Julianne Simson is one of Manhattan Young Democrats’ active members working tirelessly to promote democratic ideals in New York City. Here is her story.
Julianne made her move to New York City on September 17, 2016. By September 20, she was already at her first Manhattan Young Democrats (MYD) meeting, eager to get involved with the organization and the city’s political scene.
Born in Sarasota, Florida, Julianne spent most of her life in The Sunshine State, receiving both her undergraduate and master’s degree from Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee. There, Julianne was active Florida politics, from advocating on behalf of the FSU Student Body to lobbying for Moffitt Cancer Center. “Julianne represents the best of what it means to be a Democrat,” says Steve Vancor, Julianne’s professor from the FSU master’s program. “She is passionate, compassionate, intelligent and engaging – and a true joy to watch in action.”
Last year, Julianne was ready to make the move to The Big Apple, which she describes as “the craziest thing she has done in her 23 years.” Here, she works on the Upper West Side as the Policy & Digital Director at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, where she also helps manage the b’nai mitzvah program in the Cantors’ Study, and additionally works for Keith Powers’ campaign.
In her time with MYD, Julianne has been a passionate advocate for electoral reform and is the Chair and co-founder of the Electoral Reform Task Force in the organization. Ally Filler, a MYD board member, recalls Julianne catching Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh at a political event in March, where she was able to engage him on the subject for a full 25 minutes despite the room full of people. “It was impressive!” Ally says.
In addition to her work in electoral reform, Julianne is intent on fighting climate change. “I am a native Floridian, my entire family lives in Southern California, and I am now a resident of New York City,” she says. “These three locations are of the most likely to be impacted in the future. Science matters!”
Julianne is grateful to now be living in a city where she is surrounded by young progressives who think similarly to her; however, she credits much of her political skill to growing up in a much more polarized environment, where many, if not most, of the people around her were Republicans and/or conservatives.
“I am so grateful for the experiences of working with people who think differently than me because I have learned to understand both sides of salient issues, effectively and respectfully play devil’s advocate, and strengthen my own opinions,” Julianne says. “Our nation is currently experiencing some of the worst political discourse and gridlock in history, and I hope for the opportunity to use my background and rapport to fix this mess. If I can thrive in a bipartisan political environment, our government should be able to as well.”
Eventually, Julianne hopes to attend law school to “become the best advocate I possibly can be,” and ideally would like to become a lobbyist with her own consulting firm. But for now, you can find Julianne on a Citi Bike or exploring unique and fun free fitness activities throughout the city and, of course, working with MYD.
When asked about her favorite part of working with MYD, Julianne described a recent experience she had with a woman while petitioning for a candidate. In the interaction, Julianne witnessed how democratic organizations can be a resource for young progressives struggling with today’s political contentions, and felt her work was actually making a difference.
“She told me she definitely would take the time to fill out my petition, as she was frustrated since the election and has been doing whatever she could to resist the injustice happening under the new presidency – which included joining MYD,” Julianne says. “This quick interaction on the street is a testament to the MYD culture. I am proud to be among the many current members and alumni who have boldly branded themselves as Manhattan Young Democrats, as we are, together, working to better the world around us.”