Morgan: The College of New Jersey - Bachelor of Arts, English
Kelly: The College of New Jersey - Bachelor of Arts, Political Science + Women’s and Gender Studies
Kelly: Women and Politics Institute at American University - Graduate Certificate / Women, Policy and Political Leadership
This is a first for IWHJ: a double profile. Today, we’re happy to feature Morgan Baden and Kelly Baden, identical twin sisters who both love their jobs. But while Morgan and Kelly may look alike and even live together in New York City, they have very different careers.
Morgan is the director of social media and internal communications at Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. She manages spreading the company’s messages about books, education and literacy on its various social platforms – producing content, answering questions and keeping the communities engaged. Outside of the office, she writes teen fiction.
Kelly is the program and policy director at the National Institute for Reproductive Health and their sister organization, NARAL Pro-Choice New York. The institute works with state and local organizations across the country to design advocacy, policy and education programs that expand access to reproductive health care like abortion and contraception. Her work ranges from monitoring health care reform to traveling for events with local elected officials, advocates and public health officials.
But there are some similarities – they are twins, after all! When they’re not working, Morgan and Kelly both enjoy spending time with family and friends, yoga and "really good beer.”
Women need to stand up for other women.
Where did you attend school, and what was your degree in?
M: We both graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2001, but with different majors.
K: We actually started off at separate colleges, but after one semester Morgan decided I was having way too much fun at TCNJ, so she transferred.
M: And before anyone panics, no, we did not room together all four years (just sophomore and senior year, in suites/houses with other friends), and no, we did not have the same major!
K: I majored in political science and women’s and gender studies.
M: After a couple of false starts in other majors, I decided to stop kidding myself and major in English, since reading is my favorite thing to do. I also minored in women’s and gender studies, so we did have occasional classes together.
K: After college, I received a graduate certificate in Women, Policy and Political Leadership at the Women and Politics Institute at American University.
M: And I did not.
How did you discover your current job?
M: Well, I’ve only ever worked at two companies (it’s a long-standing inside joke that Kelly has worked at many more places and in many more cities than I have). I loved my first job, but I had been dying to make the move to publishing. Scholastic had long been at the top of my list and over the years I’d gone on some random interviews there, but nothing was ever the right fit. Until one day, Scholastic called me out of the blue. I came on board as an Internal Communications Manager and as we began exploring corporate social media opportunities, my role expanded into the joint role it is today. The title “Social Media Director” didn’t exist until a few years ago; proof that if you see an opportunity in your company to do something new and different, you should make a case for it! I really feel like I manifested my dream job here.
K: It’s true that I’ve worked at many more places than Morgan has, but for the most part, all of my jobs have been in the reproductive rights industry. Our community is a fairly small one and at my previous job, I worked closely with the National Institute staff on some projects. When I heard a position was opening up, I jumped at the chance to apply.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
M: It might sound funny, but as Social Media Director, I spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms producing content, answering questions and just generally making sure our communities are staying engaged as we spread our messages about books and education and literacy. The world of social media is changing constantly, so I have to stay on top of the news -- not just about children’s books and media, but also about the technology behind how we interact with our readers and customers. I’m always researching ideas for social and internal content, so I have a lot of items in my Google Reader each morning, but then I have to produce a lot, too. On any given day, I’m hosting a Twitter chat for @Scholastic, video interviewing an author for oomscholastic.com, training Scholastic employees on social media best practices, consulting with internal teams on how to best communicate their information and writing, writing, writing. In a job with no typical days, the writing is the one constant.
K: Our days are pretty different, but there is one identical thing: we get to read, write and talk about our passions. I work on so many projects and issues that on any given day, I might be addressing insurance coverage for abortion in health care reform implementation, uncovering the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers or researching issues surrounding pregnant and parenting teens. Through our Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health and our Messaging Project, I get to travel the country to help organize exciting and innovative events for local elected officials, advocates and public health officials. Basically, my days are centered around ensuring people can make their most personal reproductive health care decisions and have access to the health care services they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
K: I see how federal, state and local laws and regulations have a direct impact on people, and it can be both rewarding and challenging to witness that. For me, it’s how laws involving reproductive health care have a real effect on women. If I can have any influence over those laws and regulations, then I have done something tangible and rewarding.
The most challenging part of my job is operating in this current political climate. It's been one of the hardest years ever for my organization’s issues -- state legislatures have enacted a record number of abortion restrictions this year and Congress keeps focusing on ways to limit abortion rights instead of on the economy or jobs. It can be hard to recognize that your victories and losses depend on who's in office. But the challenge is also where the inspiration lives.
