Marblehead native, activist Siskind returns to North Shore on eve of high-stakes election

Marblehead native and national political activist Amy Siskind is coming back to the North Shore to speak at the Women’s Fund of Essex County annual luncheon on Nov. 3. The event is just five days before the midterm elections, and Siskind is feeling anxious.

Amy Siskind Courtesy photo

“A national ban on abortion and losing gay marriage, gay rights, contraception – these are the things I worry about as a Democrat,” Siskind told Marblehead News. “This election could determine whether we’re going to end up being an authoritarian state. In Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada – a lot of people running are election deniers. This could be a set up for (the election in) 2024.”

Siskind grew up in Marblehead, playing field hockey, basketball and softball at Marblehead High School. She graduated in 1983. Her mother was president of the former Temple Beth-El.

“I got a heavy dose of Hebrew school,” she laughed.

She remembers her typical weekend as a teenager here. “I used to go to House of Pizza with my friends for a pie and a Fanta and then go to the movies after. That was our fun Friday night.” Siskind now lives outside New York City.

North Star

Since she was a child, Siskind has always seen Eleanor Roosevelt as her “North Star.”

“I feel that if she were alive in this era, she would be our first woman president,” she said. “She was able to transcend politics. They say she was FDR’s conscience. My parents were born in 1918 and 1920; they grew up with the Roosevelts. I drove up to Val-Kill (Eleanor Roosevelt’s old residence in Hyde Park, NY) on the Saturday after the 2016 election, wondering ‘What would Eleanor do?'”

After college, Siskind worked on Wall Street running trading floors at Morgan Stanley and Imperial Capital, where she was also a partner. She co-founded Damsels in Distressed (named after the distressed debt market) to mentor and support other women in finance.

In 2006, she was ready for new challenges and to give back.

“A few months before I left Wall Street, my daughter was in third grade, and she had to write a paper about someone famous,” Siskind recalled. “Originally, she was going to do (New York Yankees star) Alex Rodriguez, and I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ We had a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker, and she decided to write about Hillary.”

Siskind brought her daughter – with her paper – to a fundraiser for Clinton.

“Hillary took the time to read her paper,” Siskind said. “She’s the real deal.”

When Clinton decided to run for president in 2007, Siskind became part of the Ambassadors for HIllary and campaigned around the country.

The Weekly List

After Clinton’s loss, Siskind founded The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s advocacy group. Later, when Donald Trump took office, she started “The Weekly List,” a running compilation of the ways Siskind saw Trump undermining civil norms and moving the U.S. toward authoritarianism.

She posted “The Weekly List” on social media and quickly had hundreds of thousands of followers. The project is now archived in the Library of Congress. Siskind launched a podcast and eventually turned “The List” into a book.

Siskind, who is 56, also writes the series, “Straight to Gay,” on the Substack platform, where she shares stories and lessons learned about being being a Generation X lesbian.

A whiskey night

With less than two weeks until the midterms, Siskind is busy supporting Democratic candidates in New York and beyond. She believes the tide has turned against the Dems in the last few weeks.

“The economy – it couldn’t be worse timing,” she said. “The ‘r’ word – recession – really scares people. It’s always about the economy first, let’s face it.”

She added, “I’m not happy, believe me. It’s going to be a whiskey night, not a champagne night.”

She encourages everyone to get out and vote.

“If you sleep through it, you might wake up to a bad surprise,” she said.

Supporting women and girls

At the Essex Women’s Fund luncheon, Siskind will talk about the importance of supporting women and girls. This year, the Fund has donated $250,000 to 34 nonprofit organizations across Essex County.

“Coming out of the pandemic and the Trump era, there are so many economic issues and mental health issues,” Siskind said. “Women of color and LGBTQ people are especially impacted. There were safety nets during the pandemic, but they’re gone. And people are still suffering.”

Learn more about the Essex County Women’s Fund event HERE.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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