Sobelson ’02 Gains Field Experience As Manager of Dean’s Campaign HQ

Rachel Sobelson ’02 is barely out of high school, but she is already an influential member of Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential campaign staff. Sobelson, the office manager of Dean’s Manchester, New Hampshire, campaign headquarters, has postponed her sophomore year at Hamilton College to continue her work. Last summer, as the fifth staff member hired in New Hampshire for Dean’s campaign, Sobelson immediately designed an application for interns and recruited interns to work on the campaign. She then became the office manager in the Manchester campaign headquarters. Sobelson was initially nervous about her choice to continue with the campaign instead of returning to school, because she thought “it might really take away from getting involved in the community [at Hamilton].” Despite her initial hesitations, Sobelson said, “I felt so invested in what I’d seen and what I’d built in New Hampshire that I didn’t want to abandon it.” Sobelson is currently an operations manager for the campaign, completing tasks needed to run 12 offices in New Hampshire, including organizing and shopping for events and ordering campaign materials. Between now and the New Hampshire primary at the end of January, she will travel to other states for Presidential primaries. Although Sobelson has had success through her work with the Dean campaign, she is not sure if she could see herself running for a political office. “I’d like to be very much involved in the nonprofit world,” she said. After her return to college next fall, Sobelson is interested in studying public policy. Sobelson first became interested in politics when she was 12 years old, after watching her mother volunteer in Democrat Arnie Arnesen’s campaign for Congress. She walked to the campaign finance office every day after school and was quickly trusted with tasks normally given to adult volunteers, such as delivering deposits to the bank and working with the candidate’s personal aide. Sobelson was also involved in campus politics while at Phillips Academy. A Pine Knoll disciplinary committee representative, she was a founder of Frontline, Andover’s political magazine, and was the head of Andover Young Democrats. Last winter, during her freshman year at Hamilton College, Sobelson was preparing to study social activism in Washington, D.C., over the summer. However, after a friend sent her articles about Dean’s campaign, Sobelson decided to become more involved in politics. In the spring, Sobelson attended a speech by Dean in New Hampshire and was struck by how much she agreed with his ideas. Both Sobelson and Dean shared disapproval of the war in Iraq and the belief that every American should have accessibility to government healthcare. While Governor of Vermont, Dean, provided access to state healthcare for more than 90 percent of Vermont residences. After hearing Dean’s speech, Sobelson changed her summer plans so that she could work on the Dean campaign. Sobelson said that she has enjoyed the political experience and the opportunity to meet other volunteers who are working on Dean’s campaign, several of whom are also Andover alumni. She said her fellow volunteers are “great people who are willing to devote their lives to a guy they hardly even know.” Additionally, Sobelson said that her experience as a student at Andover taught her time management and organizational skills that are necessary to her job. Working 12-13 hours a day, 7 days a week, Sobelson said, “There aren’t enough hours in the day to do what I do.”