Season One, Episode Five: A Nonprofit Director, Lobbyist, and Political Activist Talks About Being in the Room Where It Happens (and Leveraging Each Opportunity to Climb the Ladder)

A Nonprofit Director, Lobbyist, and Political Activist Talks About Being in the Room Where It Happens (and Leveraging Each Opportunity to Climb the Ladder) with Christina Knowles

Boston-based Christina Knowles is the definition of "career goals." Her resume is so long and impressive, it could fill a book. 

Christina is passionate about mentoring young women and helping them leverage their experience to advance in their careers. She's been a mentor of our host Bonnie Bryant O'Connor for over a decade, so much so that Bonnie's guiding principle in any professional challenge is, "What Would Christina Do?"

Christina is the current Finance Director at Voter Choice Massachusetts. In 2018, as the Finance Director for the "Yes on 3" campaign, she directed a $6 million fundraising effort to ensure that transgender equal rights were upheld at the ballot. Yeah, you read that right. She raised six million dollars: from small donors, big donors, and major corporations and institutions like the New England Patriots. 

Christina has been a policy director, executive director, policy advisor, communications consultant, and lobbyist for a whole host of social justice issues both in Boston and Washington D.C. 

In this episode, Christina discusses her career path, what it's really like to work in politics, how you manage your career when you need health insurance but not every job offers it, how to negotiate, how to deal with sexism, and her tips for mentees. 

00:04:10: What's Christina's job? What the heck is Ranked Choice Voting? What was her job before this one (hint: raising six million dollars, no biggie)? What has her career trajectory looked like? 

00:19:30: Are all lobbyists evil like you see in the film "Thank You for Smoking" (hint: no. There are lobbyists for homeless youth, lobbyists for education bills, lobbyists for social workers, lobbyists for unions - all sorts of "good" lobbyists out there!)? 

00:23:00: How do you plan a career in politics when campaigns are so short-lived? How do you leverage your experience and build upon it?

00:26:50: What's the best and worst part of working in politics? 

00:34:00: How does someone in the historically low-paying nonprofit industry get access to healthcare and retirement benefits? As someone who needs health insurance, has not having access to these things limited her career in the past? 


00:48:00: How would someone in a nonprofit role cultivate major donors? Do you just call up The Patriots and say, "Hi, Tom Brady, can you give me some money for this ballot campaign" (hint: No)? 

00:51:20: How does Christina deal with sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace? Has she ever experienced pay discrimination, and what did she do to combat it? 

01:11:45: Christina talks about her mentoring work with young women and the advice she gives them.

01:20:00: Christina tells us about what she wanted to do when she was in high school, how it's changed, and what advice she'd give to her younger self.

01:32:00: A Day in the Life: Christina tells us what her day-to-day as a political mover and shaker looks like.

01:36:00: Christina gives her advice on hiring a great team. 

01:41:00: Listener questions: how do you do "the ask" for big donations? What are some networking tips?

01:43:00: Our super fun quick answer segment where Christina tells us her fave TV show, best pump up song, and biggest hero.