Last Days with United for a Fair Economy

Technically, next week is my last with UFE, but I am so humbled to know I’m still wanted here.

Every day spent in the office, I could count on my co-workers to travel from room to room offering fruit, humor, and genuine concern. They’ve all showered me with nothing short of compassion and laughter — as if I was a permanent addition to the team.

And actually, my supervisor offered to extend my term with payments coming directly from the organization. Initially, I was shocked. Being offered a job alongside such hardworking individuals is not an everyday occurrence.

Of course, I am thrilled to have this as an option. It is so affirming to know that my co-workers appreciate me as much as I appreciate them, but because of my positive experience here, I’m bound to expect too much in the future.

Most of my peers express frustration over their internships; so going forward, I will have to reframe my eagerness and temper whatever hopes I may have.

The support system I have at UFE is not promised, but thankfully, I have learned so much that I can take with me.

In just three months, I realized what was most important to me in the workplace. I thrive best in an environment that is constantly changing and keeps me on my toes. Typical desk jobs simply cannot satisfy me, since I get too tired of routine and need to have my mental capacity put to the test.

For anyone considering this internship or a similar one, I have three pieces of advice:

  1. You cannot specialize. Non-profits such as this one have limited resources and require each person to take on a variety of tasks. If you aren’t a team player, non-profit work either isn’t for you OR it could be good practice.
  2. Be prepared to get creative and execute your own projects. Sure, there’s plenty of work to be done already, but in the summer months, there tend to be lulls in activity.
  3. And LASTLY, non-profit work exposes you to an unrealistic amount of wonderful people. If the real world is as harsh and unforgiving as adults make it out to be, then you and I both are due for a VERY rude awakening.

Ashley Loc

Beyond Donor Relations

Interning with United for a Fair Economy has been such a rewarding experience. Before I began, I assumed that I would simply be doing the grunt work, but the staff repeatedly set aside meaningful work for me.

From the past two months, I know how frustrating it is for an organization to be understaffed, but this has created so many opportunities for me. Because UFE is so small, I am able to explore the many different departments within the world of nonprofits and actually see the difference that I am making.

Technically, my job description falls under Development, but my supervisor has been so patient and accepting — always encouraging me to venture beyond donor relations. So, whether I am working with Popular Education or Accounting, I am pleased to lighten the loads of those around me.

* In Development, I am writing thank you letters to major donors, foundation heads, as well as average citizens like me. Before starting at UFE, I believed that focusing your efforts on the few people already at the top of the donor pyramid was the most logical route to take.

In reality, the individuals that donate smaller sums but do so faithfully over the years are just as valuable. Not only do these individuals stick with UFE through tough times, but they also give at the highest level they can. In fact, these donors are often the ones to leave UFE large bequests after they pass away and no longer need their savings. But unfortunately, it is so easy to overlook these individuals while they are still alive.

That’s why the Development team invests so much energy into creating a personalized experience for all of our supporters, and why I promise to treat every client with equal attention regardless of the career path I take.

* Accounting – Since day one, I have been processing all the checks and credit card information that have come through the mail. This includes making copies, organizing files, and plugging in all the numbers into a database, all of which may sound tedious, but are so necessary. Especially with the upcoming audit, everyone is scrambling to make sure all the numbers match up, and I have been able to try my hand in the world of finances.

Every day this past week, I have been helping with reconciliation — which includes the task of searching through a half year’s worth of data on multiple servers and assigning certain data points with ones that do not seem to be related at first glance. The task is a time-consuming one, but it forces me to pay close attention and deduce information from different sources. Especially since my HSSP major will require statistics, this is great preparation!

While the skills that I am learning this summer are great ones to have, I have also realized that neither Accounting nor Development are very good fits for my personal needs. Sure, I am enjoying myself every day in Boston, but if my co-workers weren’t so good-natured, I doubt I would be able to say that. I’m starting to learn that my results on the Myer-Briggs evaluation (ENFJ) aren’t too far-fetched after all. I simply cannot work behind the scenes every weekday; I need to be more on the forefront of change, and I’m glad that I learned this NOW rather than later.

