Antwone Roberts is a photographer and a music producer.
…And that’s just in his free time. He’s also the full time Deputy Director of PR and Community Engagement at Liberty Hill, a public foundation fighting for social justice across LA County. Whether through Liberty Hill’s new Podcast; Conversations From the Frontlines Real Talk, Real Change with Shane Murphy Goldsmith, or at the largest social justice event in Los Angeles, the Upton Sinclair Homecoming Celebration, Antwone enjoys leveraging his creativity to inspire others to join the fight for social justice.
You might think that balancing all of those hats would be difficult, but for Antwone, pursuing his passions both in his personal life and in his career is crucial to living a fulfilling life. “I love my job, and I love photography, and I love music,” he explains. “I’ve been spending the past few years finding ways to further my career, without neglecting my creative interests.”
Building community is at the heart of all of Antwone’s pursuits and for more than 40 years, Liberty Hill Foundation has cultivated a progressive community in Los Angeles. They leverage the power of community organizers and donor activists to advance social justice across Los Angeles County, funding grassroots organizing that focuses on systemic change.
We sat down with him to learn more about his work at the intersection of communications, community engagement, philanthropy, and social justice. Keep reading for his story— and for tips on how you can make a bigger impact, no matter what your career looks like!
Connection and Community
“Growing up, I had a front row seat to injustice and inequality, and all the things that didn’t work in society,” explains Antwone, so he chose to focus his energy on ways to make a difference in his community. As a student, he volunteered at a local community garden where he engaged with residents, learned how to grow produce, and connected with local farmers markets. He also benefited from the support of grassroots organizations that provided mentorship and a safe haven. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see the role that all these different non-profits played on me when I was growing up.”
When it came time to choose a career, Antwone wasn’t sure which direction to go. With so many interests and skills, he took some time to determine which path would allow him to make the most impact. After shuffling through a few different majors, he ultimately chose business marketing and public service, in the hopes of becoming a lawyer.
The coursework helped expose Antwone to different best practices applied to marketing and non-profit work— it’s also what exposed him to the possibility of pursuing a career outside of law.
“During business school, in my small business practicum, where I consulted with different small businesses around the city, I learned that a lot of community organizations were struggling with their marketing,” he explains. So he worked to create social media campaigns to boost engagement and entice people to get involved in not-for-profit initiatives.
After graduating, Antwone decided to take a gap year with AmeriCorps. At the end of his program, he attended a networking event that connected him to his first job at the New York City mayor’s office as an assistant to the former New York City Chief Service Officer, Paula Gavin. Antwone embraced the new challenge and was quickly promoted to Communications and Marketing Manager. “That’s where I found my niche in terms of working with the intersection of communications and community engagement,” he explains. “It’s been an amazing opportunity to marry what I love doing creatively in terms of producing content and storytelling, but for the end goal of getting people civically engaged and inspired to join the fight for social justice.”
The Journey to Liberty Hill
After five years in New York City, Antwone was itching for a change of scenery, so he boxed his record collection, packed his bags and moved across the country to Los Angeles, where he supported himself as a freelance photographer. “I found myself busy with opportunities, but I didn’t feel as impactful as I wanted to be,” says Antwone. That’s why he started volunteering with various local organizations and expanding his network. One organization was Community Coalition, a Liberty Hill grantee founded by Congressmember Karen Bass, which led him to his first full-time job in LA as Deputy Communications Director for LA Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
Antwone’s run in social justice didn’t stop there. “The social justice landscape in Los Angeles is very small,” he explains. “A Power to Fly recruiter reached out. I I asked around my network and heard nothing but great things about Liberty Hill, so I took the opportunity to join the team.”
Now, three months in as the Deputy Director of Communications and PR, Antwone’s able to leverage his personal and professional interests for the greater good of his community. Although he’s new to the organization, he’s already started working with the team to make a bigger impact in LA County.
“This is the first time in my career that I am working with a full communications team, with systems, camaraderie and partnerships where we can support each other and not feel like we’re each working on an island,” he says. Currently, he and the communications team are focusing on highlighting stories from Liberty Hill’s grantee organizations and partners for the Upton Sinclair Homecoming Celebration. “Our work is really about making sure that every win really feels like a win, and that the people who are on the frontlines doing this work feel celebrated, because they so rarely are.”
