Forty Under Forty: Alex Rodriguez

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Alex Rodriguez

Director of Communications

United Way of New York City


BETTER THAN SELLING YACHTS

Fast fact: Tweet him @Alexrodrik


Alex Rodriguez leads communications strategy and implementation across all sectors for United Way of New York City, which works to help all New Yorkers access quality education and lead self-sufficient, healthy and financially stable lives. Previously he was manager of stakeholder communications for United Way Worldwide, supporting nearly 1,800 United Ways across the globe and managing major partnerships like Red Nose Day with Comic Relief and NBC. Rodriguez lives in New Jersey with his wife and son. “Alex digs deep into our data to truly ‘know’ and understand the motivations of our key stakeholders, so that how we share our story is tailored just for them – both in content and vehicle,” his colleagues said.

 

NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?

AR: I remember sitting in a (sales) meeting one day and we were literally talking about audience profiles for a yacht – a half-a-million dollar yacht. And I was like, “I can guess this off the top of my head right now: They’re rich white affluent men who have really young spouses, really like fishing but don’t actually fish themselves and have a proclivity for NASCAR.” At that moment when I realized what I was targeting ... these people can drop half a million dollars on a boat! I need to find something that when my son looks at me and says, “Dad what do you do?” I’m not like, “Well I sell really expensive boats to really affluent people.” So when I saw United Way, I was like, “OK, I wanna do this. Let’s see how this goes.”

 

NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?

AR: I think part of what drew me to the nonprofit space was that love of literacy, and reading and writing and really inspiring people to remember that there is power in knowledge. And in a time where if it’s not 140 characters I’m not going to read it – it becomes sort of scary. If we can get people empowered to take back reading ... whether it’s in English, Spanish, Portuguese – whatever you speak – Creole, it doesn’t matter, if you can at least get that going and start that thirst, I think we’ll all be in a much better place.

 

NYN: WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?

AR: The vocation of writing has sort of disappeared. People think because they can, that they can. We are charged with a certain level of trust that the stories and the narratives that we’re sharing are not only honest and exposed, but that the people which we’re talking about are also respected. Understanding, within the profession, the delicateness that is needed to do it effectively, to do it correctly, to do it honestly and to do it with integrity. I think people need to be reminded of that every once in awhile. The Kardashians don’t help.

 

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