Inside Change with Ryan ResellaOct 9, 2020
What is your role and what does it mean, to you, to be part of Change.org?
I work on our email platform, which consists of making sure our emails are being delivered quickly and reliably to our users. I’m also working on features that our campaigners use to make it easier to send emails. This work means a lot to me, we send about 1 billion emails a month at Change.org. While I don’t work directly on campaigns I know these tools are being used by our campaigners to reach our users and help win campaigns.
Why did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
I used to work in local government and that was my first experience where I saw the use of technology being used to help people. At the time, my colleague and I were just trying to put evacuation information about a fire in the area on the city’s website. Turns out it was very useful for people outside of the area. From there I wanted to keep using technology to help people. So I’ve continued to work at mission-driven organizations, using the skills I have to help people through the use of technology.
What is one of the most memorable Change.org campaigns you’ve seen?
The Electoral College petition back in 2016. When I look back at 2016, it was a tough year for many reasons, but also it was a very difficult year for our organization as we went through layoffs and restructuring of the organization. But this campaign was groundbreaking for us. It was the largest US petition at the time but also opened up user-generated revenue. Probably the first campaign where we saw a high volume of people on our platform promoting this petition and joining the membership program.
What motivates you on a daily basis?
This one is tough because there are so many different motivations on a daily basis. Mainly I think about the people who come to Change.org and want to make a difference in the world. What also motivates me is our campaigners working every day with people for our campaigns to succeed. Also, people who have worked at Change.org in the past who have paved the way for what we are doing today. As the meme goes: Whoever said one person can’t change the world never ate an undercooked bat.
How do you think your identity has impacted your professional experiences?
It definitely has a huge impact, my grandfather and parents always instilled in us growing up that FIlipinos are hard workers. So I always remember that and bring that to my work. This mentality can also be seen on the Covid-19 frontlines, where 20% of nurses in California are Filipino.
What does Filipino American History Month mean to you?
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month so it’s also nice to celebrate a month dedicated to the history of Filipinos in America. Filipinos have a long history in the United States going back to 1587. Growing up, I would get brief glimpses of Flipino American History taught through my parents or just briefly in school. But as I have gotten older, I have been more interested in the history of Filipino Americans. I’ve read a few books and watched documentaries to learn more. I learned recently for example that Barack Obama was the first US President to recognize October as Filipino American History Month.
More importantly though, why Filipino American History month means a lot to me is because of my family. When Japan invaded the Philippines during World War II, my grandfather joined the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). As a Filipino he would fight for the United States as a soldier in World War II. In 2017, many years after my grandfather passed away, he received the Congressional Gold Medal as a Filipino Veteran of WW2. My grandfather was one of the first Filipino Americans in Hollywood. For many years he worked in the motion picture and television industry as a scenic artists painting background for movies and television shows.
What has been your favorite at-home activity this year?
It has been cooking. I got an Instant Pot for Christmas so I’ve been trying a bunch of different recipes with it. A lot of Filipino food involves various stews, so the Instant Pot has been great for that. I did not get into cooking bread though, so no sourdough starter for me.