Fall 2023 Fellow
Addisu Demissie is a Founding Principal of California-based political consulting firm 50+1 Strategies, with two decades of experience in advocacy and campaign strategy. He has led campaigns at the national, state, and local levels for electoral, nonprofit, and corporate clients.
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 and a Senior Advisor to Newsom’s anti-recall effort in 2021. Addisu is currently a Senior Advisor to Future Forward USA, the primary external organization supporting President Biden’s re-election campaign, and was one of the lead organizers in planning the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
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. The Washington Post named him one of the “Ten Young Black Aides To Watch” in the Obama Administration, as 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 has significant experience in California having served as general consultant to several municipal and state legislative candidates, local and state ballot initiatives, and independent expenditure campaigns over the past decade.
Addisu is a 2001 graduate of Yale University, 2008 graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the state Bar of California. He serves on several nonprofit boards including Run for Something, Higher Ground Labs, Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence, and Vote Save America. 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 and 2-year old son Dominick, and serves on the board of Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland.
Study Group: Campaigns From The Inside
From The West Wing to Veep, the portrayal of the inner workings of political campaigns in popular culture over the years has veered from the dramatic to the absurd — and everywhere in between. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. In this study group, Democratic campaign veteran Addisu Demissie gave students a practitioner’s perspective on how campaigns really work, through compelling conversations with some of the most successful and interesting professionals working behind the scenes in the art and science of politics.
Fall 2023 Semester Recap
USC students in Addisu’s study group shared this about their experience:
“I was able to get a strong understanding of what a career in politics looks like, including both the highs and lows. From hearing from guest speakers like Senator Cory Booker, I saw firsthand what it takes to be a successful politician today, and how support staff play a key role in making everything possible. My favorite part was being surrounded by a group of students who are just as passionate about these topics as I am. We had such engaging discussions amongst each other that have only excited me to have a political career.”
Leila Sapra, Political Economy
“I learned more about the ins and outs of working on political campaigns and what strategic messaging looks like. I also got to interact with major players in the political arena and hear about their journeys to their current positions. My favorite part was hearing Addisu’s personal journey and doing Q&A with him.”
“Being able to learn from Addisu Demissie was an incredible experience. He has a wealth of experience from across the political world and he was able to bring in some amazing speakers. His hands-on background in politics is an invaluable learning asset and I’m grateful to CPF for letting me learn from him.”
Addisu shared his thoughts on the importance of politics, his first political experience, his advice for having respectful political discourse, and what he appreciates about CPF in his “Quick Takes: Q&A with CPF Fellow Addisu Demissie” video.