Banding Together / 07

Updated September 8, 2020


My grandmother told me,
"I did my marches. Now it's
your turn."

Meet Emily Tisch Sussman, the host of the Your Presidential Playlist podcast who has worked tirelessly to bring about progressive change through her political consulting firm for not only prominent organizations, but also within mom groups who want learn how to mobilize.

Like the 2020 election, we have a lot of ground to cover, so let's jump in. Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a Democratic strategist with more than 15 years in politics, the host of the all-women podcast Your Presidential Playlist, and an on-air commentator with more than 200 appearances on MSNBC, FOX News, CNN, and other outlets. On top of all of that, I’m a mom of three kids under five, who were all born in election years.

 

Q: Why did you create a political podcast that only features women?

Women have voted in higher numbers than men in every national election since 1964, but men report most political news in every single medium, including social media. So it’s been my goal to lift up women’s voices, especially women of color, in a political media environment that incorrectly considers women a side constituency rather than the main event. 

 

Q: How is your work evolving at the moment?

On my podcast, I have been really attentive to reflecting how the pandemic has influenced the election. There’s no way to talk about the presidential election right now that doesn’t include how people are actually going to safely vote in November and how organizers are adjusting their strategies due to COVID. That’s why I’ve talked to voting access experts like Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey, as well as organizers in all of the 2020 swing states. 

With the election fast-approaching, people want to take action. That’s why each of our episodes this season ends with a call to action, which tells listeners how they can get involved in each 2020 swing state, even if they don’t live there. 

 

Q: What inspires your work?

My grandmother has been one of the biggest inspirations behind my work. She was one of the earliest HIV/AIDS activists in a time when there was a huge amount of stigma and homophobia around the disease (and there still is today). She is a big part of the reason that my law degree is in constitutional and family matrimonial law – to make sure that the law addresses LGBT families. 

The first political action I ever took was attending the 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington. I went with my mom and my roommate. My grandmother was supposed to come with us, but decided not to. She told me something that has stuck with me ever since: “I did my marches. Now it’s your turn.”

 

Q: That's really powerful! Do you have any tangible advice for anyone looking to enter into your field now?

My main advice for someone looking to get involved in political advocacy is to take on the big data organization projects that no one else wants to do. Because once you understand how to read and access the data for an organization, you’ll have a knowledge base to contribute to higher level conversations.

Another suggestion I have for people hoping to get started in political advocacy is to read the press releases of any organization you’re interested in working for. The issues a group tries to get press coverage of are the issues that they actually care about. When you apply, you should tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight those top-priority issues. 

 

Q: What have been the silver linings for you this year?

Now that there is no separation between time with my kids and time away from them, I have to intentionally create moments of total presence. They can’t be my second priority all the time while I’m doing other things, which is hard, because there is so much to do and no separation throughout the day! The moments in which I’ve put all distractions to the side and consciously showed up with my kids have been the silver lining of all of this. Being in quarantine with little kids has made me extra attentive to each little moment of joy.

 

Q: What is your superpower?

Translating confusing and overwhelming political events into a normal conversation that feels like you’re talking to a friend.

For my listeners, I try to be that friend who knows what’s going on but doesn’t overcomplicate things – I just give them the facts and a straightforward explanation of what’s happening and why. And when something is actually bonkers, which happens all the time lately, I say so! I think this approach to talking about politics is helpful for people who don’t have the time to be constantly plugged into every ebb and flow in all of local and national politics, but who want to understand where we are, why it matters, and what they can do about it. 

 

 

 

What are the stories you’d like us to tell over the coming months? What advice do you need? Which topics and industries are of interest to you? If you have any thoughts on this, please email us at sayhello@grayson.com and make sure the subject line reads “Banding Together”. We will use your suggestions to inform our series going forward. Please email kimber@grayson.com if you would like to be featured on Banding Together.