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Published 10/27/16

Ann Marie Habershaw '84: Redefining modern political campaigns

Ann Marie Habershaw '84Ann Marie Habershaw ’84 has played a principal role in redefining the substance and shape of modern political campaigns. Her top leadership roles with EMILY’s List, the National Democratic Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Obama for America culminated in her current position – chief operating officer of Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI). The renowned marketing firm specializes in public affairs, corporate reputation, social impact, and political campaigns.

Working with hundreds of clients on five continents, BPI has helped elect presidents and prime ministers, passed American health care reform, and executed communications strategies for Fortune 100 companies and top U.S. nonprofits. Habershaw oversees operations at the firm’s offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York, and a staff of over 80 people.

"You cannot let the failures, mistakes, and losses get you down. You have to learn from them"

Habershaw’s engagement with America’s highest profile political campaigns informs her view of success. “For a well-lived life and success in both the personal and professional realms – whatever success means to you – you must have perseverance,” she explains. “You must get up every day and try again. You cannot let the failures, mistakes, and losses get you down. You have to learn from them. Keep at it, be true to who you are, don't let others define you.”

She also makes it a habit to learn from every experience. “In some roles I have stretched myself professionally, and in others personally, and in some both,” recalls Habershaw. “If I had to pick one role where I learned the most, it would probably be as the COO of President Obama's re-election campaign. In 22 months, we built a national infrastructure with nearly 5,000 staff and a $1.2 billion budget. This tested everything I had learned in all previous roles.”

Habershaw models the personal drive that, when added to education, fuels success. “In addition to education, you must build and maintain a network across disciplines. You must show up every day and do your job. In order to be successful in your career, you must stay relevant.”