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February 2020

A Coffee with... Shelby Giles, Vice President, Issue Advocacy

A Coffee with Shelby Giles, Vice President, Issue Advocacy, BerlinRosen
🍵 We grabbed coffee… erm, actually, tea with VP Shelby Giles to chat about the role agencies have in advancing racial equity, how her parents became her biggest advocates and the fact that Anita Baker’s voice is even more mind-blowing live.

How do you like your coffee?
I’m a tea person. My daily routine is peppermint tea in the morning–no sugar or honey. It gives me just the boost I need to get my day started.

What do you like doing outside of work? 
I love music — I even pursued a music career in my 20s. I still sing every day, whether it’s at home or at the occasional friends’ wedding. I also love live shows and music festivals, so I’m always looking for the next great concert–some recent favorites are Alice Smith and Jordan Rakei. 

What’s like to be a part of the Issue Advocacy team?
There’s something really special about coming to work every day knowing you’re fighting to put an end to some of our country’s most egregious injustices. The passion my teams put into their work is palpable.

How can agencies contribute to advance racial equity?
As a PR firm, we’re held to a higher standard–as we should be.  We have a responsibility to be really thoughtful and intentional about how we lift up black and brown communities across the country and within our organization. It’s really an inside-out job all year round, not just during Black History Month.

Tell me a life-changing moment that helped shape who you are today.
For me, it’s when my family moved from a predominantly Black school district to a predominantly white school district in the early 90s. I was 11. My sister and I were in honors classes in our previous district, but our new school administrators made an assumption about our academic abilities based on the fact that we came from a predominantly Black school district and they refused to place us in honors classes. My parents came to the school and insisted they put us in honors classes, and they did. That wouldn’t be the last time they had to come to our new school due to unfair treatment. I recognized not all kids had that kind of advocacy behind them, and it encouraged me to look out for and to fight for those who need an advocate to help push them forward.

What advice would you give to candidates applying to join BerlinRosen?
Lean into your unique experiences, whether it be personal experiences or professional experiences, that bring diversity to the organization. Know what makes you different and embrace it. 

⚡️ Fast Facts
Last TV show I binge-watched: “Cherish the Day.” It’s a new show about black love and I’m here for it.
Restaurant I’d only recommend to close friends: Kith+Kin in D.C., its Afro-Caribbean cuisine. So good. 
Best concert I’ve ever experienced: Anita Baker, hands down. I didn’t think it was possible for her to sound better live, but she did!
Book that changed me:  “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin.
Movie I’d pay to see again and again: I’m torn between “The Color Purple” and “City of God.”
My hero is…  I’m going to be really cliche and say my mother. She is one of the smartest people I know. She’s always been such an advocate for me and taught me to advocate for myself in the process.
Advice I’d tell my young self: Perfection is bs.

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