M: There's truly nothing as amazing as getting paid to do what you love. I get to have direct, immediate connections with readers, teachers, librarians and parents about the subjects that matter to me most: books, education and literacy. And for someone like me who views authors as role models, I get a lot of chances to geek out over the people I meet, like Ann M. Martin and Suzanne Collins. Last year I even got to hang out with Taylor Swift as she performed in our auditorium in a live webcast to schools across the country!
There will always be challenges on the job; the trick is to find a job where the challenges feel more like opportunities. My job happens 24/7 -- I'm monitoring our social platforms at nights and on weekends, and when a communications crisis hits, my whole team has to drop everything and manage it. But I find the communications process and the organic exchange between people to be completely gratifying, no matter what time of day it is.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
K: Obviously, the issue of abortion care can be divisive. I feel strongly enough about it that I occasionally have to endure uncomfortable conversations with people who disagree. There’s not much anonymity in this field!
M: It can be hard to turn off the social media part of my job and I also have to be careful to not get too burnt out on writing. I write teen fiction outside of work, and that means there are times where I write early mornings and late nights if I’m on a deadline, in addition to writing all day long at my job.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
K: Make yourself indispensable to your organization: learn everything you can; try to have your hands on as many moving parts as possible; and never say no to the chance to be part of a new project.
M: What she said, plus one more: never be afraid to voice your enthusiasm or passion for a job or a project. I’m a firm believer that people will nearly always choose to hire a vocal supporter with limited experience versus an ambivalent expert.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
M: Women are still taught to wait for good things to come to them instead of going out and asking for them. We’re told through all sorts of insidious ways that we should play it safe. But history rewards the risk-takers, and women have to learn that our work is worthwhile and that our perspectives and ideas carry weight. Know what you're worth, prove it every day and demand acknowledgment.
K: And in a very real sense, women need to stand up for other women. When times get tough, like now, some politicians look for an easy out: they focus on restricting women’s rights instead of doing the hard work of governing. That’s what’s going on today and it’s affecting women disproportionately. And women -- and the men who care about them -- need to stand up and fight back.
Who are your role models?
M: Kelly. Seriously. From a writing perspective, I look up to Ann M. Martin, Aimee Bender and Margaret Atwood. And I’m lucky to know some highly successful women who have thriving writing careers while still keeping one foot in the corporate world, which I admire.
K: I don’t really think in terms of role models, but there are many women I’ve been fortunate to know and work with over the years from whom I’ve learned. And I really admire women like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cecile Richards.
What are some of the rules you live by?
K: I live by the mantra that the personal is political. Almost every option you have is partly affected by a decision made by old, white men sitting in a room hundreds of miles away. Make sure you have a seat at the table. Be an active citizen.
M: Your voice is the single thing that sets you apart from the rest of the world. Listen to it, hone it, then honor what it tells you and you can never fail.
What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?
K: There are so many ways to be involved! No matter where you live, there's sure to be an organization or elected official nearby that wants your help. Volunteer whenever possible, intern, participate in the thriving online feminist community and find a mentor.
M: Read books, read Mashable.com and then read some more. Start a book blog; practice writing -- in whatever format -- every day, and then try writing in a format that scares you. Submit pieces to literary magazines and newspapers and blogs. Ask the nonprofits you admire if they need help with social media.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
M: We decided to answer this question for each other! In five years, I suspect Kelly will be the executive director of some amazing nonprofit, working for women and women’s rights around the world. She’ll be writing op-eds and getting interviewed on Rachel Maddow. She’ll continue having a direct effect on U.S. women and families.
K: My sister is a wonderful writer. In five years, she'll definitely have at least a few hit young adult books on the market. Her blog, MorganBaden.com, will become a go-to place for young writers to share strategies and get advice. And when not writing hit YA novels, Morgan will be an expert social media and corporate communications consultant. She will also have visited London at least five more times.
What are three things you love aside from your job?
K: My amazing family and friends, yoga and really good beer. The “good beer” part is really important.
M: My amazing family and friends, yoga and really good beer. (Sorry, but we are twins!)
Is there anything else you would like to add?
M: You never know where your connections will be made. I changed the course of my writing career, thanks to someone I met while volunteering at Girls Write Now! So volunteer, network, blog, tweet and be open to whatever comes your way.
K: Surround yourself with people you admire, both professionally and personally. My close friends are all amazing and even though we mostly work in vastly different fields, and even though I love my job, I sometimes look at them and think “I want her job!”