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Advocating for Change: A Journey of Perseverance and Purpose

daphné moore featured image copy of congressional spotlight interviewThis week, we spoke to Daphné Moore, Constituent Services Liaison for the Office of Representative Deborah K. Ross.

Can you tell me about your career path that you’ve taken that’s led you to where you are now?

My journey to where I am today as a Constituent Services Liaison in the District Office of Congresswoman Deborah Ross has certainly been a winding one, but one that has been deeply meaningful and fulfilling. If you had told me years ago that this is where I would end up, I’m not sure I would have believed it – it still feels a bit like a dream at times. To give you a bit of background, my path has not been a linear one. I left high school in the 10th grade, and it would be 10 years later before I finally obtained my GED from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC). But that experience, as challenging as it was, helped me to develop a deep appreciation for the power of education and the importance of perseverance. After getting my GED, I went on to earn an associate degree in business administration from RCCC. During this time, I had a pivotal mentor who helped me recognize that to truly drive systemic change, I would need to understand how government operates. This revelation led me to transfer to Meredith College, where I declared a major in Political Science.

Throughout my time at Meredith, I worked hard to build meaningful relationships with my professors and peers. I was vocal about my aspirations and goals, and I put my words into action. I had the chance to intern on a county commissioner’s campaign and in the North Carolina General Assembly, gaining invaluable experience and insights. After graduating in 2019, I continued my public service journey, working for the North Carolina Governor’s Administration on the VolunteerNC Commission and Board. It was in this role that I truly honed my passion for advocacy and helping people find their voice. Now, as the Constituent Services Liaison in Congresswoman Deborah Ross’s District Office, I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to put my skills and experiences to work, serving the people of our community. Advocacy is a core part of who I am – I know firsthand what it is like to be on the other side, to feel overlooked or forgotten. It is my mission to ensure that every person I interact with feels heard, supported, and empowered. This journey has not been a straight line, but it has been one filled with growth, learning, and a deep sense of purpose. I am grateful for every challenge and opportunity that has brought me to this point, and I am excited to continue making a difference, one constituent at a time.

Which specific policy areas or legislative issues are you most passionate about, and how do you stay informed and engaged in those areas?

The issues I am most passionate about are the racial inequalities faced by veterans in accessing their benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – whether it’s navigating the VA claims process or utilizing the GI Bill. I’m also deeply committed to addressing the critical issue of affordable housing accessibility for the constituents I serve. What drives my passion in these areas is the profound impact they have on the lives of the people in our community. When I hear the concerns and challenges that veterans and constituents are facing, it resonates with me on a personal level. I know what it’s like to feel overlooked or underserved by the very systems that are meant to support you. That’s why I make it a priority to stay informed and engaged, attending congressional briefings, connecting with key community stakeholders like the American Legion, the NC Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, The Joel Fund, and the Triangle Women Veterans Unit 144.I also work closely with my colleague who oversees the legislative piece related to the Department of Defense, as we collaborate to advocate for critical policy changes.

For example, my Representative recently co-sponsored Sgt. Isaac Woodard, Jr., and Sgt. Joseph H. Maddox GI Bill Restoration Act of 2023, which aims to address longstanding racial inequities in the GI Bill. In addition to my advocacy work, I’ve also invested a significant amount of time researching the structure and systems of the VA to better understand the root causes of the racial disparities veterans face. I remain connected with state and local elected officials, as well as organizations like the NC Housing Coalition, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the Black Veterans Project, to tackle the housing affordability crisis. Ultimately, what fuels my passion is the desire to be a voice for the voiceless, to ensure that no one in her community is left behind.

Describe a challenging or rewarding project that significantly influenced your growth as a professional. How did you handle the challenge, and what did you learn from the experience?

As I reflect on my time in this role, there are two particularly rewarding projects that have had a profound impact on my growth and development, both professionally and personally. They’ve truly embodied my favorite quote, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am changing the things I cannot accept” – a mantra that continues to guide my work. The first project that stands out was assisting a constituent who had been waiting over two years to obtain his military records. When he reached out to our office, I knew I had to do everything in my power to help. I got straight to work on his case, and within a month, we were able to secure not only his military records, but also six medals that he had earned but never received. The moment I called to share this news with him, I could hear the shock and emotion in his voice. He was so surprised and grateful. I knew I had to honor his service in a meaningful way, so we arranged for him to come to the office and retrieve the medals in person. Sitting with him and listening to his story of serving in the Army during the Jim Crow era was truly humbling. His resilience and dedication to the country, despite the injustices he faced, was nothing short of remarkable.

