May 27, 2020
Welcome to another episode of Let’s Hear It. We hope you are staying as physically distanced and emotionally connected as you can! This week, we had the honor of speaking with Dominique Derbigny, the Deputy Director of the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap initiative and author of an extraordinary piece on the inequity of aid policy in the time of COVID. Dominique has previously worked with Prosperity Now and United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, and contributes regularly to the publication #BlackHer on issues facing Black women.
Dominique’s report, On the Margins: Economic Security for Women of Color through the Coronavirus and Beyond, was released only a few weeks after the lockdown began. It is a careful examination of the recent coronavirus relief packages and assesses the benefits, shortcomings, and implications for women of color.
This is a terrific conversation with a woman who is helping to shine a light on racial equity and economic inclusion.
May 13, 2020
You know that old saying “see a problem, it’s yours”? Alexis Madrigal and his colleagues at The Atlantic have taken that to extremes.
As the coronavirus story was developing in early March, Alexis, a staff writer at The Atlantic, had trouble getting good data about COVID-19, so he and a few colleagues started the COVID Tracking Project. Little did he know that it would become one of the most reliable sources of data about COVID-19 in the country. In fact, even the White House is citing their data.
Alexis has also partnered with the Antiracist Research & Policy Center to create the COVID Racial Data Tracker, which provides the most comprehensive information on the racial disparities of the pandemic.
In the midst of all this, Alexis generously found time to speak with Eric about the extraordinary efforts of his team, the duties of journalists in times of crisis, and the shockingly disparate effects of the virus on different communities in the U.S.
April 29, 2020
Ann Christiano, the Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida at Gainesville, did not set out to be an academic. Before she came to the University of Florida, Ann spent more than a decade as a senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. But she has now truly made her mark in academia. She has helped build a discipline in public interest communications, leading new research, writing in a wide variety of publications, and now launching the Center for Public Interest Communications at UF.
In this episode (a flashback to days gone by, when people could actually meet in person), Eric and Ann meet during the frank gathering (an annual communications event inspired by Frank Karel) and have an exit interview of sorts, discussing Ann’s incredible ten years of work as the Frank Karel Chair and her plans for the future of public interest communications. In this candid and emotional exchange, you can hear Ann’s delightful and hopeful approach to the future of education and research in the public interest communications world.
April 15, 2020
For those folks who are fortunate enough to be able to work in these challenging times, much of their time is spent staring at a screen in “meetings.” Many of these “meetings” involve what we can charitably call “presentations.” The chilling fact is that far too many folks are forced to endure presentations that look as if they were designed by sadistic engineers in a bunker in Seattle. The poor souls subjected to these onslaughts of bullet points, charts, and statistics almost invariably come away from those experiences neither smarter nor more inspired, just older and a bit sadder.
If most presentations we suffer resemble Soviet-style brutalist architecture, this week’s guest, Nolan Haims, is like whoever designed Notre Dame, or maybe the Sydney Opera House. His designs are elegant, clever, and most important, they help the audience learn. Nolan has been a master of presentation design for over two decades. He’s the founder of Nolan Haims Creative, and he’s the former Vice President and Director of Presentation for the global PR giant Edelman. He is also co-host of The Presentation Podcast.
Nolan talks to Eric about how anyone can create presentations that appeal to the hearts and minds of their audience, uttering the phrase that may go down in Let’s Hear It History – “make your content like a Twinkie.” Have a listen to find out the secret to that epic concept. (And listen for a special little surprise at the very, very end.)
April 1, 2020
Eric sat down with Saru Jayaraman five weeks and a lifetime ago. Few of us fully appreciated the implications of the COVID crisis at the time, but the conversation centers on the very issues the crisis has raised around service workers and equity.
Saru is an attorney and activist who is changing the way our country treats workers who are forced to rely on tips to make a living.
Saru’s CV is about twelve pages long. She is president of One Fair Wage, which fights for one fair minimum wage for all workers in the U.S. (and which, by the way, has put together an Emergency Coronavirus Tipped and Service Workers Support Fund that you can look into here). She co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, she directs the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley, where she is also an adjunct professor of public policy, and she has written several books, including: Forked: A New Standard for American Dining; Behind the Kitchen Door; Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning (to be released this month); and The New Urban Immigrant Work Force, which comes out in 2021.
Saru is an extraordinary storyteller, a passionate speaker, and a fierce advocate for fairness in the food service industry. In this episode, you will be treated to a conversation that runs the gamut from how the vestiges of slavery are still supported by the restaurant industry to how food service corporations are dictating our democracy. She will absolutely knock your socks off. This isn’t an episode to skip.
March 27, 2020
Joanne Krell is the kind of communications expert you want in your corner when it matters most. She has led communications at the WK Kellogg Foundation AND General Motors, and when she talks, we listen.
Joanne, who is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Defy Communications in Ann Arbor, Michigan, led a webinar hosted by the Communications Network that should be its own college course on how you lead in a crisis. It's packed with really useful information on how to connect with your colleagues, your constituents, and how to focus on what really matters when it matters most.
