Stuart Taylor spent late fall 2020 as a research and policy associate working on paid media, policy analysis and press relations for Jon Ossoff, who ended up winning a runoff election to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Taylor previously held a similar position for Fair Fight Action, an Atlanta organization that promotes fair elections, voter participation and voting rights, founded by former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams. He wrote and developed in-depth policy backgrounders, composed opposition research books and assisted with paid media. He was also a research intern for Abrams when she ran for governor of Georgia and a finance intern for Dan Berschinski’s campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies, with a minor in economics, from Emory University.

Why did you decide to major in international studies?
When I enrolled at Emory, my heart was set on applying to the undergraduate business school. However, in my sophomore year, I took comparative politics with a teacher who was a phenomenal lecturer. I ended up taking every class I could with that professor. From then on, I decided that I wanted to pursue international studies and go into politics. And immediately following that summer, I joined my first campaign working for a Georgia House of Representatives candidate. 

Why did you decide to stay in Atlanta after college?
First and foremost, I love the weather in Atlanta. When I visited in November of my senior year, it was 75 degrees and sunny. When I returned home to Chicago, it was snowing. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to go to school in a warmer climate. However, after going to school in Atlanta, I stayed there because I built many professional relationships from working on Abrams for Governor. These relationships guided me to continue to work for Abrams at Fair Fight Action.

You got involved in politics pretty quickly. How did that first opportunity happen?
After I decided to pursue politics, I reached out to as many political organizations as I could. My roommate, who played a large part in convincing me to switch to politics, was volunteering with the Berschinski campaign and encouraged me to join. On that campaign, I helped knock on doors, organize events and research donors. We lost in the primary election; however, it gave me a taste of campaign life. I knew I wanted to do more and work on bigger campaigns.

How did you get involved in Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor? 
I joined Stacey Abrams’ campaign in August 2018. I spent the summer doing research; however, I quickly realized that gathering data wasn’t as fun as I thought. When I heard the campaign was looking for interns, I immediately applied. After being accepted, I was given the option of which team I wanted to join. I decided to work with the research team because my boss (now mentor) said the research team supports all departments and would be allowed to work in collaboration with each department. I ended up working very closely with the communications and debate preparation teams. It was my first real taste of a fast-paced campaign-style working environment. 
What is Fair Fight Action, and what was your role with that organization?
Fair Fight Action is a voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams that advocates for election reform and specializes in fighting voter suppression. Fair Fight Action also has a research-sharing agreement with Fair Fight PAC that advocates for democratic positions in Georgia politics. While at Fair Fight, I worked as a researcher mostly with Fair Fight PAC doing opposition research, writing talking points for issues during the legislative session and fact-checking or approving all media the organization sent out. Research in politics often has the final say on most of the outgoing media, so the position kept me very busy.

How are things going as you prepare for Ossof’s runoff election for U.S. Senate?
It is going great! It has been a big step up from working in local Georgia politics to a national political campaign. And, of course, with a lot of attention on the race, there is increased pressure surrounding my job. It is both nerve-wracking and extremely rewarding to work for Ossoff. However, this is easily the hardest I have ever worked in my life. Working during peak campaign season often means you have to give up a lot of your nonprofessional life. But the thrill balances out the exhaustion.

Note: Ossoff won the runoff election and is representing Georgia in the U.S. Senate.

Do you have any good advice to share from any of this work?
Work hard! I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Fair Fight based on building a strong reputation as an intern for Abrams for Governor. I stood out because I was willing to work the hardest even when my assigned projects weren’t glamorous. This bore fruit when I graduated from Emory. My former boss called and told me she wanted me to work for her. Within a week, I joined Fair Fight and was thrown into the working world because she knew I worked hard and could keep up with the pace. 

What are some of your favorite Parker memories?
My fondest memories were competing on the basketball team, especially during the Parker vs. Latin games at DePaul. The school spirit was electrifying, and it’s always fun to beat your rival on a big stage. Additionally, I loved being the Student Athletics President during my senior year. My crowning achievement was creating Parker Sports Scores, a Facebook page designed to emulate ESPN by posting all Parker sports teams’ scores and statistics. Outside sports, I look fondly on the Parker traditions, such as Class Day, Morning Ex and “12 Days of Christmas”.

Were there people or activities at Parker that influenced the choices you’ve made since graduation?
My decision to switch to politics happened while I was attending college. However, I credit many Parker teachers for helping me become a person comfortable changing my passions. For that, I thank Ms. Gibson, Mr. Zhang and Mr. Banks. Whether it was on the basketball court or in the classroom, these three people encouraged me to take on bigger roles in the community, advised me to speak up for myself and gave me knowledge on how to be a leader. By the time I matriculated to college and decided I was going to make a significant career change, I had tools and advice to rely on that provided me with a sense of confidence in my decision.

How do you like to spend your free time (when you have any!)?
I am a huge sports fan. When I have free time, I love to watch live sports games or highlights. Outside my professional life, I spend the majority of my time watching sports and hanging out with my friends. I am also a homebody. I love spending time at home watching TV, playing games with my friends and cooking. 
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.