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Acacia Gabriel
My Summer with Higher Ground Labs

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Higher Ground Labs as a Summer Associate. My job consists of running external communications, assisting portfolio companies, and helping out wherever I could. It’s a small team, so we all wear a few hats. 

Prior to working directly with Higher Ground Labs, I worked with and, two of HGL’s portfolio companies. I worked in Mobilize’s marketing team from March 2020 to May 2021. This allowed me to get involved during the 2020 election and Mobilize’s acquisition! These internships exposed me to political technology and to Higher Ground Labs, where I was introduced to a whole new side of the space. 

Higher Ground Labs is not solely focused on a single goal; it addresses many gaps in our political tools. Each portfolio company brings something new and exciting to the table, and it has been exciting to see their progress and support them behind the scenes.

I have been at Higher Ground Labs for several milestones: 

  1. The announcement of the fourth cohort 
  2. The very first Founder Academy 
  3. The Woodside Retreat in Redwood City 

During these highlights, I was able to learn from, meet, and spend time with industry experts and leaders in the political technology space. During Founder Academy, I got to attend sessions led by speakers such as Nell Thomas (CTO of the DNC) and Matt Hodges (Joe Biden’s Engineering Director). Woodside gave me the opportunity to network and mingle in person (crazy!) in a more personal way than previous internships had allowed me to. At this retreat, I got to play trivia with the VP of Commerce at Facebook Shiva Rajaraman, do yoga with members of the Obama administration, and explore the beautiful resort with other leaders in the space. 

Outside of the larger events, my work at Higher Ground Labs has emphasized the moral responsibilities we have as political technology providers, the importance of innovation in progressive movements, and the real-world impact that our work has in creating a better future. 

Read more about diversity in tech: Juneteenth blog post 

Diversity, equality, and inclusion are not treated like a corporate checklist, but they are viewed as an opportunity to be better and do more. The annual Landscape Report demonstrates the dedication they have to truly comprehending the political technology space and filling in the gaps. And the current state of the world reminds us that our work is more vital than ever. 

The mission that we serve is clearly a priority for all who work there, most of whom have direct experience with progressive causes and campaigns. 

While working with mission-driven groups is often associated with burnout or disappointment, my work with Higher Ground Labs has allowed me to develop a cautious hope. At Higher Ground Labs our work is not based on criticizing the current system but empowering the necessary tools and solutions. Higher Ground Labs portfolio companies are able to uniquely innovate the political technology space in a way that supports racial equality, the environment, women’s rights, and countless other valuable causes. It has been an honor to be a part of it. 

Thank you to everyone at Higher Ground Labs who has made this a summer of growth, learning, and hope. I’m looking forward to continuing my work with Higher Ground Labs this fall!

Acacia Gabriel is a senior at the University of Southern California where she is majoring in Political Science. Outside of Higher Ground Labs, Acacia enjoys traveling and has visited 22 countries!

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