Anoa Changa is a brilliant lawyer, movement journalist, and communications strategist using storytelling as a tool to shift power. Her career spans all angles of the progressive movement, but her north star has remained constant: building power for Black and brown communities.
Activism was a key thread in the fabric of Changa’s childhood. “I grew up in a radical Black household,” she explains, but while Changa admired her parents and extended family for their work in prison abolition, civil rights, and reproductive justice, it wasn’t a given that she’d follow them. Like so many children seeking independence from their families, she thought, “that's my parents' thing. That's not really my thing.”
Her perspective changed in 2014. Changa’s origin story as an organizer began with a chemical spill that contaminated a critical water source in Charleston, West Virginia. The spill left the city without water for nine days, and Changa with asthma. Despite balancing the demands of lawyering and motherhood, Changa leapt into action. She helped mobilize multiple communities to pressure state legislators to finally take action and impose for the first time in West Virginia’s history regulations for above-ground chemical containment prioritizing people over corporate influence.
“That incident was the greatest example I've seen of being able to unite people across the political spectrum, across personal issues,” Changa says of the experience. “I learned the reality of organizing people online to offline action before I even knew that language.” That experience was critical to her development as a digital and communications strategist, supporting the work of several progressive organizations, including as director of digital strategy and storytelling at the New Georgia Project, using the power of digital media to execute historic campaigns registering and civically engaging Georgia voters. She was also cities electoral manager for Democracy for America, building bridges between digital and electoral organizing.
As a storyteller, Changa is inspired by Black journalists like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who leveraged the power of the media to uphold justice, defy white supremacy and expand access to democracy. Whether as an Editor at NewsOne, or in her writing for national outlets like Truthout, Harper’s Bazaar, DAME Magazine, and Essence, she works through a lens that centers impacted communities and moves beyond the status quo. Changa believes America is ready for better conversations, around democracy, around racial and economic justice, and who we center in our national narratives. Her multifaceted experiences ensure that at Demos, those conversations will be catalysts for action. For Changa, it’s not enough that we just talk about it; to truly build a just, multiracial democracy, we must be about it.