading up and days following the infamous 2020 Presidential election.
Like so many of my peers, I am a college student struggling to find my footing amid a school year like no other. I listened intently as Ms. Sanders described her own career in government, advocacy and communications. Her advice? Be willing to intern, seek out valuable human connections, and above all; be unapologetically yourself. Sanders stressed, “We have to show up every day as our authentic selves in order to inspire the next generation.”
As a woman of color, I was touched by Ms. Sanders’ response when asked about her new role as Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. Sanders recalled that growing up in Nebraska, it was rare to see someone that looked like her in positions of power. As she begins her journey as a member of the first White House communications team made up entirely of women, Sanders believes that this administration is optimized to serve the American people in a unique and meaningful way. In student media interviews conducted prior to the event, when asked about naysayers of the first all-female White House communication team, Ms. Sanders simply laughed and replied, “just watch us.”
Ms. Sanders’ energetic and bubbly demeanor felt like the perfect way to break up the typical end of semester blues. Her excitement about what’s to come in a Biden-Harris White House inspired hope and optimism as she drove home the incoming administration’s commitment to their campaign tagline “build back better.”
I am fiercely proud to be part of an organization that has continued to bring the most politically relevant speakers to the American University student body, even if it is via Zoom Webinar. I can’t wait to see what (or whom) next semester brings!