March 20, 2020
We hope that all of our Let’s Hear It listeners are staying safe and socially connected while heeding prudent calls from public health experts to practice physical distancing.
With the rush of news related to COVID-19, we checked in with two experts who have tremendous experience communicating during epidemics - Dr. Barbara Reynolds and Thomson Prentice. Both have impressive public health communications credentials, Dr. Reynolds with the Centers for Disease Control, Mr. Prentice with the World Health Organization, and have written extensively on crisis, risk, epidemic, and public health communications.
We were reminded during our discussions that each of us has a role in communicating the specific way we can help support a return to healthier, safer times for us all as soon as possible. A hearty thank you to both of these guests for joining us on little notice and providing such helpful perspectives.
Sending best wishes to all our listeners as we adapt to our current circumstances. Thank you for joining us on Let’s Hear It.
March 17, 2020
If you are ready for just a minor departure from COVID-related communications, we offer an interview with Shanelle Matthews, the founder of the Radical Communicators Network. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, Shanelle founded the Radical Communicators Network, an organization that connects progressive communicators with research, meetings, and even an old-school listserv. She is also in the process of writing the kind of radical guide to social change communications that we all wish we’d all had when we got started in the field.
Shanelle is a multi-hyphenate strategic communications pro whose extensive credits also include work at the Sierra Club, ACLU, and the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Shanelle is also an adjunct professor at the New School in New York, where her commitment to her students speaks volumes about the kind of leadership we need in this field.
In this episode, Shanelle and Eric sit down to talk messaging, maintaining integrity, and discuss what it takes to radically communicate. Don't miss this.
March 3, 2020
No matter what you think of Bernie Sanders, there’s no question that he has become a powerful force in American politics. Near the center of that juggernaut is Ben Tulchin, the President of Tulchin Research, and our guest on this week’s episode of Let’s Hear It. Ben felt the Bern early in 2016, helping to turn the Vermont Socialist by way of Brooklyn – who was given to 90-minute stemwinding speeches about Norway and oligarchs – into a progressive populist who somehow managed to win the hearts of college students (and others) across the country and nearly snatch the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton.
As the country attempts to make sense out of yesterday’s Super Tuesday results, it is clear that Sanders (and Tulchin) are still very much in the mix. But Ben Tulchin has a lot more than Bernie Sanders on his resume. A veteran pollster who has worked with foundations, nonprofits, and political campaigns for twenty-five years, Ben sits down with Kirk Brown to talk about how foundations and nonprofits can use polling and other research to advance their work.
February 19, 2020
Eric interviews a truly great interviewer: Cinny Kennard, Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles.
Cinny has had a long and fascinating career in the world of radio and television journalism. Her work includes coverage of the Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas sexual harassment controversy, the 1992 U.S. presidential election, the Persian Gulf War, and hundreds upon hundreds of interviews with the Royal Family, notable politicians, and world leaders, among many others. Her work has taken her from CBS to NPR to Annenberg, with some other exciting stops along the way.
Now the executive director of the Annenberg Foundation, Cinny talks with Eric about the legacy of the Annenberg family in Los Angeles, how to make journalism a respectable profession, and a foundation’s duty to the communities it serves. Her opinions on philanthropy may be unconventional, but her commitment to finding better, kinder, and more lasting solutions to challenges in our modern world is palpable. She is truly a force to be reckoned with.
February 4, 2020
There are people who come along who don’t just change the way you think or how you do your job, but who just change you – they change the chemical makeup of your body. Professor john a. powell is one of those people.
john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties and a wide range of issues including race, structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy. He is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley (formerly Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society), which supports research to generate specific prescriptions for changes in policy and practice that address disparities related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomics in California and nationwide. In addition to being a Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion.
If you don’t know john’s work (and Eric and john speak about why he doesn’t capitalize the letters in his name) you are in for a rare treat. Even if you do know about john, we think you will get a glimpse of him that is new and incredibly fun. (And you will also hear the story about how john and Eric got separated in a Havana disco.) In any case, we think that this episode of Let’s Hear It will have a profound effect on anyone who tunes in. Thanks for listening!
January 28, 2020
Thank you so much for listening to Let's Hear It. It's been a wonderful year, and we're so excited to kick off our second season.
In this special episode, Eric and Kirk sit down to talk about their favorite Let's Hear It moments in 2019, what they've learned hosting and recording, and what they're looking forward to in this next year of podcasting. If you've ever had any questions about the podcast process, or just like hearing Eric and Kirk banter like two old biddies from the Upper West Side, this fireside-ish chat is worth the listen.
Thanks again for listening!
December 11, 2019
After spending a number of years in Oakland as a pastor, Ben McBride decided to move his family into a part of Oakland that was known for its challenges in order to better understand the lives of the people he hoped to serve. What happened next, as Ben tells Eric in our latest episode of Let’s Hear It, is not just great storytelling, it’s what makes Ben such a powerful AND delightful advocate for social justice. (We won’t give away the ending, but it’s a GREAT story.)
Ben is now the co-director of PICO California, a grassroots organization that helps people of faith to build power to reshape their lives and their communities. He has been addressing the challenges of race and belonging for over a decade, and he sat down with Eric to have the kind of conversation that many people find difficult, if not impossible.
