In the Spotlight: Rachel Moreno
Day Job: Global Marketing Director, Global Citizen
When I met Rachel Moreno in Soho at a quaint coffee shop meets bookstore, I noticed she was wearing TOMS shoes. I remembered the book I read during a time I needed inspiration called Start Something That Matters by TOMS founder and CEO, Blake Mycoskie. As we sipped our mint teas, just days before the Election, it was quite evident that Rachel—a lover of all things creative—lives her life with that same mentality.
Back in the day, Rachel used to be a ballerina—spending more than half her time in point shoes. Being a dancer influenced her in more ways than just when it came to touring and performing on stage. Ballet is all about getting from one place to another, in the most graceful way possible. For Rachel, it influenced her entire life as a storyteller—whether that was when she joined Spotify as their first person on the marketing team in the United States. Or when she transitioned to Global Marketing Director at Global Citizen, a social action platform for a global generation that wants to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
ProjectNextUp: Who is Rachel Moreno as a global citizen?
Rachel Moreno: I am a native New Yorker and grew up in Brooklyn. My parents are former educators with the NYC public school system. My mom has always been a big advocate and lover of the performing arts, so creativity was part of my everyday. As a result, I started studying ballet when I was very young. By the time I was 14, I was an apprentice with a contemporary ballet company in Manhattan, and at 15, I was a core company member and toured around the country. The journey of becoming a dancer informed everything I am today—informed by the hard work, the determination, the love of a craft, and the love of telling a great story.
Once I left the dance world I found I wanted to extend the skills I acquired to make and to create other types of projects. As a result I found myself exploring different fields mainly as a producer, marketer, but even as a teacher—traveling a bit, living abroad in London, and working in Spain.
I now work for an advocacy organization called Global Citizen as the Global Marketing Director. What's exciting is I’m able to apply a lot of my experience and my passion into this role.
In my spare time I’m on the board of the ballet company where I had studied, which offers tuition-free ballet training to public school kids across the city. I’m also on the board of a Brooklyn animal shelter because I'm a big animal advocate.
I've found that when you put more into the world you don't just feel better about yourself but you feel like a true active contributor. I've tried for that to be my life approach. And it's part of how I'm a global citizen.
PNU: Do you still dance?
RM: No, I don’t. Maybe in my bedroom when no one is watching! Seriously though, its one of those things that when you’re a professional concert dancer, it's not a casual profession. It requires physical and mental commitment that can't be half-assed. You’re an athlete. There’s so much training involved. I can’t just throw on a pair of point shoes right now. I wouldn’t be able to do that to myself! But dance has and will always be a part of me. It’s the way that I fell into producing and marketing. At the end of the day, dance is all about problem solving and creating a story. You’re figuring things out, and you’re getting from one place to another in the most graceful way you possibly can. Pun intended. I took a lot of that training and applied it to my day-to-day. My love of music, my love of the entertainment world, performance, theater…dancing has informed a lot.
PNU: To get into the nitty gritty of your job, you transitioned from Spotify to Global Citizen. What was that career change like, and what did you take from Spotify and bring to Global Citizen?
RM: Spotify was an incredible journey. I was the first person on the marketing team in the U.S. Third person in the U.S. office before we launched. It was an amazing group of people and an amazing time—we were really changing the music industry! The environment was super super start-up. Long hours, tight resources, passionate people. We seriously would run out to get office supplies. I have so much respect and love for that early group. Everyone did everything. I was there for almost five years—which is like dog years in the start-up world! I saw it through an exponential growth. When I left, the company had evolved, and I was ready for a change. At that point I learned so much about what I wanted to do, the way I wanted to lead, the way I didn’t want to lead, and the projects I wanted to be involved with. I then took a little break to consult for a few startups and brands. This job at Global Citizen ended up coming to me through a recommendation—and it made so much sense. The brand is attractive, the mission is meaningful, the work is exciting. I can apply a lot of my experience to the company. It circles all of the universes I’ve been in. We’re asking people to take action, speak up, and to use their voice for a greater good, to solve the world’s greatest problems and eradicate extreme poverty. There’s a lot of meaning in that. It's really motivating.
PNU: In Rachel terms, what does it mean to be a global citizen?
RM: Being a global citizen means you welcome the world’s diversity. You are not afraid to take risks and to stand up for what is right and those who are vulnerable. You use your voice. Being a global citizen is acknowledging how different people are, embracing those differences, and the different paths people can take.
From a professional perspective, I believe there’s no one right path. I went to college late and only went for a couple years. I never took the “standard” route. My life experience, my teaching experience, my traveling experience are the ways I became a better student and how I learned. It's great to be different. Everyone is on their own journey and that’s something to recognize and learn from.
That’s what being a global citizen means to me. It’s really nice to inspire people to embrace that kind of thinking.
PNU: How do you keep things moving in the office? What’s your role at Global Citizen?
RM: It’s fast-paced. Non-profit meets start-up. There’s never a dull moment! I always try to ask questions as there is always a lot of work coming in and so much opportunity. I find myself taking a step back to see what we’re trying to accomplish and nail down our goals. You have to ask yourself sometimes, “I know we want to do that but is this going to move the needle?” Everyday at the office differs. It ranges from trying to rally a group to tackle a project so we can hit that deadline or creating content that will be shared across all our channels or ideating a new concept like the Show Up Vote campaign.
