For the latest episode of “Inside the Writer’s Head,” I interviewed Gavin DeVore Leonard. He’s the Executive Director of Ohio Voice, Ohio's 501(c)(3) civic engagement table, a job title that he breaks down for us early in our conversation.
Earlier in his career, DeVore Leonard served as state director of One Ohio Now, a state budget and tax policy coalition. He was state director of Ohio’s Center for Progressive Leadership, and he’s co-founder of Elementz, a hip hop-based youth arts center in Cincinnati.
DeVore Leonard spent years working for affordable housing organizations, canvassing on environmental issues, and doing lots of volunteer work — often on racial justice and police accountability. He lives in Yellow Springs with his wife and two kids and loves rivers, basketball, Tetris, hip hop, flavorful food, and reading.
I had DeVore Leonard on the show because as a statewide leader in policy and politics, he’s knowledgeable about the upcoming election. He was able to offer a number of resources to help listeners make a plan to vote and better understand our options, including the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, 866-OUR-VOTE, the League of Women Voters and Protect the Results.
I was also excited to talk to him because years ago, DeVore Leonard and I worked together as organizers intent on educating and turning out voters in the 2004 election. If you’re interested in our long-ago efforts to create voter guides and get them in the hands of Cincinnatians, I recommend reading an article I wrote for The Nation in 2015.
At the time, Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists were asking Democratic presidential candidates where they stood on issues of race, and their approach was different from what DeVore Leonard and our contemporaries had been up to. I reflected on this new brand of electoral organizing, what it illustrated about the generational shift, and why I thought BLM had the right idea at the time.
I hope these conversations and insights are useful as you head to the polls, if you haven’t already. Most importantly, vote and do what you can to help those around you cast their ballots as well.
Learn more about our Writer-in-Residence program and our current writer, Dani McClain.
For additional information and dates regarding the November 2020 election, please visit the Library's voter information page at cincinnatilibrary.org/vote.