2018 Team

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Shanelle Matthews

Brooklyn, CA

  • Program Director for Channel Black
  • Communications Strategist
  • Adjunct Professor at The New School

For more than ten years, Shanelle has helped social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns inspire action through storytelling and communications. From the Sierra Club to the ACLU, to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, she’s worked alongside political influencers and changemakers to make sense of today’s most pressing issues and to harness grassroots power for good.

From the newsroom to the front lines, Shanelle has experienced the good and the bad of communications strategies for social change. Having worked on deeply entrenched issues at the national and local levels—including abortion, welfare, and LGBTQ rights— she knows firsthand how crucial it is to tell and present stories with integrity in order to make a meaningful impact.

Shanelle knows social change communications work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People’s deeply held beliefs are at the root of this work. Political persuasion, or moving people from one political ideology to another, is only successful when your ideas connect with and make sense to a variety of people. She believes to build the world we want to live in, we have to listen, strategize, and experiment.

To help people with less power and visibility access more opportunities to state our established truth and use the media to reach and organize people with shared experiences, Shanelle developed Channel Black, an immersive training program that prepares progressive spokespeople to make critical, real-time interventions on racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and power in the United States through the media.

In 2016, she also founded the Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), an association of 700 social impact communications professionals working across geography, discipline, and issue area to organize people into social movements and to demonstrate, through communications, how everyday people create conditions that make life better for all of us, not just the elite few.

In the fall of 2017, Shanelle joined The New School, a University in Manhattan as its inaugural Activist in Residence. Today, she is faculty there in the social justice scholarship program. She holds a degree in Journalism and New and Online Media from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University.