PNU: What’s been the most creative project you’ve worked on at Global Citizen? Maybe one that broke barriers?
RM: I haven’t been there long enough to feel like I have a portfolio of projects. It’s hard not to list the Global Citizen Festival because the lead up to the festival is all about devising this creative plan to engage with our audience and to attract new global citizens. This year involved a variety of action journeys, all thematic around the issues we want to tackle—everything from women and girls, to global health, water and sanitation, to education. I was proud of all the work we did in the lead up. This year we really tried to innovate on what was done in past years. At the end of it all it’s incredible when there are 60,000 people in Central Park and most of them took action to earn their ticket. And it's all about the impact—that a total of 1.3 million actions were taken that led to 47 commitments and announcements worth $1.9 billion. That's set to reach 199 million people. I'm proud to have been a part of that effort.
PNU: What do you usually look for when building your team?
RM: Of course it’s nice to tick the boxes on a job description. But because I didn't take a traditional path, I'm looking for people who think and walk outside the box too. I do look for competence, someone who is personable and has a lot of positivity and energy. I don’t remember a job that I’ve done that didn’t require a lot—and then in turn—I demand a lot. I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty, but I want to know that people are right there with me. Work ethic is a key piece. And you’ve got to be ambitious! You’re not afraid to take risks and use your creativity to get there. I love building a team and building relationships. My bar is really high. I believe everything is in the detail. When people work with me, they know that I expect that. But they also know I’m a very loyal person and want them to succeed and grow.
I also don’t necessarily look for people who are like me. I like to balance what I don’t know or what I'm not great at with lots of talented, creative, and self motivated people.
PNU: Do you think in five years girls and women all over the world will have more opportunities?
RM: Yes I do. We have a woman running for President! There is a new female empowerment movement that is growing, and I don't think it will be silenced easily. So I like to be optimistic.
I’ll paraphrase something President Obama said when making a recent commencement address. He talked about even though we have a lot more work to do, how it’s important to recognize here at this time, in this country, we have made big strides as a nation. And it’s important to take note of the global impact that our progress has had. There are shifts taking place in the world on the issues that really matter because of the things we are doing now.
But I think that’s where our responsibility as a generation comes in. We can’t be complacent. We can't be apathetic. We have to be active, and continue to stand and fight for the world we want to live in. I think about this a lot. How does being a global citizen extend in your everyday life? How involved can you be? It can be by regularly donating to an organization or it can be by volunteering your time with an organization you care about or even by lending your voice to a cause. My mom is helping out a young woman who has a new infant and is living in a shelter. We’re going to help decorate her room. What are some things you can do everyday to be a better global citizen? And then what are things we can do to put pressure on governments, foreign and our own, to continue moving forward on issues that affect women and girls around the world and not take steps back? I’d like to be optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are always going to be challenges and setbacks, and although we have much more change to make, one has to be optimistic.
PNU: How do you think women across the world can be supportive of younger women?
RM: Build each other up. If you have the power and more flexibility in making decisions for your team, hire women. Hire women of color. Make sure your team and what you do is reflective of the world you want to see. There’s a responsibility there. When you talk to people, when you learn about their stories, everyone has something different to offer. Don't feel threatened by each other or create a culture of mean girl behavior. Support each other. Be each other's advocates.
PNU: What’s the hardest part about your job working at Global Citizen?
RM: I would say that it’s the greatest and the hardest part: figuring out better ways to prioritize and understand what will be most effective. That’s sometimes hard when you want to do everything. I know from experience, one can’t. The second piece is, when I talk about there being meaning to my work, it’s not like I leave every single day and tell myself, “I’m saving the world! I feel so fulfilled.” I do experience the same struggles, frictions, and challenges that any other job would have in any other field. Just because I’m part of an organization that is doing good, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyday I leave there feeling warm and fuzzy. That’s a hump I had to get over when I started and realized that this was okay.
PNU: And Global Citizen expanded to India?
RM: We’re a movement. We’re a social action platform for the global generation that wants to solve the world's biggest challenges. With us you can learn about the issues and learn how to take action. We believe we can end extreme poverty by 2030 because of the collective actions of global citizen everywhere.
Our goal is to recruit more people who care about the world, so we expanded. India was the first stop to hopefully many other markets. There are a lot of people living in India in extreme poverty. There’s also a real wealth and economic disparity within the country. We believe that to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, we need a lot of people to join the movement. The festival that took place in Mumbai acts as a key moment for everyone—world leaders and people all around the world—to rally and commit to social change.
PNU: If you could tweet your purpose in 140 characters or less?
RM: My Twitter bio is very much what my purpose is. I’m a lover of things creative, nature, and dog. Part storyteller, dreamer, and just-get-it-done-er.
PNU: What are the three songs on your playlist that you can’t stop listening to?
RM: I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie, America by Simon and Garfunkel, Play God by Ani DiFranco. That song is super political, and I definitely appreciate that in the current climate!
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