HAMPTON, Va. - (September 21, 2020) – On Friday, September 4th, the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) held its first Virtual Meet the Leaders Lecture Series of the semester welcoming Andrea Miller, Founding Board Member and Executive Director of People Demanding Action.
“Even though it wasn’t possible to bring Ms. Andrea Miller on campus for her to speak to the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute Leadership Fellows in person, we are grateful for the technological advances that still allowed the students to hear from this knowledgeable individual. We are glad that Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr. is ensuring the Leadership Fellows continue to uphold THE Standard of Excellence during this global pandemic,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Due to COVID-19, the Meet the Leaders Lecture Series, which is an opportunity for the WRHLI Leadership Fellows to interact and engage in critical analysis and thinking with guest speakers, had to occur virtually on Zoom. Andrea Miller, the first speaker in this semester’s series, provided insights on the power of voting in elections. “I am thrilled that so many of you Fellows are political science majors. When I finally get to step away from my role, I should be able to feel good about the new, young people who will be coming in, taking my place and figuring out how to make this world a far better place than what it is right now,” Miller said.
Andrea Miller is Founding Board Member, Executive Director, of People Demanding Action; Founding President, National Women’s Political Caucus of Virginia; Founding Tri-Chair Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and a member of the Democracy and Governance working group of the Virginia Green New Deal. Miller is an IT and Political Director, a digital and elections strategist. She designs and administers digital phone banks and texting programs. From 2013 to 2015, she led the Progressive Round Table on Capitol Hill bringing together members of Congress, activists and non-profit leaders. Her expertise is in voting rights, climate and the Equal Rights Amendment. She has successfully advocated for legislation on both the Federal and State level. In 2008, she was the Democratic nominee for the Virginia 4th Congressional district.
In her position at People Demanding Action, Miller is empowering underrepresented voters. “We’ve got a simple mission and it is our message, that it is our mission to empower underrepresented voters. Community of color voters, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American. We are also meeting after this election and we are going to be looking at redefining what an underrepresented voter is and that will include 18-24 year olds of all colors,” Miller said.
Miller talked about the methods they utilize for getting information to people so they can vote, such as mailed postcards, phone calls, billboards, texts, basically every communication method that will get their message to the voters. “People need information. You have to put politics where they can see what they’re supposed to do, what they need to do, and where they need to do it,” Miller said.
Closing the discussion, Miller gave the Leadership Fellows some sound advice. “You are rising because of your age and fate to be the most powerful voting block in history. Power is never going to be given, it has to be taken. In order to take power from people who have it, you need to have shown them something that will make them step aside,” Miller said.
After the presentation, there was a Q&A session with Miller and the Leadership Fellows, and they were able to share good news with each other like internship opportunities, jobs and organization memberships.
“Due to the coronavirus, COVID-19, and the Leadership Fellows remaining home for the Fall 2020 semester, it was imperative that we collectively embraced the theme of Mind, Body and Spirit for the Leadership Institute this academic year, as we continue on our novel normalcy journey,” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. “Ms. Miller is an advocacy expert and mentor who leads by example and has her thumb on the pulse of Generation Z. She continues to inspire them to become active in their beloved communities and that they have a responsibility to serve others before self even while home as the global community continues to deal with this pandemic.”
The Leadership Institute was founded in the Fall of 2000 and built on three foundational pillars: Service, Commitment and Character. “I am extremely proud of the Leadership Fellows and how they have maintained THE Standard of Excellence in all endeavors from mid- March and this summer by uplifting their communities and displaying the three foundational pillars at all times, even when not at ‘Our Home By the Sea,’” Dr. Taylor added.
The Leadership Fellows enjoyed hearing from Ms. Miller and took some valuable information from her presentation.
"Our first 'Meet the Leaders' Lecture Series was an informative pleasure and inspiration as we listened to the story and wisdom of Ms. Andrea Miller! Her presence alone was a treat, of course, but I further enjoyed the personal dialogue that took place, as I, and my Leadership Fellows, were able to ask insightful questions revolving around the intricacies of politics, her experience within progressive movements, and how the two work hand-in-hand to create a positive shift in society. This is the type of dialogue, I feel, should continue to become more frequent between older and younger generations across the nation, as both could benefit from the different perspectives gained,” said Jacob Robinson, Leadership Fellow.
“Andrea Miller's Lecture was very informative and interesting. As the presidential election quickly approaches, I appreciate that Ms. Miller shared her views on the voting process and the political effect that my age group has. Her presentation was very well done and her personality shined through allowing me to be captivated by her words,” said Linwood Smith, Leadership Fellow. “After listening to her lecture I now feel as though I have a responsibility as a young voter to encourage others to vote and let my voice be heard.”