Name: Bishop Garrison
Job title: Virginia Operation Vote Director
Hometown: Lexington, South Carolina
Based in: Richmond, Virginia
Q1. What does a day at work look like to you?
My schedule is crazy—I’m a former Army guy, so I’m used to getting up early. I’m up by 6:30 a.m., I’m out to the gym by 7, and I come into the office by about 9:30 a.m.—it depends on how late I was here the night before! All day I’m working on emails, making calls, or talking to my deputies. We have programs for youth, women, Latinos, veterans, LGBT Americans, and we’re going to hire someone for our Asian American and Pacific Islander program soon. The nice thing about Operation Vote is that I’m one of the guys who interacts with everyone’s departments, so I speak to a lot of different teams all day. And I do all of the above—planning events, strategy, program management, supporting my vote directors on their goals, making sure they have the budgets they need. I’m usually here till 9:30 p.m., or until the job’s done.
Q2. How did you first come to the campaign?
I’m a West Point graduate, and I received my first deployment orders for Iraq on Valentine’s Day in 2003. I was there about a year, came back to Colorado for training, and went back over again. When I got out of the Army I decided to go to law school, but a year into it I decided practicing law wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to quit—that’s not my style. So I finished up and went into consulting in Northern Virginia instead.
This year I sat on a policy roundtable with OFA’s political director here in Virginia, and he liked a lot of the thoughts I shared about veterans issues in our state. One thing led to another, and he passed my name over to Virginia State Director Lise Clavel. I had wanted to make a jump into politics and government, so I had to take the opportunity. You can’t ask for a better group of people to work with. Just like in military, where at the end of the day we knew everything we did was to protect people’s rights and keep people safe, here on the ground in Virginia I’m fighting for a better life and for our President. I feel like I’m continuing to serve.
Q3. What's your favorite part of your job?
Our Monday all-staff meeting, when everyone comes in to talk about what we have going on for the week. But we have to share one thing from the weekend we enjoyed, like relaxing by the pool, seeing our kids, playing with a dog—anything that helps us get through the coming week. Looking for the reward at the end of it helps you understand there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. To keep our sanity we have to have a social connection. It’s super important.
Q4. What's the most unexpected part of your job?
I thought it would be a lot more like the West Wing! I knew it would be hard work, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into events you’d think are just routine—there is no such thing as a routine event. There’s always some new obstacle that pops up that you have to be ready to deal with. Every event is more successful than the one before, but you always have those takeaways, and we keep learning as we go. For our recent launch of Veterans and Military Families for Obama, we had the perfect location, and a great agenda with Beau Biden. At the end he told us flat out it was top-notch, and it made me proud to hear that from a guy like him.
Q5. Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
When I was in college I was into classical poetry, the Romantic Period, and philosophy. I write creatively—I started out young, writing poetry and prose in high school, and then stumbled into short stories. Someone in our office found my old college yearbook and saw that in my senior year I had a quote under my picture about me being a warrior poet—so they give me a hard time. Also, I love boiled peanuts—people who aren’t from the South won’t know what those are, but instead of roasting the peanuts you boil them in brine. They’re soft and salty, a huge delicacy in South Carolina.