10 Questions with Roosevelt Institute's Sami Diaz


Guild member, and Roosevelt Institute staffer, Sami Diaz found herself in a work-study position during her time at Hampshire College. Feeling empowered knowing she was helping others, she followed that path. 

“I love working toward a mission I believe in,” she said. “I also like being able to leverage my writing skills in service of that mission. Further, working in development, you get an in-depth look at all of the programs going on around you and get to see how the work progresses and evolves.”

If she wasn't in her current position, she might have been a visual artist, off somewhere sketching and painting, or finding her 15 minutes of fame (she was an extra on an episode of HBO’s Girls).

1. If you weren't working in your field what would you be doing?
Growing up, I wanted to work in book publishing before digital changed the game. There was also a moment where I thought I would be a visual artist, so perhaps I’d be off drawing somewhere. 

2. Who's your favorite writer - living or dead?
Jonathan Lethem. His genre (fiction) and short stories are always at the top of my list. I remember reading As She Climbed Across the Table and thinking, “Wow, I want to write like this.”

3. What could your profession use more of?
Unrestricted funding.

4. Less of?
Repetitive guidelines, ancient online grant portals and one and done grant making.

5. Name something you've read recently that moved you most profoundly.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I read it for the first time this year and I was grappling with it for days.

6. What makes you hopeful about your field?
Knowing that the work that I'm doing has purpose, keeps the wheels spinning and the lights on. 

7. What worries you?
Working for a progressive organization, it's hard to balance resistance with a positive long term vision, especially when the future is chaotic and uncertain. I'm worried about what might come next and where we go from there. 

8. When you're not at work, what occupies your time?
I'm mostly a homebody, but I manage to find niche things to do around the city. I recently went to a lecture on horror in Christmas movies and television, which was awesome. I also like going to concerts.

9. Why is being in the Guild better than not being in the Guild?
With the Guild, you have such a strong community you can turn to, both in your workplace and in the larger network of like-minded people. 

10. If you could give someone starting out in your field one piece of advice what would it be?
Details matter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Develop a thick skin and learn to take criticism with grace. All of these are lessons I’m still learning myself.

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