Paul Tewes on “The Art of Organizing”

Paul Tewes' seminars will be held on Tuesdays at 3:30pm.
Sign up for office hours here.

All IOP Pritzker Fellows Seminars will be held in the IOP Living Room unless otherwise noted. 
All seminars are students only and closed to press/off the record.


Organizing has been, is and always will be an art. Whether its with a clipboard and a pen, or a sophisticated online platform, the fundamental building blocks of strong and effective organizing are still directly dependent on purely non-technological ideas – empowerment, passion, leadership, respect and others. We will explore this side, the true side, of effective organizing from a practical aspect. How do you build an effective organization?

Seminar 1 (10/2): The Art of Organizing: The Right & Wrong Lessons of the Obama Campaign | RSVP

The rise of “analytics for everything” and “technology as a tactic” are an outgrowth of the Obama campaign.  But is that really who we were and how he won?  From an organizing standpoint, what are the true lessons of the 2008 Obama campaign?

Special Guest: Mitch Stewart, Founding Partner, 270 Strategies, Battleground States Director for Obama 2012, Iowa Caucus Director and Virginia State Director Obama 2008

Seminar 2 (10/9): Organizing Principles: Culture and Leadership | RSVP

Good organizing is not just having good tools or a noble cause, it is about people. More importantly, a strong organization demands strong leadership and a culture that allows for creativity, empowerment and accountability. How do you create and construct and maintain an effective organizing culture? 

Special Guest: Rachel Haltom, former Youth Director for President Barack Obama

Seminar 3 (10/16): Historic Organizing in the LGBT Community | RSVP

From the campaign of Harvey Milk to battling the AIDS crisis to legalizing gay marriage, the rise in political power of the LGBT movement has been astounding. How did they organize to get where they are today? What were their organizing goals and principles? What key decisions did their leadership make that led to success? We will explore not only the messaging and narrative around the gay rights movement… but how was it organized? How was it built?

Special Guest: Joe Solmonese, former President of Human Rights Campaign & current Interim President of Planned Parenthood

Seminar 4 (10/23): Organizing Around Get Out the Vote! | RSVP

What is it? How do you do it? Who do you do it to? We will be talking to organizers on the ground right now from Florida to Alaska who are actively working to prepare for GOTV.  

Special Guests (via Skype): Ean Tubbs, Canvasser, The Alaska Center, and Juanica Fernandes, Regional Director, Enroll America

Seminar 5 (10/30):  Campaign Organizing vs. Issue Organizing: Reality vs. Perception | RSVP

What is the difference between campaign organizing and organizing around an issue? Campaign organizing involves an accountable, hard numbered outcome – election day. Issue organizing is about perception – if the political target perceives a political threat, then the threat is real and you might move the dial on the issue. We will explore how perception matters in issue fights. We will also explore the differences between a “yes” campaign forsomething and a “no” campaign against something. 

Special Guests (via Skype): Ronnie Cho, campaign manager to Lauren Underwood, a candidate for United States Representative in Illinois’ 14th district; Amanda Brown Lierman, political & organizing director for the DNC; and Delilah Agho-Otoghile, field director for the Democratic Party of Georgia

Seminar 6 (11/8): Organizing & Technology – Tool or Crutch? | RSVP

*Please note, this seminar will take place on Thursday, November 8 at 3:30 PM

With such rapid technology advances, campaign entrepreneurs are constantly inventing the next “must have” tools for organizing. From data analytics to online organizing platforms, are these tools making organizations better and more effective, or are they making organizers less intuitive and more robotic. How much does technology help a campaign? How much can it hurt?

Seminar 7 (11/13): Organizing & Campaigning Around Issues | RSVP
We will be joined by Shoren Brown who has managed and run countless Western lands and conservation campaigns; including Stopping the Pebble Mine and drilling in the arctic. We will explore the guiding principles and objectives of issue campaigns and how those are different from electoral campaigns.

Special Guest: Shoren Brown, issue campaign strategist

Seminar 8 (11/20): From Iowa to the Oval Office & Afterward - Working for President Obama | RSVP

*Please note, this seminar will take place on Tuesday, November 20 at 3:30 PM

For nearly 12 years, Joe Paulsen has worked for President Obama at all levels… from the cornfields of Iowa to the Oval Office and still today. Joe has had a front row to history and has traveled the country and the world with his boss. He has seen it all and brings a unique perspective to what it’s like working for the most powerful person on the planet. Joe will share great stories as a campaign worker, a Presidents' right hand and as he continues with him today.

Special Guest: Joe Paulsen, special assistant to President Obama