PAC Founder Puts Her Money Where Her Passion Is

By Robin Tierney
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 29, 2006

When Holly Shulman received a bonus at work, she wanted to invest it in something with more social impact than her dwelling or wardrobe. So she brainstormed with friends, then started Vote Against Violence, a political action committee focused on combating domestic and sexual violence.

Shulman grew up in Demarest, N.J., the daughter of politically active parents. "My dad, a rabbi, was responsible for my activism, and my mother, for my feminism," she says. She focused on urban studies at Vassar College, with concentrations in politics and religion.

After graduation, she landed in the District at ElectionMall Technologies, a nonpartisan company whose products support political candidates and causes. In June 2005, she became press secretary for the Association for Competitive Technology, where she lobbies for patent reform to help small and mid-size information technology firms. That's where she got the bonus that helped her start her PAC.

Not bad for a 23-year-old.

In August, Shulman made the Real Hot 100 list ( ). Launched by a group of professionals seeking a high-profile way to honor brains over bust line (and as an alternative to Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list), the Real Hot 100 recognizes young women who are working to make the world better.

How does someone building a career make time for politics now -- instead of waiting for that elusive "when I get settled"? Shulman shared some insights:

What was your first activist experience?

When I was 1 year old, I "marched" in a stroller for the 10th anniversary of Roe v. Wade .

Okay, your second?

I've been writing op-eds since ninth grade. I wrote one letter to [Rudolph] Giuliani in response to the city's actions for the 1998 Million Youth March. More than 3,000 police officers had been ordered into Harlem to disrupt the march; excessive force was used.

You received a bonus in December, leading to a pivotal event in your life. Tell us about that.

I was having coffee with a friend, Caitlin Horrigan, talking about how I could give the bonus to a candidate or invest in a way to make more of a difference.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company