You know - so many people will never be recognized for the efforts that were made by the founding members of the Kerry Internet Team - and how the Kerry Campaign built up it's staff.
First off, it was the incredible fund-raising prowess of the Dean Campaign that caused the Kerry campaign to begin to notice what was happening on the campaign. A VC in California, Mark Gorenberg, was tasked with writing a memo for John Kerry in June of 2003. At a meeting on his boat, John tasked Marcus Jadotte, a recent hire into the campaign to "get the Internet going".
Luis Miranda, Cyber Organizer - Marcus's first hire was Luis Miranda, a field operative in the Gore Campaign, Luis' family had beeninto publishing in South Florida (one of the first Latin newspapers) and had been involved in doing screensavers before high school. Instead of focusing on technology, Luis got involved in politics. After the Gore campaign, Luis worked for various Washington DC groups, setting up websites and other projects. Marcus' hire brought the first person into the organization who was focused primarily on the Internet, aside from Crossroad Strategies, the original team who had helped the Senator win his campaign against Bill Weld in his earlier Senate campaign.
Dave Patten, Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Customer Service - in terms of longevity, Dave Patten is the longest running staff member on the Internet Team - originally tasked with the overall efforts, but then became responsible for the process of responding to incoming emails into firstname.lastname@example.org. Given a simple laptop and Microsoft Outlook, Dave had to regularly wait 90 minutes before his Outlook would start while the 8000+ emails entered into his computer's memory - and then regularly crash. With a purchase of an email Customer Relationship Management service and a growth of his team, Dave was now able to reply to tens of thousands of emails - whether by an automated response or by targetted responses determined by his team.
Morra Aarons, Director of Internet Communications - Morra joined the organization in August of 2003 after being the Director of Internet Marketing for iVillage, a woman's site and eBookers, a very popular travel site in the U.K. (like Expedia). Through a personal connection, Morra joined the team working on various projects - and specifically focusing on the the connection between the Communications Department and the Internet Team - whose primary communication medium were emails.
In late August/early September, in preparation for the pending launch of the official announcement for Kerry in South Carolina, Marcus and the Internet Team engaged in a redesign of the website. With a last minute change of designs, the new Johnkerry.com website was relaunched in time for the Kerry announcement - with a lot of hard work on the part of Luis, Morra, Larry (from Crossroads) and maybe two other people.
During the months of August and September, additional members of the team came aboard, including:
Dick Bell, Blogmaster - Dick's political cred comes from way back - including his stint at the DNC as the first creator of a political forum for the 1992 Campaign (I would need to confirm the year). Dick had always been an ardent supporter of John Kerry's for many years. At the beginning, Dick's contribution was to be the direct connection between the Communications Department and the blog. Armed with his many followers (the Troll Patrol as we affectionally called them), the Kerry blog took a shape all its own. Ironically, in a bucking against the blogosphere tide, the blog volunteers pushed for the campaign to support a forum http://forum.johnkerry.com -- borne out of the problems that we had with the Movable Type implementation -- and the furious attacks we had with the many Dean and Bush trolls. It should be said that Dick managed both the blog and the forum -- and spent many a waking hour working those communities for our best efforts.
Erin Hofteig, MeetUp Coordinator and Community Manager - Erin was originally a volunteer -- and at some point, was given the responsibility of managing the MeetUp efforts -- a daunting task with limited internal support or resources. In addition, Erin took over the Kerry identities I had created on Friendster, Orkut and Ryze -- using the identities as a way of directly communicating with ardent Kerry supporters on these online community aggregation sites.
Mike Memec, Webmaster - Mike was Luis' righthand man -- after returning from working abroad, Mike took on the daily website publishing tasks -- all without having a lick of experience on the Internet. He dove in head-first into every project and came out swimmingly - getting the job done by hook or by crook. His remit often was ensuring the tasks that needed to be maintained on a daily basis, whether it meant changing the content on the home page, updating the calendar, whatever. He was always there - making sure it got accomplished, and almost always in good humor. And, in addition, Mike was the team's comedy light - he knew where the funny bone was - and always knew how to drop a line that would make most of us laugh.
When I joined the campaign in September, the campaign had agreed to work with Mark Walsh, previously with AOL and the CTO of the DNC, where he was given the lead responsibility to manage the team. I arrived on what turned out to be Mark's last week with the campaign, for one week after I arrived, Mark had closed the funding on Air America, and went off to become the CEO of the country's first liberal radio network.
Next post: where we went from here...