If you care about these issues, we think you’ll love this episode.
November 26, 2019
Lisa Witter has always played to win. Since coming into the world "with a bang" after her mother went into labor at a demolition derby, she has focused on the intersection of politics and communications. Running for president on Showtime's American Candidate, writing The She-Spot: Why Women are the Market For Changing the World and How to Reach Them with Lisa Chen, becoming the head of Fenton Communications at age 25. These are just a few of her wins.
As Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Apolitical, she has married behavioral science with public policy and created a peer-based learning platform to teach public servants the skills to help society flourish. Bureaucrats are not just people, she tells Eric, they control forty percent of global GDP.
By the way, she's also released a webinar entitled How to Persuade Others Using Behavioural Science. Believe us: after listening to Lisa, you'll be running to sign up for this master class.
She and Eric sit down to talk about her colorful career and how brain games help her do her job. It'll both entertain and teach you (just like Seinfeld's wife's beet chocolate cake), but most importantly, this episode may just change the way you think about communications for social change.
November 13, 2019
Drew Altman took a relatively small grantmaking foundation and transformed it into a media powerhouse. As the President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, better known as KFF, Drew has turned his organization into one of the most influential and valuable non-partisan sources of health news in the country. What other foundation can say that about their field of interest?
Drew sat down with Eric to talk about how Kaiser has charted new territory in the field of news media at a time when in-depth coverage of a host of important issues is becoming much harder to come by. And don’t miss Drew’s full-throated endorsement of the role that communications plays in advancing the goals of foundations and the nonprofits they support. It’s practically a love letter to communications!
October 31, 2019
Villy Wang's mother wanted her to be a corporate lawyer. Raised by a single mother in public housing in New York, she was supposed to be a hard-charging, successful professional - a leader in her field. And she certainly is, but what she created is not quite what her mother had in mind.
Villy is the Founder, President, and CEO of BAYCAT, a non-profit organization that takes youth development and education, media production, marketing and advertising, social entrepreneurship, job training, economic and community development, arts, music and urban culture, and throws it in a blender.
What comes out of that extraordinary mix is one of the most interesting, exciting ways to work with young people who deserve a chance to soar, as well as a company that produces media for a wide range of organizations and institutions.
Oh, and Villy (who, we are proud to say, is an avid listener of our show) is a hoot – she and Eric sat down at BAYCAT’s studios in San Francisco for a lively whirlwind of a conversation. Don’t miss this one.
October 24, 2019
This is the third in our bonus series of keynote speeches from ComNet 2019.
Trabian Shorters is the CEO and Founder of BMe Community, which provides fellowships for Black leaders in the US, and which trains organizations in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Trabian’s amazing talk explains his work to promote what he calls “asset framing” – describing people by their aspirations and talents rather than a perceived challenge or stereotype. If you are working in social justice in any way, shape, or form, you simply MUST listen to this incredibly valuable lesson in effective communications. This episode is long, but it’s worth it!
October 22, 2019
In 2018, Desmond Meade helped pull off the unthinkable. He united Florida voters by leading the campaign to pass Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative that restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. The initiative passed by nearly thirty percentage points – a rout in a state that is famous for being split down the middle.
The following year Desmond was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. In October of 2019, Desmond received the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award from the Communications Network. The award is presented to a leader who has used strategic communications and data to demonstrably elevate and advance issues, influence attitudes and beliefs, and inspire action in pursuit of social change.
In this special edition of Let’s Hear It, we present Desmond’s acceptance speech, which co-host Eric Brown called one of the “most exciting and meaningful twenty-seven minutes I have ever experienced.” Desmond tells the story of his own struggles with addiction, incarceration, and redemption, and leaves us all with an extraordinary lesson about how to unite people across their differences. You absolutely, positively don’t want to miss this episode.
October 9, 2019
Stacey Abrams is one of the most exciting and inspiring leaders of our time. Last week, she came to the Communications Network conference and gave the kind of speech that reminds us why we're in this business. Then she sat down with Communications Network CEO Sean Gibbons and took questions from the audience of a thousand people who had listened with rapt attention punctuated by explosions of laughter, applause, and gratitude.
If you missed this amazing event, we've captured it here for you. If you heard it and were blown away like so many others, you might like to listen again. In either case, it was an extraordinary moment.
September 25, 2019
We couldn’t resist – ComNet 19 is next week and we’re so excited that we’re bringing you a bonus edition of Let’s Hear It!
Eric spoke with two of the staff from the Communications Network who are helping to make it all happen this year - Carrie Clyne, Deputy Director of Events and Community, and Tristan Mohabir, who is Director of Operations and Editorial.
Carrie and Tristan talk about how they are helping everyone make connections and make the most out of this year’s ComNet – from first-timers like Carrie to seventeenth-timers like Eric. If you’re coming this year, this show is a great primer on how to make the most out of the conference. If you were one of the many who waited too long only to see the conference sell out yet again, Tristan and Carrie will inspire you to make sure you don’t miss out next time!