How to Communicate about Changing Demographics and Address Unconscious Prejudice

Emory University professor and recognized pollster Drew Westen will present findings from his recently completed national ethnicity, race, and immigration meta-issues project and share lessons on how to talk with the public about unconscious prejudice and the changing demographics of the U.S. Westen has found that there are multiple ways to talk about unconscious bias that Americans can “hear,” by creating a sense of unity and shared identity – “us” rather than “them.” His research challenges all of us to address the changing demographics in America head-on and lean into the race question in new and effective ways. Speakers:

  • Robert Bray, Director, Communications, NEO Philanthropy -- Robert Bray has worked at the intersection of strategic communications and social justice for more than 30 years. He is Director of Communications at NEO Philanthropy (formerly Public Interest Projects), where he oversees the Strategic Communications Initiative (SCI) at NEO’s Four Freedoms Fund (FFF). The initiative focuses on building the capacity of the immigrant rights field to engage the debate and move forward immigration reform and integration in America. In that capacity, Bray develops and funds strategies including message focus group and polling research; social media; strategic alliance building efforts between African American, LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) and immigrants; civic engagement communications; and responses to harsh enforcement and border communications. FFF also supports campaigns to change “hearts and minds” about immigration in receiving communities, including Welcoming America. Prior to NEO, Bray was director of communications for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in San Francisco. In 1997, Bray founded the SPIN Project, a media training resource for grassroots advocates. Before that, Bray was communications director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign Fund, in Washington, DC, during the 80’s and 90’s as AIDS and gay and lesbian rights exploded into the media headlines.
  • Drew Westen, Westen Research Strategies -- Drew Westen, Ph.D. is a psychologist and neuroscientist and Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University. He is also the founder of Westen Strategies, a strategic messaging firm. Dr. Westen is the author of three books and over 200 articles, including The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, which has influenced campaigns and elections around the world. Dr. Westen has done extensive work on immigration, and has particular expertise on speaking openly about racially and ethnically charged issues, particularly in regions (e.g., the South) where advocates often find themselves in search of the right words.