Why are you a strategist for good?

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be an ad copywriter. I loved to make people laugh – to think of something really clever and different. It wasn’t until college, when I had a part time job as a canvasser on a political campaign, that I discovered that everything I loved about writing and joking was present in the world of advocacy, too. Only, when you came up with a great new way of communicating something in a campaign, the difference lasted a lot longer than a laugh (though laughs are still really important!).”

What good have you done that you’re proudest of?

“Working on the senior staff of the campaign to win the freedom to marry in my home state of Maine in 2012 was one of the great honors of my life. It was life-changing and affirming to work with some of the best messaging minds in the country – including Amy Simon – to try and figure out how to talk about why the institution of marriage is so important to all of us, including LGBT people. As the digital director of that campaign, it was my job to tell those stories online, where we connected with hundreds of thousands of people across the country and raised almost a million dollars.”

Who is your intellectual crush?

Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Mary is now increasingly famous for delivering the oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the groundbreaking case that made the freedom to marry for same-sex couples the law of the land. I first met Mary back in 2007 a few years after she had won the nation’s first state supreme court case upholding the right of same-sex couples to marry. I am struck by three things about Mary: one, her ability to laser-focus on a goal and ensure that everything she is doing serves it; two, how quickly she shares and redistributes credit; and, three, how you simply can’t ignore her quieter-than-average voice, which is enchanting. When Mary speaks, people listen.”

What are people surprised to learn about you?

“I’m something of a Luddite, which is strange for someone who makes a living keeping campaigns and causes connected to their followers in the digital world. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Internet and I am a deep believer in its ability to catalyze meaningful social change, but I also love traditional media. I am still a newspaper and magazine subscriber and I just can’t get as excited about keeping books on an e-reader as I do about lining them up on my shelf, or, better yet, lending a good book to a friend. There’s a magic in all things printed for me – but, you can still follow me on Twitter!”

What’s your superpower?

Making things real. In college I studied and performed improvisational comedy extensively and one of the things I noticed about the improvisers whom I most admired was that their scenes and characters were relatable and believable, even when they were unusual. I always strive to communicate in a genuine, human way and put a face and a feeling on every issue. I’ve worked on some pretty arcane stuff – think chemical policy and fish-ladders – but if you can bring the humanity to an issue and bring them to life for folks, it helps them to understand why it matters.”

IanGrady

AUDIO: What inspires wonder in you?

Clients:

Freedom to Marry

Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund

Marin City Community Services District

Katahdin Woods & Waters

Friends of Portland Adult Education