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Christy Gleason: Driving Meaningful Policy Change to Empower Children

Christy Gleason: Driving Meaningful Policy Change to Empower Children


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Christy Gleason, vice president of policy, advocacy, and campaigns at Save the Children. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Welcome, Christy. Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge Save the Children is addressing?

Christy: Thanks for having me, Spiffy. I lead Save the Children's policy, advocacy, and campaigning work, which includes the activities of Save the Children's political advocacy arm, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). We work to inform policymakers and build the political will to drive meaningful policy change at the local, state, and national levels to empower children and their families in the US and abroad. We are focused on bringing children and children’s needs front and center for US policymakers. Nearly all government action impacts children and youth, but too often they are not consulted or considered. We need the very people who campaign on making things better for children and families to become actual champions for children in the US and around the world.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Christy: Our nearly 400,000 grassroots volunteer advocates nationwide are incredibly motivating. They are busy educators, business owners, parents, students, and caregivers. They work and go to school, manage busy personal and professional lives, and still dedicate time every month to advocate in their communities, state capitols, and Washington on behalf of children. They do it because they see the impact of policies on children in their lives and at work. They know what investing in pre-kindergarten means for children in elementary school. They see children facing food insecurity as they struggle to focus and learn. Our advocates inspire me to not only be present but to be better in my role each and every day.

Spiffy: That’s awesome! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Christy: Save the Children responds to meet children’s needs in the US and globally through programming and policy change. At SCAN, we raise children's voices to lawmakers to make those needs and concerns real. Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to bring members of Congress to Kenya to personally see the impact of the global hunger crisis. We met with young farmers, with herding communities who have lost livestock to climate change, and with health workers caring for children facing acute malnutrition. Some of those lawmakers came back to Washington with a new perspective on global hunger—and they took action, raising the issue with colleagues, introducing amendments to address the issue, and voting to support food security programs.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?

Christy: At SCAN, we see engagement in elections as one of the most critical ways to make change for kids. We work to ensure early childhood education and child hunger are prioritized along the campaign trail and work to get out the vote. We also work to shed light on the issues and policies that directly impact the well-being of children and families that often don't get the attention they deserve. In 2022, we endorsed a bipartisan slate of governors and state legislatures and just this fall, endorsed a bipartisan slate of candidates in the Virginia and Louisiana state legislative races. Six of our eight endorsed candidates won in Virginia. We're excited about all the positive change for kids and families these new champions for children will bring.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Christy: We encourage everyone to learn more and get involved. If you're interested in becoming a SCAN advocate, visit us here.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Christy—it’s been an honor!

Christy Gleason is the vice president of policy, advocacy, and campaigns (PAC) at Save the Children and the executive director of Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). Prior to joining Save the Children and SCAN, Christy served as a strategist and policy advisor to Senator Chris Coons from Delaware. Before her time in the Senate, she served as senior staff in the county government and as chief of staff for state legislators in New Jersey. Christy earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in international relations from American University and her JD from St. John’s University School of Law. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 5, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.