LI Graduate of the Week: Annette James, campaign manager for Virginia House of Delegates Candidate Mike Watson

The Leadership Institute's featured graduate of the week is Annette James, who works as the campaign manager for Virginia House of Delegates Candidate Mike Watson in the Williamsburg, Virginia area. The two met each other at LI’s Campaign Manager School in December 2010 and decided to team up for Mike’s campaign.  

“LI is one of the best things that you can do if you are interested in politics,” Annette said.  “The amount of information you receive is a bit like ‘drinking from a fire hose.'"

She continued, "The experience at LI was amazing. Not only did I learn more than I could retain, I was thrilled to spend the entire week around people who were proud to wear the political junkie label, as was I. It was an entire room full of people that you could relate to and share stories with.

"One of those people was Mike Watson. The first time we had a chance to talk I thought, ‘This guy should run for office.’  When I asked him if he had considered it, he said he had, but it was not time yet.

"Over the next couple of months Mike and I stayed in touch, bemoaning Washington politics and speculating on the upcoming 2012 presidential candidates.   When redistricting put Mike into an unexpected district, it was a natural move for him to file the paperwork and run for office, as his heart was already in it.

“Because Mike felt comfortable with my background,” Annette said, “and the common ground we had from LI, he made me an offer to join the campaign as his campaign manager.”

Annette, from Florida, moved to Virginia to campaign for Mike.  She's prepared to manage his campaign thanks to Institute training.

Annette has attended five trainings at the Leadership Institute varying from the Event Planning Workshop, the Travel Campaign Management School, the Public Speaking Workshop, the Youth Leadership School, and the Campaign Management School. 

“Of course," Annette said, "for obvious reasons, the part of LI that I value the most is the networking. You will never find a whole room of people more similar to you in their political drive than at LI."
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate you know to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at