For more than ten years, I’ve helped social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns inspire action through storytelling and communications. From the Sierra Club, to the ACLU, to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, I’ve worked alongside political influencers and changemakers to make sense of today’s most pressing issues and to harness grassroots power for good.
From the newsroom to the front lines, I've experienced the good and the bad of communications strategies for social change. Having worked on deeply entrenched issues at the national and local levels—including abortion, welfare, and LGBTQ rights—I know firsthand how crucial it is to tell and present stories with integrity in order to make a meaningful impact.
Social change communications work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People’s deeply held beliefs are at the root of this work. Political persuasion, or moving people from one political ideology to another, is only successful when your ideas connect with and make sense to a variety of people. So, to build the world we want to live in, we have to listen, strategize, and experiment.
My site serves two purposes: First, it’s a learning space for people who are interested in the arts of storytelling and persuasion for social good. From public relations to narrative strategies, I break down the how-to of social impact communications. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to communications work, we'll learn together through best practices, tricks of the trade, and case studies from the field to make positive social change.
Second, if you’re looking for some brain power on your team, I can help with that, too. Whether you’re an individual in search of brand support, an organization in need of a communications strategy, or a campaign trying to find the right look and feel, I can partner with you. Check out what I provide, then hit me up and let me know what your needs are.
When I’m not nerding out on communication, you can find me re-reading the first chapter of a dozen books or at a hotel bar judging the cherry in their Manhattan.
Shanelle is a mentor and a leader; she's an organizer and one of the best communicators that I know. She uses storytelling and relationships to build meaningful narratives and long-lasting partnerships. Shanelle's leadership and her sharp understanding of new media platforms creates space for others to share their stories.
As the Deputy Communications Director for the Beyond Coal Campaign, Shanelle coached me through a major career transition from day-to-day press work into management and higher-level strategic thinking. We worked closely together on the regional communications response to a major campaign milestone: the retirement of the nation's 200th coal plant. Shanelle always centered the local priorities, messengers and realities in this major coordinated communications effort, and masterfully handled internal campaign needs with those of our funders and partners. She kept our response strategic and focused.
Shanelle recognizes that people bring their whole selves to work, and she creates space for self care and reflection. This approach rang true in both our weekly check-in spaces, as well as in larger group meetings that she facilitated. Our team was stronger as a result of Shanelle's leadership, and I feel privileged to have been directly managed by Shanelle at the Sierra Club.
— EMILY ROSSENWASSER | REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, SIERRA CLUB
Shanelle is a strategic and effective communicator and a thoughtful and passionate advocate for racial and reproductive justice (among other things). I worked with her most closely in her role as the architect of a campaign to shift the conversation and reduce the stigma around parents on welfare, which eventually helped lead to a legislative repeal of California's family cap policy. I hope our professional paths cross again!
— ASHLEY MORRIS | ORGANIZING DIRECTOR, ACLU OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
Shanelle brings a depth of experience and knowledge to every project she completes. BC/DC Ideas partnered with Shanelle to create an Inclusivity Training for Conservation Communications Professionals for a nonprofit client. Her ability to be sensitive to both the intuitive and tactical outputs of EDI communications is unmatched. She brings head and heart to all she does. We can't wait to work with her again on a project for more nonprofit clients.
— Dawn Crawford | Principle, BCDC IDeas
I had the supreme pleasure of bringing Shanelle to The New School as our inaugural Activist-In-Residence. As the first person in this position, Shanelle had the dual roles of both performing the duties of her office and further defining it's scope. Shanelle impressed students and faculty alike with her unflinching honesty, insatiable curiosity, magnificent creativity, and unparalleled effectiveness. While Activist-In-Residence, Shanelle taught a course, ran workshops, developed public programming and wrote for Public Seminar, the New School's online journal of ideas. Shanelle became so essential to advancing our mission advancing rigorous yet practical education that she's stayed on at New School as adjunct faculty. In addition to her professional dynamism, she's an amazing colleague and friend. Being able to think and work with Shanelle has been one of the highlights of my career. If you're lucky enough to have her insight and commitment on your team, you'll never forget it. She's a world builder.
- Deva Woodly | Associate Professor of Politics at the new school and Author of The Politics of Common Sense: How Social Movements Change Politics and Win Acceptance
Shanelle is a true leader in our field. By founding the Radical Communicators Network, she has created a vibrant home base for learning, collaborating, and challenging our industry. I have had the pleasure of working with Shanelle in a variety of capacities--she has been a client, a LightBox Collaborator and network leader. She always brings fresh perspectives, bright ideas and concrete solutions. She shows up with a wealth of talent and experience, but also with generosity and a genuine interest in the ideas and experiences of others.
-Amanda Cooper | Senior partner, Lightbox Collaborative
I had the pleasure of working with Shanelle as the inaugural Activist-in-Residence at The New School. Her workshops were so well received that students requested that she teach a course. Her course went so well that I hired her to teach in a social justice program. We’ve worked together to develop proposals and organize programming. She is not only smart and creative but also has that intangible quality that people connect to.
- Christina Dawkins | Former Director of Civic Engagement and Social Justice at The New school
I cannot recommend Shanelle enough as a media trainer. She recently trained a group of physicians who were learning on-camera media skills. Shanelle not only knows communications and media inside and out, she is also thoughtful about the person she is training. She considers who the person in front of her is, the biases and barriers that might exist for them, and gives insightful feedback to help them navigate the camera and media. On top of that, she is warm, funny, and smart, smart, smart.