A former University of Arkansas at Little Rock Student Government Association president is putting his passion for politics to work as a political organizer trying to elect the next president of the United States.
Brian Gregory, the 2017-18 SGA president and life member of the UA Little Rock Alumni Association, is now working in Iowa for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Ever since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2018, Gregory has immersed himself in political campaigns. His first post-college stint was as campaign manager for Little Rock mayoral candidate Warwick Sabin, followed by a job as campaign field director for a mayoral campaign in Alabama. The chance to work on a presidential campaign was too good an opportunity for Gregory to pass up.
“I had the chance to interview for the Warren campaign, and I jumped at the chance,” he said. “If I was good enough, I wanted to work for a presidential campaign. It was my dream. Now I’m working on this campaign, and I’ve moved to Iowa. It has been a bit of a whirlwind since graduation, but it’s a good time.”
Stationed in Waterloo, Iowa, Gregory’s duties include managing campaign interns and employees, recruiting and organizing volunteers, canvassing, and getting people to the polls for the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020. Gregory said that he has gained vast experience by working in Iowa, one of the most important political battleground states in the presidential election.
“Iowa is the first state to have a primary, and it introduces the country to the major political candidates in the presidential campaign,” he said. “This is a chance for Iowa to be involved in the process, and it invigorates the states every four years when they have it. They always say that if you want to learn how to organize, Iowa is the place to go. It’s the toughest, but it’s the most rewarding place to be. Most candidates who do well in Iowa gain a lot of momentum going forward in their campaigns.”
While talking with Iowa’s citizens, Gregory has found that the two issues voters seem to worry about the most are healthcare and jobs.
“Healthcare debts and costs are rising by the minute, and a lot of people are going into debt because of that,” he said. “People just want to know that they can take care of their family members who are sick and will have a job to put food on the table. Those two issues are always Numero Uno in elections.”
His time in UA Little Rock’s SGA has been essential to building critical skills for his political career.
“I’ve tried to determine what is the most important issues to the people. I’ve always tried to remember people who were patient with me and explained things to me in SGA, because there were times when I needed a kick in the butt as a leader,” Gregory said. “I tried to sit down with my senators and executive committee as often as possible, and I’ve tried to implement that in Iowa. I’m trying to build relationships with people, so I will really be able to work well with building a volunteer base and get people connected to different issues that are important to them. Otherwise, you won’t succeed if you don’t get people interested and involved in the issues.”
While Gregory may consider running for office one day, he has a lot to accomplish before in the meantime.
“I’d like to get a graduate degree in public policy and go to law school,” Gregory said. “I would love to work on a federal campaign or state-wide race. Maybe in the future, if I’m likable enough, I’ll run for office someday, but public advocacy is where my passion lies. I want to hear people’s stories and tell their stories in a way that moves people to take action.”
Dr. Rebecca Glazier, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Gregory’s advisor on his Donaghey Scholars final project, said Gregory was a great student with a head for politics.
“As a political science major, Brian was always interested in politics, but more than other students, he cared deeply about the implications of public policies,” Glazier said. “He wanted to better understand how the policies governments implement impact real people. I think he saw the potential for making a difference there and wanted to take it.”
Gregory said he owes his success to many people at UA Little Rock: Faith Thomas, his vice president in SGA; Drs. Jessica Scott and Simon Hawkins of the Donaghey Scholars Program; and political science professors Glazier, Christopher Williams, Joseph Giammo, and Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm.
“I want to thank all of my professors, especially those in the political science program,” Gregory said. “They taught me to think of politics in different ways. I am also very thankful for all the opportunities the Donaghey Scholars and SGA gave me to get involved in projects around the city. Drs. Scott and Hawkins really motivated me not to sell myself short. I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”
In the upper right photo, UA Little Rock alum Brian Gregory, right, is working on the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, in Iowa.