Convinced that stories have the power to change the world, Robert Pérez develops branding and messaging strategies that utilize narrative to inspire action, strengthen support for a cause and transform people and organizations. Robert is the founder and chief exploration officer at Wonder: Strategies for Good, an audience research and communications network that works exclusively for social causes.
The son of migrant farmworkers, Robert has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to working with people and organizations to achieve change within their walls and out in the world.
Robert has developed a unique approach to messaging and branding that utilizes the science of storytelling to shape attitudes, influence behavior and strengthen support for organizations and causes.
With support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Robert and his long-time collaborator, Amy Simon, are co-authors of Heartwired: Human Behavior, Strategic Opinion Research and the Audacious Pursuit of Social Change, a strategy guide for change-makers. In Heartwired, Robert and Amy chronicle their lessons learned from their decades of experience on the front lines of social and environmental change. Their new integrated approaches to audience research, storytelling and persuasion communication have supported historic wins — from the freedom to marry for same-sex couples to making medical aid-in-dying a legal option for terminally ill people.
Robert has applied his approach to social-change communications to make progress on the most pressing issues of the day — especially issues where bias because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity creates roadblocks to progressive social change.
The co-author of My Mind Was Changed: A New Way to Talk to Conflicted Christians about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Church and Society, his groundbreaking research has helped to create breakthrough moments on Christian ordination for LGBT people and the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
On behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Robert has developed an effective narrative-based messaging strategy to frame targeted investments and programs to support the success and well-being of boys and young men of color. He was a lead strategist working with 9 charitable foundations and the Obama administration to launch My Brother’s Keeper, a national initiative to support the health and success of young men of color.
In 2015, Robert partnered with his frequent collaborators, Amy Simon and Dr. Phyllis Watts, to lead research to support Compassion & Choices in their efforts to make medical aid-in-dying a legal option for terminally ill Californians and their families. The research resulted in the development of powerful messaging and storytelling strategies that helped advocates secure a difficult legislative win. On October 5, 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation making California the largest state in the nation to allow the option for medical aid-in-dying. Since then, Compassion & Choices has integrated this strategic messaging approach in successful efforts to make medical aid-in-dying a legal option in Colorado and Washington, DC.
In partnership with Transgender Law Center and Basic Rights Oregon, Robert, Amy, and Phyllis co-led a multi-year research and strategic messaging project to help positively shape people’s understanding of what it means to be transgender and to strengthen support for transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage. As part of this cutting-edge research and communications work, they developed Healthy People. Healthy Communities. A Toolkit for Effective Conversations about Transgender Healthcare Access, which has been made available to advocates across the nation working on a range of transgender-related policy and education campaigns.
Robert’s past and present clients include Buck Institute for Education, The California Endowment, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Communities for Just Schools Fund, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Justice Fund at Open Society Foundations, the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund, Muslim Advocates, Save the Redwoods League and Tipping Point Community.
Previously, Robert was a senior vice president and director of West Coast operations at Spitfire Strategies and a senior vice president at Fenton Communications. As the communications director at the California League of Conservation Voters, he helped to pass the nation’s first law to curb global warming pollution from passenger cars.
When’s he’s not developing storytelling strategies, Robert can be found out on an urban hike in San Francisco with his husband, Robert Francoeur (yep, two Roberts!).
AUDIO: What inspires wonder in you?
Center for Youth Wellness
Open Society Foundations
Save the Redwoods League
Transgender Law Center