On May 3, 2018, the City Impact Lab community converged at the LA Kitchen headquarters with a delicious breakfast that was prepared with local food that would otherwise be wasted. LA Kitchen’s values for innovation and social good were a perfect backdrop for our monthly Social Impact Breakfast featuring Angie Jean-Marie, Managing Director at Civic Nation #VoteTogether and Tommy Newman, Director of Public Affairs at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Tommy began the morning by sharing that he grew up in Los Angeles and spent a lot of years outside of LA pursuing educational and professional opportunities. Ultimately, Tommy could not stay away from LA once he realized that an exciting conversation was being had of transforming LA’s identity. Tommy further explained how the following tactics contributed to his career trajectory and the opportunity to work on alleviating homelessness with United Way.
- “I try to meet one new person a week. Whether that's a breakfast, or a lunch, or a 30 minute call.” Tommy’s dedication to learning from others is how he found himself working for Councilmember Tom LaBonge and at the center of a conversation to transform Los Angeles.
- Tommy went on to share the incredible moment that Measure H was passed as the first revenue measure to ever pass on a March ballot in the history of the county of LA. He says, “..so much of life is about timing, and seeing that moment [and] then just diving into it.” When United Way created a Director of Public Affairs position and offered him the opportunity, Tommy dived in to take on the hard part: the execution of a $5billion county-wide initiative.
- Tommy emphasized that the work is just beginning, and it requires the attention of all Angelenos to get involved. “Just because we have $5billion on the table and just because we have a bunch of strategies on paper, does not mean those things will magically happen on their own,” said Tommy as he encouraged everyone to get involved with their campaign in a small or big way.
He wrapped up his talk by highlighting that the industry that he and Angie work in are tackling massive issues; and they’re human powered, and they can be changed. Angie started her talk by sharing how she grew up on the East Coast, and the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree at USC brought her to Los Angeles. Angie was intrigued by the intertwining issues of LA and the abundance of creativity to address them.
- Angie first became passionate about enacting civic engagement when she was working with the LA2050 team and learned that less than 1 in 5 people vote in local elections in LA. An unexpected meeting with the “brain” of #VoteTogether brought Angie to pursue her passion with them. Angie says that one of their tactics is simply making voting fun!
- She continued to explain that #VoteTogether is targeting the populations that are less likely to vote. “If you meet a certain demographic profile, you're a likely voter, so elected officials will come, and they'll talk to you. That leaves out a large portion of people: who are low income and not likely to vote, who are young and not likely to vote, who may not speak the language and are not likely to vote.” Angie is working to make sure that her team builds community cohesion and brings the conversation to everyone.
Angie wrapped up by sharing the three tactics she tries to practice everyday; 1) see every challenge as an opportunity 2) listen better 3) work with specificity.
We hope that the important conversations Angie and Tommy started at the Social Impact Breakfast will continue in your workplaces, homes, and social circles. A special thank you to LA Kitchen for providing a space for these conversations to have been had! We hope you’ll join us every first Thursday of the month for the City Impact Lab’s Social Impact Breakfast.