Yes she can

Local Democrat nominated country chair

Editorial Staff
April 23, 2009

The recent primary process and presidential elections in the United States made history in many ways. Not only were these moments in which America seemed to turn a new political, social and cultural page in terms of affairs of state and policy, but it also proved that overseas votes do count and can make a difference.



Over the last four years, Democrats Abroad (DA) has grown and prospered, enjoying the status of a bone fide state-based party. Italy's DA has signed up thousands of new members, registered thousands of voters, opened a vibrant chapter in Florence and, more recently, has inaugurated a new chapter in Turin and is forming others in Venice and Palermo.


The city of Florence has played a fundamental role in DA Italy's success: in the past four years, the city's DA chapter, which opened with just 50 members, has become the second largest in Italy, with more than 1,200 members and counting.


DA Italy attributes the success of the Florence chapter to the work and commitment of Jo-Ann White, who in her free time, has built the Florence chapter into one of the leading delegations in Europe and the world.


A retail executive at Burberry, White has resided in Florence for 20 years and founded the DA Florence chapter in 2005. During her stint as the Florence chapter chair, she became the first ‘Florentine' delegate to participate in the designation of a presidential nominee for the U.S. Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention held in Denver last August 25 to 28.


At the DA Italy board meeting held in Florence on March 28, White was elected country chair for the 2009-2011 term. ‘As Florence chapter chair, one of my main goals was boosting voter registration-no matter what the party affiliation. As country chair, my main goal will be to expand the DA voter base throughout Italy. I want to take the lessons learned in Florence to help empower the newer chapters, like Torino, and help them to be self-sustaining and create connections with their local institutions to create a sense of community.'


How does White feel about being new head of DA in Italy? ‘When I joined DA four years ago, I didn't know one single American. I was assigned to the Milan chapter because Florence didn't have one at the time, so I started it; it's truly is a thrilling organization that opened its arms to me and let me run with it.'


Florence's new chapter chair, Cathleen Compton, will work alongside other newly elected chairs in Rome (Kass Thomas), Milan (Claudia Flisi) and Bologna (Liz Kaplan).



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