I left a full-time job in Atlanta and moved to DC, drawn to SKDK and its history of fighting for progressive issues. Since joining SKDK, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who not only fight for the greater good, but recognize the value in diverse communities owning their narratives. Bringing diverse voices into the conversation allows them to hold the mic (and subsequently drop it) on concerns that matter to them and, in theory should matter to us all. It also encourages the participation of allies.
As a Black, gay man in PR, I exist at complex intersections. It’s been difficult finding companies that align with my values, or show commitment to inclusion. Being able to work with teams that help their clients provide college access to low-income students, invest significant dollars and resources to young black women and girls, increase access to healthcare options for transgender people, and seek to alleviate poverty by bringing the most underserved to the center of the conversation has been fulfilling. As you can imagine, it’s challenging, but the experience has helped me define my passion for issue advocacy.
“Bringing diverse voices into the conversation allows them to hold the mic (and subsequently drop it) on concerns that matter to them and, in theory should matter to us all.”
Issue advocacy weaves communicators, regulators, members of Congress, the media, and Americans together. The work that hits closest to home has been helping give voice to the millions of Puerto Ricans experiencing the everyday realities of the humanitarian and debt crises. The Commonwealth – home to 3.5 million Americans – is working with Congress, the Obama Administration and creditors to develop a path forward for restructuring $70 billion of debt. The issue is in the newspaper nearly every day, with the spread of Zika worsening the existing healthcare crisis facing the Island’s most vulnerable citizens. As a person of color, I understand what it’s like to feel vulnerable.
I admire SKDK’s relentlessness to place the crisis, and its diverse victims, at the forefront of the media. Before I got here, I saw communicators as wordsmiths and strategists, but now I see us as more than that. Communicators truly are professionals with a cause. I like to think we all want to contribute something to the world, leaving it better off than how we found it. And public affairs allows us to encourage that advancement. A colleague said to me, “How can people be angry about injustice they don’t know about?” That’s our charge as communicators: to tell stories that speak to humanity and influence policy for tangible results. To think about what to do when a community of any kind is handed lemons.
My time here has shown me how to marry my profession and activist passion in ways that can be rewarding, shift culture and advocate for the voiceless, however difficult that may be. Just ask Beyoncé.