Jordan Simmons knows politics is a worthwhile pursuit, but recognizes the scene isn’t perfect and can be intimidating to many potential great leaders, namely diverse candidates who can best understand the unique needs of minorities. That’s why he started Nominee, a learning and mentorship platform designed to eliminate barriers in the political sphere, and ease the process of succeeding in politics for underrepresented groups. The Edge, A Leader’s Magazine had the honour of talking with Simmons about his mission for Nominee.
What was your inspiration for Nominee? What happened that made you sit back and think, ’The political landscape needs to change. I should build a platform that could fix problems in politics’?
I feel strongly that we all have the power to make a difference in our communities and to stand up for what we believe in, and getting involved in politics and engaging in the political process is one of the best ways to do that. Yet, right now only 30 per cent of Canada’s MPs are women, 15 per cent are people of colour, three per cent are Indigenous, and less than two per cent identify as 2SLGBTQ+. This needs to change. Our elected officials need to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, because better representation results in better public policy.
At the same time, our political climate is becoming more divisive, more polarized, and more partisan, which is making it harder and harder to encourage good people to run for office. This was what sparked us to start Nominee. We want to break down these systemic barriers that prevent good people from running for office, particularly those from underrepresented and marginalized communities.
By providing comprehensive campaign training, one-on-one political mentorship, and a peer-to-peer network that aspiring candidates can turn to for support and advice, we can level the playing field. We aim to empower and equip more people to run for office, to advocate for causes they believe in, and make a difference in their communities.
What would you say makes Nominee different than other establishments designed to teach politics? In other words, what do hope Nominee can offer that university and college political faculties might not be able to?
Nominee is unique in that it is designed to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. All of our resources and training is available online (you can think of us as a Skillshare or Masterclass, but for politics), so it’s easy for folks all around the world to access resources that otherwise might not be available to them locally.
We also employ a unique model in that we’re nonpartisan and we’re here to support people through every stage of their political careers–from deciding to run for office, to building a winning campaign, to serving effectively in office. Our content and training is produced by cutting-edge experts in political campaigning, public policy, and advocacy—and focuses on practical, action-oriented resources that people can put to use right away. That’s paired with a peer-to-peer network and one-on-one mentorship that really provides a 360-degree support system for our members that you can’t find anywhere else.
What changes do you expect to see in the world if you can knock down barriers in the political world and open doors to a wider variety of people? What excites you about politics?
I’m an optimist when it comes to the future of politics and am encouraged and excited by the work that is being done by so many amazing activists and organizations all over the world to safeguard our democracy and revitalize civic engagement and political participation. We need to reimagine what political leadership needs to look like in the 21st century and build infrastructure that provides citizens with deliberative tools to participate in the policymaking process. That’s how we’ll open doors and shift the political culture to be more inclusive and representative of our communities.
Have you noticed any improvements in how politics operate since founding Nominee? Are you reaching your goals?
I think across the board, I have started to see a shift in the conversation—more people are recognizing the need to change the political culture and empower and encourage more people to run for office or get involved in politics. But there’s still so much more to be done. I hope that the work we do at Nominee will continue to encourage all of us to think about how we can make a difference in our communities and progress towards a brighter future.
Where do you see Nominee going in the future?
The political challenges we’re faced with in Canada and the U.S. are equally challenging in countries all over the world, so we very much see Nominee as a global platform. We’re aiming to enter the UK and EU in 2024, and will look at expanding to further countries in the future. At the same time, our focus is on expanding our content and training to build the most comprehensive learning platform for all things politics, public policy, governance and advocacy.
Luke Miles | Contributing Writer