Inside Change with Amanda MustaficJan 30, 2020
What does it mean, to you, to be part of Change.org?
This is going to sound corny, and hey, it absolutely is – but Change is more than a workplace. The day I started working here, I gained 250+ potential friends. I work in a smaller office in DC, and yet I still feel incredibly connected to our U.S. and global team. Everyone is so passionate and knowledgeable, whether it’s about criminal justice reform, women’s rights, or product development. I love being able to connect with folks at Change about the things they love and believe in on a daily basis. It keeps me inspired and motivated.
What is one of the most memorable Change.org campaigns you’ve seen?
In 2019, I worked with our Managing Director of Campaigns, Mike Jones, to help Emerald Garner fight for justice for her father Eric Garner’s death. It had been five years, and the NYPD still hadn’t fired the police officer who killed her father with an illegal chokehold. We supported her campaign through massive media outreach, email, and creative digital strategy. I set up interviews for her at CNN, Cheddar, and several local news stations. At a Democratic debate, an activist even interrupted to remind New York Mayor De Blasio that nothing had been done and that he would be held accountable for that inaction – leading to another massive media spike.
Finally, after continued pressure on the NYPD and Mayor’s office, Emerald and her family finally saw justice done. Officer Pantaleo was fired, and now Emerald’s latest fight is to make sure that the illegal chokehold used to kill her father is banned across the country. Emerald’s passion and commitment have been incredibly inspiring, and I feel so honored to be able to work with her.
What are the ways you try to show up as an ally in the workplace?
I’m really honored and grateful to be a founding member of our Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council, led by the wonderful Justin Lyons, who runs our D&I initiatives at Change. I did some D&I work in a past work life at Penguin Random House and Macmillan, but it’s truly been embraced here in a big way. I’m a second-generation American and queer daughter of Muslim immigrants, so this work is very personal. It’s incredibly important to me, and many others on the team, that we create a welcoming and empowering space where petition starters, members, staff and press — especially from marginalized communities — feel safe, included and respected in their interactions with us.
On an average workday, I also try and bring my non-dominant group perspectives to team conversations and brainstorming sessions, participate in or promote all of the office cultural celebrations, call out potential unconscious bias where I can see it, and try to embrace and celebrate difference in the workplace.
Tell me about one professional accomplishment you are proud of.
Last year, Teva Pharmaceuticals stopped production of a cancer-fighting drug, Vincristine, that was a lifeline for children fighting cancer in the United States. They cited it as an economic choice. Juliana, a pediatric oncology nurse and a childhood cancer survivor herself, started a petition that quickly went viral. I placed her story with Parents Magazine, which got a lot of attention – and Teva noticed. I contacted a representative at the company asking if they would provide a Decision Maker Response directly to signers, and they did – announcing publicly and to over 215,000+ petition signers that they would restart the production of vincristine. Juliana’s petition victory saved hundreds of lives. It was a really emotional and moving experience.
If you could go back five years, what advice would you give yourself?
That it’s absolutely okay not to have a linear path, and there’s no timeline in life that you have to adhere to. You can change your mind about a career. You can shift your plans to another city. The important thing is that you have a North Star – for me, it was that I wanted to do varied, exciting mission and impact-driven work I could believe in. I wanted to wake up every morning and know that the work I did that day helped someone and I have always tried to guide myself by that North Star. That’s what led me to Change a little more than a year ago, and it’s what keeps me here.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
I bought my partner an Xbox for Christmas after he’d wanted one for years. I don’t think he realized quite how often I’d be playing Tomb Raider, Mass Effect or Kingdom Hearts on his gift, though.