frank

That Moment

In my last year at the University of Maryland, I landed an internship with the National Endowment for the Arts. Wow, was I pumped. I was a trained dancer, attended an arts high school and had grown up in the Academy of Music. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to combine my love for the arts with my new communications savvy. I went out and bought an attaché case.

And what an internship it was.

My responsibilities included answering the press line, which actually meant answering calls from random angry taxpayers incensed by the NEA’s most recent funding debacle. (The public affairs manager suggested I put them on hold until they hung up.) I also edited the NEA’s outreach materials, which meant that it was my job to put white stickers over inaccurate content that had made it into a brochure that had already been printed by the thousands.

One night I stayed late because there was a big event coming up the next day, and they needed me to put stickers on a thousand brochures. The task wasn’t done until 7 that night, and one of the staff members offered me a lift home.

We were waiting at a light, and it was quiet. “Ginny,” I asked, “How did you know you wanted to work here? Do you have a background in the arts?”

“Oh, God,” she laughed. “That’s hilarious. People think that just because we work for the NEA, we like LOVE the arts or something. This is just a job.”

Wow.

In that moment, I knew I never wanted to be like her — that for me, nothing would be just a job.

You have had your own moment like this.

Next year at frank, we’ll celebrate that moment. You know the one: That moment you became so outraged you had to take action. That moment you saw the way forward. That moment you decided to speak up for someone else. That moment you believed you could make a difference. That moment you realized that you were unfit for other work. That moment you won.

We’ll celebrate the moments that define us as change-makers, and create dozens of new ones.

If you’ve been to frank before, there are moments that stay with you. Moments at which you realized that there’s a community of people like you. Moments when you found new partners. When you saw a tired challenge with fresh eyes.

Over the course of this week, we’ll be tweeting about the moments that defined us as change makers, and our favorite frank moments.

We invite you to share yours: #thatmoment.

Posted on September 18, 2015

Ann Elizabeth Christiano
Ann Christiano is a former senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Professor Christiano teaches several public relations courses from a social change perspective. As the Frank Karel Chair, Christiano is in charge of all things frank.