November 5, 2014 — Catalyst’s new #DisruptTheDefault campaign is a call to action for individuals and companies to make bold moves that forge meaningful change for women and men in the workplace—and the world! It’s also about showcasing how others are doing this in their lives and their companies.
Each and every one of us has the power to #DisruptTheDefault and change the way we think and act, and to challenge others to do the same.
Meet: Serena Fong, Vice President of Government Affairs at Catalyst. Prior to working for Catalyst, Serena was a television news producer for a number of broadcast news programs airing on national news networks, including ABC, Fox News, and MSNBC. Serena grew up knowing exactly what she wanted to do—but when she had a change of heart, she knew she needed to change her life as well.
How did you get into TV news in the first place—and when did you realize it wasn’t what you wanted to do?
From the time I was a high school freshman, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I was one of those kids: driven, focused, and, yes, a little intense, despite having grown up in an economically depressed city with low rates of college attendance. I had a plan, and I was determined to follow it. With the help of mentors and sponsors, I managed to build a successful career in television news. I was exactly where I’d planned to be; the hopes and dreams of a 14-year-old girl from Richmond, California, had come true.
And yet, ten years into my career as a news producer, I began thinking about life beyond the news cycle. Recognizing that finding a new career is a lengthy process, I thought about the issues that were important to me. I also considered how I could apply the skills and knowledge I had developed as a journalist, while fulfilling my desire to give back to my community.
How did you actually make the leap from where you were then to where you are now?
Three years after I’d begun thinking about getting out of the television industry, I left my job and was unemployed for the first time in my adult life. It took close to a year to launch my new career in the mission-driven nonprofit world. During that time, I gained an incredible amount of knowledge about myself and what I truly want to do with my life, as well as what I don’t want to do, which is just as important. I thought about what was important to me, what kind of job would allow me to apply the skills I had gained in my news career, and researched any and all possibilities, meeting with contacts and connections as often as possible. An informational interview set up through my personal network is what eventually led me to Catalyst, where I’ve been ever since.
While I’m happy with my current career path, I intend to continue challenging myself for years to come. Plans and goals can change, and it’s important to be open to change and let it teach you about your strengths and weaknesses.