What communication work are you doing now?
I just started as the Associate Director at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. As part of my job, I oversee the communications work at the Coalition.
How did you get started doing communication work?
I was an organizer first, and as an organizer you had to do communications. It was trial by fire. For example, I learned how to write press releases at my first job because I had to do them. Later, when I became the Director of Public Relations at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I thought I had picked up enough communications skills for the job. I found out that there was so much more I needed to learn. The communications project at the Coalition was a success because I learned from my mistakes and I was lucky that I had talented people like Charlotte Ryan mentoring me.
Why is communication work important for change making and/or organizing?
It’s crucial and critical to the work. You cannot move any issue without a successful communications strategy. Organizing and communications- they go hand-in-hand. As Charlotte says, you may have a great political/organizing strategy, but you cannot begin to change people’s attitudes without a comprehensive communications strategy to complement it.
What is it that you most enjoy about doing communications?
When it’s successful. I’ve been lucky to see how communications made a difference in people’s lives. My work in Rhode Island changed the way media covered domestic violence and it led to a change in people’s attitudes and ultimately, a change in policy. People didn’t think we could pass a Batterer’s Bill in Rhode Island, but we did; and we were successful because of our work in the media.
What is your greatest challenge?
Resources! I simply do not have enough resources to do my work- money, time, and infrastructure. I am starting from scratch here at the Homeless Coalition. At my previous job, it took almost 10 years to build up the communications staff there to three people.
When you were a kid did you think you were going to be doing this type of work?
No, I wanted to be professional football player.
Why are you a PCN member?
PCN Rocks! It’s not just any professional association. It’s a group of organizers and communicators with politics who are doing social justice work. I enjoyed meeting and developing relationships with members at the gatherings. PCN gives me the opportunity to learn from those with more experience and mentoring new people coming up.