Last week the Texas Democratic Party announced that it had hired Monique Alcala as its new Executive Director. Alcala was most recently the Southwest Regional Director for EMILY’s List, the largest organization in the country devoted to electing progressive women into office.
Prior to her work at EMILY’s List, Alcala was the Coalitions Director for Biden-Harris in Virginia. She also has an extensive background in local elections, in both rural and urban areas. The Signal spoke with Alcala about her new position, what ignited her career in politics, and what she hopes to accomplish with the Texas Democratic Party.
For Alcala, her start in politics came early thanks to a father who used to take her when he voted. Even though she remembers distinctly growing up in an atmosphere where many questioned the efficacy of voting, those early memories with her father were pivotal.
Though Alcala became interested in studying structural inequality (and how to dismantle it), the idea of working on a campaign was nowhere near her radar. However, she found herself in rural Virginia working at a congressional campaign, where she was the only woman and the only person of color.
That first opportunity kickstarted a career that has spanned over a decade working in campaigns. Alcala wants to ensure that her role as Executive Director of the state party allows others, no matter their background, to see that they can succeed in politics.
“I think that we need to be a party that people can see themselves reflected in,” she said. This means not just recruiting diverse candidates up and down the ballot but also having folks on the ground who are also reflective of the state.
Alcala sees the absolute and “tremendous opportunity” of increasing operatives on the ground from all walks of Texas life. “Bringing that perspective to campaigns is essential to winning elections.”
When it comes to the role of the Texas Democratic Party this year and beyond, Alcala is frank that there’s a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to increasing voter turnout in communities of color for Democrats. “We need to ensure that we are creating access points for people to get engaged in the party,” said Alcala. She wants to see that all county parties have the resources that they need so that precinct chairs throughout the state can remain active.
Overall Alcala is clear-eyed about the task at hand leading the state party. She also sees a lot of hope through the people she has worked with throughout the state that remain undeterred. These are the people who ignore the headlines and see challenges as opportunities. Alcala calls these folks her “high-agency people.”
“I don’t think I could ask for a better position than to be surrounded by a bunch of people who want to make a difference.”
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).