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Across-the-Aisle Advocate: James Dozier Knows How to Get Results

The School of International Service alumnus and nonprofit founder advances everything from LGBTQIA+ acceptance to clean-energy solutions through his consulting work.

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James Dozier’s grandma wrote the first sentence of his American University story. After watching an Eagle interviewed on CSPAN, she nudged her grandson to schedule a campus tour—and the rest is history. 
Raised in a small waterside town in southeast Virginia, James Dozier, SIS/BA ’04, always kept an eye on the great beyond. The world, to him, thrummed with possibility and wonder. Nearing the end of high school, he even foresaw himself pursuing a career in international relations. DC, then, was a natural destination for him to explore. 
When Dozier finally took a tour of the School of International Service, he emerged “impressed with it all,” from the esteemed faculty to the star-studded alumni. He was so taken, in fact, that he became an AU tour guide and admissions assistant himself once enrolled. If that sounds like peak school pride, know he also suited up for the Eagle cheerleading squad. 
In the spirit of many AU students, Dozier held a slew of impressive internships. As a first year, he admired older students for the jobs they held and networks they developed. He describes DC as “a living laboratory” where students can supplement their studies with practical experience off campus.  
While initially energized by global affairs, Dozier realized during college that he wanted to address domestic issues even more. He landed an internship with the Human Rights Campaign and went on to become a congressional intern, eventually taking a whole semester off to support the reelection campaign of former Congresswoman Connie Morella, CAS/MA ’67.

“I am constantly impressed by the accomplishments of my fellow alumni and former students, many of whom are at the nexus of the biggest policy and international challenges of our time," says Morella. “James is no exception with his work building winning bipartisan coalitions on LGBTQ equality, climate change, [and] mental health. It’s been a joy for us both to be part of each other’s AU stories.”

Getting his start in political organizing

Working with and for Morella—an AU alumna, former professor, and eventual ambassador in residence for the Women & Politics Institute—felt to Dozier like “an aligning of the stars.” Her status as a fellow Eagle “made it all the sweeter,” he says.
Beyond showing him the ropes of field work and campaigning, Dozier’s internships, alongside his classwork, taught him he “wasn't motivated specifically to advance one party or one candidate.” Instead, he says, “it was more the issues that I cared about.” He saw the need to address everything from mental health care to election modernization. Though his personal politics lean conservative, he understood early on that progressing policy in these realms would require bipartisan solutions. Tapping “into the mainstream of where the American people are ... has real impact,” he says. 
Such a mindset led Dozier down the path of political consulting—setting him up to take on “the big challenges,” which is just as he likes it. Fresh out of graduation, he went to work on LGBTQ+ equality, helping curb discrimination, advance anti-bullying legislation, and more. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a hot topic at the time. Navigating between these individual issues and the many “different coalitions … in different places of support” made for both difficult and invigorating work. 
Still, it’s the kind of profession that “open[s] you up for working on a range of different policy issues,” Dozier says. He zooms out from the past to consider his present career situation. Over the course of one day in early September, for example, he spent time thinking about everything from clean-energy manufacturing to transgender healthcare. The breadth of such work, he says, “certainly keeps you engaged”—adding, “I’m just really excited about being able to take the things that I’ve learned and apply it to a whole bunch of different movements [that] are trying to make change.”

Reflecting on his professional impact

Across his two-decade career, what does Dozier consider his biggest wins? First, he points to his campaign work on the Respect for Marriage Act. Along with his colleagues from the advocacy organization Centerline, he organized field operations in nine states, set up 80 constituent meetings, and directed 25,000 community members’ calls to key senators. These efforts led to “430 high-profile Republican activists, operatives, and elected leaders” signing a letter of support for the act—which Biden officially approved as law in December 2022. “Knowing that it codified both Obergefell and Loving v. Virginia was really monumental.” 
Dozier prizes his creation of two different DC-based organizations: Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) and Centerline. Between addressing climate change through CRES and impacting policy through Centerline, he cherishes “getting to do serious and meaningful work in building out center-right coalitions.” He considers it a gift, getting “to build something that didn’t exist before.”

Life lessons learned along the way

Dozier primes his advice for Eagles by sharing a high school memory. “When I turned 15, my mom insisted that I needed to have an after-school job,” he says, so he started “washing dishes at a seafood restaurant down the street.” He loathed the gig, but that lit the fire for him to find more fulfilling work at a nature museum. As he grew, he gained “confidence to try” new things without fear of failing. He could always fall back on washing dishes, right? He encourages young workers to “take on a challenge and accept that it may [or may not] succeed.” No matter what, he says, “you’ll still build something,” he says. 
And, as for queer students, Dozier urges them to keep hope. “I’m eternally optimistic that we will end up in the right place” in terms of acceptance, he says. (“If I wasn’t, I wouldn't be doing this work,” he adds.) He believes some politicians push divisiveness to distract from other consequential issues. “We have to continue educating, … engaging, ... [and] telling stories so that folks can understand how these positions … are impacting their friends and neighbors,” he says.

Experiences and relationships made to last

A major reason Dozier values AU is that it emphasizes community. Not only is the university the perfect place to spark connections, but it inspires students to assume social responsibility and pursue solutions that benefit the most people possible. 
“My time at American obviously provided me with the skills and opportunities for my professional future,” he says, “but it also left me with lifelong friendships and relationships that I continue to ... enjoy.” Specifically, Dozier gained two best friends during his AU journey. 
The sum of the experiences and relationships he gained while an Eagle “all led me to where I’m at today,” he says. “I couldn’t be happier with what I get to do day in and day out—and the people I get to do it with.”