In Conversation with Caroline, Cofounder of Be Clear

Three people are pictured sitting in chairs talking. There is bag on the floor near one of the chairs,

Be Clear and Caroline have been a long-time supporter of our work at The Kelsey, attending some of our early workshops as part of Together We Can Do More. As a Policy Communications Consultant, the team at Be Clear has researched and supported us in refining key messaging around our advocacy for a dedicated public funding source, in the state of California, for inclusive housing for adults with disabilities. With everything we do, we intentionally try to infuse disability justice into the broader community—read more about our Q/A with Caroline below.

1) We ask people on our team why they’re passionate about the work they do. What led you to a passion for public affairs, policy, and communication?

The intersection of policy and communications is a fascinating place. My favorite part of this work is helping individuals and organizations (like The Kelsey!) figure out how to tell their inspiring stories and communicate about complex policy matters in an easy to understand way. Policy and government work can often be challenging for people to relate to — I enjoy helping people connect to these issues, often by demonstrating how a specific policy or issue could affect their lives.

2) Before participating in our Together We Can Do More (TWCDM) initiative, was disability inclusion something you were thinking about personally, professionally, or at Be Clear? Where and where not?

Honestly, before my work with The Kelsey, disability inclusion was not something I was working on or very engaged with personally. As a firm, we strive to always be as inclusive as possible. Knowing that disability inclusion is such an important — and often underrepresented — issue we jumped at the chance to work with The Kelsey. As Bay Area residents, California’s housing crisis is always top of mind. But it wasn’t until our work with The Kelsey that we learned about the especially acute housing crisis for people with disabilities.This work has been very meaningful for us to broaden our understanding of the challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – both housing and beyond.

3) During your work with The Kelsey, what’s been most eye opening for you? How has your work with The Kelsey affected other projects you’re currently involved with? Has the lens through which you view inclusion expanded?

The most eye opening part of this work for me has been seeing how much these issues overlap and connect with others. While this is a population that is often not included or considered in broader policy discussions, I now come across many conversations where I see common themes around inclusion that can be applied to people with disabilities, and other groups as well.

4) Housing in San Francisco, and throughout the Bay Area is an important need many are advocating for, but disability isn’t often something people think about in this area. What are the best strategies for advocates and organizations who want to change that?

Telling the stories of the people who will actually be impacted by these changes. Even the most complex of issues can be understood broadly when told through a more personal perspective. Putting these stories front and center is always a powerful way to connect with people — and make an issue front and center.

5) Both housing and disabilities are policy and organizing issues that can be complex, technical, full of jargon, and even divisive for some. Any tips on how people can work to speak a more clear language and find common ground in issue areas like these?

Again, I think telling stories and sharing real experiences as examples of the policy impact can help to break down barriers and make this complicated topic relatable to a broader group. Everyone can relate to the need for a safe and convenient place to live that supports your lifestyle. When issues get too technical or controversial, taking a step back to find that common understanding is really important.