This job combines the best part of every other job I’ve ever had. It’s a perfect mashup for my talents and interests.
A native New Yorker, Julie has sampled several of the different environments the Empire state has to offer, having lived in a rural community in central New York, the state capital of Albany and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Julie became hooked on politics in high school and that interest took her to Albany for college where she first interned in the state senate as a college senior while studying communications at SUNY Albany. She stayed on through the rest of her senior year and after graduation as a communications assistant in the Office of Minority Conference Services for the New York State Senate. A year later she was tapped to serve as legislative director and committee clerk for Assemblymember Susan John, while she went on to get her master’s in communications. She then served as committee assistant for the Office of Program and Counsel before being promoted to legislative analyst, where over the course of three years she researched and drafted legislation, acted as a liaison between the Speaker's office and the Office of the Committee Chair and participated in the budget negotiations. Julie was then recruited to serve as the government relations representative for the New York State School Boards Association, where she was right in the middle of some of the toughest fights in the state: labor relations, pensions, property taxes and special education.
After three years at NYSSBA, Julie re-joined the legislature as a senior analyst on elementary and secondary education in the New York State Senate, where she was a key driver behind all the major education legislation debated by the senate. She was then lured to New York City to become the managing director for state funding at Teach for America (TFA), where she was responsible for TFA's overall state appropriations strategy across 34 states.
At TFA she met with some 50CAN staffers and the mission and scope of 50CAN’s work, combined with the amazing team already in place, played a hand in convincing Julie that she should become a 50CAN-er herself. In September 2011, Julie joined the national team as VP of Government Relations (later redubbed “Political Strategy”).
In the spring of 2013, Julie transitioned to a new role: the executive director of NYCAN. In this role, she gets to use the campaign and advocacy skills that she’s been applying across all the CAN states to her home state.
I aspire to be like Gloria Steinem. Here’s why:
Gloria Steinem is the kind of advocate who doesn’t spend a lot of energy trying to impress the people who already agree with her. She chooses instead to focus on reaching out to the people who don’t agree with her.
One of the high points of my adult life was meeting Ms. Steinem when she spoke at the TFA anniversary in February of 2011. I had gone into the VIP waiting area to grab something to drink, where I found her all alone, no entourage in sight. I spent all of 30 seconds debating with myself on whether I was enough of a groupie to go over and introduce myself (I was). We spent the next half hour talking education policy, during which she asked for my take on New York’s education funding formula and the other big education issues facing the state. It’s a profound and humbling moment when you realize you’re sitting at a table with the person you most admire, and yet they’re taking interest in you and asking questions in a very genuine way. She’s a great listener, listening to the personal convictions and interests of others without forgetting to listen to her own, too.
Why I love my job:
This job combines the best part of every other job I’ve ever had: I get to immerse myself in policy and the politics of implementing that policy, all on an issue I care about
My connection to public schools:
My entire education took place within public schools walls—from kindergarten to grad school. I’ve attended some great schools, but I also know what it’s like to be a student in the kind of school that I came to 50CAN to help change. There were several times I was discouraged from taking rigorous curriculum, in which the adults in charge of my education essentially told me my potential had a ceiling. I’m at 50CAN because no kid should ever hear those words.
What I'm bad at:
I have the worst penmanship ever. I should be forced to go back to third grade and learn again.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
This represents the seat of change—where we need to shift mindsets and actions—but also where some of the proudest moments of my career have taken place. Just thinking of that challenge and opportunity is what motivates and inspires me.