1) What communication work have you done?
I’ve help run campaigns promoting environmental justice by defeating incinerators in communities of color, stopping big tobacco’s laser focus on the black community, helping youth document the NY Times’ racist frames about youth and crime, and spotlighting the racist politics of 2008 presidential campaign through StopDogWhistleRacism.com. Much of my advocacy work has relied on good communications strategy to leverage the power we had into what it took to win.
2) How did you get started doing communication work? Where has it led you to today?
I started doing communications work while leading environmental justice organizing and advocacy campaigns at NYPIRG. When I realized how entrenched racist frames were across so many issues–tobacco use, lead poisoning, mass transit, education and many others–I strategized to undermine those frames to achieve our power-building and policy goals. That led me to open up the East Coast office of We INTERRUPT This Message, an anti-racist communication strategy group. I now advise key individual donors on their partisan and non-partisan giving, building power in communities of color to govern progressively.
3) What role does collaboration/cross-pollination play in your work?
I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to hove worked in a variety of geographic, issue and strategy sectors. Very often what was old hat in one area was an innovation in another. And when various folks are truly at the table, often someone’s strengths will cover other collaborator’s weaknesses.
4) Why did you first join PCN? How long have you been part of PCN? What work/orgs have you supported during that time?
When I first got the call from Linda about this idea, the progressive non-profit communications strategy sector was small, un-recognized and highly divided. Her initiative, which became PCN, was clearly much needed at that time. Although I was barred from attending the first PCN by my employer (because he thought other attendees would steal our materials), I participated in the next 5 or so, and have attended several gathering since. PCN has been a key part of the growing communications infrastructure for the last decade.
5) How has PCN supported you & the broader comms world/movement?
As I said, PCN came into being at a team when the sector’s leaders would barely get into a room with each other. Through the relationships that PCN has fostered, the sector has moved far beyond that animosity into one where collaboration, partnership and transparency has been normed. PCN has fostered me while I tried to achieve those goals, and far beyond them. I’ve seen the results of the relationships built and sustained at PCN in the real world.