Carly Pildis, 31, is a senior associate for organizing and advocacy with RESULTS, a nonprofit that advocates around fighting poverty worldwide.
Tell us a little bit about what motivated you to get involved in social justice work.
While I was in Ghana volunteering one summer in college [with the American Jewish World Service], I got malaria. I got better for $25. I saw a private doctor and I had the Cadillac of every fancy malaria drug you could buy. I then went back to the village I was living in at the time and I realized that one in 20 kids in this village was going to die because their family was not going to be able to come up with the money for treatment.
When I came home I was really not able to think of another way I’d like to spend my career other than working on global health, global poverty and those sorts of issues.
I noticed that you put your Twitter screenname in parenthesis [which some Jews on Twitter have done as a way of counteracting what started as an anti-Semitic identifier]. Can you tell me about that decision?
I really want to support the community of public Jewish figures who have been targeted by anti-Semitism online.
The other side of it is that people ask about it. All of my coworkers were asking, “What is this parentheses? What does it mean?” I think it’s important to talk about the anti-Semitism, and that it’s happening in this country and globally. We should talk about how it makes us afraid and put it out there publicly and fight it.
You said in an article you wrote for Tablet magazine that your family celebrates the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia [the Supreme Court Case that struck down laws against interracial marriage]. Can you tell me about that?
I am incredibly blessed to have a happy home with the person I am with. [Pildis’ husband is a Ghanaian American Jew.] Our happiness is not something that just happened. It is something people died for and people spent their lives litigating and it is something people were beaten for. I get to marry the man I love and have a life with him that is leaps and bounds safer and more stable than at any point in American history. Other people died and put their lives on the line so that families like ours could eat pancakes and have babies and get to have this great life that my husband and I have.
What else do you want the local Jewish community to know about you?
I think my Jewish identity really informs [my social justice work]. I think about where I am to be able to devote my career to fighting for healthcare and education for other communities, while less than a hundred years ago — and even now across the world — Jewish communities were really struggling for their lives, fleeing where they were and coming to America. I think there’s something really important about young Jews today taking at least a couple years of their lives to pay that forward. Because we are an incredibly lucky generation, even though this is a challenging time.