Sunday, July 20, 2008

NY Times profiles Convention CEO Leah Daughtry

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The NY Times magazine has a long profile of 2008 Democratic National Convention CEO Leah Daughtry. Daughtry is a part-time Pentecostal preacher, and is key in the efforts of the Democratic party to increase its appeal to people of faith:

Daughtry is a part-time preacher and full-time political operative. She serves as chief of staff to Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In the spring of last year, Dean appointed her chief executive of the party’s convention; though she will now be collaborating with Barack Obama’s team, she is in charge of orchestrating the event next month in Denver — of making sure that everything runs right, that buses have enough slots to park in, that people have enough hotel rooms to sleep in and that the millions watching the convention on TV are captivated and inspired by the four-day-long show. She is a mostly self-effacing manager on an immense scale.

But on many Sundays she is a Pentecostal preacher with her toes naked on the floor and her voice filled with a power that she says is not her own. Straight from the start of her sermon on a Sunday afternoon in June, she looked nearly helpless, beyond self-management, truly overcome by a force coursing through her; she wiped tears from her eyes with a small square of white cloth.

In her positions as Dean’s top aid and the convention’s top official, Daughtry, who is 44 years old, is leading the Democratic Party’s new mission to make religious believers — particularly ardent Christian believers — view the party and its candidates as receptive to, and often impelled by, the dictates of faith.