In the past two presidential cycles, Priorities USA has served as the presidential super PAC supporting the Democratic nominee with paid media. This cycle, Priorities will continue to play this critical role and expand its scope by continuing to innovate in the digital space, adding a new political department, expanding its opposition research department and building a larger, more aggressive earned communications program. Notably, Priorities is placing a staffer with a background in digital advertising in charge of overseeing all paid media, including TV, digital and any other mediums the organization chooses to utilize to reach voters where they are. While Priorities will primarily focus on the presidential race, it will continue its work in the digital space, supporting candidates up and down the ballot.
As the cycle begins, Priorities is making an announcement of initial key staff serving under returning Chairman Guy Cecil:
Patrick McHugh will continue to serve as Executive Director. He will oversee the day-to-day operations, strategy and direction of the organization, a role that he has had with the organization since 2017. Prior to joining Priorities, Patrick served as the Research Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and helped lead its independent expenditure operation. Patrick has also served in senior roles on multiple successful Senate campaigns, including as the Research Director on Senator Richard Blumenthal’s 2010 election and as Deputy Research Director for Senator Kay Hagan’s 2008 election.
Jenn Stowe will now serve as Deputy Executive Director, managing the Operations, Training & Fellowships, and Political teams as well as partnering with Patrick McHugh to develop and execute a strategic plan for the structure of the organization. During the 2018 cycle, Jenn served as the Digital Chief of Staff and led all management, financial, and operational activities for the 62-person digital team. Before joining Priorities, she worked as the creative project manager at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, managing the organization’s first internal creative team.
Jill Shesol will serve as the COO/CFO. During the 2018 cycle, she served as the Chief of Staff. She has worked in Democratic politics and nonprofits for over a decade, focusing on operations and management. She has worked on multiple statewide and presidential campaigns in the great state of Iowa, including John Edwards for President in 2008 and President Obama’s re-election in 2012. Since moving to Washington, she has worked on national programs including the Democratic National Committee as well as initiatives in support of military veterans and their families.
Danielle Butterfield will serve as the Paid Media Director, where her team will lead the integrated marketing effort to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. She spent the 2018 cycle running the media and analytics operation at Priorities, which focused on an investment in talent, testing and training to help Democrats up and down the ballot increase their digital prowess. In 2016, she was the deputy director of digital advertising at Hillary for America. She got her start doing digital advertising on the Barack Obama campaign in 2012.
Katie Drapcho will be continuing her role as Director of Research and Polling, a position she’s held since 2017. Previously, she served as Priorities USA’s Research Director during the 2016 cycle. Prior to that, Katie worked on the research team at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2014 and on Tammy Baldwin’s successful 2012 election to the U.S. Senate. She’s also worked on several statewide campaigns and for organizations including the DNC and Human Rights Campaign.
Alejandra Castañeda will be the Deputy Political Director. As the first member of this new department, she will build relationships with progressive and Democratic organizations, coordinate paid media and other programs with partner organizations, and lead the development of technical tools and systems designed to empower Priorities USA and its partners to run sophisticated digital programs. She joined Priorities USA in 2017 as a Senior Analyst where she managed a team of web developers and consultants in the creation of a shared digital dashboard tool that allowed 22 Democratic independent expenditures to coordinate digital advertising coverage in key midterm races across the country. Before this, she served in the Digital Advertising team of the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 and helped lay the groundwork for the Obama Foundation’s digital operation.
These changes come as part of Priorities USA’s transition into the 2020 presidential cycle. This also includes a new program to provide partners with in-depth modeling, targeting, and opinion research for digital, TV, mail and field programs; a cycle-long digital program consisting of both paid and organic communications, which will be the first effort of its kind on the Democratic side; continued efforts to train progressive operatives in understanding, planning and executing digital campaigns; as well as a strong focus on both persuading moveable voters and mobilizing the Democratic base.