Patrick Gaspard, a Political Organizer Who Rose to the Top

After years in the trenches, Gaspard has become one of the most influential political strategists.

Posted: 09/02/2012 05:58 PM EDT
Patrick Gaspard

After a lengthy career in political organizing in New York City and around the country, Patrick Gaspard is now one of the most significant players in the world of American politics, serving as the executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

In this role, Gaspard has been the public voice of the re-election campaign of President Obama, appearing regularly on television news programs. He is not only an important strategist in the overall campaign, but he also carried a good deal of weight in the planning of this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Democratic officials say President Obama was drawn to Gaspard because of their similar roots as community organizers. When he became immersed in the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, Gaspard was asked what had motivated him to take on such a strategic role. 

“That's the easiest question I've ever been asked," he said. "I want to begin to repair the imbalance in the Supreme Court by electing a Democratic president."

Gaspard worked as director of the office of political affairs in the White House, having worked earlier as the national political director of Obama's campaign. He was also associate personnel director of the president’s transition team.

In terms of political organizing, Gaspard cut his teeth working on the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign. The following year, he made a name for himself in his hometown by working on the 1989 campaign of David N. Dinkins, who became the first African-American mayor of New York City. 

“He is a very smart and hard working young man, who is highly astute politically,” said former mayor Dinkins, in an interview with BET.com. “I think the president is certainly well served by having him on board.”

Prior to working on Obama's political operation, Gaspard worked for nine years as the executive vice president for politics and legislation for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers labor union, the nation’s largest local union. 

In 2006, Gaspard served as the acting political director for SEIU during the national union’s successful effort to help Democrats win majorities in the House and Senate. In 2004, Gaspard was the national field director for America Coming Together.

He was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haitian parents who moved to the United States when Gaspard was three years old. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York. 

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(Photo: Dharapak/AP)

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