Lasting Impact: An Andrew Goodman Alumni Q&A With Wyn Garfinkle Plymesser, University Of Louisville
Wyn Garfinkle Plymesser served as an Andrew Goodman Ambassador at the University of Louisville (UofL), where she studied Communication, Jewish Studies, and Peace, Justice, & Conflict Transformation. After graduation, she joined The Andrew Goodman Foundation as a Communications and Development Intern. Now, she is the Manager of Arts & Culture at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tell us about your experience as an Andrew Goodman Ambassador. Was there a campaign you championed as an Ambassador that you are particularly proud of?
I learned about The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program through the University of Louisville’s Engage Lead Serve Board, which houses the program on campus. After learning about the Ambassador opportunity during a service-learning event, I decided to apply, almost on a whim. Looking back, I am so thankful that I made the decision to apply. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to serve as an Andrew Goodman Ambassador during my time at UofL. After learning more about Andy’s story at the 2019 National Civic Leadership Training Summit, I felt even more passionate about what I was doing. As a Jewish American, I felt represented and inspired by Andy’s selflessness and service to his fellow humans. The work I was doing with Vote Everywhere aligned with the Jewish values I was raised on, like tikkun olam (repairing the world), making the work important and fulfilling.
What legacy did you leave on campus for future generations of Ambassadors to continue?
I began our #WhyCardsVote campaign, which is still going strong today. This gives students the opportunity to make their voices heard while displaying their ideas and opinions. Often times, young people are told our voices don’t matter. But when we come together to be informed and educated voters, people can’t help but listen to our voices.
As an Ambassador, how did you contribute to creating lasting change and a more democratic culture on your campus?
During my time as an Ambassador, I was able to contribute to a culture that values civic engagement and voting rights for all. I utilized my time as an Ambassador by engaging fellow students and getting them excited about being civically engaged changemakers. It became more difficult when the pandemic upended our college lives, but we found ways to utilize social media to continue engaging with our peers.
During all three of my years as an Ambassador, I helped organize many recurring Get Out The Vote events, and my favorite, National Voter Registration Day, which enabled us to make face-to-face connections with young voters.
How did your time in the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program impact your development as a leader and community member?
After serving as an Ambassador for three years, I learned the importance of communication and connectedness. In order to make real change, we must work together and rely on one another. Without unity and connection, I don’t think I could have made the impact that I did. I take those lessons that I learned as an Ambassador into what I do today.
I didn’t know exactly what I would do during my four years at the University of Louisville, and the path I imagined for myself seemed to change daily. But serving as an Ambassador helped ground me with a purpose. I felt like I was continuing Andy’s legacy by registering and engaging with young voters. I’ll forever be thankful that Andrew Goodman’s story is now a part of mine as well.
Tell us about what you’re doing today. How did your time as an Ambassador inform your continuing education, work, or volunteerism?
After graduating in May of 2022, I served as AGF’s Communication and Development Intern for 9 weeks. This internship taught me so much about how such a caring organization uses intentionality to create impactful change. Positivity radiates from everything AGF does, and during my time as an intern I was able to grow professionally and personally. I was so grateful for the opportunity to continue serving AGF’s mission in a new capacity.
Now, I am working as the Manager of Arts & Culture at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center in Cincinnati. The skills I learned during my ambassadorship and internship with AGF make me a better contributor to my workplace and community. Communication, connectedness, and empathy are all strengths that I realized I had during my first year as an Ambassador, and I still carry with them me today in my work.
As an Alumni of our program, how are you continuing to reflect on our story and to carry forward the Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner legacy today?
I know that I want to do what I can to make the world a better place, just like Andy, James, and Michael. No matter the scale of the changemaking, I will always try to make a positive impact on the world and those around me. I will always carry the stories I’ve heard about the life and final days of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner with me. I will always aspire to be an up-stander who contributes to the health of our democracy.
What advice would you give to our current Ambassadors?
Don’t judge yourself and your program against anyone else. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Every campus has different communities, resources, and pre-existing structures. All you can do is try your best, and that will be enough. Take space to explore new opportunities and possibilities for change. Time flies, so enjoy the time you have as an Ambassador while you can!
Stay tuned as we continue our Lasting Impact series, featuring alumni of our Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program, what they’re doing today, and how they are still living the legacy.