As she passes the U.S. Capitol on her walk to work every day, Allie Wright (BA ’13) is reminded of why she’s in Washington, D.C., in the first place.
The inspiration she gains from those monuments empowers her to affect political change through her work as the media and communications manager at Save the Children Action Network, the political advocacy arm of Save the Children in Washington, D.C.
Wright first worked for WHO in Des Moines as a producer before making the move to D.C. to work for Hearst Newspapers. “I started thinking about taking a different career path during the government shut down,” Wright says. “I was covering the Texas legislature, and it got me thinking about getting involved in political advocacy.”
Wright said she wanted to help spur change instead of just covering what was going on. “That’s when I looked at nonprofits,” says Wright, who has worked at Save the Children since May 2015.
Saving the Children
Save the Children Action Network was founded in 2014. Wright works for the political advocacy side of the organization, where they focus on early childhood education and maternal and child health care internationally from birth to age 5.
“Save the Children is a large, global organization that focuses on a wider range of issues,” Wright says. “As the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, our focus is building voter support to ensure every child in the country has access to early education and that no mother or child around the world dies from a preventable disease or illness.”
Wright is on a team of four, and her day-to-day work focuses on earned media. “We have a large grassroots network. I work with those volunteers in our country to set up interviews with their local TV stations to highlight what we’re doing,” says Wright, who books interviews for company spokespeople while also advocating, writing, and placing op-eds and press releases.
One project she works on is the annual advocacy summit, where 150-200 advocates come for training. Wright notifies local news outlets that people from their communities are in Washington advocating for kids. This year, she also managed social media for the event, which included live tweeting and several Facebook Live events with speakers, including Save the Children Board Chair Dr. Jill Biden, Save the Children Action Network’s President Mark K. Shriver, and Rep. Joe Kennedy, who met with student advocates.
Measuring the Impact
Diana Onken, director of mobilization at Save the Children Action Network, manages national advocacy campaigns for the organization. Wright and Onken both agree that the work they are doing for their organization is making a difference.
“One of the best examples is our work on the Reach Every Mother and Child Act that would expand proven health and nutrition interventions to end preventable deaths of moms and kids around the world within a generation,” Onken says. “Through a coordinated effort across our teams—mobilization, communications, government relations, and politics—we secured 218 cosponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, in the House of Representatives.”
Onken said that although the bill did not pass in 2016, that number of cosponsors and the strong bipartisan nature of the bill is extraordinary. Wright and Onken are working on reintroducing the bill to the 115th Congress soon. On the mobilization front, it took a combination of email and phone campaigns, local educational events, and in-district congressional visits. They also built a large and diverse coalition, reaching many districts across the country.
Keeping track of analytics to measure the impact their work has on people is also important.
“When President Trump signed his first executive order about the refugee ban, we sent an alert out and had about 70,000 messages from our email list sent to congress opposing the ban,” Wright says. “That was the most we’ve ever had in a single campaign.”
Words of Wisdom
Wright attributes her success in D.C. to her journalism background at the University of Iowa. Wright worked for The Daily Iowan during her four years at Iowa, and says it’s the best thing she did in college.
“I always go back to the skills I learned there,” she says. “The Daily Iowan gives you real life experiences that help you handle a fast-paced environment.”
Wright added that journalism is more important now than ever. “Don’t be discouraged by the politicians who are degrading journalists,” she says.
Every time Wright passes the famous memorials and monuments throughout Washington, D.C., she reminds herself of the impact social justice has on the world today, especially one where journalists are constantly scrutinized.