Judi Hilman is the Executive Director for the newly born non-profit, non-partisan group VOTERISE, which is headquartered in a private office at Work Hive. The group just launched a few weeks ago. Judi and her team are revved up to crack the code on millennial voter habits and are committed to growing the voter population and voter activism in Utah and nationwide. The team consists of Field Director and Digital Strategist Sarah Scott, Strategic Advisor Ben Sheridan, and Communications Specialist Reed Nelson who is based in San Francisco. VOTERISE was founded by Park City residents Dick and Elsa Gary.
An LA-born Israel-raised activist, Judi has actually never worked at a for-profit company in her life. Judi’s parents were very politically involved and activists in the civil-rights movement. Judi notes, “I’ve always fancied myself a changemaker.” It wasn’t until after college that she realized she could become a paid activist and build a career out of her passion. She studied history at Berkley for her undergrad degree and graduated magna cum laude, then received her M.A., also in history, from Cornell before moving to Utah with her now wife about 17 years ago.
Once in Utah, Judi founded and ran the Utah Health Policy Project and developed the enrollment program called Take Care of Utah. Both entities are flourishing today. She also worked on poverty for many years and has enjoyed watching Utah become a more forward-thinking state, especially on data-driven solutions to the problems of poverty. She finds that while young people in Utah don’t vote in high numbers yet, they do “try to live up to their values in a very practical sense.” For example, if they’re into clean air they ride bikes and use public transportation. VOTERISE is working to build on this practical issue focus to drive young people to the voting booth, around issues that animate them. She’s inspired to see so many millennials turning their words into action and she believes Utah has become a real “mecca for changemakers.”
Noticing a shift in the sense of community from her generation (Gen X) to present day millennials, Judi is leading VOTERISE to have as many conversations with young people as possible in an effort to help them establish their sense of self within the community and to explore the issues they care about. Ultimately, Judi hopes this will connect the dots from opinions to solid votes and create a long-term shift towards engaged and persistent voters.
VOTERISE is one of the first stand-alone non-partisan voter registration groups in Utah, and the only one focused on millennials. VOTERISE is connected to the national group Rock The Vote (serving as their voter registration site). With this partnership they aim to change the landscape and close the gaps of low voter turnout in Utah. “It feels like the right thing to be doing, at the right time,” Judi resolves.
In addition to shaking up the landscape with voters, Judi is also passionate about her own landscape in her Avenues home garden, which she shares with her wife of 22 years. She has used xeriscaping (a style of landscaping and gardening that reduces the need for supplemental water use) in her front and back yard and maintains a garden of fresh, delicious vegetables every year.
Some quick facts about Judi:
Daytime beverage: Peet’s coffee,
Evening beverage: Judi famous for inventing creative cocktails to sip on in the evening. One of her specialties is a vodka martini she calls Concord Crush.
Typical Lunch: enjoys eating healthy and packs her lunch every day to bring to WorkHive, but Caputos is a close second.