These are challenging times for the Kentucky Democratic Party; but the current political climate in the state and the nation also offers exciting opportunities. As the party’s recently appointed executive director, Mary Nishimuta hopes to overcome the challenges, take advantage of the opportunities, and deliver a shot of energy to the KDP.
A Frankfort native, progressive, and former Democratic National Convention delegate, Ms. Nishimuta is leading the Kentucky Democratic Party at a pivotal time. Her goal of building a strong organization in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties will require reaching out to traditional party stalwarts, as well as to those who have been energized by the 2016 election and their opposition to current administration policies.
“I hope to build a bridge between experienced party faithful, and newcomers who were energized by the last presidential election, and to tap into the energy of people who have been participating in protests,” she says.
To do this, her game plan includes:
- optimizing the network by focusing on meeting with leaders and traditional groups like labor, plus new groups;
- building local coalitions with a focus on bridging alliances;
- conducting recruitment and training
Ms. Nishimuta will be applying her rich and varied experience to the challenge. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in industrial and systems engineering, Ms. Nishimuta has more than 20 years of management experience in the design and creation of supply chain management systems for various Fortune 500 companies. In addition, she is a co-owner of the Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe in Frankfort, a favorite local gathering spot.
A member of the KDP State Central Executive Committee, Ms. Nishimuta has also served as a national team leader for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and as a delegate and rules committee member at the Democratic National Convention.
More recently, Ms. Nishimuta helped organize the “Come Together and Fight Back” event, which featured Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who rallied a jubilant capacity crowd at the Louisville Palace in April.
In fact, Ms. Nishimuta is buoyed by the energy and commitment she sees among Democrats these days. “The enthusiasm among Democrats hasn’t waned since President Donald Trump took office this year,” she said.
And she is hoping to tap into that energy to make substantive changes in statewide government. As she says, “If you want to change the policy, you need to change the people who make the policy.”