Friday, October 17, 2008

Donna Brazile Talks Politics with Boston Businesswomen

BOSTON--(Oct.17,2008) Donna Brazile speaks about the historic 2008 presidential race at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel in a speech presented by the Commonwealth Institute.
By Margaret DeJesus (
Before heading to work early Friday morning, some of Boston’s brightest businesswomen were urged by CNN political analyst Donna Brazile to look beyond partisan politics and get active in this year’s presidential election during her speech about the historic race at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
“This is our moment. If we sit back and wait, we’ll find ourselves complaining about the same things from 60 years ago,” Brazile said in her speech presented by the Commonwealth Institute.
The Institute supports female CEOs’ and entrepreneurs’ businesses and careers by setting up networking events and forums.
With Marvin Gaye’s classic song “What’s Going On” blasting in the background, Brazile stepped on stage and held her hand out next to her ear enjoying the standing ovation she received.
Brazile, an author, professor, political commentator and longtime political strategist, was the first African American woman to manage a presidential campaign in 2000 when she worked for Democratic candidate Al Gore.
She emphasized that Americans need to “stop being so concerned with who’s Democrat and who’s Republican” and start working together to solve the country’s problems, especially during the current economic crisis.
According to Brazile, who did not hide her preference for Barack Obama, the next president needs to appoint “the best and the brightest” based not on party affiliation but rather on talent and ability.
“I hope that whoever wins presidency finds the grace and humility to ask for help not just from the other side, but also from us. It’s about ‘we the people,’ not just we the politicians,” she said with passion at the podium. “Let’s have one song, one band and stop playing different singles.”
Brazile’s message of unity stood out to many of the women in attendance.
“As a Democrat myself, it’s hard for me to have a discussion with a Republican. It was an important message she had and it was a great insight,” said Judy Dumont, a high tech recruiter, after the speech.
“It’s not enough that we put these guys in office. We have to get in their face as she (Brazile) said and be vocal,” said Dumont.
Mary Skelton Roberts, founder of MSR Solutions, thought Brazile “embodied the change we need and the change this country is looking for.”
“She (Brazile) understands we need a collective effort to solve the country’s problems,” said Roberts.
Lois Lindauer, founder and president of her own executive search firm Lois L. Lindauer Searches and Commonwealth Institute board member, agreed.
“It’s not about being red, blue, white or black,” said Lindauer.
Brazile kept the crowd of about 400 people in attendance, largely composed of local businesswomen, entertained with her comedic take on the current election season.
“As a woman, I’m proud of Hillary (Clinton). As an African American I’m proud of Barack Obama. And as someone who is old and grumpy, I’m proud of John McCain,” she said.
Helene Solomon, CEO and founder of Solomon McCown and Company, said after the speech that she thought Brazile had “phenomenal comic timing” and found it interesting how she “put everything into historical perspective.”
Brazile stressed how the country has moved forward, and said “as a child growing up in the segregated South” she never would have imagined one day seeing an African American run for the presidency or a woman being a heartbeat away from the vice presidency.
She also spoke about how the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was a wakeup call for her.
“It (Katrina) refocused my life. My family lost everything,” she said stressing the importance of having the right people in charge of government.
Brazile added that perhaps the country right now is facing a new wakeup call with the economy.
“Now the country is drowning in debt. In some ways, it’s a Katrina moment for the country.”
Gloria Larson, the president of Bentley College in Waltham along with Atul Gupta, the finance department chair at Bentley led the short question and answer session with the audience and Brazile that followed.

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