Alexsis Rodgers, a 2013 VCU graduate, is on the transition committee for governor-elect Ralph Northam. After graduating with degrees in public relations and Spanish, Rodgers worked for a PR firm now called Padilla before joining Virginia 21, a non-profit millennial advocacy and activism organization in Virginia. From there she served as the lieutenant governor’s policy director for the second half of his term. She currently works for Planned Parenthood as their communications director.
How did you get the position as Northam’s policy director?
“Before I was working there, I was working at a nonprofit called Virginia 21 — They do a lot of college affordability work. I kind of got to know Clark Mercer, which is lieutenant governor’s chief of staff through my work in the organization but also through my volunteer working in Young Democrats. They were looking for a new person who kind of brought some legislative experience but also communications experience.”
What was your role as policy director for the lieutenant governor?
“We’ll track bills and make sure that legislative priorities that he cares about are advancing through the General Assembly session. We are meeting with constituents and listening to their concerns, meeting with different advocacy organizations and understanding what their positions are on certain bills. We are making sure that we are monitoring the bills and committee hearing how certain legislators plan to vote on different bills and then in the afternoons, we might catch up on the lieutenant governor again, and talk about more research that we did on the different pieces of legislation and kind of advise him on how the session is going so far.”
Why did you choose to join Northam’s campaign when he was running for governor?
“I wasn’t on the campaign side, I was on the state government side. Dr. Northam is an incredible public servant. He has paid attention to issues that matter to me like health care access and pre- K education and he’s a really solid, honest, genuine kind of guy. It was also a great professional opportunity for me to continue working in issues that I kind of cared about.”
What about the last campaign season stood out to you?
“There’s a lot of energy in this election cycle that you normally don’t seen in state elections. What we saw this year was that even more people were engaged even though it was just a local election. Obviously, last year’s elections was a disappointment for a lot of people and they wanted to make sure that they did didn’t see that happen again. So my number one takeaway was that a lot of new people came in into the democratic process and that’s exciting and better for all of us.”
Why is Ralph Northam the right person to govern Virginia?
“He’s a doctor and the number one issue that I care about right now, that a lot of people care about, is health care. Costs keep going up for young people. What you will see in Gov. Northam is someone who is going to continue to listen to people and make sure their concerns are heard. He might not always agree with you, but he will always hear you out and see how he can best address your concerns whether that’s on health care or education, the environment, veterans’ issues.”
With the election over, what are you working on?
“As a member of the transition committee, we’re helping advise him on policy matters that we want to make sure are prioritized in the next administration. Whether that’s specific policy issues or even kind of more broad priorities for the administration like diversity and making sure that board appointments are reflected on the Commonwealth, making sure he is drawing attention to issues that people care about.
“In my day job at Planned Parenthood, we are obviously focused on healthcare and particularly reproductive healthcare access and making sure that folks continue to have the freedom to make their own decisions on reproductive health choices. Dr. Northam has been a strong advocate and ally on those issues.”
What is your role at Planned Parenthood as communications director?
“Making sure that our legislative priorities remain the foreground of people’s minds when they were going out to vote, making sure they understood the difference between the candidates and how the election would impact their access to healthcare and Planned Parenthood and making sure the legislators know how to speak to our issues and train them on messaging, making sure they understand the breadth of services that Planned Parenthood provides from sex education to abortion services to transgender health services.”
Zobia Nayyar, Contributing Writer