There are all types of practitioners in the world of political consultants. Anastasia was succinctly different — an immigrant whose family left Russia, a country that didn’t allow certain freedoms that Anastasia put on a pedestal. You only need to google her name to see her commentary in The Chicago Maroon from her time as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago.
She lived and breathed dissent and discussion. It was never the kind of debate that weighed you down or shut you off, but playful and witty to draw you in. Anastasia was able to draw a connection to people in an interpersonal and compassionate way in the digital sphere to provoke people.
Her ability to connect with others and be direct was her superpower — she was unafraid of reaching out. For us, it was a shared love of animals and dry humor that connected the two of us via the Elizabeth Warren Campaign Slack. While I historically was more conservative and private, if I have learned anything from Anastasia, it’s in reaching out more to others, especially online.
The shadow of the internet and politics is one of misinformation and depersonalization, arguably a combination that helped create the firestorm around January 6. Social media can be dangerous.
Yet Anastasia’s craftsmanship around resonance paired incredibly well with the style of the campaign Sen. Warren aimed to run, which was to meet as many voters as possible and take a picture with them. Anastasia brought that style to life with account engagement and candidate engagement with social media.
Helping raise the bar in creativity and sophistication in social media management, but most importantly, engaging a base of the country with information about a very technocratic policy platform. Elizabeth Warren had a plan for that. Anastasia Golovashkina had an engagement strategy to share that plan.
In an era with COVID and other infectious diseases appearing worldwide, digital engagement and presence are only more important. Notably, digital accounts magnify as a tool to increase accessibility for the disabled and immunocompromised. So both personally and professionally, I believe Anastasia’s legacy to be about the power of digital resonance and connection.
Building agency and authority in the modern age is multifaceted. Still, you can’t do it without a digital presence that reflects the person for who they are and what they stand for in a noisy political landscape. For many Americans, the last decade represents a seismic shift towards the internet as our primary way of ingesting information and news. This is at a time of increased polarization in our representation. It matters how we engage each other with an ecosystem of tools that can easily break us as much as bring us together.
Personally, Anastasia was there for me at my darkest moment during my chemo treatment for Hodgkin’s-Lymphoma, even though she was technically thousands of miles away. She knew how to cheer me up and was a ball of sunshine. The world is dimmer without her presence, but I hope a glimmer of that light can shine on in myself and others touched by it.
Adrienne Michelson is a data practitioner that has operated in campaign and tech spaces for the last eight years. Adrienne worked as the Nevada Data Director for Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential Campaign at the same time as Anastasia was Social Media Director. She also has worked at For Our Future in Ohio as Deputy Data and Field Director as well as Senior Partnerships Analyst for Alloy, a political data company that was acquired by Civitech in 2021.