4 Podcast Interviews with Leaders Focused on Systemic Change

Hear directly from leaders, in their own words.

Two people wearing headphones sit at a table speaking into microphones
  • Team Schusterman

February 27, 2023

  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Gender and Reproductive Equity


Listen to four fascinating podcast episodes featuring interviews with our grantees on the frontlines of achieving criminal justice, shaping an equitable education system and advancing gender and reproductive equity.

Systemic change is complex, but many organizations are paving the way  toward long-term gains in gender, racial and economic equity across the United States. To advance this work, it is crucial to learn from the experiences of leaders championing these efforts. 

Listening to our recommended podcasts is a great way to start. Over the past few months, several of our grantees were featured as experts on four podcast episodes from Lemonada Media that go behind the news cycle and unpack the most pressing issues facing the U.S. today. Give these episodes a listen to hear key insights on:

  • Effective ways to keep our communities healthy and safe;
  • Restoring justice to our criminal legal system;
  • Addressing widespread student learning loss; and 
  • How and where abortion access shaped the U.S. midterm elections.

1. A Deep-Dive into Restorative Justice Models

The Issue: The United States has the world’s highest incarceration rates, yet our reliance on criminalization perpetuates rather than reduces harm. Organizers have long called on our criminal legal system to embrace restorative justice models—but what does effective restorative justice actually look like in practice?

Our Podcast Pick: “Creating Safety and Healing Without Prisons,” an episode of the podcast V Interesting with V Spehar, brings together renowned experts in the field of restorative justice in conversation about the success of existing restorative justice models and the steps we can take to bring about true public safety for our communities. 

Memorable Quote: “More and more people are waking up to the fact that the way we have been handling justice or trying to address harm in our communities just simply hasn’t been working.” -Danielle Sered, Executive Director of Common Justice

2. The Case for Eliminating Minor Fines and Fees in Our Legal System 

The Issue: For millions of Americans, the price of one traffic ticket can be the entryway to a never-ending cycle of poverty and criminalization. This cycle begins with unpaid fees—like that traffic ticket—which can lead to everything from a driver’s license suspension to the loss of voting rights. The penalties make it increasingly difficult to pay back the fees, leading to more punitive action. Particularly in communities of color, fines and criminal legal fees keep adults and juveniles alike tethered to the U.S. criminal legal system and barred from participating as full citizens. 

Our Podcast Pick: In this episode of V Interesting with V Spehar, “The Price We Pay the Legal System,” two experts from leading criminal legal reform organizations explain our legal system’s complex web of fines and fees, including why this system is so detrimental to both our citizens and our government, and what can be done to repair this injustice. 

Memorable Quote: "People recognize in any political environment that keeping people in the system solely on the basis of poverty, and continuing to punish people for being poor makes no sense for anyone." -Joanna Weiss, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Fines and Fees Justice Center 

3. Getting Students Back On Track

The Issue: Access to a quality K-12 education in our country is already inequitable—and that gap has only widened since 2020. New data shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has erased two decades of progress in math and reading skills for American elementary school students. How can education leaders and parents work together to address this learning loss? 

Our Podcast Pick: Host Andy Slavitt explores concrete solutions in this episode of In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt: “Two Ways to Help Kids Bounce Back from Falling Behind in School.” His guests are education leaders working both within and outside state government, and they highlight their key approaches to help get kids back on track in communities nationwide.

Memorable Quote: "We’re not just trying to catch out kids up and our families up. We’re trying to put them in an environment of thriving because that’s the only way that we’re going to change this for the longterm.” -Lakisha Young, Co-Founder and CEO of The Oakland REACH

4. Understand the Connection Between Your Ballot and Reproductive Rights 

The Issue: We cannot have true gender equity without equal access to reproductive healthcare in the U.S. After the fall of Roe v. Wade, access to abortion rights ended up on state ballots across the country during the 2022 midterm elections, with voters deciding on state measures either restricting or expanding abortion access, and electing federal candidates with the potential to determine nationwide abortion legislation. 

Our Podcast Pick: “Where Roe Shows Up on Your Ballot,” an episode of In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt, features two major abortion rights leaders, who explain how and where access to abortion rights was on the 2022 midterm ballot. These insights are key to understanding how voters have the potential to shape abortion access nationwide in future elections, both at the state and national levels. 

Memorable Quote: "Voters are coming forward not just to seize the vote, but to really understand in a deeper way that all of these down ballot elections really make a difference on whether our rights are real or not.” -Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director of URGE