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Destanie Morman, Communications Director of Vote Run Lead, shared with us how her organization uses digital tools to drive its mission, the benefits and challenges of working at a rapidly-growing organization, and her journey to doing this work.

Thank you for joining us! Would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you use Action Network & Action Builder?

I’m Destanie Morman, the Communications Director at Vote Run Lead. Typically, we use Action Network for our emails, and we’ve recently started using it for text messaging. Since we launched our 501c4 recently, we would definitely like to start using advocacy forms or petitions to be able to drive folks to take action. 

We use a lot of the embed functionalities for our website, which are great, and we’re going to be looking into including events as well, so that folks can literally click and go directly into Action Network. Something that we’ve recently started using that’s cool is ticketed events. This is our first year having paid events using this tool, so it was definitely a learning curve, but I think that all of the information is pretty straightforward, on how to use it and what to do.

And we use a lot of tags, so we communicate with a lot of folks. We want to talk to folks if they’ve RSVPed after they’ve attended an event, if they want to hear from us about specific issue areas. So maybe they only want to hear about women’s rights or voting reform or criminal justice reform. We’ve created tags in Action Network and Action Builder to be able to segment our email list and send those folks targeted communications, which has been great for our email open rates.

What has your experience with Action Network been like?

My experience has been great. I love using the drag-and-drop editor for my emails. As far as setting up the email, that’s very straightforward, and I love that we can include emojis and clips. It makes it very easy to figure out what I’m trying to do, who I’m trying to send it to, or how I want to send that message. 

And I personally love that there are several steps before sending an email or a text message. ‘Do you want to confirm this is your list?’ A lot of times, we’ve seen that if we didn’t recalculate the list or if the list wasn’t set up correctly, in previous platforms, we would still send it off and we wouldn’t know if it went to those recipients, how many folks were on the list. But with Action Network, I definitely love the fact that once you get to that step, you’ve able to see the list, and it also sends you an email. Then you have several steps before you hit send. So I like that it gives us time to think, it gives us time to go back and reevaluate if something was incorrect, if the list doesn’t look right, and we have that email just for documentation purposes. 

How are you all using Action Builder?

The political team uses Action Builder to track conversations with our alums. If they have met someone who wants to run for office, that’s where they’re keeping track of those conversations, the profiles are being updated, all of those things. 

Would you tell me about the organization and how you came to work at Vote Run Lead? 

Vote Run Lead trains women to run for office and win. We have about 55,000 women trained to date, and we have alums sitting on school boards and Congress and state legislatures throughout the country. Our goal is to train these women to 1. Know that they are viable candidates, 2. Give them the tools and resources to be able to run a successful campaign and also be there as an aid and support resource while they’re in office. That’s where our 501c4 comes in, because as a 501c3, we definitely have to be cognizant of those rules, laws, and regulations. So we created the 501c4 to be able to provide more assistance and also dig deeper into our values and be able to advocate for different issues.

For me, there were several points in my life that led me into social justice, and I didn’t know that’s where I was going. 

I’m from Jacksonville, Florida, and in 2012 I was in high school, and that’s the year Jordan Davis passed away, and he was a great friend of mine. So when I went into college, I got involved in activist groups, and I also had a cousin who passed away due to gun violence. So after graduating, I wanted to go to law school, but I felt really compelled to make some sort of a difference with my degree. So I ended up working for a social justice organization in Florida, and that organization specifically spoke to the things that I was going through and the things that I wanted to change in my community. The organization was Florida Rising, and they specifically advocate in Black and Brown marginalized communities. We did campaigns around criminal justice reform, a lot of things around pregnant women who are incarcerated, of course police, climate justice and how that impacts Black and Brown people, so many things.

So after being there for about two and a half years, I had some other things in life that I was just like, you know what? I think I want to work with women and advocate for women as I stepped more into my womanhood. I did some searching and found Vote Run Lead, and it definitely aligned with what I was doing at the previous organization, working with women who were pushing these bills forward and advocating for my communities. But now, on the other front, I’m training women who have the same experiences and have so much to offer in office.

How long have you been at Vote Run Lead? How has the organization grown in your time there?

A good old one year and two weeks, so I’m still very new. Well, not very new, but things are constantly changing. When I started, the organization was about 10 to 15 people, and now we have about 25, and we’re currently hiring for 11 positions, so by the top of next year, we should have about 40 folks. 

What are some of the things that you all are doing to enshrine the right culture as the organization grows?

We identified that there were gaps in certain policies. There were things that were unspoken rules because the organization was so small before, so there were so many unspoken rules and a culture of people doing certain things or doing everything themselves. So when departments were created that was a learning curve. 

We had to shift, and there were meetings that needed to be had to let folks know that nothing changes until it changes. And I would also say a lot of retreats, really getting folks together to also deal with the tension that comes with change. 

Are there any projects you’d like to encourage folks to check out?

If you’re interested in running for office or don’t know where to start, we encourage you to visit our headquarters. Vote Run Lead Headquarters ( is an innovative web-based platform that empowers women and gender-expansive people to run for office — and win — with engaging tools including training videos, candidate testimonials, podcasts, and campaign planning guidance. VRLHQ also offers voter engagement, canvassing, fundraising, team-building, and campaign narrative development resources. Sign up and #GetIn.