Lauren Young ‘04 will go anywhere to help Democrats get elected – even when they can’t pay her right away.
As soon as Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic Party presidential nomination in July 2016, Young drove from Lowell to Wisconsin to help political newcomer Ryan Solen, who was running in the Democratic primary to attempt to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I called him and said, ‘I’d like to join your communications team.’ He said, ‘I don’t have a communications team.’ I told him, ‘Then I’ll be your communications team,’ and he said, ‘I can’t pay you.’ I said, ‘We’ll figure it out’ – and I lived in his and his family’s basement for four months,” Young says.
“He called me his chief of staff, and I ran the rest of his campaign. It turned out I was good at it.”
Solen won the Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote, despite a 10-to-1 fundraising disadvantage compared to his closest competitor. In the general election, however, Ryan beat him handily.
Young went on to work as deputy digital director for Doug Jones, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Alabama against Republican Roy Moore in a special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacant seat. Jones eked out a victory in December 2017 and became the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in nearly three decades.
“Election night in Birmingham was one of the best nights of my life,” Young says.
Recently, Young met with several candidates competing in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. She signed on as deputy campaign manager with Alexandra Chandler, a lawyer and former Navy intelligence analyst who is transgender.
“She’s the whole package,” Young said at the opening of Chandler’s campaign office in Haverhill. “She’s also lived a life that hasn’t been easy, so she empathizes with people and knows what will actually make a difference in their lives.”
Young, who began her college education as a French major at UMass Amherst, left school to take a job as a VIP tour guide and media representative at Disney World. After several years at Disney, she moved back home to Chelmsford to finish her bachelor’s degree at UMass Lowell.
Here, she majored in political science and reported for the sunrise radio news program at WUML every weekday. She took formative courses analyzing the media from Sociology Prof. Levon Chorbajian and Assoc. Prof. of Political Science Susan Gallagher, in hopes of becoming a political talk show host on radio.
“Susan Gallagher – boy, was she tremendous,” Young says. “I got a lot savvier about news.”
After graduating, Young landed a radio job – which lasted exactly one week before the station got sold and the new owners laid off the entire staff. Young bounced back, landing jobs in marketing with Turner Broadcasting and then MTV in Atlanta. When MTV closed its Atlanta field office, Young persuaded her husband, “a good Southern boy,” to move to Massachusetts – and she got drawn back into politics, with his support.
After this race, what’s next? Young hasn’t decided yet, but plans to keep working for Democratic candidates in House and Senate races, in hopes of returning both chambers to Democratic control.
“For me, it’s not about money or personal success,” she says. “I am motivated to get the best people in office that can do the most good for our country while they are there.”