ON LEADING PODCAST • Episode #25 • June 20, 2024

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Episode #25

Katie Bethell

On Social Justice and Systemic Change

By Lori Brewer Collins

And the terrifying nature of blooming… 

Katie Bethell is a powerhouse in the world of advocacy, known for her relentless dedication to social justice and policy reform. With a career spanning roles at influential organizations like Change.org and WorkMoney, she has consistently pushed for systemic change to support vulnerable populations. Bethell’s passion for equitable workplace policies culminated in her founding of Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), a groundbreaking initiative advocating for paid family and medical leave. Beyond her organizational leadership, Bethell has transitioned to consulting, where she continues to lend her expertise to various social justice causes. Her journey reflects a deep commitment to creating a more just and compassionate society.

In 2016, Katie Bethell founded PL+US with the mission of securing paid family and medical leave for all U.S. workers. Under her visionary leadership, PL+US quickly became a pivotal force in the national dialogue on paid leave. Bethell’s strategic approach led to substantial policy changes, including the advocacy that pushed major corporations like Starbucks, Walmart, and CVS to enhance their paid leave benefits. Her efforts have directly impacted millions of workers, setting new standards in the corporate sector and serving as a model for future legislative efforts.

Before PL+US, Bethell’s impact at Change.org was profound. She joined the platform at a time when it was rapidly expanding its influence as a tool for social change. At Change.org, Bethell was instrumental in developing campaigns that addressed a wide range of social issues, leveraging the platform’s reach to amplify grassroots movements. Her work there not only enhanced the site’s impact but also demonstrated the power of digital advocacy in driving real-world change. Under her guidance, many campaigns saw significant victories, underscoring the potential of online petitions to mobilize public opinion and influence policy.

Katie’s journey also led her to WorkMoney, a startup focused on rethinking the future of work and financial security. As a co-founder, Bethell applied her deep understanding of social justice to innovate solutions aimed at improving financial stability for workers. WorkMoney’s initiatives sought to bridge the gap between traditional employment benefits and the evolving needs of the modern workforce, highlighting Bethell’s commitment to creating inclusive economic opportunities. Her work at WorkMoney demonstrated her ability to blend entrepreneurial spirit with social advocacy, striving to build a fairer economy for all.

Katie Bethell’s career is a testament to her unwavering dedication to justice and equality. From her early days at Change.org to her founding of PL+US and her current consulting work, Katie has consistently used her platform to advocate for those who are often unheard. Her efforts have not only advanced critical policies but have also inspired a new generation of advocates committed to building a fairer society. As she continues her work, Katie Bethell’s legacy is one of transformative impact, driving forward the cause of social justice with passion, integrity, and an unyielding belief in a better world for all.

Key Moments

  • The terrifying nature of blooming. The process of blooming, though often terrifying, can be thrilling as it represents a profound transformation. Embracing the unknown and stepping into new potentials can evoke a sense of exhilaration, turning fear into a powerful catalyst for growth and self-discovery.
  • Your company or idea doesn’t have to exist forever. You can make a lasting impact through stewardship rather than ownership. By focusing on what you’re stewarding—whether it’s the environment, a community, or a legacy—you ensure that your contributions endure, fostering a sense of purpose and continuity beyond your own existence.
  • We need more cheerleaders! Being a good cheerleader boosts morale, fosters a positive team environment, and enhances productivity. By providing support and recognition, cheerleaders help teams feel valued and motivated to achieve their best.

Katie Bethell

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