Institute of Politics

Addisu Demissie

Democratic Strategist & Founding Principal of 50+1 Strategies

  • Fall 2020 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: “2020: An Election Unlike Any Other”


Addisu Demissie is a Founding Principal of 50+1 Strategies with nearly 20 years of professional experience in political advocacy and campaign strategy. He has led campaigns at the national, state, and local level for electoral, nonprofit, and corporate clients. Addisu currently serves as Senior Advisor to the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee and to More Than A Vote, a non-profit organization dedicated to Black political empowerment co-founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter.

Addisu is an experienced campaign manager, having run successful campaigns for U.S. Senator Cory Booker in 2013 and California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2018 and, most recently, serving as the campaign manager for Booker’s run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. His first love is developing and implementing sophisticated community organizing programs, which he has done in three presidential campaigns for John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008, and Clinton again in 2016.

Following President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Addisu was selected as the first National Political Director for the President’s political organization Organizing for America. Later that year, the Washington Post named him one of the “Ten Young Black Aides To Watch” in the Obama Administration. At OFA, he played a key role in mobilizing and coordinating grassroots support for the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, federal student loan reform, and the Affordable Care Act. Addisu also served as Senior Advisor to California Assembly member David Chiu’s 2011 mayoral campaign and as the general consultant for several California municipal, initiative, and independent expenditure campaigns during the 2012 and 2014 campaign cycles.

Addisu is a 2001 graduate of Yale University, 2008 graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the state Bar of California. In his spare time, he likes to run in the California sun and watch sports of any and every kind, especially his hometown Atlanta Braves and adopted hometown Golden State Warriors. He lives in Oakland, CA with his wife Jill.


“2020: An Election Unlike Any Other”

Presidential campaigns have always been unpredictable, but 2020’s has redefined the term. From President Trump’s earlier-than-ever launch of his reelection bid, to Joe Biden’s dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Democratic primary, to the global pandemic that has sidelined traditional campaign strategies and tactics for most of this year, academics, practitioners, and historians are going to be studying the 2020 election for decades to come.

But the final chapters of the story are still to be written. In this seminar, join two campaign veterans and special guests as they provide real-time commentary and insight as the 2020 general election comes to its conclusion and epilogue. Jennings and Demissie will use the opportunity that this unpredictable, unprecedented campaign provides to explore and explain how the elements of modern campaigns work and how they may be changing forever.

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