Ready for Hillary, an independent super PAC created to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, made its first visible outreach to the LGBT community in October when it set up a booth at the annual LGBT Pride festival in Orlando, Fla.
In a development that Ready for Hillary’s leaders believe is indicative of the sentiment of the LGBT community, the booth was inundated throughout the day by more than 900 people who signed up to get involved with the organization and a possible Clinton presidential campaign.
“We’re here to encourage her to run in 2016 because she has the grassroots support behind her and she has the LGBT community behind her if and when she decides to run,” said Lisa Changadveja, who was named in September as Ready for Hillary’s LGBT Americans Director.
Changadveja organized the Hillary booth at the Orlando Pride festival. She said she and other Ready for Hillary staffers along with a corps of volunteers and student interns will set up booths at LGBT Pride festivals throughout the country next year.
Under her supervision, Changadveja said, Ready for Hillary will also have a presence at important LGBT conferences and events other than Pride festivals, including the upcoming annual Creating Change Conference in Houston, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The Ready for Hillary outreach to the LGBT community comes at a time when Democratic Party activists and big name party contributors, including entertainment industry figures in Hollywood, have been clamoring for Clinton to enter the 2016 presidential race.
Changadveja, 25, a native of Atlanta, has worked on political campaigns since finishing college. She joined Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007, working on get-out-the-vote efforts in the Nevada Democratic caucus and the Ohio and Indiana Democratic primaries. She worked on campaigns for Democratic candidates and progressive advocacy groups through earlier this year, when she served as a campaign manager for a lesbian candidate for the Texas House of Representatives in the Houston area.
“In her new role, Lisa will harness the enthusiasm of Hillary supporters in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community who are encouraging Hillary to run,” according to a statement released by Ready Hillary.
Although she’ll be traveling across the country, Changadveja works out of the Ready for Hillary headquarters on the fifth floor of a high-rise office building in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va.
“We have about 30 staffers across the nation,” she said. “We have tons of interns and volunteers in our office daily,” she added, noting that many of the interns come from nearby Georgetown University and George Washington University.
In its mid-year finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission, the group reported receiving $1.25 million in contributions between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year and spending $469,000 during that same period to carry out its mission. The report says the organization had $784,641 in cash on hand as of June 30.
The group has announced it adopted a self-imposed cap of $25,000 as the maximum donation from an individual while at the same time it has encouraged and welcomed small donations. According to an internal memo obtained by ABC News in July, Ready for Hillary executive director Adam Parkhomenko reported that 75 percent of all donations received by the group were for $25 or less.
Among the contributors listed on the organization’s FEC report were Andrew Tobias, the gay treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and longtime LGBT rights advocate; Hilary Rosen, the lesbian Democratic activist and businesswoman; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers who’s a lesbian and longtime LGBT rights advocate.
Gay rights attorney and political commentator Richard Socarides, who served as White House liaison to the LGBT community under President Bill Clinton, said he, too, wants Hillary Clinton to run in 2016.
“I hope she runs,” he said. “I’ve been helping Ready for Hillary informally. I think she would receive overwhelming support from the LGBT community. And it is richly deserved.”
Changadveja said most LGBT Democrats are familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record of support on LGBT issues beginning with her tenure as first lady and her role as a U.S. senator from New York through her stint as Secretary of State under the Obama administration.
For those not familiar with Clinton’s record, Changadveja is happy to fill them in.
“Hillary has been very active in the LGBT community and she’s been a longtime friend,” she said she tells potential supporters. In addition to Clinton’s support for LGBT rights legislation and marriage equality, her support for LGBT employees at the State Department, and her call as Secretary of State for equating LGBT rights with human rights, Changadveja adds a lesser known part of Clinton’s LGBT rights portfolio.
“She was the first first lady to march in a Gay Pride parade,” she said.
D.C. gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who backed Clinton in her unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, said he and many other LGBT Democrats in the D.C. area are excited about a Clinton run in 2016.
“They have over a million people who ‘liked’ them on Facebook,” Rosenstein said of the Ready for Hillary PAC.
D.C.-area supporters of Hillary Clinton are being invited to a “grassroots” fundraiser for Ready For Hillary scheduled for Dec. 12 at Look Lounge, a K Street, N.W. club. The admission price, Changadveja said, is $20.16, a figure the organization uses to encourage small donors.