Staff Spotlight: Danielle Sample
What experiences have helped you grow as a working professional?
Thinking back, I’ve learned so much from each different experience I’ve had, starting with the first job I had in high school to where I am now, and with each transition the take away became more purposeful and defined. From commitment, time management, and customer service skills from early jobs and working retail, to the specific skills and knowledge I’ve gained from my college education, interning in Washington DC, and moving on to manage a campaign, it has all been critical to my professional success.
What do you like most about working at Vanguard?
My favorite thing about Vanguard, aside from the wildly talented individuals I work with, is that we don’t just do good work, we work for good causes. The clients we bring on and the groups we work for are setting out to tackling issues that make an impact, rather that be advocating for justice reform, supporting public education or helping political candidates seeking to make a positive difference in their communities. We are a very purpose driven business which motivates me everyday.
How would you describe the workplace culture?
We care a lot about the work we do because we have the power to effect change and I think Vanguards company culture reflects that. We value working together as a team to provide the best service possible, and we also value celebrating together when we get the job done. We keep the vibes positive and the snack cupboard stocked, but in my opinion, the best part about Vanguard, aside from the office being pet friendly, is that I don’t consider the people I work with my colleagues, I genuinely consider them friends which makes everything a lot of fun.
What previous experiences have you been drawing on to guide you?
I learned a tremendous amount about the complexity of politics from my experience in Washington DC. I worked underneath some of the most influential operatives in the country on a range of progressive issues affecting stakeholders across America, as well as around the globe. I gained invaluable insight to the inner-working of the federal government, but it wasn’t until I managed my first state house campaign that I really began honing my skills and defining my leadership abilities. Instead of helping someone else execute their strategy, I was developing my own. I also gained an in-depth understanding of the current political landscape in Michigan that others without the same experience likely wouldn’t have which has been a valuable asset in my current role.
What did you learn while managing the campaign?
In addition to always having to be prepared and keeping up with the past-pace environment that comes along with campaign life, I had to become comfortable with trusting my judgement so I could think on my feet and make smart decisions, even while under pressure. The unpredictable nature of politics requires a great deal of adaptability and resourcefulness, leaving no time for second guessing. Reflecting confidence is essential to effective leadership—it’s how you get your candidate and your team to stand behind you.
Which projects are you most excited to work on at Vanguard?
Vanguard has recently taken on several great projects, but I am mostly excited about our recent launch of Michigan Unleaded, a citizen action group working to bring relief to Flint and ensure clean, safe water statewide. As a longtime advocate for the environment and public health, and simply as a human being, I am enraged by the injustice of the Flint Water Crisis and I find it absolutely inexcusable that Flint residents have suffered over three years without clean water. Water is not only a precious resource, it’s a human right. We need to restore safe water to Flint and address the issue of Michigan’s aging water infrastructure once and for all.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Spending time with friends and family is super important to me, but the outdoors is my favorite place to be. When I’m not in the office, you can often find me hiking with my dog or out on the water. I love being active and exploring new places, so I travel a lot and make sure to get out west at least once a year for snowboarding.
Who is your favorite musician?
I listen to all kinds of music which makes picking a favorite nearly impossible. I was raised on Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, but I like everything from the classics to Kendrick Lamar. However, I mostly listen to alternative music. I would have to say some of my favorite artists include The Lumineers, Vance Joy and of course Beyoncé.
What shows are you currently binging?
When I’m ready to wind down and relax (a.k.a binge watch TV) I find that nothing relieves tension like a good comedy. I could watch Parks and Rec over and over, but lately I’ve been hooked on VEEP. Selina Meyer is the polar opposite of Leslie Knope—astonishingly inept, horribly mean, and unbelievably self-serving—but even with their differences, watching these two women characters navigate the world of politics is intensely gratifying. Selina is the savage to Leslies saint and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ deadpan humor is the stuff of legends. VEEP is brutal, brilliant and heartlessly hysterical. For anyone who hasn’t watched, I recommend you start now!
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Adventurous Driven Passionate Outgoing Relentless