Kat Calvin
Kat Calvin is the founder and executive director of Spread The Vote and the co-founder and CEO of the Project ID Action Fund. A lawyer, activist and social entrepreneur, we are admirers and students of Kat's expertise and efforts to expand voting access and make all voices heard.
Photographed by Nesrin Danan
Tell us a bit about you - what do you do for a living? How did you get to where you are today?

I am the Founder and Executive Director of Spread The Vote and CEO and Co-Founder of the Project ID Action Fund. I started STV in 2017 and PIDAF this summer. I’m a serial social entrepreneur and working on IDs and voting rights felt like the best way that I could make an impact after the 2016 election. Realizing how much the absence of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act affected all levels of elections in 2016 was a key inspiration.

On the mission of Spread The Vote and Project ID:

Over 21 million eligible voters in this country don’t have ID, far more if you include people over 18 who are not eligible to vote. Without them, not only can they not vote in a majority of states, they also can’t get jobs, housing, many forms of medical care, food from many food banks, nights in many shelters, and much more. IDs are a necessary key to escaping poverty and rebuilding life.

It’s a misconception that people who don’t vote are lazy or uninformed or don’t care. Voting is hard in this country and voter suppression is very real. Many, many people who don’t vote don’t do so because it is simply not possible without help.

Kat is also a co-host of Vote! The Podcast
Spread the Vote celebrated its 3-year anniversary on May 6th
What are some things that anyone can do to make a difference leading up to the election?

If you can vote at home, do, and request your ballot early. If you can’t, vote as early as possible. And make sure your friends, family, and community are voting too.

Have a virtual ballot party and walk through your ballots together. Stand in line to vote together. Make voting a fun group activity rather than something intimidating and hard that people have to do alone.

On inspiration and time management when things are hard:

Every day we help someone get an ID that changes their life. We know that the work we are doing means real change for individuals, families, and communities.

Time management, an amazing team, and recognizing that working long hours is just part of the job but that I also have time for sleep, to work out, and to have fun.

On women Kat looks up to:

Barbe Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. Mae Jemison. Nichelle Nichols. My grandmother.

On relaxing and unwinding with such a packed professional and activist life:

I am the queen of relaxing. That is not a hard thing for me. I live by the beach and go every day. I watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies. I love wine, whiskey, bourbon, and tequila. I hike with friends. I play poker and take photography classes. I try to learn something new all of the time. I love working out and run as often as possible. I’m in two book clubs. I used to travel back before the apocalypse. Relaxing and unwinding is the best.

On the role of clothing and getting dressed:

Now that I live in my pjs all day I’m only concerned with wearing a nice top. But what I wear makes a huge difference. If I look professional and put together I feel professional and put together. If I’m dressed in something fun and cute I’m more confident and ready to have fun. And if I wear something that doesn’t fit well or makes me feel sloppy or undone then I can’t be my best self.

What does it mean to you to be a “modern citizen”?

It means recognizing that we are citizens — that what we do, what we wear, what we eat, what businesses we support, everything about how we live our lives affects the people around us and, often, around the world. It means choosing to live to enjoy and love the great things that the world has to offer, while never forgetting the responsibility that we have to those who cannot.

Keep up with Kat's work on her Instagram, Spread the Vote,  or  Project ID Action Fund.

Voting Resources

Making sure that yourself and others are ready and able to vote is vital to ensuring a fair democratic process. Below is a shortlist of organizations and resources from our team to use and share.

Kat's Favorite...
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Otium and Crossroads, both in LA
"No one’s ever gonna listen if you haven’t made a sound" — Scissor Sisters
Paris, Durban, Chicago, Alaska
The Getty, The Victoria & Albert