In 2007, I had the privilege of delivering the student address at the Cardozo commencement ceremony. I concluded my speech by saying, “let’s all promise to stay in touch as we set out to make a living, but also to make a difference.” In the years since, I have been gratified to hear from many of my former classmates about the incredibly important work they are doing locally, nationally and, in some cases, globally.
In my own life, I have tried to create a path for myself that allows me to have a positive impact through my profession. My career has taken me off the well-worn career path of the typical law school graduate. I never worked at a law firm. Instead, I took Cardozo’s celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit and public service to heart and carved my own path.
Immediately following graduation, I served as the managing director of Be the Change, Inc. Be the Change is a national non-profit organization that creates and manages issue-based campaigns. In that role, I was privileged to lead a coalition that helped pass the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which in turn authorized the greatest expansion of national service in this country since the Great Depression.
In my role at Be the Change, I learned about the importance of culture and narrative in promoting positive social change. I also realized the power of the entertainment and creative community to drive conversation, break down barriers and accelerate impact. I decide to launch, along with my business partner Mark Daley, a social impact agency in Los Angeles. Our firm, Propper Daley, works with people, companies and causes, primarily in the entertainment industry, to create measurable, outcome-oriented social impact on issues that they care about.
We have been privileged to work on a number of great causes and ideas over the past three years:
- We are working with actor Tobey Maguire to manage his Education Innovation Fund focused on unleashing the full potential of every individual.
- We worked with Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol and Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol to launch and oversee the Gasol Foundation focused on dramatically reducing childhood obesity in Los Angeles and Memphis.
- We manage John Legend’s Show Me Campaign, a charitable fund and program working to give every child access to a quality education through the promotion of scalable, proven solutions and programs.
- We helped bring together all of the major movie studios, talent agencies, television networks and guilds, along with three dozen non-profit organizations, to launch the Got Your 6 veterans campaign. In the past 14 months, the campaign has raised over $5 million for veteran organizations and accomplished many goals including: 1) 125,000 veterans hired, 2) 20,000 chronically homeless veterans housed and 3) 1.5 million hours of volunteer service completed by military veterans.
- We helped launch Uprising of Love, a global coalition in support of the safety and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Russians. Co- founded by Melissa Etheridge & her partner Linda Wallem, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and producer Bruce Cohen.
The playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” So much of the progress we have made, along with our clients, is informed by what I learned in law school. Thanks to Cardozo, I understand how laws are passed and enforced and, perhaps more importantly, how they can be adapted to improve conditions for people who need it most. For that, I am very grateful.