Alice Zhang is the new Communications Officer for the Shot@Life campaign. Learn more about her in this Q&A!
Prior to working with the United Nations Foundation, I led media relations and content strategy for Food for the Hungry, an international relief & development organization. However, my passion for global development stemmed from the year I spent in Lima, Peru working with a microfinance project and social entrepreneurship center to help women access capital to start their own small businesses. Although I’m the child of immigrants and heard stories of my parents’ difficult upbringings, seeing poverty up close changed my entire perspective on the world. I saw the real impact that these programs had on these women’s lives, both economically and socially. As a result, I became convicted of our role as global citizens to make sure everyone everywhere has an equal opportunity to thrive–a shot at life! Rewinding even further, I worked for a few city magazines after graduating from Northwestern University’s journalism school and still have a soft spot for urban culture, lifestyle, and how modern cities are changing.
What has been your favorite moment since joining the team?
Although remote onboarding has its unique challenges, I’ve enjoyed all my virtual coffee 1:1s with members of the Shot@Life team and the United Nations Foundation more broadly. Everyone is dedicated, motivated, and very welcoming! I’m looking forward to the day I’ll get to move to Washington DC and meet my coworkers in person.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for vaccine advocacy?
Vaccine advocacy–like many other fields in global health–is a nuanced topic that too often loses its potency by getting “down in the technical weeds” when it’s accessible and important for all individuals. This is a true shame, and there is a lot of progress to be made in humanizing the lifesaving impact of vaccines while communicating the important science to the general public and policymakers. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation that jeopardizes the important progress that vaccines are making around the world.
What do you wish more people knew about advocacy in general?
I used to think that advocacy was a large lift and signing a petition would feed into a black hole of Congressional inboxes… but that’s simply not true! Advocacy is an effective way for Congress to hear from their constituents and bring about large-scale change from a systemic and policy level. Plus, anyone can be an advocate: sign a petition, share resources and content on social media, and engage friends and neighbors to advocate for global immunization programs.
I would also add that I wish more people knew and recognized the unique privilege they have to exercise their freedom of speech and use that advocacy for good. Collective change is powerful! And when advocating for a basic human right such as essential health and well-being, is truly world-changing.
What excites you most about your work on the campaign?
Although we’re all experiencing a bit of fatigue related to COVID-19, there’s never been a more critical or relevant time to rally support for global health programs and the lifesaving work of vaccines. As this pandemic has unfolded, we’ve seen once again how people in poverty are disproportionally affected–and how much more important advocacy and robust funding for immunization programs are. Coronavirus aside, I’m excited to support the work of the United Nations and be a champion for many other important cause areas as well, including the work of our sister campaigns Nothing But Nets and GirlUp.
Do you have any fun facts that our Champions may not know about you?
I’m passionate about sustainability and loving finding social impact coffee shops when I visit a new city! Coffee run? Count me in–let me grab my reusable coffee cup.