Young Change Makers: Why and How Emily Schrader of Social Lite Creative Is Helping To Change Our World
Being humble in your professional achievements doesn’t pay off. Demand recognition when you put the effort in. Young professional women are frequently overlooked and we aren’t taught to take credit even when credit is due. Don’t allow others to take credit for what you do, be proud of what you have to offer.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Schrader.
Emily Schrader is a journalist, social activist and content creator with over a decade of experience in the field. She is a Jerusalem Post columnist, and the CEO of Social Lite Creative, a digital marketing and consulting firm in Tel Aviv. She is also a frequent lecturer and commentator in both the Israeli and international press, and has advised lawmakers in the US, Israel, Canada, and the UK on online hate speech policies, and was instrumental in getting Holocaust denial banned across social media platforms.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Sure, I grew up with kind of a strange childhood compared to most Americans. I was an elite level figure skater so I actually traveled a lot and lived apart from my family. I trained in Colorado Springs, CO, but my family is from Los Angeles. I graduated from high school at 16, and got my bachelors degree at USC, then my Master’s degree in Political Communications at Tel Aviv University. Throughout my childhood, I was fiercely independent and that really laid the groundwork for a lot of the work I do today, including making Aliyah and moving to Israel permanently. My childhood really made me unafraid to speak out when I see something wrong.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Believe it or not, the organization that had the most impact on the work I do today was the “Students for Justice in Palestine” on my campus at USC, who made me realize how obscene and irrational the obsessive hate against Israel is on American campuses. It happened during their “apartheid week” when they set up a mock “apartheid wall” that is supposed to be the Israeli security barrier which was built to prevent suicide bombers. When I saw this on campus riddled with misinformation about Israel, I knew I had to fight back. This ultimately led me to get far more involved in Jewish life on campus including Hillel and Chabad and of course, led to my activism for Israel.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
For me, making a difference means that I am able to make meaningful changes to correct or repair a problem that impacts many people. For example. I was instrumental in pressuring social media platforms to explicitly ban Holocaust denial. As one of the leaders in combating online antisemitism, I’ve witness for years how prevalent Holocaust distortion and denial is in the Arab world and the West. So I worked with lawmakers and government ministries together to draw attention to the failures of social media platforms to remove Holocaust denial. In the end, we succeeded, but there is still a lot more work to do to fight hatred against Jews online.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
So my organization, or rather my company, is a female-led digital marketing company that works with Jewish and pro-Israel nonprofits to help shape Israel’s story — in particular online. We saw through our collective experience that one of the main battlefronts for Israel is on social media, and decided to team up to combat the massive misinformation campaign we see occurring today. Today I am proud to say that we’ve worked with over a dozen leading organizations and individuals in the fields of Israeli high tech, medicine, cybersecurity, military, government, advocacy, and policy to shape how the world thinks about Israel.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
After witnessing how inaccurate the reporting was on Israel in 2008, 2012, 2014, and subsequent flare ups between Israel and Gaza, I saw the rise in antisemitism as a result over time. I started initially by tracking the rhetoric and misinformation, but over time I knew I had to come up with creative ways to combat the misinformation as well, methods that speak to activists as well as ordinary people who don’t really know anything about the Middle East. Today I develop strategies and messaging that speak to diverse audiences and answer the tough questions.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. We don’t always get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I’m not sure I had a specific Aha moment, it was more of a gradual process. In university I realized there was a need to speak out boldly for Israel and that there was a deep, irrational obsession with the Jewish state. Later on, I realized that I had a gift through social media and communications that could be used to educate the public. That passion has grown over the years and at various points and after various events, such as the war with Gaza in 2014 and 2021, I saw just how critical seeking factual information is. When people are misinformed on hot button issues, it can quickly escalate into real world violence, which is what we saw in the summer of 2021. Exaggerated accusations are made against Israel and Jews around the world unfortunately become a target. Not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, but criticism of Israel is used by antisemites as a cover and excuse for their beliefs and activities.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
I quit my job! No seriously — I agonized for years over quitting my job, I thought I needed the security but the truth is I was only able to reach my goals when I stopped spending the majority of my life doing the work for the vision of others. It’s confusing and intimidating but following your passion pays off in the end.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I would say that one of the most interesting things that’s happened to me is that I got to be a part of an entire region of the world changing. Through the Abraham Accords, I’ve seen hearts and minds of Arabs in the region change completely just as a result of building friendships and yes, even connections on social media. While most of my life is spent trying to fight extremism on social media, it’s also important to point out that it can be a tool to connect as well. None of the people to people peace we experience as Israelis with our Emirati and Bahraini and Moroccan counterparts would be possible without social media. Through my company and my work, I am privileged to have met hundreds of Arabs throughout the region and have real conversations about Jews and Israel.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
I’m not sure if it’s a mistake, but the first time I ever did a TV interview in Hebrew, which is not my native language, I absolutely bombed it! Learning Hebrew was a huge challenge for me and in some circumstances, continues to be. When I was leading the #AdoptIHRA campaign to get Holocaust denial banned on social media, I did a live TV interview in Hebrew and practiced everything I wanted to talk about ahead of time. Unfortunately, I kind of ate my words and forgot what I was saying in the interview itself. The biggest takeaway I got from this was to forgive myself and be able to laugh at your own mistakes.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
I would say that my biggest professional supporters were my business partner Zina Rakhamilova who has always had my back and continues to be an inspiration. It’s really a blessing to be able to work with somebody as passionate and driven as you about making the world a better place and leading our company to an amazing place where we can make meaningful change, empower other women to be leaders, and support our country — Israel. I also depend on the support of my fiance Yoseph Haddad, who is always there for me personally and professionally and encourages me to be even better in every way.
Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Last year I sang at the first ever memorial day event for fallen soldiers from the Arab-Israeli sector. It was held at the only monument in the state of Israel for fallen IDF soldiers. I took part in the event as part of Together Vouch for Each Other, the organization founded by my fiance, Yoseph Haddad. We put on the event in partnership with the father of one of the fallen soldiers. Though I didn’t know any of them, I performed two songs at the event, one of which was in Arabic. The father of one of the fallen soldiers was so moved by my song in Arabic he started crying. Obviously it was a very emotional moment for me to be able to honor his son who fought for our country and gave his life. I will never forget it.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
If I had to focus on only three things, I think that the government and the society needs to hold social media companies accountable when it comes to allowing hate speech to proliferate the way it does online. These companies developed algorithms that encourage dangerous, conspiratorial content that feeds vulnerable minds more extreme content. I know that they have been working to improve this but it runs counter to a business model that’s aimed at getting the user more involved, so there needs to be adequate oversight in some capacity to ensure that social media platforms generally aren’t contributing to the downfall of democracies. Now obviously that’s a very broad answer, but to narrow it down to my topics, online antisemitism can be stopped, or better yet, used as an educational tool by those with the power to create these algorithms and monitor this content. Social media platforms need to do this, and society needs to start caring about the toxic rise in antisemitism and the normalization of extremist views against Jews.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).
The 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started are:
1. Being humble in your professional achievements doesn’t pay off. Demand recognition when you put the effort in. Young professional women are frequently overlooked and we aren’t taught to take credit even when credit is due. Don’t allow others to take credit for what you do, be proud of what you have to offer.
2. Ask for a raise. Always. Again, women are often uncomfortable asking for raises because they don’t think they deserve it, whereas men ask even when they know they don’t. Ask anyway. This will also prevent you from being taken advantage of in the workplace. I had an employee once who was exceptionally talented in her field but it was her first job. She proposed a salary that was far too low and my supervisor (before I started my company) accepted. As her direct supervisor, I demanded she go back and renegotiate. Don’t let an employer take advantage of you and know your worth, and if an employer can’t see it? It’s not a job worth having.
3. It’s okay to be uncertain. This was a big one for me because I love certainty, but going after your passion leads to an overwhelming amount of insecurity when it comes to a steady salary, career path and more. Don’t expect to understand how to get to your goal immediately, and it’s even okay if that end goal shifts a little bit. Take one day at a time.
4. Take breaks. When you become your own boss and you are passionate about your cause and what you do, it can consume you. Remember that you also need down time and leisure time. If you don’t, your body will eventually force you to. I didn’t take a vacation for almost 7 years, and eventually I was diagnosed with MS. While it’s not a direct causation, pushing yourself to the point of physical break isn’t worth it. You have one life, and you will make more of an impact when you pursue balance and happiness than 24/7 work.
5. Stay focused. I fight for a cause that seems to be never-ending, and sometimes there is major progress in the fight against antisemitism and sometimes there are set backs. Don’t let either derail you from your purpose.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Spending so much time on the internet has given me a fantastic understanding of how horrible humanity can be. The truth is that a lot of people are apathetic at best, the world needs more people who care about improving life for all of us. If we can turn the internet into something positive, we can certainly turn the world into something positive too!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I think the person I’d most like to have lunch with is Masih Alinejad. I think the work she does for the advancement of women in Iran is phenomenal and it’s occurring and a much needed point in history. I would love to be able to learn from her about advancing a movement, in particular through social media.
How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook, Emily Schrader
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Young Change Makers: Why and How Emily Schrader of Social Lite Creative Is Helping To Change Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.