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Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants



Angela Kelley

It‘s a little bit hard to say exactly when we met Angie, because she‘s the kind of person who, after about 5 minutes, can make you feel like you‘ve known each other for years. She‘s that nice, and that empathetic. Not that she isn‘t the consummate Washington professional too, but it‘s hard to forget she has another life, a great family, and fully intends to manage the near-impossible trick of keeping all that in balance. Angie is complicated.

Through the years we were shooting the series, she was the Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum, and the resident policy expert in charge of their legislative work. Frank liked to call her “The General”. She held the operation together, kept the conference calls happening, made sure the organization was the kind of fulcrum between the public and the field of immigration advocates that it meant to be.

Angie is a specialist -- she knows the law inside out, and draws on experience as an immigration lawyer to make it understandable -- but her real world perspective is invaluable. Her parents are immigrants from Bolivia and Colombia. Early in her career, she worked as an attorney at Ayuda, a local services agency in Washington, D.C. representing low-income immigrants on immigration and family matters.

Later, along with all the rest of her responsibilities at the Forum, Angie maintained lots of contact with the press. She would often be on the phone when we arrived, explaining obscure points of immigration law and crazy happenings on Capitol Hill to reporters so clearly that at least while she was talking, it all seemed to make sense. (And she could do it while eating yogurt, too!) We loved to film those conversations because they were so useful for us, and for our audience, as well.

Her office was the central spot at the Forum, the place everybody gathered for the big stuff. It was more or less where we started, and more of less where we finished shooting. Angie runs right through this series, both on screen, and reflected in all the things she taught us along the way .

Today Angie is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress, the foremost progressive think-tank and advocacy organization in D.C.

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