April 15, 2014

David Zisser recently joined Public Advocates as staff attorney and the newest addition to our Metro Equity Team. As you will find out, this Pillar and Bay Area native is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with communities in his own backyard.

Q: Why did you decide to join Public Advocates?

I joined Public Advocates for a few key reasons. First, Public Advocates works on high-impact advocacy campaigns that help increase economic opportunity for low income communities of color by promoting equity in housing, land use and transit. That is my passion. Second, Public Advocates thinks about these issues in a deep, complex and regional way to get beyond surface-level solutions and create best practices. Third, Public Advocates does this work in a place that I love – I’m from the South Bay and went to school in San Francisco and Berkeley. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in my own community and with communities in my own backyard. Lastly, as a former intern, I know the type of people that work here – they are brilliant and dedicated, and I’m excited to be part of such a thoughtful and strategic team.

Q: What do you find satisfying about your field?

It’s definitely not that it’s easy to explain to my friends and family or featured in the news all the time, because it’s not. It can be wonky stuff. But it is satisfying partly because it’s complex and challenging. At the same time, this work is grounded in things that affect people every day and in profound ways – where we live and how that affects our access to good jobs, good schools, healthy food and a safe and healthy environment. But what keeps me motivated is collaborating with allies, coalition partners and communities that are passionate about achieving greater equity, no matter how hard the fight.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside work?

One of the best parts of being back in the Bay Area is all the naturaleza – I love hiking, breathing the smell of redwoods, and being by the ocean. I’ve missed it. I also think of myself as an urban bicyclist – I love riding in traffic and finding new bike trails. And I hesitate to admit that I have returned to playing in a weekly darts tournament in Berkeley, where I started my amateur competitive darts career 8 years ago before moving to the East Coast. But I am most excited about reconnecting with friends and family in California.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote?

A few quotes by big changemakers help keep me motivated. But Frederick Douglass captured the importance of being proactive and pushy in our advocacy: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”  One more, apparently an Aboriginal activist quote, about the centrality and difficulty of real solidarity: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

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