Monday, January 11, 2010

January Profile: Kim Morton

In 2010, Black Women for Obama for Change will profile networkers monthly on our website. The women featured are bringing about the change we want to see in our society. January will feature Kim Morton an Obama Administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Education.

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BWFO4Change Profile: Kim Morton
By Tiffany Quivers

She secured six million dollars in scholarships for students from one of DC’s toughest neighborhoods, she managed over 1,000 volunteers during the Obama campaign and her greatest notable act - she taught middle school for five years. She is Kim Morton, the first member of BWFO4Change profiled in 2010. This profile provides a brief review of her professional background, her campaign experience and her dreams and aspirations.

Prior to volunteering for the Obama Campaign Kim’s most recent position was at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. where she built public and private partnerships for one of DC’s most challenging schools. While working at Ballou, she began working on the Obama campaign as a volunteer organizer and advance person, and now one year later, she is a political appointee for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach Services.

As the pieces of a puzzle find their way together so too these events for our BWFO4Change member. With each experience, Kim Morton gets closer to her vision of a community actively engaged in the work and in the policy decisions that impact them.

Political Trajectory
Along her life’s trajectory are hints at a political future – the first book report she ever did was on Shirley Chisholm. With the selection of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State, came the selection of a family pet name for Kim - “Little Condi” and while living in Missouri she was so inspired by Senator-elect Barack Obama she wanted to relocate to East Saint Louis, Illinois to vote for him.

Her interest in his presidential campaign began with the Oprah show. Kim recalls watching Oprah ask then Senator Obama if he was going to run for president and although he answered tentatively, three sure thoughts came to her – 1) He is going to run for president; 2) I am going to work on the campaign; and 3) He is going to win.

Given this foresight, it is no wonder that Kim progressed from house party attendee, to DC for Obama ward coordinator, to chair for the entire DC for Obama effort and then, on to work the campaign trail as a part of the National Advance Team. In addition, while working on the campaign trail, she was elected as an At- Large Committee Woman for the DC Democratic State Committee.

Her fondest memory on the campaign trail is attempting to catch an elevator and instead catching a simple hello from Senator Obama. The Senator strode down the hallway, entered his elevator and as he did so Kim speaks “hello Senator Obama” and he responds “hello”. It was a simple hello from the multifaceted man who opened up new possibilities not just for Kim, but our nation.

Campaign Residue

How did working on the campaign impact her? Are there residual thoughts of change - a new way of being, a new way to lead or a desire to serve others?

The campaign taught Kim it takes all of us to get the job done. She remembers President Obama’s statement at an inaugural ball for campaign workers – “if you can get me elected as President, you can do anything you set your mind to”, and she recalls her strong notion that Obama stood not for his own fame or personal benefit, but because of his willingness to work for others and to be a vessel to bring about change.

Kim’s change efforts continue in her current role with the U.S. Department of Education. Again she toggles between two worlds – the local and the national. She is responsible for sharing the department’s message on two critical topics to the people it impacts most. She communicates with local communities and families on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as well as on efforts to turn around low performing schools.

Through tears Kim acknowledges the people she credits for helping her get to this position - as she says “stuck their neck out” and pushed for her. She begins with the BWFO4Change Co-Chairs, Dr. E. Faye Williams and Stephanie E. Myers and discusses her gratitude for their willingness to help her gain her current political appointment. Then she extends her gratitude to her family – her great grandmother, grandmother and her mother and then her gratitude to, whom else, but Shirley Chisholm.

Next Stop: White House
Whether Kim is in an 8th grade classroom, in the corridors of Ballou, on the campaign trail or in the halls of the U.S. Department of Education, there seem to be two prevalent themes - one theme sails her ship and one is the lighthouse that guides it. The wind that propels her ship is public engagement from all citizens working together to accomplish goals, especially those citizens who are least heard and need a voice. And the lighthouse that guides her is a simple statement “it is not about me, it is about being a vessel and helping others”.

Her dream is to work in the White House. We hope her ship docks there soon, for with its docking will come the voices of many often not heard and the vessel to bring about change for them.

Here is a first picture Tiffany Quivers, BWFO4Change DC Networker

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