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A Life-Changing Decision to Volunteer

Alumni get out the vote!

Story by Stacee Sledge

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Jesse Moore started as a volunteer for Barack Obama’s presidential bid and became a paid staffer, sometimes giving warm-up speeches for the senator. | Photo by Jesse Moore

Jesse Moore (’05) took a bit of a gamble last January and headed to Las Vegas to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign.

Moore hedged his bets at first, taking an unpaid leave of absence with plans to return to his job as a multicultural outreach advisor for Western’s Office of Admissions.

“I flew to Las Vegas and threw myself into the fray,” Moore said.

The whirlwind was immediate, as Moore spent three weeks of 17-hour days canvassing door to door, working to sway caucus voters to Obama’s camp, and recruiting, scheduling and training volunteers on how to get out the vote in their precincts and win their caucuses.

It was soon clear that this one-time volunteer stint would turn into a career change. Moore came home to Seattle after the Nevada caucus and soon became a staffer for the Obama campaign in Washington state. In Seattle, he organized and trained voter protection attorneys and helped to schedule and assist surrogates like U.S. Rep. Adam Smith and Sen. John Kerry while they were in town.

He then crisscrossed the country, serving as field director from Texas to Indiana to North Carolina. Each job challenged, fulfilled and somehow energized Moore enough – despite little sleep and lots of stress – to keep him wanting to continue.

“There was never a big decision to leave Western,” he says. “They just kept hiring me, one state at a time.”

Moore proudly lists his accomplishments with the Obama campaign: “I’ve had the honor of registering 60-year-old, first-time voters and helping folks register who never learned to read but have been inspired to try again by listening to Sen. Obama.”

He’s also moved from behind the scenes at the campaign, sometimes giving warm-up speeches for the senator, stressing the importance of community involvement.

“It has been exhausting, inspiring and certainly life-altering,” Moore says. “There are no days off, most workdays are at least 15 hours long, and the pace is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Still, it feels worth it on a daily basis.”

In some ways, Moore’s work with the Obama campaign is a continuation of his work at Western. “I worked hard to weave empowerment and pluralism into our university message and helped to revise our publications and letters to prospective students,” he said.

After so many months of non-stop work at breakneck speed, what are Moore’s plans for after the election?

He mentions searching for a job and looking for somewhere to live.

But whatever his plans, he says, “I can assure you sleeping will be involved, as will hugging my mom.”