After restructuring its executive board, Penn for Biden is renewing its focus on gathering as many voters as possible for presumptuous Democratic presidential nominee, Penn Presidential Professor of Practice, and former Vice President Joe Biden for the general election in November.
Rising College junior Cassy Ingersoll and rising College senior Owen Voutsinas-Klose have been named the new co-chairs of Penn for Biden. Both are also heavily involved in Penn Democrats—Ingersoll serves as Penn Dems Membership Coordinator and Voutsinas-Klose is the Penn Dems President.
Both Ingersoll and Voutsinas-Klose will continue in their Penn Dems roles while taking on the co-chair positions with Penn for Biden.
"Penn for Biden and Penn Dems have different roles, but we need to work together to win [the general election]," Voutsinas-Klose said. "And so for me to be involved, it’s helpful to steer that and manage both clubs so that we’re highly effective in the fall."
The Penn for Biden executive board features seven members, including two co-chairs, two senior advisors, an outreach director, a digital director, and an operations director.
Ingersoll said the change in leadership occurred because Penn for Biden’s founders, Dylan Milligan and Gabriel Barnett, are 2020 graduates, and there was no clearly delineated executive board in the past year.
In preparation for the Pennsylvania primary on June 2, Penn for Biden encouraged students to vote by mail and worked to explain the steps of voting remotely, Ingersoll said.
Leading up to the general election, Penn for Biden has plans to hold phone banks, fundraise for the Biden campaign, and host virtual events. If classes are held on-campus in the fall, Penn for Biden also plans to conduct in-person canvassing.
Penn for Biden also has plans to communicate and coordinate events directly with the Biden campaign.
On May 28, Penn for Biden held a virtual event with two Biden campaign officials, TJ Ducklo, the National Press Secretary for Biden’s campaign, and Andrew Bates, Biden’s Director of Rapid Response. At the event, students spoke with Ducklo and Bates about their work on the Biden campaign.
“There is a silver lining to the probability of having to do a lot of these events through Zoom or other technological means, because you are able to reach people who might not come to campus otherwise,” rising College senior and new Penn for Biden Outreach Director Caroline Riise said.
Despite the overlap in leadership between Penn Dems and Penn for Biden, Ingersoll said that the two on-campus political groups are distinct from one another as the majority of the Penn for Biden board is not associated with Penn Dems, and vice versa. In the fall, Penn Dems will focus on electing a variety of Democratic candidates in local, state, and congressional elections, while Penn for Biden will solely focus its efforts on getting Biden elected for President.
“In Penn Dems, we want to make sure that we emphasize the broad scale of democratic views, and that there is a place for all of those views,” Ingersoll said.
Samantha Delman, a rising College junior and the new Penn for Biden Digital Director, will head the group's social media efforts. Under the 2019-2020 board structure, Penn for Biden did not have a role dedicated to social media.
Delman said social media is one of the most important places to campaign because it can serve as a central place for students to receive information on how to support Biden and, if the fall semester is virtual, social media will become even more essential.
“Social media outreach is going to be so important because we need to have a cohesive group of people who know what’s going on, know when they need to go out and vote, and know what Joe Biden is advocating for,” Delman said.
As new Penn for Biden Outreach Director, Riise said she is focusing on garnering support for Biden from students from diverse ideological backgrounds.
“In order to be successful in the election, I think Penn for Biden as a whole needs to be getting the support and trust of voters not only within the Democratic Party, but also outside of it, whether that’s from Independents or Republicans,” Riise said.
Ingersoll said it is particularly important for her to be involved in the former Vice President's campaign because she believes it is the best method to bring about change to the White House.
“Anything going on in the world right now shows we need new leadership in the White House [and] the only way we’re going to get that is through elections if we all stand together and fight for change,” Ingersoll said.
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