Amanda Wind O'Donnell

Executive Master of Public Administration-Public Service Leaders
- 2017

Chief Operations Officer
Vote Run Lead
Amanda Wind O'Donnell

What led you to your current organization/role?

Before joining Vote Run Lead (VRL) in 2017, I was CFO and Partner of a Technology company in NYC that I helped to scale from startup to industry leader. In 2015, we became the technology partner for the LinkNYC project—a groundbreaking public/private partnership that is bridging the digital divide by replacing the pay phones in New York City with super-fast, free wifi kiosks. Soon after we launched that project, we took the company through a merger & acquisition with Google's smart city company: Sidewalk Labs. 

As the only female partner at my tech firm, out of eight, I had been leading WIT (Women in Tech) Initiatives and working with that community to close the gender gap in tech, and, after the merger, was looking to make a career pivot to the nonprofit world when I met Erin Vilardi, the founder of Vote Run Lead. It was early 2017, just after the first Women's March, and she was looking to scale this amazing training model she'd built. She needed a finance and operations expert—and I couldn't get onboard fast enough!

What public service impact do you hope to make through your organization and/or career?

With Vote Run Lead, I am working to build a reflective and resilient democracy by unleashing the power of intersectional, anti-racist, reform-minded women to become the majority of officeholders at every level of government.

In what ways did the EMPA Program and your time at Wagner help you further your career in public service?

The EMPA Program at Wagner connected me to a community of like-minded professionals who have continued to be a wonderful and supportive network. The program really gave me the tools and vocabulary that I needed to make a pivot from the start-up/corporate sector to the social-impact/NGO sector.

What about your work is most fulfilling to you?

By working on scaling the organization, I get to see a significant increase in real impact, in terms of the number of women who we equip to run successful campaigns as well as women who are breaking barriers and are often "firsts" (ex. first Muslim woman elected in the State of Tennessee, the youngest African American woman ever elected to US Congress, the first trans person elected to the NH State House,....just to name a few). These women often tell us that our program made a real difference in their decision to run and in their ability to win.