My name is Tom Kerr-Vanderslice, and I’m joining Generation Citizen as the Providence Program Manager.
While I am moving to Providence from Washington D.C., I grew up and went to school in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Before joining Generation Citizen, I was working to build the financial and volunteer infrastructure for a 2014 campaign for Maryland State Comptroller. Prior to that I worked in government advocacy, first as a researcher for Common Cause Rhode Island and then as the Advocacy and Legislative Coordinator for a lobbying firm called Washington Strategic Consulting. Despite the wide range of political activity I’ve been involved in, my work have always been centered on helping individuals and organizations participate successfully in the political process.
The first time I became truly engaged in my community I was 15 and intent on blocking a planned development on a field my neighborhood used for football games. Along with a friend, I mobilized a large group of neighborhood children, ages ranging from 11 to 15, to testify at the Town Council hearing on this project, and our presence was noted by a local reporter who published a story about our testimony. Our participation changed the issues being discussed, and what was expected to be an easy confirmation process became a story about how this construction project would negatively impact neighborhood children. The construction finally began after a two year delay, and with the guarantee that the town would open up public space nearby.
That experience was the first time I felt my opinion mattered in the community where I was raised, and it stunned me that our actions had actually generated a positive outcome. By organizing this group and speaking to my elected officials I felt partial ownership of my community and realized that motivated people, regardless the age, who engage in civic action can make a substantial difference. That realization has only been reinforced during my experiences in campaigns and advocacy, and I’m joining Generation Citizen so that I can help this great organization prove that empowered and energized young people can be responsible for profoundly positive change.
I am excited to become part of a movement that empowers young people to get involved and work toward improving their communities. Generation Citizen began in Rhode Island, and I am eager to continue its groundbreaking mission in my home state.