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Women to Know 2020, Lavora Barnes

Source: iOne Creative Team / other

Lavora Barnes

Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party

Lavora Barnes is the first African-American woman and second woman to be elected to serve as the Chair of the Michigan Democratic party. She was elected to her current position in 2019, after serving as Chief Operating officer of the party for four years. Barnes is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She served as Press Secretary for the Clinton-Gore campaign and spokeswoman in the White House Office of Media Affairs during the Bill Clinton Administration. She was one of only two staffers at the 1992 Clinton campaign office in Virginia.

Barnes began working in Michigan politics in 2004 as a community organizer for the Michigan House Democrats. She was promoted to communications director for the caucus, where she served until 2011. In 2012, Barnes joined the Obama campaign to lead the Michigan re-election effort.

When Trump was elected in 2016, Barnes led the Michigan Democratic Party’s grassroots infrastructure efforts to address local issues in Michigan counties with an initiative known as Project 83. The motto was “win everywhere; fight everywhere.”  Earlier this year, Barnes issued a statement saying she wouldn’t remain silent because uncomfortable conversations should not be avoided during protests over the police killings of George Floyd and Black people throughout history. She has emphasized the importance of Michigan in this year’s election and the Michigan Democratic Party’s plan to turn the state blue. “We’re not going to stop having conversations. We’re not going to make that same mistake again. We’re going to keep working,” she has said.

During her visits to Democratic party events over the years, Barnes always saw African-American women attending. But that activism and loyalty to the Democratic party by Black women was not represented in its elected officials — a fact that Barnes hopes to change.

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