Eat Your Broccoli, Kids, I Have to Change the World

SHAREEmail to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on Tumblr
February 14, 2012 in Labor & Economy

I think I have about 19 minutes to gather my thoughts about stepping into the role of executive director of LAANE this week. Jack, my two-year-old, is napping, and Izzy, my almost-five-year-old (going to kindergarten this September, phew!), is happily giggling at Pingu, a towering work of claymation genius that is one of the few things we both love to watch.

I’ve been at LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy) for a decade, so in some respects this change of job isn’t such a big deal, but it certainly feels like it is. There’s a lot at stake, after all: Will our movement, here in Los Angeles and nationally, be able to beat back 30 years of incredibly effective right-wing politics to build real democracy and economic justice for the 99 Percent?

Maybe I should just focus on getting my kids to eat their broccoli.

I was drawn to this work thanks to my parents. They were classic champagne socialists. They threw fundraisers for the Panthers, and were willing to go deep into debt for great food and silk socks. I make fun of them, but they succeeded in passing along their values, including a taste for fancy cheese.

I was introduced to the labor movement during my first year at Yale. The clerical workers were on strike, demanding equal pay for equal work. It was an incredibly inspiring and successful fight. Soon after I became an activist myself, motivated by the less than stellar conditions of my dining hall job serving canned tapioca to grad students.

It was during my time at Yale that the amazing John Wilhelm — now president of UNITEHERE, the union representing hospitality workers — helped me realize that I could become a real organizer. I was grateful when UNITEHERE recruited me to work for them once I graduated, and I remain enormously grateful that I have been able to do work I believe in ever since.

I have also been fortunate to work with a series of amazing women who have taught me a great deal about how to sustain myself while doing what I love.
These include my three heroes – the leader of L.A.’s labor movement, Maria Elena Durazo, former L.A. City Councilmember and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg and the founding executive director of LAANE, Madeline Janis. Each has had a profound impact on how I see the world, and how I see my role in trying to change it for the better.

It’s still pretty hard to take the idea of my own leadership too seriously. And perhaps that’s a good thing. We all need to take the work seriously, not ourselves. Meanwhile,  I’ll be relying on the lessons I learned from Maria Elena, Jackie and Madeline to make sure I keep the lights on here at LAANE while also making sure my kids eat their broccoli.

SHAREEmail to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on Tumblr
Roxana Tynan
Roxana Tynan joined the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) in 2001 and served as deputy director for six years until assuming the position of executive director in February 2012. She has spent her entire career advancing the...
Read more articles by Roxana Tynan

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the Capital & Main Privacy Policy and agree to the Capital & Main Terms of Service. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook's Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.

  • Marpreston

    Congratulations, Roxana. LAANE is in capable hands. Thanks to Madeline for recognizing that spark of genius in you. I wish you stamina and good luck.

  • Alison Lass Camacho

    Roxana – Congratulations on your new leadership post. I’ve followed your work from afar and admired your commitment to LAANE. Continue your good work and remember you too need to eat broccoli to keep up your energy and efforts.

  • Char Hamer

    Congrats! From one mother to another I don’t know how you do it all.

  • Tracy

    Well done, and well said. And good luck with that pesky broccoli issue!

  • Paul prejza

    Roxana–Since you “left” Hollywood, you’ve fallen off our radar—good to know where you are and that you’re still doing important work! Hope our paths cross again soon. Congratulations Paul Prejza

  • Sandra M.

    Congratulations Rox! Great, honest message–very you.

  • Jim Conn

    You’ll do both – the leadership and the broccoli – really well. You always do.

  • Peter Dreier

    Dick Flacks wrote an essay 30 years ago about the dilemmas facing all activists — he called it “Making History and Making Life.” Roxana, you do both very well. You and LAANE will thrive in your new role!

Scroll To Top