Eric Antebi: Personalizing social issues 

To Eric Antebi, 35, who recently left his post as national press secretary for the Sierra Club to join Fenton Communications, a public interest marketing firm, changing the world means talking to people.

"Trees don’t vote and trees don’t have credit cards," he said. "If you want to protect the trees, you have to be able to make your case to the people."

Fenton handles environmental, human rights, education and public health issues, and has worked on campaigns including the fall of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of MoveOn

.org as a grass-roots political force and the genocide in Darfur. "People here have social justice values," Antebi said. "They work here because it’s a way to help make the world a better place."

Antebi, who worked with the Sierra Club for four-and-a-half years, saw his career change as a way to continue working in communications, but with a wider variety of issues and a wider variety of people.

So far, it’s proven accurate. In his first week on the job, Antebi helped train young lawyers who work on LGBT issues to be good spokespeople for the issues and people they represent; worked with the Prostate Cancer Foundation; and assisted with the public relations effort for a report on educational funding reform.

The key, Antebi says, is connecting your issue to issues that people already care about. He uses the example of global warming: Specific places people care about might be affected; people might feel they have a responsibility to their children or grandchildren; they might worry about the effects on the economy or national security; or they might hear the call to shepherd God’s creation, if they are religious. Antebi’s job is to familiarize himself with the different constituencies, then decide how best to help his client reach them.

"If you can build a constituency, any kind of social change is possible," Antebi said. "In order to build a constituency, you have to talk to people and organize their efforts."

Antebi earned an AB in Judaic Studies from Brown University. He traces the origin of his public interest work to the translation of the Hebrew phrase "tikkun olam," which means "mending the world." "The world is not as right as it could be," he said. "It’s our job while we’re here on this planet to help repair the world, to help mend the world through our good works."

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