DuPage Dems Difference Maker – Joan Knippen

DuPage Dems Difference Maker – Joan Knippen

My interest in politics began during the 2016 presidential campaign. I think that is when I really started to pay attention. On election night I was not as surprised as many where, by the outcome. I had a gut feeling for several months on how the election was going to end. The days following the election where very emotional, so many felt hopeless and defeated. For me, I needed to become involved and have a purpose that I thought would make a difference. While activism wasn’t new to me; for the past 13 years I have volunteered and served on the board of directors for a national breast cancer organization, politics was completely different. I had no idea where to start. Thankfully, I found a local group, Progressives for Change – Elmhurst. It was a perfect fit, and felt good to be involved with like minded people. Maybe there was hope!

As 2017 progressed, I started becoming aware of local elections and the people running for those offices. I must admit I never paid much attention to local politics in the past. Of course, I voted, with the exception of presidential, senate and house candidates, I didn’t know much about local candidates. When I met Dan Hebreard in late 2017, his energy and excitement made me want to become involved, I asked if I could help with his campaign. I’m pretty sure my family thought I had lost my mind, as I had never shown any interest in politics before. In February of 2018, I met Linda Davenport, who became an extremely important person in my life, and I worked on her campaign too. Making sure we had a Democratic judge on the bench was a beginning for long needed change in the county judicial system. It was so awesome to share in that history making win!

2018 was such an important year for the Democratic party. So many people jumped in the ring to run for various positions. I love the fact that I had the opportunity to work with and become friends, with many of the candidates. The candidates educated me, and I in turn educated others. For the first time I felt empowered when I voted in the election. I knew the candidates and what they stood for. No more voting blindly for me!

While working for the candidates, I also became more involved with Progressives for Change. I joined the board of directors in 2018 and became the board chair in 2019. I absolutely love being part of the change in DuPage county. If I hadn’t stepped “out of the box” and joined P4C, I probably never would have crossed paths with so many amazing people, many who have become my dearest friends, who spend countless hours doing various types of activism. I not only have the chance to be politically involved, I also have the chance to promote many social welfare issues. Educating people in the community about hunger issues, immigration/refugees, climate issues, the LGBTQ community, etc., has really been life changing for me. We tend to be in our own little bubble and aren’t always aware of the struggles people are facing in our own local communities.

The last three plus years have been challenging locally, nationally and world-wide. My hope is 2020 will bring much needed change. It will take time to rebuild, but we need to believe it will happen. We need to keep fighting and promoting what’s right, otherwise it won’t happen. Running for a local office has definitely crossed my mind. While 2020 isn’t my year, maybe another year will be. For now, I will be putting my efforts into helping others win, mainly on some of the judge’s campaigns, while continuing to work on as many social issues facing the county as I can. But, its not just about what I’m doing, its about what we are accomplishing together. It takes a village, and I am so glad I get to be part of the village!

Joan Knippen
Progressives for Change – Elmhurst
Board of Directors