Today we’d like to introduce you to Becky Carroll.
Becky, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story begins in Chicago. I was born here and raised here. I’m raising my children here. I attended public schools and so will my kids. I live in the same neighborhood today where my dad once worked in a paper factory; the West Loop is not the same neighborhood it once was all those years ago. That’s in part what I love about Chicago. The neighborhoods have their own character and evolve with people and time, but they always maintain their uniqueness.
I’ve been working since I was 10 years old. Babysitting, delivering papers, distribution pizza menus door to door, selling jeans at the Gap, etc. I was never the type to sit around, and those experiences helped teach me about people and myself. Even though I went to college with the intent to be the next Christiane Amanpour, I got the political bug. And the rest is history. I spent my entire adult life working on the front lines of high profile political, public policy and advocacy campaigns here in Chicago and Illinois. The work was really rewarding, sometimes grueling, but I got to a point in my life where I wanted to be very intentional about who I worked with and the issues I advocated for so I could put my experience and relationships to work as an advocate for them. Three years after launching my firm, it’s still growing and I feel more fulfilled than ever as a professional and a person. I’ve also been able to focus on things that matter to me as a person, a woman, a mother and a resident of Chicago.
I am pretty passionate about children and what kind of life we are providing to them – and not just my own, but every child. We have to treat every child like they are our own; when you do that, you are helping to provide equity for them no matter where they come from. That’s why I care so passionately about refugees, whether they are crossing the border in Mexico or crossing dangerous seas and across countries from Syria to somewhere safe. I always imagine myself in that position. How desperate I would feel and so afraid for the well-being of my children. If you can’t empathize with parents who are simply trying to give their children a chance to be safe and to live free from institutional oppression, then I don’t think you can count yourself among the rest of us humans. In 2016, I co-founded the #StandWithAleppo campaign to help raise awareness of the atrocities being committed in Aleppo, Syria. The efforts of our dedicated group of volunteers didn’t end the war in Syria, but we gave people a voice and the attention they deserved. Today, I serve on the Ambassador Board of MedGlobal, which is an organization dedicated to ending health care disparity in crisis ridden areas of the world, so you will see them working in places like Syria and camps catering to Syrian refugees in Jordan. Or you may see them in Yemen or Haiti. You’ll also see them taking care of Rohingya refugees. When I refer to these kinds of refugees, they are really forcibly displaced people because that’s what happened to them. They didn’t want to get up and go; they were forced to by threat of violence because that’s what dictators and the like do.
I also spend a good amount of “free” time that I build into my week supporting issues that impact women. Some friends and I penned an open letter in fall 2017 about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in Illinois politics and launched the Illinois Say No More campaign on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein revelations. I tried to help elect a couple of amazing women to Congress this past election cycle and I’m now serving as the communications advisor for the Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access panel here in Illinois, whose members will create a set of best practices to raise the bar for supporting women in politics so they can work in a supportive environment free from harassment and get on a path to leadership. I serve on the national board of NARAL because I care passionately about keeping abortion free, accessible and legal and ensuring women have access to quality reproductive health care.
Has it been a smooth road?
Nothing in life or work is ever smooth. And I don’t think you can be successful as either a person or a business owner without experiencing struggle or making mistakes that ultimately better prepare you for success. When you put your name, reputation and resources on the line to launch a business, you have to be very careful about who you let in, whether someone is working for you or with you. If they don’t share your work ethic and principles, it can end up compromising your ability to get things done and to grow. But you have to put them in your rearview mirror because ultimately, you’ll be more successful without them. That has certainly been the outcome in my own experience. So never let someone else hold you back from doing what you love to do. In terms of purely running a business, you have to sometimes be willing to say no. You could say yes to every opportunity and bring in more money, but if you’re going to stay true to what motivates you and what you care about, then you have to walk away sometimes. Unless you’re sole goal is to just make money! For me, it all has to start from a place of making an impact and a difference in the lives of those who need a helping hand and need others to believe in them.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with C-Strategies – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I run a strategic communications and public affairs firm that’s grounded in serving clients who, in one way or other, are doing great things for and in the city of Chicago. My city always comes first for me and I won’t take on a client who doesn’t share my values or isn’t dedicated to making this a great place for everyone to live and raise their family. My clients are transforming underserved communities to make them affordable and safe. They’re connecting corporate Chicago to communities of need to build meaningful partnerships. They’re expanding opportunities for women to thrive personally and professionally. They’re also helping students in public schools prepare for jobs of the future. By helping them to get their stories out and expand their work, I feel like I get to do my part every day to make this city the best it can be for everyone.
I’m ultimately a strategist and enjoy being a thought partner with clients around developing plans from soup to nuts in order to get something done. That could be building their brand or passing legislation in Springfield. That could also mean building support around a major public facing initiative or launching a new business. We work with nonprofits, corporations, entrepreneurs, issue advocacy organizations and CEOs across industries and sectors. Working for two decades on front line public policy issues as well as political campaigns helped me build experiences and skill sets that allowed me to navigate some very challenging situations – and I apply these experiences every day in the work that I do and it allows me to operate very efficiently. I don’t think there’s a scenario that I haven’t had to manage either proactively or in response to crisis, so I’m prepared to serve clients no matters what’s thrown at them – or me. And, I don’t let things fall through the cracks. Ever.
Also, I’m very intentional about doing pro bono work for women and causes that I care about – #MeToo and electing more women to office are issues that I’ve put a lot of my time and resources throughout the past year. I also produce a podcast that focuses on women doing great things for their city and communities called The Broad Cast and I host a quarterly event called the C Chat that caters to media, PR and public affairs pros, and business and civic leaders. It marries networking with public policy issues through a panel of special guests that discuss the pressing issues of the day. It helps us to stay connected to one another and the issues that unite us every day in our jobs.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the people of this city. On the whole they are inherently good people who embrace different cultures, race and ethnicities. They believe in giving others second chances and will raise their hand to help either a neighbor or a stranger. And, no one else matches our work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit.
Winters. Definitely like those the least, but the summer months make up for them!
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