For Black History Month, NewsOne honors GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.
Stephanie Brown James
Place of Residence: Washington, D.C.
Why she’s a Game Changer: In addition to being the founder of Brown Girls Lead, a seven-month leadership initiative for girls at Howard University, James also led President Obama’s outreach efforts to African Americans as the National African American Vote Director for the 2012 Obama for America Campaign.
Leading up to President Obama’s successful re-election bid in 2012, African Americans were not particularly pleased with this country’s first black commander-in-chief. Some felt he hadn’t done enough to specifically address the needs and concerns of African Americans, his most supportive constituency.
James, who previously worked as the National Field Director for the NAACP, knew she had her work cut out for her. But through her efforts, Blacks turned out in greater numbers than the 2008 election, especially in the key battleground states.
“At the end of the day, you have a choice… black people were energized because they knew how important voting was to their lives and that it made a difference,” she told the Amsterdam News.
“We worked hard, a lot of effort went into this campaign,” she said. “It wasn’t a fluke that African-American voters turned out in the highest rates ever.”
After the campaign, James founded Vestige Strategies, a public affairs firm that specializes in grassroots engagement and political campaigns.
But some of Jame’s most important work might be with Brown Girls Lead. Growing up, James always knew she wanted a career in politics. During a visit to her alma mater Howard University, she says the women there told her a career in politics, policy or government was not desirable because it wasn’t attractive to men.
“I was just blown away, this was not our legacy as Black women at Howard,” she said. “After talking with my husband, we were able to form Brown Girls Lead to help collegiate women in their personal, professional, and public lives.”
While helping President Obama get re-elected is one hell of a resume piece, helping to groom the young women leaders of tomorrow is legacy building.