When Malathi Reddy was in the midst of her second co-op search, she intended to accept a position in the human resources department of a tech company. But Reddy changed her mind during an assignment in her advocacy writing class, where she mapped out the types of issues that mattered most to her.
She made a list of causes—starting with racial justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.
“That’s when I realized, in the middle of my co-op search, my advocacy is really important to me, and I want to use my work to improve the world,” she explains.
So, with the support of her classmates and communications professor Greg Goodale, Reddy, a third-year communications major, set off to create her own co-op out of an internship opportunity—and landed a job as an executive board and relations co-op at the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the U.S..
“It just made more sense to do something that I’m passionate about and something that I know will have a positive change in the world instead of just working for a corporation that promotes a status quo and keeps the world the same,” Reddy says, her voice full of excitement.
As an executive board and relations co-op, Reddy helps out with data management and report acquisition and is currently helping plan the nonprofit’s annual Equality Convention. The Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, a 40-year-old organization with over three million members nationwide, has been an integral part of the international push for LGBTQ+ rights and representation. It led the fight for marriage equality that was solidified by the landmark Supreme Court decision in 2016.
Even though Reddy works remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions, she still feels she’s a part of the team because the campaign is “interconnected by this passion for advocacy.”
“That’s one of the things that I really love about working here—even though I’m not as connected to everyone, at least we’re all bound by this passion for creating positive change for LGBTQ+ communities.”
And the organization is the right place to learn how to make those positive changes, says Goodale, Reddy’s professor and mentor.
“The Human Rights Campaign is the most effective advocacy group on the planet,” explains Goodale, who is a former Washington, D.C. lawyer, lobbyist, and congressional aide. “You know the people who work there aren’t average people. If you want to learn how to be a good advocate, go work at the Human Rights Campaign.”
Goodale teaches advocacy writing, the class that led Reddy to discover her own passion for advocacy. After taking the class last semester, Reddy is now a teaching assistant for the spring semester’s section.
Largely centered around organic discussions that delve into personal experiences, advocacy writing is a culmination of “radical listening” and meditation assignments that strives to teach students how to advocate for themselves and for others, Goodale says. And Reddy, both last semester and this semester, has been an influential part of the conversation.
“She teaches as much as I do in my class,” Goodale laughs. “She’s very thoughtful and elevates the conversation. I would imagine that the vast majority of students who’ve been exposed to Malathi over the past year have gotten through COVID-19 a little bit better than anyone else because they had Malathi.”
Throughout the class, Reddy learned how to speak in defense of herself, other individuals, and greater causes. She helped third-year marketing and communications major Halle Koenig, who was in the midst of her own co-op search last fall, better advocate for herself by helping Koenig revamp her LinkedIn page and reposition her digital brand.
“She really listens,” Koenig says. “She really thinks about it and cares about what she’s doing—and she puts you at the center of it. If she’s advocating for you, it’s about what you want.”
With lessons learned from advocacy writing in mind, Reddy takes her advocacy to the next level at the Human Rights Campaign. She advocates for a greater cause, for a mission that impacts people across the globe. She’s found a passion in being a champion for people and for causes—and an opportunity to practice it at the Human Rights Campaign—that will propel her into the future.
“I’ve spent a lot more time networking with a genuine curiosity for what people are doing,” Reddy says. “I’ve learned about so many different positions in the nonprofit world that I didn’t really know about, and I’m starting to see where I can see myself.”
Although Reddy is already exceptional, Goodale says, her co-op experience further stabilizes her trajectory as a career advocate.
“She’s working with the next generation of American leaders,” Goodale explains. “And that’s not accidental, because she’s going to be one of them.”