Donna Brazile
Former Campaign Manager for Al Gore
Live Web cast May 2, 2001 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT

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Election Reform:
How We Do It Better Next Time

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile, Democrat Al Goreís campaign manager during his run for the presidency last year, is charismatic, ruthless, politically savvy, a veteran grassroots organizer, a loose cannon or a tenacious attack dog, depending on whether you talk to her fans or her critics. A provocative, forceful speaker, she was hired to breathe some energy into Goreís campaign. Her outspokenness has also landed her in hot water more than once. During last yearís campaign, she drew fire from Republicans, who said some of her public remarks trivialized the GOPís efforts to help black and poor Americans.

She also started a furor within her own party -- which was trying to appeal to the middle class, political independents and suburban voters -- when she said the pillars of the Democratic Party were African Americans, organized labor, women and homosexuals. And as deputy field operator during Michael Dukakisí presidential bid in 1988, her comments about rumored marital infidelity on the part of GOP candidate George Bush got her fired.

But she obviously knows how to bounce back and go on. The first African-American woman to head a major presidential campaign, Brazile has been enmeshed in politics since the age of nine, when she biked from door to door campaigning for a city council candidate who promised to build a playground in her Kenner, Louisiana, neighborhood. As young 20-something, Brazile helped organize the 20th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington; a year later, she joined Jesse Jackson's 1984 bid for the Democratic nomination. In 1988, she served as field director in House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt's presidential primary run before moving on to Dukakisí general election campaign.

The Louisiana State University graduate served as chief of staff to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1990 to 1993, and was working as an adjunct professor at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland before joining the Gore campaign. This spring, she was chosen for a four-month fellowship at the Institute of Politics in Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Brazile, the founder and first executive director of the National Political Congress of Black Women, was born on December 15, 1959. The New Orleans native has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Congressional Black Caucus Youth Award and the National Women's Student Leadership Award. She was also named one of Ebony Magazine's Outstanding Young Achievers.

Related Links:
Academy of Leadership