NYWICI member Eunic Ortiz was a delegate at this year's Democratic National Convention. We asked her to tell us about that experience.
When did you develop your interest in politics?
I first moved to New York City in 2008. I was working in television for a few years before, during and after completing my undergrad and I was given the amazing opportunity to work for a few months on special assignment at WNBC. After I was done, I didn't want to leave the city. I wasn't able to stay at 30 Rock and my mentor there connected me with a good friend of hers that worked at City Hall for the New York City Council. In two weeks, I was working for the Speaker of the City Council in the press shop. I became heavily involved throughout the city in the months and years that followed. For me, all politics are local. It is about community and working with your neighbors. Since working at City Hall, I haven't looked back at a life where my community isn't a strong part of my day to day.
How did you become a delegate?
Through my work at City Hall and after, I was able to volunteer on several campaigns. I also became involved in political clubs and am now the Vice President of Communication for one of the largest democratic clubs in the state. Through all of this, I was nominated and elected by the state committee to be a "PLEO" (Political Leader, Elected Official) delegate to represent New York in Charlotte.
Tell us about your experiences at the convention.
As one of the youngest delegates representing the great state of New York at the DNC, I had the privilege to not only experience everything from the floor, but also share my experiences in real time with my friends, families and anyone (un)fortunate enough to follow me on Twitter at @eunicortiz. Photos, blog posts, tweets, and even videos were on a constant upload stream from my phone.
I got to meet elected officials and party leaders from across the country. I was able to attend meetings and events that you only read about online. My best memory of attending the DNC outside of the arena is when I was able to meet First Lady Michelle Obama. That for me, beyond anything else, made my week.
You're a digital strategist, a job that probably didn't exist in 2008. The communications world has changed a lot in the past four years. I bet you saw that at the convention.
In 2008, I was fortunate to be one of the first digital strategists working in government in New York City. I got to experience first hand how that space evolved over the next three years and catapulted because of the lead of the White House digital team.
From a political perspective, nothing really existed in 2008 until that election began. What was Twitter’s tweet/per minute rate in 2008? How many users were on Tumblr four years ago? Which apps were attendees able to download to their iPhones? The answer to all is “zilch”. In four years, the landscape of digital, social, mobile and online communications has gone through many facelifts.
At the DNC, tech giants were the most well-seen on site. Google, Twitter, the Huffington Post and others catered to delegates with lounges and free food. Twitter hashtags (#) plastered everywhere to encourage online conversation, push notifications to cell phones and QR code tickets for events were standard practice all over Charlotte. In caucus meetings, House and Senate representatives urged users to go online and use social channels to voice what they need in their communities. In 2008, social media was looked at in the political space as a great way to make money for candidates. Today, it is far and beyond seen as an effective tool to get politicians elected to office.
What was your overall take-away from the experiences you had?
My week at the DNC renewed an interest I had in community organizing. The power of how we can connect is something that is hard to rally. But, being the person that stands up for what they want, what they need, is even harder. Just Tweeting or Facebooking about ways to change your community doesn't always get the job done. It takes hard work. It takes will (wo)man power. It takes a group of people getting together to make the decision that they will effectively create change.
What do you have to say to young women who aren't planning to vote?
I would say a lot of things to myself, in my head, first, but then I would have to say: If you don't vote, you can't complain. If you don't vote, how are you planning for your future, the future of your children? If you don't vote, you are responsible if our country's civil rights (women, LGBT and otherwise) are rolled back by 30 years. If you don't vote, you can't call yourself an independent, strong woman. And if you're reading this, then I know you are already stronger then you might actually give yourself credit for.
NYWICI is nonpartisan. If a member was a delegate at the Republican National Convention and would like to write about it, please contact us.