One of the initiatives at Liberty Hill that Antwone enjoys working on includes transformative justice, focusing on prison reform and ending youth incarceration. Antwone strongly believes in the power of mentorship and highlighting Liberty Hill’s partnerships with Los Angeles-based sports teams and grassroots organizations to support boys and men of color. He’s also working closely with a coalition called Stand LA who, “after years of putting pressure on LA City Council, was able to get oil and gas drilling banned in residential areas– which mainly happen where Black and Latino residents live,” he explains. “So, we organized a press conference to commemorate it and let people know that there are people fighting for your health and well-being”
Making a bigger impact
Antwone loves working in social justice, but he’s also a big believer that you don’t have to have a non-profit career to make a positive impact in your community. “There are lots of ways to fight for social justice, if that’s important to you. Every organization needs volunteers and donations.” He also shared two tips to make the most of your career, no matter what role or industry you’re in:
Be intentional about your yes. “If you're becoming the type of person you want to be, people will always see the value that you bring, whether it's a job opportunity, a friendship, a relationship, or a professional networking situation,” explains Antwone. “But if you're intentional about the impact that you want to make, you have to be very selective about those relationships and opportunities. If it doesn't align with you and the person that you're trying to be, you really have to say no.”
Two out of three isn’t bad. It can be hard to weigh the pros and cons of each new opportunity, so Antwone suggests considering three things: “[When you consider an opportunity and you think about] learning new things, making more money, or gaining new experiences, if you can get two out of three, that’s probably a good opportunity.”
I have often said I don’t want our partners to just survive the pandemic, I want them to lead a
just reconstruction. And that’s what they are doing in communities across LA everyday—
fighting to advance, transform, promote and demand Justice for All.”
– Shane Murphy Goldsmith
- We fuel grassroots organizing and activists fighting for change.
- We prioritize building power in communities impacted by systemic oppression.
- We provide a community where donor activists can engage beyond their gift.
We will not rest until society provides equality and Justice for All. Download our 2021 Impact Report HERE
💎 If you're considering a career with Liberty Hill, then this is the video for you! Get valuable tips and prepare to interview for a position at the foundation.
📼 Watch this video and meet Courtney Kassel, Chief Communications Officer at Liberty Hill Foundation. Learn about the core values that drive their work and gain some insight into their hiring and interview processes.
📼 One of the first things you'll learn about Liberty Hill Foundation when you begin your interview prep is that it was founded on the concept of building people power and amplifying the voices of those closest to pain and injustice. This thread has been at the center of their work for the past 40 years, and they're as committed as ever to fighting for everyone who is marginalized in our society. But, like Courtney says, “At our core, we're a community.” And when you join Liberty Hill, you become a part of a growing team committed to advancing social change fueled by the values of solidarity, justice, transparency, collaboration, excellence, and inclusion. You also become a “Hiller” who recognizes that the fight for progress is a marathon, not a sprint. So bring your passion for the issues of racial justice, youth and transformative justice, environment and climate justice, economic and housing justice, and LGBTQ and gender justice to the table for your interview.
📼 When applying for a job with Liberty Hill, keep in mind that while each interview is unique to each role, the process typically includes a review of your resume by the HR team, followed by an initial phone screening interview conducted by an HR representative. Once a candidate moves past this phase, next comes the interview with the departmental hiring manager, followed by a panel interview conducted by relevant staff from various teams. Once a decision is made, an offer letter goes to the candidate to finalize the interview process.
Liberty Hill Interview Last Minute Tip
Go ahead and take a deep dive into the foundation’s website before your interview. The site has a wealth of information on their history, core values, and mission in Los Angeles. See their Impact page to learn about their recent successes and active campaigns. Go to their YouTube channel and other social media channels to get an inside look at past Liberty Hill events, press coverage, and other content, such as partnering grantee profiles. Definitely spend some time on the site to understand how the foundation works.
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Liberty Hill? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.