April 28, 2022
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Ashley Brennan, a 2016 psychology and human rights graduate from Arizona State University is graduting with a master’s degree in political psychology and is currently the organizing director of the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Brennan’s career in politics began with an initial dream of becoming a social psychologist. After graduation, she planned on working for a few years to gain experience in participatory budgeting or the act of including the input of normal civilians in budget allocation, and then return to study for a doctorate.
“As an undergraduate, I went to Romania and interviewed 50 young people who were a part of the first group of young people to be able to have a say over how a part of their city’s budget was spent,” Brennan said. “It was amazing to learn the theory behind it but I was craving the experience of actually doing it.”
After that thesis experience, she was hooked. Brennan moved to the Bay Area in California to gain hands-on experience with participatory budgeting and began traveling the country implementing participatory budgeting programs.
“After doing participatory budgeting for three or four years across the nation, we were approaching the 2020 election and I was starting to feel like I was loving what I was doing, but like many people, I was just freaked out by what was going on nationally and wanted to be a part of shaping and deciding who our next president would be,” Brennan said.
Her fascination with collective action and altruism then led her to an unlikely next step – Iowa, and campaigning.
“A side gig teaching group fitness classes connected me with someone in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign and she was my dream candidate – it takes a really special kind of elected official …….