At 22, alumnus Will Greene spends his days managing the campaign for Democrat Paul Newman, who is seeking a second term at the Arizona Corporation Commission.
And Greene's age doesn’t make him stand out.
Prominent Arizona political figures like former state Senate minority leader David Schapira started their careers as campaign managers, though Greene conceded that he is probably younger than they were while holding the same position.
“Most people in politics are pretty young, but I’m probably on the younger end of it,” Greene said.
As campaign manager, Greene’s responsibilities vary from recruiting and organizing volunteers, ensuring pamphlets are sent to voters, checking whether money is effectively allocated and making sure the candidate’s name and message reach as many people as possible.
Before the campaign hired a press secretary, Greene drafted many of the commissioner’s press releases, his most recent being about the campaign commemorating the unofficial Solar Day for the state.
Greene also helped formulate a budget for the limited funds from the Citizen’s Clean Election Commission.
When Greene isn’t working 12-hour days, a norm for all the campaign workers, he spends his weekend off-time canvassing neighborhoods to secure votes.
Newman campaign field manager Laila Amerman works with Greene and has witnessed many of the daily decisions that he makes.
“It is extremely stressful,” Amerman said. “You have tens of thousands of things coming at you at the same time and (Greene) does it really, really well.”
An important attribute is staying cool under pressure, she said.
“I’ve never seen him lose his temper,” she said. “I’ve never seen make really big slip-ups. “
Greene was raised in a conservative Seattle household, but his political awakening didn’t start until his senior year of high school, when he started to question his first career choice as a baseball pitcher.
He thought of joining the Peace Corps, but was dissuaded by its lack of impact.
Greene decided to spend his career working to establish national use of renewable energy.
“By senior year of high school, I realized that climate change is a huge problem that is going to affect my generation and future generations, so I decided that I could do a service by committing my education to sustainability and my career to that as well,” Greene said.
That path brought him to ASU for a degree in business sustainability and economics, which also ignited his activism.
Nancy LaPlaca, the policy adviser for the Corporation Commissioner, heard of Greene from an official in ASU’s School of Sustainability.
The adviser recruited Greene as an intern in late 2010 when he drove 900 miles from Tempe to Denver to rally local resident support for an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on the disposal of coal ash.
Soon after, he was working in Newman’s policy office at the Corporation Commission facilities.
“There were a couple of interns who were absolutely as good as Will, but the thing that was exciting about Will was he’s 22 years old,” LaPlaca said.
The responsibilities of the internship primed him for his current position when the job opened up in January.
After the election, politics doesn’t hold much interest for Greene. Instead, he wants to contribute to “building a solar economy in Arizona,” though he recognizes the vagueness in the statement.
LaPlaca and Amerman, however, believe Greene possesses characteristics of a good leader.
“He has the mindset of someone who’s thinking about our future in innovative terms,” Amerman said. “There’s no way that he isn’t going to be an agent for change in the long term.”
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