Leadership Fellows Spotlight: Raffi Mercuri

For Raffi Mercuri – a 2018 alumnus of Leadership Fellows Boulder County – participating in the joint leadership development and networking program of the Community Foundation and the Boulder Chamber was both timely, and impactful.  

“I’ve been in Boulder going on six years, now,” says Raffi, an experienced campaign manager – from working on the campaign of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to the campaign of University of Colorado Regent-at-Large Lesley Smith – and chair of the Boulder County Democratic Party (BCDP).
“I came here for my master’s in education and taught social studies for a little while, learning along the way how policies play out in classroom conditions – for both teachers and students – and how students whose primary language isn’t English are set up to fail.
“Through Leadership Fellows, I gained insight into how to be a more effective driver for change. I’m so grateful for the opportunity the program presents, to take a close look at how things work on a local level, and to better understand the different and interrelated facets of our community.”
Continues Raffi, reflecting on his current work: “The reality is that all of the problems we’re facing in America more deeply affect people of color, especially those who are low-income, and who don’t fit into sexual or gender norms. But many American voters are blissfully unaware of the nuances of these problems, and how their inactions are responsible.
“I want to stay here, and explore and expand how to get buy-in from people who aren’t directly impacted. The City of Boulder, especially, has more influences and power than other places to create positive change where the Democratic Party fails people of color, people with low-incomes … and people who live outside Boulder. Building bridges and creating trust are key.”
Raffi went on to describe the BCDP’s outreach among local Latino communities, encouraging them to not only vote, but to “take ownership of the Party” by getting involved in decision-making. He further underscored the importance of educating all local residents on the significance of their representation in the U.S. Census – if you haven’t already, get counted online in less then 10 minutes – and clearing up any misperceptions about putting family members at risk.
“We want everyone to fill out the Census,” Raffi says. “And we want to ensure a future where the right to vote is extended to everyone who lives here, not only citizens.”
Circling back to his experience as a Leadership Fellow, he concludes: “I have more depth now, also in terms of understanding the role of the business community in all our lives – and the wide-reaching significance of fostering a healthy economy.
“Especially, I appreciate that Leadership Fellows’ programming includes partnerships with local leaders willing to talk about their areas of expertise and experience, and bringing people together who may not otherwise interact.”
Indeed, the Leadership Fellows program brings together some 35 participants from across sectors every year, building networks and advancing inclusivity right here at home. Learn more.