A Conversation with Alison Friedman
Driving up the lush, tree-lined road leading to Alison Friedman’s house, I arrive at this much-anticipated interview. Alison is the Democratic Candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 10th District. Naturally, I had some expectations about what she’d be like and her answers to my questions about leading Virginia. Opening the door, Alison is welcoming, young, and fresh-faced. I was taken by her candor, and friendly demeanor put me straight at ease. The sun-filled, modernly decorated home is reflective of her persona and casual flair. Stepping into the living room, I noticed digital artwork of President Obama and a matching print of the word “VOTE,” — A testament to her roots and vision.
Alison is a first-time Democratic candidate in a highly watched midterm House race. She’s one of six Democrats competing to beat Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. Virginia’s 10th District race is notably contested and a battleground where Democrats and Republicans are vying to take control of the House.
At the outset of our conversation, I asked, who were her earliest influencers? Alison spoke with pride about her activist family and the impact they had on her young life, growing up and how that molded her.
Right out of college, Alison joined People for the American Way, and her career eventually brought her to work for the Obama Administration at the State Department where she focused primarily on projects related to ending human trafficking.
During her time at the State Department, Alison was active in working with corporations to be transparent about their labor supply. She helped start-up SlaveryFootPrint.org, an online and mobile tool developed to help individuals to understand how they connect to modern day slavery. Alison explained that slavery exists deep in our supply chain which then produces products for our homes. The site was developed to engage individuals, groups, and businesses to build awareness and to create action against modern-day slavery. Millions of people in over 200 countries have visited the site to discover their connection to modern day slavery.
Alison was one of the earliest activists to work with corporations to be transparent about their labor supply. I asked her, who did she approach first and was it a complicated process?
Gun prevention and reform is at the core of Alison’s platform. She is standing up to the NRA by asking that Virginia expands its background checks, close its gun show loopholes, and ban its assault weapons. I asked her, what were the most significant challenges to creating and enforcing these types of laws and policies.
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Alison what she meant when she said, “I love walking at the nexus of policy, politics and the possible.” It’s a quote taken from one of her many political speeches. Her response spoke to the issues that are important to her like the National Free and Reduced Lunch program, Medicare, institutional care and assets limitations. In a nutshell, she says “I think it’s something we can fix, and fix across the aisle, as well.”
Photo credit: Alex Mangione / @amangionephoto
Cecilia Mencia is founder of DCTrending.com and an independent, DC-based journalist.