Erica Williams Simon

Social Impact Strategist, Civic Innovator

Engages and supports the next generation of leaders in innovative social change.

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Biography

Erica Williams Simon is an award winning political strategist and advocate turned digital media maker, speaker, coach and writer. A World Economic Forum Global Shaper and the youngest appointed member of the Global Agenda Council on Social Media, her work focuses on sharing the ideas and practices that can lead to personal fulfillment and social change in today's youthful, diverse, digital world.

As Deputy Editor at Upworthy.com, the fastest growing media site of all time, Erica uses uplifting storytelling and data analysis to reach an audience of up to 30 million unique visitors each month. She is also a frequent contributor to TIME magazine, where she writes thoughtfully on social change movements, popular culture and values.

Prior to her media career, Erica spent nearly a decade in Washington's power circles building Millennial policy, communications and political engagement programs at the nation's leading progressive think tank, Center for American Progress. Called one of Politico’s Top 50 Politicos to Watch, she has worked closely with the White House on under-30 focused education, environmental, economic policy initiatives and was a key architect of the youth engagement strategy around President Obama’s successful campaign for health care reform.

She began her career at the nation's oldest and largest human rights coalition. She also served as senior strategist and director of Millennial engagement for a cutting edge digital accelerator that built online organizations for women, minorities and people of faith with membership in the millions.

Despite rapidly being regarded as one of the most promising national youth leaders and social critics, as well as an Aspen IDEAS Fellow, in 2012 Erica shifted her focus from politics to a more holistic approach to social change: using media and storytelling to help support the next generation of game changers.

Erica has since trained young leaders from the emerging Middle East centers of AbuDhabi and Dubai to Ivy League campuses. She has also consulted with Fortune 500 brands like Coca Cola — at the personal request of CEO Muhtar Kent — and media networks like BET and MTV on using pop culture to authentically engage Millennials in cause campaigns.

As a speaker, Erica shares her message on stages as diverse as Davos, PopTech, and TedX to Life is Beautiful music festival, national religious conventions and conferences, trade associations and campuses all over the country.

A committed social critic, the O Magazine Women Rule Leadership Award winner has appeared on MTV, BET, CNN, PBS, NPR, MTV & HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and her work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Washington Post, Huffington Post and ESSENCE magazine.

Erica still advises on pro-social cause initiatives and sits on the board of several organizations including the NPR’s Generation Listen. She has earned the praise of and support of everyone from White House Chief of Staff John Podesta to Russell Simmons to Cornel West, who famously called her “The Future”.

“Erica is one of the most important voices of our generation. She has inspired us, challenged us, taught us and guided us to a much better America. Simply put, she is brilliant!”
— Michael Skolnik, Political Director, Russell Simmons

“That girl right there? She’s the future. Speak, sister. Speak.”
— Dr. Cornel West, Public Intellectual, Philosopher, Princeton University

“Thank you so much for coming to talk to our students. They so rarely hear about their potential or, if they do, so rarely does anyone give them concrete advice about how to unlock it, and you did both! I know they appreciated talking to someone who encouraged them to get plugged into their communities and who came armed with many stories of people who have taken this advice and gone on impact their own communities in meaningful ways. ”
— Kacy Tillman, University of Tampa

“Erica is extremely talented and excellent at what she does. She is full of fresh ideas and insight and brings excellent energy. ”
— Alan Kahzei, Co-Founder, City Year/ CEO, Be The Change

“Erica was the perfect closing speaker for our Leadership Summit. Our audience resonated with her candid yet inspiring tone as she exemplified leadership by sharing her own experiences and prompting others to reflect on their own.”
— Amy, Executive Director, International Institute of Sustained Dialogue

Topics

Erica tailors each presentation to the needs of her audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest her range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

How can the power of storytelling change lives? What are the areas of personal growth that are essential to big social impact? What does Millennial leadership look like and how is it different than all the rest?  How can one fight fear, find purpose and create meaningful, values-driven work in today's world?

Erica is a highly sought after speaker on these topics and more. She is frequently asked to keynote on issues related to: connecting personal and social transformation, values, storytelling in a digital age and next generation leadership — the perfect storm needed to accomplish things that matter in today's diverse, youthful, digital world.

The Future of Storytelling for Social Impact

The Truth About Gen Y: Potential, Possibility and Purpose

Crafting a High Impact Message and Narrative

Using Your Voice to Change The World

From The Inside Out: Developing The Habits For Change

Videos

How To Tell A Story That Changes Your Life — Ant The World | Upworthy

Omaha Young Professionals Chamber of Commerce

How the Millennial generation is re-imagining the nature of political engagement | Pop!Tech

Feedback

An association of local government management:
She was wonderful.....!!! Great speaker, warm and authentic with a great and provocative message......and lovely to work with.

A major university:
Ms. Williams' presentation at our university was thought-provoking and inspiring. A diverse audience was engaged and energized by her discussion of successful youth activism across the United States. Ms. Williams is a gifted, charismatic speaker and it was a pleasure to have her visit our campus.