Judith Wallner ’95 – The Strategic Marketing Behind Winning Elections

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.

Judith Wallner ’95 judith

  • B.A. Vassar College
  • Partner of The Strategy Group
  • 2012 Reed Award Winner

The Strategic Marketing Behind Winning Elections

Judith Wallner has established herself as an award-winning force in the political world, with 17 years of experience in Washington, DC In her current position as Partner of The Strategy Group, a leading national democratic direct mail firm, Judith focuses largely on marketing strategy for federal, state, and local campaigns, but she also serves as a lead consultant to a number of national independent expenditure programs. In 2012, one of Judith’s mail pieces for her client EMILY’s List won the Reed Award from Campaigns & Elections magazine for the best direct mail piece on behalf of a Democratic congressional candidate nationwide.

“Working in politics requires a lot of dedication, as you can work weekends, nights, and be on call all the time, but I work for clients I believe in and I believe in my candidates,” said Judith.

Prior to her current role, Judith worked as the Policy Director of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center in the U.S. Senate in 2011. Earlier in her career, from 2005 through 2008, she served as the Research Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. During her tenure, Democrats took back the Senate in 2006. Judith recalled the amazing celebrations that evening and cites that moment as her proudest professional achievement.

Her first professional step inside the Beltway was in 1999, when she obtained an internship with EMILY’s List, an organization that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office at every level of government.

“EMILY’s List is my client now, but that was where I had my first internship,” said Judith. “They had an opening in their research department, and I liked research in college so it sounded like a good fit, but I had no idea how hooked I would get on campaigns and elections. In my work, I helped track women’s health legislation on the Hill and I assisted in writing research memos on potential congressional candidates.”

Although she studied political science at Vassar College, Judith didn’t originally envision herself entering politics.

“I did initially intend on going to law school, but after my first year or two working in politics, I realized it was the right path for me,” said Judith. “I just really loved that I could help get people elected who believed in the same things I believed in. Of course, you have to lose campaigns along the way, too, which is always hard but it’s a reality.”

During her time at MFS, from second grade to graduation, music was Judith’s favorite subject. Music Teacher Davie Weiner was one of her favorite teachers, as well as English Teacher John “Doc” LaVia. She recalls spending time with the Shakespeare Club in Doc’s office and having incredible memories with that group. What Judith misses most though is Meeting for Worship. She fondly remembers attending Meeting for Worship every Wednesday, and, with her hectic career in DC, still wishes she had a dedicated hour every week for silent worship.

To the community of young people at MFS, Judith encourages them to vote in upcoming elections and be engaged if they have an interest in politics.

“Go and see how everything works firsthand,” said Judith. “Go work on a campaign, knock on doors for a candidate. Pay attention to local and state campaigns, too, because I had no idea how much power state legislatures really have until I started working in politics. You can still volunteer and be involved even if you’re not 18 years old. If you want to see a candidate elected, your support will help them.”



Next: Anya Gelernt-Dunkle ’09 – Politics is Her Lifeblood