I am eager to share with you the bitter sweet news that Adelaide Kimball will be concluding her invaluable service to Vote Smart this Friday, July 29, 2022. Adelaide has been working with myself and members of the Executive Committee for several weeks now on a plan for her retirement to begin. We are so happy that we can support Adelaide in this hard-earned transition and, like so many, wish her nothing but the best in the years ahead.
As many of you will know, Adelaide has been a central pillar in the effort to create, sustain and grow Vote Smart since its earliest days. Through the years, Adelaide has been a leader and director not just of Vote Smart, but as a staff director for every department at one point or another. Put simply, we would not have Vote Smart without Adelaide, no matter how you measure her impact.
While so many of you will have your own memories of working with Adelaide and the important model she has been to so many of us, I want to share one personal story that represents so much of what has made her special to me through the years. In the summer of 1998, our PCT (then-NPAT) director left unexpectedly and I flew out to Oregon to help support Adelaide as the new director over several weeks. I had just run the program the election prior (1996) and there was a hope that I might have some wisdom to pass along beyond what folks could read in the departmental bibles.
Those few weeks, I stayed with Richard and Adelaide and I could not have been more impressed at seeing the utter devotion and tireless energy that Adelaide brought to her work and her life each day. She was up in the morning before anyone else, exercising or bringing something out of the garden and was one of the last people to call it a night, many times much later than I could manage. And always, there was a golden retriever as her shadow at any point in the day. This may just sound like a Texas-version of Wonder Woman and Adelaide was always that to me. But the thing that always impressed me, again and again, during that sojourn in Oregon and many other times through the years is her tireless kindness and care. If a staff member needed a smile during a tough meeting, if an intern needed a hug to help with homesickness, or a member needed an extra phone call, Adelaide was always there with just what was needed.
Very often, it is easy to get lost in the data, the research or the facts that lie at the heart of Vote Smart. However, Adelaide’s example to us all should give each one of us pause to consider the secret ingredient that makes everything else work: empathy and caring for our fellow human beings. Yes, we build and maintain a system that contains millions of facts, but we do this because we believe in our fellow Americans and support them in resisting all that is wrong with politics.
Few of us will ever come close to matching the impact that Adelaide has had for American democracy over 30 years. I dare say, we will never even truly know the sacrifices she has made for us.
However, we can remember her example.
We can remember the smile she brought to her work. We can remember her infectious laugh and her silly sense of humor. We can remember her Texan persuasiveness and ability to find a way forward. We can remember her example for us all and try to follow it when the path ahead is dark.
Adelaide, I hope that you will enjoy a well-earned time of rest in the years ahead and that you can pursue all those things that we know you will enjoy–friends, family, gardens, and dogs.
To use a phrase from Vote Smart, we have your back, we have taken up the torch, and we will do everything we can to honor the trust you have passed to us. Thank you for being our model. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being you.
My very best wishes,
Kyle Dell, President