Danielle Cendejas is a campaign strategist with 15 years of experience working on campaigns and helping advance progressive causes. As a Latina, she uses her firsthand knowledge of her culture to develop award-winning direct mail targeted to Latino voters.
Danielle joined The Strategy Group in 2009 after working on President Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign. Growing into her role as a strategist, she works with candidates at all levels of the ballot to develop their message and campaign plan and tell their story through award winning direct mail. She has also provided training to candidates on best practices for using social media to amplify their message.
In her initial role as a project manager, she helped execute several multi-million dollar mail programs and oversaw the production and financial operations for the company’s Los Angeles office. Danielle helped guide the strategy behind Congressman Salud Carbajal’s 2016 victory in California’s 24th Congressional District, an open seat and one of the most expensive races in the country. In a reflection of her work during the campaign, Congressman Carbajal stated, “she takes proactive approaches to push a narrative and is always thinking of issues with a fresh perspective.” She has also created direct mail, most notably for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California State Assemblymember Chris Holden, and California’s No on Proposition 32 – Stop the Special Exemptions Act ballot initiative.
Danielle has developed a specialty in direct mail communications to the Latino community and her work has been recognized with an American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Award for Best Use of Bilingual Direct Mail in 2014 and a Campaign & Elections Magazine Reed Award for Best Spanish Direct Mail Piece in 2015.
In 2007, Danielle joined the Obama for America campaign as a field organizer in New Hampshire. After working on the primary field teams in New Jersey and Texas, she was recruited to join the delegate operations team, whose work was described by The Washington Post as “a textbook case in the annals of presidential politics.” She was a member of the DNC Convention Floor Operations Team and helped with political outreach in New Mexico for the general election. She also worked on the Presidential Inaugural Committee as a Talent Coordinator for the Youth Ball.
Early in her career, she worked in the California State Senate Majority Leader’s Office and as a field organizer on a congressional campaign in Eastern Washington. Danielle serves as a board member for Latinas Lead California, a PAC dedicated to electing Latinas to state and local offices and a steering committee member to LA Forward, an organization uniting a rising generation of progressive activists in Los Angeles. She is the President of the Gonzaga University Los Angeles Alumni Chapter and a member of the Alumnae Advisory Board at Ramona Convent Secondary School.
Danielle earned her Bachelor of Arts from Gonzaga University in 2004 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Applied Communications. She was born and raised in the Greater Los Angeles Area and is a dedicated Dodgers fan.
Featured Winner Interview:
AAPC: What does being a 2018 AAPC 40 Under 40 Award winner mean to you?
Danielle: The AAPC 40 Under 40 Award is an incredible honor. I’m grateful to be recognized for the work I have done in political consulting thus far and to be included in this group of accomplished professionals. Consultants are often judged solely by our win/loss records and not by our work ethic or product quality. I appreciate having a forum to showcase the full range of my accomplishments while helping make an impact on our profession.
AAPC: What’s next for you this year?
Danielle: Midterm Madness! I’m doing my part to help the Democrats take back Congress. We’re excited to have many competitive House races in California this cycle. I’m also working on campaigns for down-ballot candidates and local ballot initiatives, which will provide more professional growth and learning opportunities for me. In Late 2017, my colleagues and I made voter turnout predictions for the upcoming California elections. My prediction for the primary came within 1.6% of the final turnout, so now I’m looking forward to seeing how my prediction for the general election fares.
AAPC: Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Danielle: I am fortunate to be part of The Strategy Group. Nearly 30 years ago, the firm was founded in a basement in Chicago’s West Loop and has since worked on every presidential campaign from 1992 to 2012 and elected several mayors, governors, U.S. Senators, members of Congress, and local officials up and down the ballot. I joined the firm in 2009 as a project manager after working on President Obama’s campaign. Nine years later, I’m leading strategy for several clients and involved in campaigns at a senior level. I am grateful to learn from the partners of our firm, especially Doug Herman whom I work with directly. Thank you to Doug Herman, Larry Grisolano, Terry Walsh, Pete Giangreco, Judith Wallner, and Morton Brilliant for encouraging my growth into a political strategist. It’s an honor to work with all of you!
AAPC: Tell us about something you’re most proud of accomplishing in your professional career.
Danielle: A highlight of my career was leading the creative process on the mail program for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s campaign in 2013. I grew up in Los Angeles, and I was excited about the opportunity to elect a young, energetic leader to the mayor’s office.
To win, we needed to expand Garcetti’s vote share among Latino voters. In our mail, we told the story of Eric Garcetti’s heritage, the grandson of Mexican immigrants who made Los Angeles’ east side their home and emphasized his work as a leader in the revitalization of Hollywood as a City Councilmember.
Our mail helped Garcetti win 49% of the Latino vote in the primary and 60% of the vote in the run-off election. In the post-election analysis of the race, the Los Angeles Times stated, “Garcetti ran a crafty and disciplined campaign…he pressed hard on small issues.”
I’m proud of the mail we produce that contributed to his victory and even more satisfied when I hear his voice piped in through speakers welcoming me back to LAX with the greeting, “Hi, this is Mayor Eric Garcetti.”
AAPC: To what do you credit your success at such a young age?
Danielle: Reputation and relationships matter. Pursuing a career in political consulting was a mystery to me early in my career, but I knew I was passionate about politics and wanted to elect good people to public office. Having a strong work ethic helped me build a good reputation, and I made an effort to maintain strong relationships with colleagues. At every step of my career, I have sought out the guidance of mentors and benefited from their advice.
I also have a very supportive family. My parents have always supported my ambitions, even if it made no sense to them that my moving from Los Angeles to New Hampshire to take a job that paid $2000 a month was a necessary career move. I’ve also enlisted my siblings to volunteer for campaigns on a few occasions.
AAPC: What advice would you give to a young professional who has their eye on being a future 40 Under 40 Award winner?
Danielle: Whether you are an intern beginning your career or a seasoned campaign manager, use the experience as an opportunity to prove yourself and build relationships. There are no shortcuts in politics. If you work hard every step of the way and demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow, you’ll achieve great things in your career.