First Hire to Vice President: Allie Bedell '14 Has Helped To Put Canvass America on Political Map
Combination of different knowledge bases serving grad well
With a presidential election cycle about to kick into a higher gear, graduate Allison Bedell’s role as vice president for Canvass America, a voter canvassing organization based in Washington, D.C., is sure to intensify.
Allie, a 2014 Keene State graduate, wouldn’t want it any other way.
Ambitious and politically curious by nature, Allie is where she wants to be, in the nation’s capital and in the political mix, directing efforts focused on helping election campaigns with voter-contact or in-person-based voter-canvassing support.
Her story, as it is for so many of our alums, is remarkable in that Allie was able to blend her college education by integrating high-interest classes, finding service-learning opportunities, and studying abroad.
An Honors Program student, Allie parlayed all of that into bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. She also left Keene State with two minors, in Spanish and Holocaust & genocide studies.
Keene State provided opportunities to try different things. We were encouraged to travel, to learn and be curious, to volunteer, and to wade into discussions that made us uncomfortable. It’s an environment that taught me to be a curious and compassionate leader and to always work toward finding points of consensus.”
– Allie Bedell ‘14
Allie is from Londonderry, New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state where she began her career in politics.
Now 31, Allie has the distinction of being the very first hire for Canvass America, a still-growing organization that employs more than 1,000 workers across the country. She has extensive experience building successful grassroots voter contact operations.
Prior to Canvass America, Allie worked for then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign, and successful reelection bids for Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. For Bush, Allie developed an aggressive paid door-knocking plan and oversaw more than 300 volunteer deployments.
She stitched a lot together in four years at Keene State, noting that the college delivered on its liberal arts tradition of allowing students to roam and explore, and stretch the way they think.
“I was taught to ask difficult questions and to critically examine things to be better informed,” Allie says. “This requires a lot of empathy, nuance, and dialogue to be able to tackle tough questions in a way that is lacking in this age of divided politics and 280-character takes online.”
“Keene State provided opportunities to try different things. We were encouraged to travel, to learn and be curious, to volunteer, and to wade into discussions that made us uncomfortable. It’s an environment that taught me to be a curious and compassionate leader and to always work toward finding points of consensus.”
At Keene State, Allie worked for the Keene State student newspaper, was part of the College’s yearbook staff, and was a member of KSC Republicans, one of dozens of student-run groups on campus.
She studied in Bosnia and immediately knew, she says, that she wanted to study in Keene State’s Holocaust & genocide studies (HGS) program when she returned. More than just another add-on, it became another degree.
“The HGS program brought important context and meaning to what I was already studying.”
Her Keene State memories – and connections – are never far away.
“I still talk to some of my closest friends from Keene every week. For much of the last 10 years we’ve lived in different places, but when we see each other at weddings or when passing through each other’s cities, we pick up exactly where we left off. We all have pretty different lives and careers but we have stayed close because we’ve been there to cheer each other on through every milestone of our adult lives.”
Success doesn’t just happen, Allie says, but the right college fit and a little ambition can help to get you to where the world is headed in your chosen field. For her, Keene State checked all the boxes.
“I was a precocious high school student who stressed about grades and extracurriculars and I had dreams of going to big, fancy schools. I was going to be able to get through Keene State with no debt and my other options required astronomical student loans. As an adult, I can’t believe that I made such a smart choice at 17, but I am so glad that I did; both financially in the long-term and for what I gained from Keene State.”
Growing Canvass America and mentoring young professionals are her top priorities.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much in a startup environment. It has taught me to be much more dynamic and creative to ensure we get things done and that we can roll with the punches. … I’m proud of what we’ve built and excited to see where we take it.”
And, to high school students who find themselves in that important decision-making space about college, which Allie wrestled with and remembers so well, she says:
“You’re going to get as much or as little out of your education as you want to, wherever you land. Soak up as many opportunities as you can by saying yes to everything you’re able to. At no other time of your life are you able to have such a variety of experiences that you can try and leave behind just as easily. Dive in; you’ll discover a lot about yourself and your interests in a low-stakes way. People change careers or make big life changes as adults; that’s different. When you’re in college, you have more flexibility to change your mind and maybe discover that “Aha!” moment when you really figure out what you want your life to look like.”