Peggy Rajski is an Oscar-winning filmmaker and the Founder of The Trevor Project, the first 24/7 suicide prevention service dedicated to LGBTQ young people. Peggy is a venerated supporter of the LGBTQ community and was recognized as a Live-Action Icon by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. In addition to producing award-winning films, she has taught at New York University and served as the Dean of Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television. Peggy shares how to connect with audiences through film, align an organization firmly with its mission, and innovate to adapt to the ever-changing digital world.
- After directing the film Trevor, Peggy saw the massive need amongst gay or questioning youth for some kind of support system. This need was the inspiration behind forming the Trevor Project and its mission, “to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, & questioning young people.”
- The motivation for Peggy’s film was seeing that gay or questioning youths were four times as likely to make an attempt on their lives than their straight peers. Peggy knew that the medium of film could be uniquely used to educate people on this issue.
- The most important group Peggy had to reach was the young people in dire need of The Trevor Project. Crucial to this were the relationships Peggy built with voices in the media interested in this larger story.
- It’s vital to share your message through the communication channels already used by your audience. The night that Trevor was presented by Ellen DeGeneres and aired on HBO Family, the Trevor Project call center received over 1,500 calls.
- Honesty is integral to building a cohesive brand that can speak uniquely to different stakeholders, such as donors, staff, and those being served. This requires being clear on what the brand stands for and its mission.
- Evolving how you meet your audience where they are can be critical. The Trevor Project is transitioning its services from primarily voice-based to chat-based. This mirrors the growing shift amongst younger generations toward text messaging. The Trevor Project must adapt to the times to continue serving LGBTQ youth.
- Peggy considers the expertise built up within The Trevor Project to be “open source” as the organization sits on many boards and commissions to help protect the mental health needs of historically underserved groups.
- Leaders need to be storytellers every day of their lives, throughout meetings, introductions, etc. To be a great storyteller, you must be clear, concise, and compelling. Your stories should convey what you’re doing, what you want to make, and who you are.
Quote of the Show:
- “Film can make you feel things. When it's working, it bypasses the brain and it goes to your heart.” - Peggy Rajski
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeggyRajski
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peggyrajski/
- The Trevor Project Website: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- Dr. Jay Nagdimon - Mental Health Expert
- Ellen DeGeneres - Comedian and TV Personality
- Elton John - Musician
- Sting - Musician
- Daniel Radcliffe - Actor
- Dylan Mulvaney - Influencer and Activist
- Kara Swisher - Host of On With Kara Swisher
- Scott Galloway - Author and Host of the Prof G Pod
- Hard Fork - Podcast
- Longform - Podcast
- This American Life - Podcast
- Serial - Podcast
- Soul + Spirit - Podcast
- Ten Percent Happier - Podcast
- Tara Brach - Meditation teacher and Podcast Host
Creators and Guests
Anthony Shop believes in the power of people-centered branding and marketing to create a bright future. He chairs the National Digital Roundtable, the premier convener of digital innovators, leaders and policy shapers. Anthony also is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Social Driver, a digital services firm that helps companies and non-profits establish winning strategies with social media, websites, creative, and advertising. An enthusiastic presenter and teacher, he has led executive-level training for Amazon, PepsiCo, NASA, The British Embassy and the Bipartisan Policy Center. He has been recognized as an “OUTstanding LGBT Role Model” by The Financial Times, “40 Under 40” by The Washington Business Journal, and Business Leader of the Year by the DC Chamber of Commerce. A former newspaper reporter, Anthony was the first new media professional elected to the National Press Club’s Board of Governors. He currently serves on the boards of Leadership Greater Washington and LearnServe International. He earned his MBA from The George Washington University School of Business, where he teaches as an adjunct lecturer.
Oscar-winning filmmaker and the Founder of The Trevor Project, the first 24/7 suicide prevention service dedicated to LGBTQ young people. Peggy is a venerated supporter of the LGBTQ community and was recognized as a Live-Action Icon by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. In addition to producing award-winning films, she has taught at New York University and served as the Dean of Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television.
Robert is an Executive Director for The Communications Board, an organization with the mission of providing high-quality professional development for every communicator in every location. He is also the Global Lead for Partnership Communications at Gensler, the world’s largest architecture and design firm. Prior to his current role, he performed executive and CEO communications for Gensler, and was the senior director of public relations and social media at the Urban Land Institute. He obtained an MA in Communications and an MA in History from George Mason University. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In addition, Robert has taught communications at universities including George Mason University, West Virginia University, and the University of Florida. Robert currently serves as Immediate-Past President for the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) -- the nonprofit’s largest chapter.