Natalie LeBlanc is a partner at The Pivot Group, managing the firm’s California office from her dog-friendly Berkeley office. For more than twenty years, Natalie has learned the ropes on campaigns small and large, working for progressive organizations, candidates and causes.
Natalie began her career on the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelect coordinated campaign in Napa County, where Democrats hoped to unseat Republican Rep. Frank Riggs. She was spit on registering voters outside her high school football games and heckled by the local “Young Enlightened Conservatives,” but it didn’t stop her from knocking doors and recruiting volunteers for Michela Alioto’s Congressional bid. Sadly, Riggs held his seat, but Natalie was hooked.
Through college and after graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Natalie ran local and regional campaigns, often living with her candidates to save payroll for voter contact. She served as Political Director for NARAL Pro-Choice California, helping defeat the first of three statewide parental notification initiatives and pass the nation’s first duty to dispense law for pharmacists.
From NARAL, Natalie joined a PhD program in Political Science at George Washington University to learn data analysis and study how ballot initiatives succeed and fail. She made it just one year before again being bitten by the campaign bug. In DC, she joined MSHC Partners as a bridge between their cutting-edge analytics team and their campaign strategists to help clients consume data more effectively. She also got her first taste of an Iowa caucus, walking precincts for Hillary in the 2008 primary in -4 degree temperatures.
At Pivot, she has continued her engagement with data and analytics, working with organizations like the League of Conservation Voters and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to test voter turnout strategies. Her work has been presented at the Analyst Institute and she uses lessons learned from those national projects to make a difference on behalf of local candidates.
Natalie’s professional and personal passion is empowering women and electing strong women to office. She’s proud to work with the EMILY’s List’s WOMEN Vote! program and specializes in working with first-time women candidates. Outside the office, Natalie spent three years on the board of Emerge California before stepping down to have her kiddos. She currently serves on the Emerge CA Campaign Advisory Team, helping alumnae mount successful campaigns from school board to Congress. She is proud to be part of a pipeline helping young women looking to get into the industry, helping to make introductions and mentor them as they navigate first jobs and negotiate salaries.
Recently, Natalie was featured in the L.A. Times as one of many women in the industry speaking out and sharing their own stories of harassment in politics. She is committed to making sure that the next generation of women have a safe, empowering place to grow and succeed.
Natalie and her husband, Wes, live in Albany, California with their twin toddler sons, cat and dog in a home much too small for all of them.
Featured Winner Interview:
AAPC: What does being a 2018 AAPC 40 Under 40 Award winner mean to you?
Natalie: After having the opportunity to come together and celebrate with my fellow recipients, I’m in awe of our cohort. There are so many talented people doing incredible work. I’m even more honored after connecting with the fellow winners than I was before. I’m particularly heartened to have been surrounded by so many smart, passionate, talented young women. It gives me faith in the work we’re doing.
AAPC: What’s next for you this year?
Natalie: Doing everything I can to take back the House and/or the Senate, elevating women in our industry and in politics, and electing smart, compassionate Democrats at every level of government. So, you know, not much.
AAPC: Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
Natalie: When I entered this industry, there weren’t a lot of women at the highest levels of consulting. My former boss, Erica Walters, taught me how to be heard. My current partner and mentor, Trish Hoppey, has given me more opportunity than any single person in my life, and she’s taught me what it means to be a smart, kind woman in this industry.
AAPC: Tell us about something you’re most proud of accomplishing in your professional career.
Natalie: Professionally, aside from helping to elect the leaders who I believe are doing great work for the people in this country, I’m most proud of my commitment to paying it forward. I started in this industry with no political connections, no political experience. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and worked my way up at every stage. But not all of the success I’ve found is from hard work. Much of it is being in the right place at the right time and having mentors who support and empower you. I’ve worked hard to pay that forward, supporting and mentoring young operatives, particularly supporting young women in the industry.
AAPC: To what do you credit your success at such a young age?
Natalie: Hard work, cultivating relationships with mentors, dumb luck and an ability to laugh at myself.
AAPC: What advice would you give to a young professional who has their eye on being a future 40 Under 40 Award winner?
Natalie: Don’t have your eye on being a future 40 Under 40 winner. Have your eye on working hard in this industry, following your heart and not compromising your ideals, even when it feels impossible.