Citizen Leader Spotlight: Marie HenselderKimmel
Marie HenselderKimmel’s frustration with the pay-to-play political system reached a tipping point in 2016. Channeling her energy into action, she chose to become an American Promise citizen leader to fight for the 28th Amendment to get big money out of politics. Read more about Marie’s work with American Promise below.
As a retired gynecologist, Marie HenselderKimmel has seen first-hand how corporate money often overshadows the healthcare needs of average citizens. The powerful interplay of wealthy interest groups has restricted women’s reproductive rights and caused drug prices to skyrocket. Marie’s growing disillusionment with the current political system reached a breaking point after the 2016 presidential election.
“I saw that the problem of money in politics created by Citizens United was a core cause of many major political problems that I cared about,” Marie says.
She decided to start working toward a government that represents all the people, not just those with the biggest bank accounts.
Marie became especially inspired to make a difference after attending a lecture by American Promise Citizen Empowerment Coach Sam Daley-Harris in 2017. Learning about his citizen advocacy model motivated her to focus on her own activism. Marie co-founded the Tri-County New Jersey American Promise Association that same spring and has been a citizen leader with the APA ever since.
“American Promise offered me an effective rational strategy to correct the underlying cause of the ills of our democracy that resonated with my training as a physician,” she says.
Her leadership of the Tri-County NJ APA has led to many accomplishments in pursuit of a 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The first six months of the organization were especially productive, marked by three meetings with lawmakers, six published letters to the editor and a group presentation to a local chapter of the League of Women Voters.
The group continues to make a difference. The members engage their community by holding educational workshops, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, tabling at events, and getting signed pledges from Congressional candidates to uphold the mission of American Promise.
Money in politics may present problems on the national scale, but Marie emphasizes starting at the local level. Her leadership strategy is based on the idea that progress in citizen advocacy relies on building relationships. Her organization’s efforts are primarily focused on building local connections, whether that’s in-person education or networking at events. She has found personal engagement to be the most effective way to mobilize others.
The nationwide problem of money in politics seems overwhelming at first, but even this can be tackled by the power of average citizens uniting for a common cause. Marie believes the first step is educating and organizing others. American Promise provides an ideal platform to do so.
“The organizational model of American Promise gave me a foundation of education on the problem of money in politics and training in the process of how to gain a Constitutional amendment,” she says.
Marie’s story is one that highlights the bipartisan movement that works to benefit all Americans. As the Tri-County NJ APA continues to grow in membership and impact, she has seen growing enthusiasm and momentum in the effort to win the 28th Amendment.