Changemaker Chat: Angela Giacchetti

Marketing and communications strategist Angela Giacchetti is passionate about empowering people and working for social justice. A specialist in branding and positioning, cause marketing, and strategic communication, Angela independently speaks and teaches. She also works as Associate for Pipeline Fellowship and consultant to Three Furies. Follow her on Twitter @AGiacchetti.

 

How did you first become interested in social change?

Some folks have an “ah-ha” moment that they can articulate. I don’t. As long as I can remember, I have been exploding with questions about the world and feeling unsatisfied with the status quo.

Perhaps it comes from my not-so-unique family background. I was raised by a single mom who cleaned other people’s houses to keep our electricity on. However, I think I also come from enough privilege that I felt audacious and empowered to fight.

How do you define social justice?

Justice is not charity, salvation, sympathy, or paternalism. It’s about empathy and most importantly, survival. I don’t work on social justice issues because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I do it because my life depends on it.

What has been your most exciting experience as an activist?

The most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced was speaking on the Planned Parenthood Truth Tour in Englewood NJ. I got to share my personal story as a former patient to a large crowd alongside my elected officials. Although it was a delight to give voice to the patient perspective, it was my big brother that made the day. There was a lively counter-protest going on. When I was at the microphone, they were screaming very hateful things. One of my older brothers was in the crowd supporting me and pulled the counter-protest organizers aside to tell them I was his sister. While I was amplifying the voices of others, he was amplifying my voice. It was so touching to see my activism make my family stronger, and to see it click for my brother that the personal is political.

What is the most interesting project in which you are currently involved?

I am Pro-Choice Co-Chair of WIN.NYC (Women’s Information Network of New York City) and love the group of women I get to work with. It’s interesting to see how powerful meaningful connections with others can be in terms of social change. Don’t underestimate your personal relationships.

What is your vision for a better world?

One of the things I feel strongly about is defining equality. We need to get specific on how we are making strides for equity and justice. Let’s not simply toss around the words “justice”, “equality”, and “social good”. In my vision for a better world, we are able to define what we are exactly changing, how we are working to make progress, and how we are measuring that impact.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m working on approaching change through varied channels–political and social activism, direct service, leadership and mentorship, and even business. My work at Pipeline Fellowship has taught me that there are many ways to make change. We train women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice. Each participant commits to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training.

Pro-Life and Pro-Planned Parenthood

I often hesitate to share with other progressives that I am pro-life. As you know, the debate over abortion is extremely divided and the diversity within both sides is often overshadowed by the prevailing political agendas. I would like to think that I can be an ally to progressives in this area in some way and, as such, I am sharing this story. I am risking scorn for my views on abortion with the hope that I can help to expand the far right’s understanding of this complex and deeply emotional topic.

Many years ago, when I was inexperienced and vulnerable to deception, I simultaneously contracted two venereal diseases. I held strong views on abortion, but feeling desperate, I went to Planned Parenthood for assistance. At the time, I did not know if I might also be pregnant or HIV+. Like many of the other ladies in the waiting room, I was young, unemployed, uninsured, and alone. It never occurred to me to judge or condemn the others; that is for G-d and I think that G-d prefers to be loving, forgiving, and compassionate. Instead, I wondered what had happened in their lives to bring them there. I wondered what I could do, what we all could do, to reduce the need for such terrifying emergency services.

I strongly believe in protecting the human rights of all people – including unborn children. I believe that women should have the choice to abstain from sex, use birth control, or use the morning after pill in emergencies. But by the time a woman arrives at Planned Parenthood or a clinic for an abortion, it is simply too late for activism. Aggravating a woman at a time when her life is in upheaval is terribly unkind and inhumane. Doing so creates more anger, shame, and fear in the world. We need more love.

We also need public policies and programs that both prevent unplanned pregnancies and make saving children a realistic choice. This includes: complete sex education; unfettered access to birth control; comprehensive healthcare; access to nutrition, child care, and other community services; living wages, paid maternity leave, and flexible work schedules for parents; etc.

Planned Parenthood actually helps to prevent unplanned pregnancies. A very small percentage of their services (3%) are abortions. When I went there, I was given a brown paper bag of condoms. I was so grateful for their support, which also included a medical exam and medication, that I wrote the staff a thank you note – even though I was and am deeply troubled by the fact that they also provide abortions.

Although I don’t support everything that they do, I have personally benefitted from Planned Parenthood and am grateful that they are available to help women (and men, too). They are not generating demand for their services; our public policies and corporate practices can and should be changed to protect families so that all women have better choices.