PoliticsPA: Profile of Neil Deegan, Finance Director, Allyson Schwartz for U.S. Congress
By Alex Irwin
In this feature, we’ll profile someone working behind the scenes at one of the many campaigns throughout the state. First up, a short conversation with Neil Deegan, Finance Director, Allyson Schwartz for U.S. Congress.
Where are you from?
I am a Philly guy through and through. I grew up in Northwood – one of the best kept secrets in Philadelphia.
Where do you live now?
Holmesburg in Northeast Philadelphia.
Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I graduated from Central High School (263) and Temple University with a degree in Political Science and History.
What political figures have influenced you?
Bill Clinton: This is a man who was raised by a single mother in less than ideal circumstances and sought out every opportunity to improve his intellect and shape our country. And he’s had more comebacks than almost any figure in American history.
Richardson Dilworth: He reshaped Philadelphia, saved the historicdistrict that serves as our tourist hub today, and set the stage forPhiladelphia to become the world class, livable city it is today.
Congresswoman Schwartz: She came to Philadelphia as a twentysomething and founded the city’s first women’s health center. She built a landmark program to insure middle-income kids in her first few years in the state Senate – as a member of the minority party, no less — and has been a fighter for working families in Congress. I think that she is the model that young, civic-minded Pennsylvanians should aspire to.
What was your first job or volunteer effort in politics?
My first official experience in politics was as an intern on Congresswoman Schwartz’s 2006 re-elect, but my first volunteer experience was doing a lit drop for a State Senate candidate in the Northeast with my father on Halloween 1993.
What’s your current position?
Finance Director for Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s re-election campaign.
What’s an average day like for you?
There isn’t one. Some days I am in our local campaign office in Jenkintown, other days in Washington. More days than not include a political or fundraising event here, in Washington or elsewhere. We run a fairly aggressive operation year round, so there is no such thing as a quiet day for us.
What’s the best part of your job?
Working with a great member of Congress and her staff, both on the official and campaign sides.
What’s your ultimate career goal?
I hope someday to run for office myself here in Philadelphia. In my spare time in the off year, I’m hoping to finish a Masters in Education so that I can pursue my other goal – teaching American History. But, for the moment, I am really thrilled about the work I am doing, and look forward to continuing that and embracing new opportunities.
What’s the worst job you worked in politics? Outside of politics?
I can honestly say I’ve loved every experience I’ve had working in politics. But, my worst job was at a phone survey firm while I was in high school. I think I lasted 2 weeks.
What’s the longest or craziest ‘day’ you worked in politics? (election night, fundraising, etc.)
It was actually a multi-day experience. This past March, we did a fundraising trip to Southern California. We took off from Philadelphia at 6 AM Saturday morning, did 2 events and a dinner, slept a few hours and got back on a plane at 6 AM Sunday morning. Since this was during the petition filing period, when we landed, I drove around and collected petitions from folks in the Northeast until about 9 PM. I was about as exhausted – and exhilarated – as I’ve ever been.
What are your plans for the moment the election’s over?
The moment the election’s over? A good beer with our team, then a solid night’s sleep with no alarm clock on the other end. The next day? Start preparing so that we can hit the ground running for the next cycle.
What are your longer term plans after that?
Of course, this all depends on the result on November 2nd, but I plan to stay on with Congresswoman Schwartz. I’m lucky to work for a great member who I truly admire and respect. To be involved in her organization as she continues to rise in influence locally and nationally is an amazing opportunity, and for added incentive, she’s my Congresswoman too!