Utah State University - B.S. Geography
If you’re a resident of Idaho or Oregon, Amber Pence’s work has been on your ballot. As a campaign finance director, fundraiser and former chief of staff, Pence has been a part of numerous political campaigns and initiatives at the local and statewide level across the two states. And as the current finance director for the Oregon House Democrats, Amber says she’s proud to have been part of the team that helped win back the majority in the House in 2012 and elect the first-ever openly gay female Speaker of the House.
While a job in politics and campaigning, or “controlled chaos” as Pence calls it, might not be for everyone, Pence loves that she gets to work for candidates on policy campaigns that align with her values, tackle important issues and effect positive change. “Every day, I get to do something I love and make an impact on people’s lives,” she writes. “Hell yes, I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”
Every day, I get to do something I love and make an impact on people’s lives.
What drew you to your job?
I was raised to be an independent thinker and to stand up for what I believe in, so working in politics is the perfect job for me. I get to work for candidates whose vision for America’s future is in line with my values, or on policy campaigns that tackle important issues that push positive change.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
My job has a variety of responsibilities. Campaigns are what I call “controlled chaos” because every day, there’s something different. Having said that, my daily tasks do have rhyme and reason to them. As a political fundraiser, I’m often hosting events, researching prospective donors, reaching out to organizations and voters to ask for their financial support and writing fundraising emails and thank you letters. But mostly, I spend time one-on-one with candidates as they make phone calls to prospective donors, which is typically the most effective way to raise money.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with voters and hearing about what they care about and how the campaign I’m working on can help them in their daily lives. I chose to work for candidates and issues I believe will help Americans and promote positive change that moves us forward as a community or a country.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Budgets. In every campaign, I’m given a fundraising goal to meet in order to keep us on budget. If I don’t meet my goal, we can’t pay our staff, buy television ads or send out mail. I’m proud that I have always not only met my goal, but gone above and beyond. I’m competitive, so in the end, I want to win and I want to set new goals for those who come after me to dig deep, lean in and push themselves to beat me.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Working in politics, yes—this is a huge challenge. Campaign life is all-consuming; you work day and night and weekends with very limited vacations. My no-fail tactic is exercise. I run as often as I can, so if that requires me to wake up early, I do it. I also have a very supportive family, friends and partner.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?
Every day, I get to do something I love and make an impact on people’s lives. Hell yes, I can’t believe I get paid to do this! It’s a passion that runs deep and I feel privileged to get to work with the folks I do on a daily basis.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Work for someone you admire and for issues you believe in. Don’t give up when defeated: dig deeper, stay focused on the goal at hand and stay in shape.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
Organized, trustworthy, smart and must have common sense.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
If you stay in Idaho as a Democrat, you’re going to have a hard time winning. I was broken-hearted my first election, but it taught me to accept outcomes—even when they don’t go your way.