Anya Gelernt-Dunkle ’09 – Politics is Her Lifeblood

MFS Mock Primary Election Through the Years

Many MFS alumni have entered or aspire to careers in politics, public service, journalism, media, and more. A large number credit their experiences at MFS, and in some cases, refer directly to the MPE/MPC as a catalyst for their career path. In the following feature, several alumni describe their careers and how their MFS experiences shaped their path.

Anya Gelernt-Dunkle ’09anya

  • B.A. Tufts University
  • SuperPAC Researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics

Politics is Her Lifeblood

There’s one particular childhood story about Anya Gelernt-Dunkle that her parents often like to tell family and friends to illustrate just how politically minded their daughter was at an early age. On election day in 2000, the Gelernts had just flown into California for a family reunion,  and a nine-year-old Anya awakened her jetlagged parents at 4 a.m. Anya was intently watching TV, and she was very angry that the CNN news reporters wouldn’t tell her who won the presidential race, which ultimately was not decided in favor of George W. Bush until December by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, her parents would say, after that moment it came as no great surprise to anyone that Anya would become actively involved in politics throughout both her academic and professional careers.

Naturally, the 2008 Mock Primary Election at MFS was a perfect fit for her.

“I’ve loved politics since I can remember, it’s my lifeblood, so MPE was right up my alley,” said Anya. “I knew I wanted an opportunity to be a part of it in any way that I could, but I believe a lot of roles that year went to seniors and perhaps a few juniors in my class. I wasn’t a candidate, I wasn’t a campaign manager, but I wanted to do something so, instead of waiting for someone to pick me to do something, I created my own role in the system. That MPE was an especially hectic year because both parties were running since there was no incumbent, but MPE Coordinator Judy van Tijn still wanted to make the primaries as accurate as possible, so I saw an opportunity to do that. What I did was act as the President of Elections, which was not really an existing position, and I created a computerized system for party registration, ballot issues, voting, and I formed an election court. MPE also exposed me to the concept of being able to create your own role in a system.”

anya-service-web

In fact, that trailblazing attitude helped Anya earn her next role in the field a few months later.

“When I was 17 years old, I interned on a congressional campaign for John Adler,” said Anya. “I just kept showing up, the team kept giving me things to do, and eventually I became part of the inner circle. I wasn’t even old enough to vote!”

After graduating from MFS, Anya studied political science and government at Tufts University in Medford, MA. She gained experience in Washington, DC as a political consulting intern at Crossroads Campaigns, a PAC administrator and client manager at Evans & Katz LLC, and as a political assistant at J Street policy advocates.

Today, Anya works as a SuperPAC and Committees Researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that maintains a public online database tracking the effects of money and lobbying on elections. She focuses on campaign finance research to gather data, such as how much a campaign is spending on a media buy or how much of a campaign’s budget is dedicated to “Get out the vote” projects.

For young people interested in the political world, she offered a few words of advice.

“Find really cool things that you want to get involved in and just do them,” said Anya. “In DC, everything is about making connections with people, about who you know and meet, and you’d be surprised by how much more you’ll like networking if you’re engaged with something you are passionate about. So talk to a whole lot of people, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help or advice, and go for it.”

 

 

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