When my District Director and Chief of Staff learned of his story, they took it upon themselves to arrange a special event at the North Carolina Governor’s Executive Mansion, where Congresswoman Ross was able to formally present him with his medals. The NC Department of Military Affairs was also there to pay tribute. Seeing the joy and pride on his face, and witnessing the impact it had on his family, was a moment I will never forget. It reinforced for me that this work is about so much more than just checking boxes – it’s about honoring humanity in each person we serve. The second project that stands out was my involvement in bringing mobile shower units to the city of Raleigh for displaced individuals. As someone who had previously volunteered with similar initiatives in Charlotte, I was passionate about finding a way to fill this critical need in my new community. When I discovered ReNew Mobile Showers, a nonprofit working to provide this service, I knew I had to get involved. While I couldn’t directly provide the funding they needed, I was able to leverage my connections within the city and county to help them secure their first mobile shower unit. It was incredibly rewarding to see this come to fruition, knowing that it would have a tangible impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Even though my role was relatively small, being a part of that initiative and seeing the difference it made filled me with a deep sense of purpose. These projects, and so many others, have reinforced my belief that we are called to this work for something greater than ourselves. It’s about making a difference and never accepting the status quo when we know change is possible.

Do not just do the bare minimum – go above and beyond. Be mindful of the perception you want to cultivate.

What advice would you give to individuals who aspire to work on Capitol Hill?

While I cannot speak directly to the legislative process on Capitol Hill, as I’m currently serving in my member’s District Office, I can certainly share some insights from my experience that I believe could be valuable as you consider your next steps. One of the key things I’ve learned is that in this line of work, it’s not just about what you say, but how you carry yourself and respond in various situations. People are always watching, and I’ve found that actions often speak louder than words. When your words and deeds are aligned, it builds a level of trust and credibility that can open doors. I’m a firm believer that systemic change happens through policy, so I completely understand your desire to work on the legislative side. In my view, that’s where the real impact can be made. And I agree that networking is crucial – making intentional, strategic connections with people who are doing the work you aspire to do can be incredibly valuable. You never know where those relationships might lead.

At the same time, I would encourage you to always put your best foot forward, no matter the role or setting. I think people really admire that level of dedication and commitment. It demonstrates that you’re not just talking the talk but walking the walk. Now, I’m not suggesting you change your authentic self, but be aware of how you carry yourself, your body language, and the overall impression you’re giving. Constantly challenge yourself to be better, to bring your absolute best to the table. I truly believe that this kind of approach can help propel you towards your goals, whether that’s on the Hill or elsewhere. Ultimately, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in the District Office, as it’s given me invaluable insights and experiences that I know will serve me well, no matter where my career path leads. And I’m excited to see where your own journey takes you.

What do you believe sets Capitol Hill apart as a unique work environment, and how do you navigate its challenges in your everyday work?

Having had the opportunity to visit and work on Capitol Hill, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the unique environment and the immense power and influence that exists within those hallowed halls. It’s a place where legislative and leadership changes can have profound, far-reaching impacts – both for better and for worse. The weight of that responsibility is palpable, and it’s a humbling experience to witness it firsthand. In contrast, working in a District Office has provided me with a different, yet equally rewarding perspective. Here, we are truly the boots on the ground, serving as the vital conduit between our constituents and the legislative process. It’s where I get to bring the voices of the people we serve directly to the table, advocating for the changes they want to see. That, to me, is the heart of this work – ensuring that those who may not feel empowered to speak up for themselves have a champion in our office.

I take immense pride in being that voice of advocacy, that source of encouragement for constituents to find their own powerful voices. Seeing the tangible, long-term impact of that work is what fuels me day in and day out. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly, and I’m grateful for the trust that’s been placed in me. At the same time, I’ll admit that I’m still navigating some of the unique challenges that come with working in this environment. As someone who is deeply work-centered, I’ve had to learn to strike a balance between my laser-like focus on serving our constituents and the importance of building meaningful connections with my colleagues. I know there have been times when my dedication has come across as standoffish, and I’m constantly working to find ways to be more approachable while still maintaining my unwavering commitment to the mission at hand. It’s a delicate dance, but one that I’m committed to mastering. Because at the end of the day, my personal and professional lives are inextricably linked – this work is a calling, not just a job. And I’m determined to continue growing, learning, and finding ways to be an even more effective advocate and ally for the people we serve.

To be featured or learn more, reach out to Gabi Thomas, and spread the word to any colleagues who would be interested.

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Gabrielle Thomas

Gabi joined Leadership Connect as a Research Analyst and is now the Legislature Outreach Liaison.