Blair alumna moves into "Hillaryland"

Jan. 11, 2008, midnight | By Greg Kohn | 14 years ago

Former student helps blaze the Clinton Campaign trail

When 2003 Blair alumna Nora Toiv was in the fifth grade, she got to visit the White House on "take-your-daughter-to-work" day. Her dad, Barry Toiv, who was Deputy Press Secretary during most of the Clinton Administration, took Nora on a special tour through the different-colored rooms and past the security guards to the Oval Office, where he introduced her to the president at his desk.

"President Clinton showed me all the souvenirs he had from his travels all over the world," she recalls. "I was stunned." The variety of these relics and the importance of the man who had collected them overwhelmed Toiv. She told her dad later the same day that she wanted to work at the White House one day, and her own career path in politics was set.

Now with the 2008 presidential election around the corner and campaigns in high gear, Toiv is in the middle of the highest level of American politics, working at Hillary Clinton's national headquarters in Arlington, Va.

At the office

Toiv arrives early her desk every morning. Behind her, a board full of sexist quotes reported in the media about Clinton hangs on the wall, a constant source of motivation. "Yes, I absolutely want Hillary to be the first woman elected president," Toiv says.

Photo: 2003 Blair graduate Nora Toiv at Hillary Clinton's Headquarters in Arlington, Va. Photo courtesy of Nora Toiv.

She reports to Cheryl Mills, a senior adviser to the campaign, and helps Mills research, schedule and organize staff. Currently Toiv is working on "Hillaryland," a unique effort to deploy women who previously worked for Hillary – as First Lady, Senator or otherwise – to promote her presidential campaign. The "Hillaryland" women have taken on jobs ranging from top-level advisers to local recruiters in their hometowns.

Toiv's work with "Hillaryland" has allowed her to be part of a close-knit workplace. "Getting to know Hillary through the women of 'Hillaryland' has been an amazing way to learn about who she is and what she would do as President," Toiv says. "Many of these women have known her since before 1992. They are full of stories about the Hillary that people all over the country are getting to know better and better."

Political past

Even prior to the campaign, Toiv had been surrounded by the whirl of politics. She grew up in Takoma Park, a known refuge for government commuters, and father Barry's frequent use of political jargon stuck to her. "Nora always had an interest in the issues. Politics fit her personality," Barry says.

During middle school she continued to visit the White House on "take-your-daughter-to-work" days. She attended briefings by the President's press secretary and watched the President address the press corps. "I was amazed by how friendly everyone was," she says.

By the time Toiv arrived at Blair, she had clearly been bitten by the political bug. She became co-president of the "Young Democrats" club, and after her sophomore year volunteered to be an intern at the Democratic National Committee. She has worked every summer since at various political internships.

Toiv attributes her political interest to more than just her dad. Growing up in liberal Takoma Park coupled with attending a diverse school like Blair left its mark. "Takoma Park and Blair gave me unique perspectives on life," she says. After graduating from Blair, she majored in political science at New York University, where she met many students with a more conservative outlook. "Some of their views were very different," Toiv says.

While in college Toiv met Mills, then the senior vice president of NYU who coincidentally had worked alongside Toiv's father at the White House. Mills acted as a mentor and a link to national politics for Toiv. "She took me under her wing, and when Hillary announced her run, I went to [Mills] to see how I could get involved," Toiv says.

Toiv had first formed her opinion of the former First Lady from her childhood visits to the White House. "I saw Hillary's compassion and caring firsthand," she explains. "That's a big reason I have a passion for her campaign."

Last June, Mills invited Toiv to volunteer at Hillary's national headquarters. By the end of the summer, she was hired. "In a way, this is my dream job. When the buzz started about Hillary running I knew I wanted to do everything I could to help her get elected," she says. "Even though the atmosphere can be stressful, I enjoy almost every day of it,"

Many campaign staffers end up with White House jobs if their candidate wins, and while Toiv is hopeful for such an opportunity, she is not looking that far ahead. "That's uncertain," she says. "I take everything as it comes. Right now I'm focused on Hillary winning the primary."

Greg Kohn. Greg Kohn is a native Marylander. He's lived in one house his whole life, played soccer since before he could talk, and loves to chant "09" when it's really quiet. He hates being called Gregory, and he wishes he were more organized. He was a … More »

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