One week from today, President Obama will be in Austin, and Democrats are buzzing about the opportunity to see him at a relatively low-dollar event ($250) at the Austin Music Hall. People will be crammed inside the venue and lined along the streets just to catch a glimpse of the motorcade.
One of the organizers of this July 17th event, as she has been for previous visits by the President, is Beverly Reeves, who sits on the National Finance Council for the Obama Campaign. Quietly working the phones and her deep trove of personal contacts, she will make sure that President Obama enjoys another exciting experience with Texas voters.
Behind-the-scenes organizing is what Reeves, a founding partner of the law firm Reeves & Brightwell, does so well. Locally, she was a force of nature in helping to organize this year’s Trio of Stars Brunch honoring Travis County Democratic women, memorably introducing honoree Carrin Patman.
With the clock ticking down to the President’s arrival, Reeves shared a few minutes of her time.
QUESTION: We’re excited that President Obama is coming back to Austin. I know the campaign doesn’t officially promote these fundraising events in the press, but tell us what you can tell us.
REEVES: I’m just a volunteer. All I do is spread the word that the President is coming to town and gather people to come. That’s pretty easy because so many people want to see him. There’s not always an opportunity like this, at the $250 level, for people who can’t come to a high-dollar event to see him. At the $250 level, people will be standing around the stage. There also is “preferred viewing” around the rope line. We want to give every person who wants to see the President an opportunity to see him.
Being with the President is a really meaningful experience. If parents can afford it, I hope they’ll bring their kids, especially kids who are a little older. It’s such a unique experience seeing a sitting President. When he walks into the room, the atmosphere is just electric. That’s why I wish everybody could come see him and hear him speak about his vision for the future. It’s so inspiring.
QUESTION: Last May the President filled up Austin City Limits for a fundraiser. He also had a lunch event at the Four Seasons Hotel in 2010. This time he’s heading to the Austin Music Hall. How did this venue come about?
REEVES: The first time we had a large fundraiser here for the President — he was Senator Obama back then — was February of ’08, right after the primary debate with Mrs. Clinton. We held that first one at the Austin Music Hall, so that’s why we wanted to have it there again.
QUESTION: The President always speaks fondly of Austin, and he’s been here several times — including once before he even declared to run. What do you think draws him here?
REEVES: When the President came here for the rally on Auditorium Shores (February ’07), I’m not sure anybody, including the people on Obama’s team, expected what happened. An estimated 20,000 people showed up! The Obama team was probably watching this happen and saying “Oh my gosh, we’ve got something here!” People were starving for new leadership and change. I do think Austin has a special place in his heart because it has been so supportive, and Travis County has always been strongly supportive. Every time I see him, he says he loves Austin and can’t wait to get back.
QUESTION: You’ve been actively involved in Democratic politics for a long time – your work on our most recent Trio of Stars Brunch helped make that event our best-ever. What do you like about local organizing?
REEVES: Making new friends and, in particular, bringing younger people into the fold. I work with a group of women in non-profits, and I like to make sure if someone donates to an event but can’t go that people who can’t afford to donate can come. With local events, it’s one-on-one contact with people, and I get to be involved in details. When I’m working on an Austin event for the President what I do is spend time on the phone raising money.
QUESTION: What first got you interested in the Democratic Party? Have you been involved your whole life?
REEVES: My first campaign was for George McGovern in 1972 in Gainesville, Florida. I was 10 years old, and my grandmother had us walking around leaving door-hangers. I would never be a candidate, but I love being behind the scenes. I was for Obama from the beginning, and we’ve just got to get him reelected. It’s so important that we do that.