Caitlin Baggott takes the wheel at The Bus Project

Carla Axtman

Caitlin Baggott takes the wheel at The Bus Project

Caitlin Baggott

The Bus Project is one of Oregon's premier voter registration and engagement organizations. I've a special place in my heart for their work because of their focus on youth. It's critical, in my view, to continually engage the next generation of Oregonians.

Now, supporters and fans of The Bus will see a fabulous, badass woman at the helm: Caitlin Baggott. Baggott takes over from Jefferson Smith, the organization's leader for the last nine years. From the Bus Project press release:

On the eve of the Oregon Legislative session, one of the state’s leading youth-organizing groups is changing Executive Directors. Current state representative Jefferson Smith will be turning his full focus to legislative work and to expanding the Bus Project model to other states. The Bus Project’s Oregon work will now be led by Caitlin Baggott, Strategic Director of the Bus and creator of the organization’s nationally-renown leadership training program PolitiCorps.

The Bus Project, started by a team of young Oregonians in 2001, has been led by Jefferson Smith for nearly a decade. Since its founding, the Bus Project has organized thousands of young leaders to do grassroots democracy work in the public-interest, including knocking on over 300,000 doors and registering over 70,000 voters across the state.

When Smith was elected to represent east Portland in the state legislature in 2008, the organization began a multi-year transition process, including empowering Bus Project leaders to take a more powerful role in the organization.

“Caitlin and the rest of the Bus leadership are powerfully talented and it’s time to officially pass them the keys,” says Smith, who is serving his second term as State Representative, “I’ve never been more excited about what the Bus can and will do to advance the public interest in Oregon.”

Smith says he will remain closely involved with the Bus Project and the Bus Federation, a network of Bus-model organizations in Washington, Colorado, Montana and Idaho. He will focus on continuing to spread the Bus Project model nationally.

“I’ve got some huge shoes to fill,” said Baggott, “It’s been a gift to work with Jefferson and I’m grateful for his leadership. I’m also raring to get started leading this extraordinary team of organizers to do democracy’s most critical work – building a great world for the next generation and developing great people to lead it.”

I love seeing strong, smart women in leadership. Caitlin is taking over at a time when The Bus is helping to shape Oregon's new leaders. Caitlin has always been an amazing role model, but this high profile position does even more to show young women in our state that they can be powerful voices in their own right. I also hope that this leads to more strong, smart young women engaging with democracy.

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    "I love seeing strong, smart women in leadership."

    Could NOT have said it better myself, Carla.

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      Jefferson, great comment, great stories, agree 1,000%.

      But I'm sorry, there's some serious unfairness going on in the universe. This has to share the Oregon/lefty sub-subset of the news cycle w/Kitz's new budget? This was the headline story on BO for all of, 10 minutes?

      Not fair, but I'm sure Caitlin doesn't care. She's already busy outworking the rest of us!

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      Yeah, because certainly gender denotes ability ...

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        Woosh..and Geoff Ludt misses the point...again.

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          "the boards wisdom BARELY BEGINS with her gender"

          Clearly, gender is the jumping off point in defining Caitlin's qualifications.

          Beyond that, she may be qualified to complete the task but the fact remains, Smith began his comment focused squarely on gender.

          Whoosh ...

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    This is good news. Caitlin has been a key player at the Bus for at least the last five years, so this should be a very smooth transition.

    Actually, to add on to what Carla wrote, the Bus has been increasingly training new leaders nationwide and have begun to successfully broaden and diversify their trainees on region, race, and yes, even ideology.

    Jeff can always be proud of what he built, and this is the right time to step back. As his own political career takes more of his time, there needs to be some space between Jeff and the Bus, which should not be tied too closely to any individual political leader, party, or partisan political organization.

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    It's an exciting time for the Bus and Caitlin has an incredible track record of engaging youth (and the young at heart) in our political process. A big win for the Bus Project AND Oregon.

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