I remember the first time I saw Dayna Williams – wearing a business suit, portfolio in hand, sitting front and center at a group interview for Oakland Rising’s Census campaign. After a great interview, the East Oakland native and formerly incarcerated single mom of two brilliant teenagers, was hired on to our field team.

At the end of the Census campaign, I immediately asked Dayna if she would consider being Team Leader for our next campaign.

Although her leadership and skills shined during the campaign, she said she wasn’t ready. But finally, for our 4th campaign of the year, Dayna stepped up to be Team Leader.

Dayna says, “I appreciate Oakland Rising being here to help people like me who have been through some things and can’t enter the workforce the same way as other people. This experience is going to open up a lot of doors for me, it’s given me the chance to do things that I’ve never done before. I’ve been able to show that even after an incarceration, you can still get back on track with the help of people who understand your struggle and believe in you. “

Not surprisingly, she exceeded expectations and soared in her role as Team Leader of 20 paid canvassers. Personally, after running 4 big campaigns this year, I consider Dayna’s growth and commitment to be one of the biggest wins of the year.

Dayna’s story demonstrates what makes Oakland Rising’s work so unique and so powerful – yes, we are about running and winning election campaigns, but in a way that builds up Oakland from its roots.

~Jessamyn Sabagg, Field Director