Columbia College Chicago

Conversations in the Arts: Donna Brazile

Political Strategist Donna Brazile Headlines CITA Lecture

Donna BrazilePolitical strategist Donna Brazile was the featured speaker for Columbia College Chicago’s Conversations in the Arts (CITA) presentation on Oct. 25.

A college educator, author, syndicated columnist and television political commentator, Brazile became best known as the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign, the 2000 Al Gore campaign. As a political strategist, Brazile has worked on every Democratic presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000. She currently is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“I’ve omitted all the partisan references in my speech. So, thank you and good night,” Brazile joked as she opened her presentation to an audience of more than 200 students, employees and friends of Columbia College.

Brazile went on to discuss the U.S. deficit, Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, government gridlock and hurricane Katrina’s impact on her hometown of New Orleans and relatives still living in the city. She assured the audience that Occupy Wall Street was not backed by the Democratic Party: “The Democratic Party hasn’t seen that much movement since 2008.”

Widely seen today as a political contributor on CNN and ABC networks, Brazile noted that November 2012 will be the most contentious election in our history, given political “incivility” and voter dissatisfaction in the country today. However, she added, citizens must also consider running for office themselves.

“Change doesn’t start at the top. It has always started from the bottom up,” she said. “We are the change we voted for.”

As a New Orleans native, Brazile served as a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority and was responsible for leading the state's rebuilding process in the aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina.

In 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Brazile as one of its 20 visionaries for the magazine’s first-ever “O Power List.” In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine and the Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine.

This season, the featured CITA speakers are innovators in disciplines taught through Columbia’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. More information on this year’s series can be found at

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*photos by Jorge Garza Norrick 

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