Aaron Wolfson ’14 taps the power of digital communication to advance social justice.
Aaron Wolfson ’14 has always known that his life’s work would focus on social justice, and now his professional career is evolving into a philosophy: “How can I be authentic to the people I’m helping uplift?”
At Simmons, Wolfson focused on gender studies and political science. In a pivotal first class, “Gender & Politics,” led by political science Associate Professor Leanne Doherty (later his advisor), he was inspired by the fusion of these issues and motivated to then study “politics through the social justice lens.”
In his senior year, and starting with an internship with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Wolfson shifted from academics to advocacy work. He continued with Freedom for All Massachusetts, raising support from business and community groups for the 2016 state ballot initiative protecting trans-peoples’ rights in public places, which became law and was upheld in 2018.
In his senior year, and starting with an internship with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Wolfson shifted from academics to advocacy work.
Since January 2016, Wolfson has been on staff at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts, where he manages digital communications. The private advocacy group is a state affiliate of the national organization focused on areas including economic justice, freedom of expression, and LGBTQ issues. From his office in Boston, two issues have evolved in importance for him: immigration and criminal justice reform.
As a communications professional, he knows that personal stories resonate with and inspire the public, such as a video of a mother and her adolescent son reunited after several months of separation. “The blessing and the curse of a lot of things I work on is the overlap.”
To address issues of wrongful drug convictions, and often jail time, stemming from faked lab testing and results, Wolfson launched a statewide advertising campaign. The goal was to inform affected individuals of their legal rights and the resources available to them, but it evolved into a platform for some to share their own stories and advocate for others.
In the world of digital communications and 24-hour news cycles, Wolfson regularly uses software analytics to review online communications: What issues are audiences interested in, and how are they responding to and engaging with social media? While being timely is important, Wolfson stresses that doesn’t negate the need to ensure that the content and position of the message is targeted and correct. Wolfson uses other forms of digital media, video, blogs and webpages when a deeper dive is needed as part of a public awareness or education campaign.
To keep things in perspective, he focuses his work on “seeing the forest for trees.… How do I reach people, how do I educate, and how do I get people to connect?”