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Adam Parkhomenko, the Director for Grassroots Engagements at Hillary for America, spoke Tuesday night at an event organized by Penn Democrats, the Government and Politics Association and Penn for Hillary.

Credit: Horia Clement

Adam Parkhomenko, national director of grassroots engagement at Hillary for America, spoke at Penn last night at the invitation of Penn Democrats. The room was crowded with more students than seats — evidence of growing political interest on Penn’s campus in light of the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Parkhomenko has been actively supporting Hillary Clinton since the age of 17, when he launched to convince Clinton to run for president in 2004. He supported her again in 2008 as a staffer on her presidential campaign.

In January 2013, Parkhomenko and professor Allida Black of George Washington University created Ready for Hillary, the first Super PAC of the 2016 election season. Ready for Hillary was also the first Super PAC created for a candidate who had yet to declare an intent to run. Parkhomenko likened Ready for Hillary to a train station saying, “We didn’t know if the train was coming, but we wanted to be ready if it did.”

Despite starting a Super PAC, Parkhomenko is not a fan of big money in politics and set Ready for Hillary's contribution cap at $25,000. Ready for Hillary emphasized a bottom-up grassroots approach and created a widespread network to campaign in all 50 states. “Direct mail is good for reading while walking to the trash can,” said Parkhomenko, highlighting the benefits of a grassroots campaign over mass media options such as direct mail. Ready for Hillary's approach proved to be highly successful, raising $15 million and creating a network of four million people.

As promised, Ready For Hillary handed over its resources to Hillary for America immediately after Hillary Clinton launched her second presidential bid in April.A few weeks before Hillary Clinton's official campaign announcement, Parkhomenko joined the campaign team as the national director of grassroots engagement at Hillary for America. His job revolves around managing, assisting or connecting groups and resources for Hillary’s campaign in all except four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. 

Multiple students asked  Parkhomenko how Clinton’s campaign intends to distance itself from Clinton's image as an establishment candidate, referring to some Americans who don't want a professional politician to “inherit” the White House. Parkhomenko countered that if she were the establishment candidate, then Ready for Hillary and similar campaign efforts wouldn’t be necessary.

Parkhomenko outlined three ways students can contribute to Clinton’s campaign: Students can find volunteer opportunities on Clinton's website, follow her and defend her on social media or join Penn for Hillary.

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