Everything is Terrible so We Made a Podcast

We didn’t have a budget for a podcast when the pandemic hit. We were all locked in our houses reading the news, doomscrolling, trying to buy masks and toilet paper and bags of flour and rice. Hospitals were overflowing in Italy and there were creepy videos released of empty streets in locked-down China. Things seemed pretty bleak. And sometimes when things are bleak, it helps to have a project. 

For me, my boss Cindy, and our colleagues Danny and Jason, that was a podcast.

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The Revolutionary Class

Note: this is a short fiction story I published in Evocations in January 2022. I was thinking about the impact of the gig economy on the body, and specifically on women’s bodies, and I was also thinking about hypocrisy I’ve seen among men who count themselves as revolutionaries and feminists. I was also thinking about the power of friendship, and about how uncertain and hungry those first years after college can feel. I wanted to poke gentle fun and be a little humorous, but also be real about loneliness and despair.

The Revolutionary Class

The same month I gave birth, my roommate quit her internship at the art gallery to become a hypnotherapist. “There is just more opportunity for career growth,” she told me. We were occupying the uncertain eddy of life after graduation, living on top of each other in the smallest studio apartment in Santa Cruz. During the day, we tried to make money scraping paint and pulling weeds on TaskRabbit. In the evenings, she hypnotized me. She wanted the practice, she said. And hadn’t she proofread my entire dissertation, though she had no interest in Trotskyism?

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What I’m Looking for in My Next Role

On March 1, 2022, I’ll be leaving EFF after eleven amazing years. My intention is to take about a year and a half to travel and do some long-distance hiking.

Sometime in fall 2023, I’ll start having conversations about my next role and applying for jobs. My goal is to not rush this process; my work is incredibly important to me, and so it’s important I find a great organization and a role that suits me.

If you think I might be a good fit for your organization, please drop me an email or message on LinkedIn so I know you might be interested and then we can reconnect in the fall of 2023 to talk about it. I’m intentionally choosing to not have conversations about my next role now because I don’t want to fall into the trap of spending my sabbatical thinking about my next job or in job interview mode.

At this stage of my career, I am optimizing for purpose. I like knowing that I’m having a big, positive impact in the world. If I’m going to be doing something for 8+ hours every day, it should be work that makes me proud and makes the world better. I have so many passions; civil liberties, combatting surveillance, financial inclusion and privacy, nonprofit management, defending whistleblowers, blockchain & decentralization, press freedom, feminism, animal rights, and preserving public lands are all issues I’d be delighted to work on.

I’m specifically looking for two things: an awesome organizational culture and a place where my unique skills will be a force multiplier. When I mean awesome org culture, I mean a creative, low-drama, high-output team that’s aligned on its mission. Life is too short for office politics. Though, I will admit that some of the most fulfilling moments in my career have been walking into a team that was in disarray and helping them turn things around so that they were effective and collaborative….so I guess I’m also open to that as well.

Finally, I currently live in a suburb of Sacramento, CA. I love it here. I’d be open to a move back to the San Francisco Bay Area if I need to for the right role, but my preference is to find a role that will let me stay near Sacramento. I’m not open to relocating outside of California.

If you’d like to stay in touch, please connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Twitter. Thank you.

Black hoodies, big smiles. I will miss the EFF team. CC-by EFF

Leaving a Dream Job to Pursue Some Life Goals

March against Mass Surveillance, CC-by EFF

The last two years have been an awakening for me. The global pandemic made me take stock of my own life and think more deeply about my mortality. Undergoing ankle surgery forced me to take months away from running and made me confront how my body is already aging and breaking down in ways that are irreversible. Then last fall, my dear friend and colleague Elliot Harmon died of cancer at the age of 40.

I’m a committed atheist. I don’t think there’s some other secret life waiting for me after I die. This life, whatever I do with it, is the only shot I’ve got. And for years, I’ve focused so much of my energy on work that I let time with my loved ones, including my life partner and my chosen family of friends, slide into the edges of the days. I’ve repeatedly put off dreams of long distance hiking and visiting places like Thailand, Alaska, and the Mediterranean because it was always the wrong time to go. I’ve tried to squeeze as much backpacking and travel into long weekends and midweek camping as possible, but many of my dreams don’t fit into a long weekend.

So I’m moving my adventure plans to the top of my to-do list, and quitting my job to take 18 months to travel, hike, meditate, and figure out who I am outside of work. I’m calling it a sabbatical, but in some ways it’s more of a career intermission. (And yes, I’ll be looking for a job in 2023.)

Flying a blimp over the NSA data center in Utah, CC-by EFF

I’m grateful for all the amazing experiences I’ve had working for EFF in the last 11 years—from launching the very first Tor Challenge to flying a blimp over the NSA data center in Utah, from the SOPA blackout to a march on Washington. While those flashy events make for the best stories, I’m perhaps more grateful for the experience of walking into an office everyday filled with people who were genuinely brilliant and committed to working together to defend digital rights. I’m grateful to have worked on fascinating topics with some of the top legal and technical minds in the world, and to have learned from outstanding writers and editors. I am also honored to have hired so many fantastic advocates early in their careers, and then watched them go on to accomplish amazing things.

My last few years at EFF, I left the activism director role and took on the role of Chief Program Officer, which is a largely internal role guiding the programmatic teams in being more effective in their work, offering day-to-day management of the organization, and supporting the team directors. There aren’t many exciting stories from this time, but I’m especially grateful for how much I learned about organizational development, fundraising, navigating complex human resources issues, strategy, and building consensus. Plus, I’ll be prepared the next time I need to lead a nonprofit through a global pandemic.

Eleven years at EFF have indelibly changed me. I’m grateful for the work I’ve done, the colleagues I’ve learned from, and the sense that I’ve made a big difference in the world. It’s honestly terrifying to walk away from a dream job knowing that I won’t be able to undo this decision. But it also feels like the right thing.

Often, doing the right thing is a bit terrifying

Life is fleeting and precious and also small. Let’s not defer dreams, whether they are quaint or wild. When I look back on my life, I want to know I was kind to others and that I approached my dreams with conviction and fearlessness. And while it’s unrealistic to cross everything off a bucket list because I’m always adding more, it’ll still be fun to spend a year and a half trying.

Delivering petitions against mass surveillance