Katie Vann is the digital specialist of Indivisible. She helps to lead social media and digital efforts for the organization, while supporting overall branding and communications strategy. Prior to joining Indivisible, Katie worked as the digital media strategist at the Center for Effective Government, an organization that sought to connect policy issues in Washington, D.C. with the lives of everyday Americans. Katie has also worked for a variety of animal protection organizations where she has lead communication strategies, managed social media, organized major fundraising events, and overseen development programs. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a Bachelor of Arts in strategic communications. Find her on Twitter at @kvann.
What is one important thing that we Americans can do together that we can’t do alone?
We desperately need to protect our environment for future generations. We all have the opportunity to make personal choices that can limit our footprint, but climate change needs to be addressed on a global level. Governments need to work together to protect our vital resources.
What about your country, state, or community makes you proud? How do you think government interacts with that?
In the United States we have the freedom to pursue our passions, even if that means taking a risk and starting your own business. Across all levels of government, digital and physical infrastructures allow businesses to communicate with customers and deliver their products. And on a local level, the county I live in offers free classes for anyone who wants to learn the basics of starting a business.
What do you think it means to be a good citizen?
Political efficacy comes to mind. Don’t be passive watching government work, but engage with government. Government is made of us so being a citizen means playing an active role: voting, writing letters, attending meetings, or just changing the way we talk about government amongst ourselves.
What one word describes our government as it is?
What one word do you wish described our government?
If you could run any government program or agency, real or imaginary, at any level of government, what would it be and what would you do there?
I would create federal and state level animal protection agencies to advocate for the rights of animals. The agency would be responsible for enforcing animal protection laws, funding research that advances sustainable, lab grown meat, and working with Congress to pass laws that ensure every animal is treated well and not abused.
What thing that government does do you think would surprise most Americans?
Most of what government does would surprise Americans because when government is going well and the services are operating well, we don’t notice it. It’s only when things go wrong that people blame government for it.
What is your first memory of an interaction with government?
My first personal interaction was probably with my local mail carrier. I saw him on a daily basis because my dad ran a small business out of our house. Because of the postal service, my dad was able to send out invoices and get paid through the mail. His business would not have existed without that service.
What was your most recent government interaction?
My most recent government interaction was probably the salad I ate today. I could eat my lunch without worrying about contamination or unsafe ingredients because of government regulations and food safety laws.
What is your favorite thing that government does?
The entire public education system has profoundly impacted my life and is probably why I’m doing this interview today. Having a public education system gives everyone a fairer playing field and an opportunity to learn.
Who is your government hero who is not an elected official?
My high school English teachers are my government heroes. They really broadened by thinking. This helped me to question more, including questioning the status quo, how our government works and why, and so much more.
ImagineGov: If government could be anything, if government was what we want and aspire for it to be, what would it be or do?
I imagine a government that would be more forward-looking and responsive. It would always be looking for creative ways to solve the next problem, not just the problems we’re facing today.
Why is the work of Indivisible so important?
For younger generations, it’s easy to take for granted so many government services and programs that affect our lives every day. We’ve never lived in a time of complete retirement insecurity. We’ve never seen rivers on fire because of the amount of pollutants in the water. We’ve never had to worry that taking a certain political position would land us in prison. It’s easy to forget what it was like before government solved these problems. And it’s important to recognize that these things like safety nets, clean air and water, and freedom of speech are possible because people came together to make them happen.
Name someone whose answers to these questions you would like to read.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.