Avery Van Den Berg was a staffer for the 2020 Iowa Caucus Project who graduated in 2022 with a BAJMC in Strategic Political Communication and a BA in Politics and Spanish. Now, Avery is a second year law student at UC Davis primarily focused on immigration and gender-based violence. Avery has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, clerked under immigration judges, and currently works with survivors of sexual violence and assists in their Title IX and family court proceedings.
Q: What was your role with the Iowa Caucus Project?
I handled social media! It was the greatest way to experience the caucuses. For me, it was an opportunity to apply my love for multimedia journalism to something else I cared about — Iowa politics! Being able to create freely was really enjoyable.
Q: Four years after your participation in the project, what has stuck with you?
The Iowa Caucus Project is special for many reasons. It's unlike any other "project" in that at nineteen/twenty years old, I was feet away from presidential candidates. There's a unique privilege in being the youngest person in every press pool, and that was never lost on our group. The collaboration and dedication required of every staff member meant we really pushed each other to create better work product. And experiencing everything firsthand was a fantastic way to keep up with presidential politics.
Q: Do you have an "only in Iowa" story? If so, what is it?
The highlight of my caucus experience was getting to sit down with and interview Marianne Williamson. I asked her for her favorite Fleetwood Mac song — and without blinking, she replied: "Edge of Seventeen."
Q: What words of wisdom do you have for current Drake University students anticipating the 2024 Iowa precinct caucuses?
The caucuses are a complete paradox: they're strange, yet so important. They're infallibly dysfunctional, but there's also something that works about being in a big room and everyone yelling at each other. I'd just encourage everyone to go and participate, even if you have no idea how it works. The community created by caucusing is absolutely worth experiencing.
Check out where the other 2020 Iowa Caucus Staffers are now here!