Ashley Loc

The Lifelong Struggle towards a Just Economy

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) has been active for more than 20 years, but our cause has only been in mainstream conversation for 10. Though, it is important to note that things didn’t suddenly get bad — they’ve been bad. Ever since President Ronald Reagan introduced trickle-down economics, the wealth divide has only become deeper.

Thankfully, there are plenty of wealthy donors that we can pay homage to, but not every millionaire helps fund libraries and schools. Too many make irresponsible decisions; and even if we place taxes on gold or sports cars, we’d be punishing mechanics and jewelers — not the 1%.

Therefore, progressive taxes offer the only route towards a more equitable economy. Regardless of whatever counterarguments you may have heard.

One of my closest friends asked what a “fair economy” even entails, and it’s quite simple. UFE’s goal is not to have every bank account hold the same value; we are working so that everyone can live on a respectable income.

It’s simply not acceptable that the wealthiest 400 households can afford to buy a new car for every household in the country. And it’s not justifiable when $40,000 is a Bachelor’s degree for one person and a bottle of champagne to another.

Instead, we believe in an economy where each individual’s tenacity has real value — and not just the illusion of it.

For decades, UFE and its supporters have acknowledged that reliable infrastructure and social welfare programs are vital to a nation’s success. Those in office may sweep the issues under the rug or minimize the consequences, but our economy’s health lies in our collective well-being, not just that of major CEOs and heiresses.  

We are constantly reframing and rephrasing certain issues, because with just this simple task, one would be amazed by how many people suddenly care. Politicians and academicians have created significant barriers to understanding the way our economy works, and UFE is devoted to creating a level playing field.

For example, there are still many low-income families that are against the idea of an estate tax because they believe that they would be negatively affected by it. In reality, you and I both know that an individual would need millions before the tax comes into effect, but many at the top feed off of misinformation.

And not only is jargon to blame. There are instances where it is clear that legislators are hoping to create a one-sided response. Take the Right to Work law for example. The document was made to sound like a basic virtue, but really, it gives power back to corporations. The law has defunded labor unions considerably and affected their ability to function effectively.

But again, that’s simply not clear, and those that are most affected by such laws simply don’t have the time to do extensive research. These are the individuals that are busy sustaining our country’s foundation, and we owe it to them to take such matters into our own hands.

Especially during times like these, UFE rallies progressive individuals in the top 5% and forces politicians to listen. And while these 5%ers are the ones receiving the most benefits, the need for a more sustainable economy trumps self-interest.

Ashley Loc

The Intersection Between Art and Politics

While explaining paintings at the Rose Art Museum on campus may not seem like a task that would translate to the world of development, I have found that the two jobs are one in the same.

Just a year ago, it was natural for me to see a stern, expressionless face and steer clear; but after just one shift at the Rose, I realized how unfair these judgments were. In our society, we are expected to be friendly (but never intimate), social (but never curious), and when a stranger deviates from the trend, we are too quick to write them off as entitled or aloof.

Once two individuals are placed in just the right context—whether that is in front of a canvas or a picket sign—the world starts to make a little more sense.

And communication is key for anyone working for United for a Fair Economy. We are constantly reaching out to donors, foundation heads, disenfranchised communities; we have people on the phone explaining specific laws, leading workshops on the wealth divide, and so much more.

So, when it comes down to it, there is simply no room for any of us to just assume that the person on the other line doesn’t care about our cause. Instead, it is our job to frame our thoughts and mission statement in such a way that inspires others to act!


As you probably already know, the zip code we start with almost always dictates where we end up; a “can do” attitude is only part of the equation.

Quite simply, millions of Americans deserve better. They deserve more than a society that deems them as inherently lazy. They deserve more than just stories of opportunity.

Because how much can any child accomplish when the only meal they can depend on is their school lunch?


Working at the Rose has made me so much more open-minded, even when I didn’t think that I had much room to improve on that front. (I do go to Brandeis after all.)

Though, when I don a uniform, I have to treat every visitor with the same level of kindness and be whatever they need at that moment. Sometimes, that means I’m giving spiritual advice or big bear hugs. Sometimes not.

But the ability to treat every shift on a case-by-case basis? To improvise and pick up on what the other person expects? That is vital whenever you are representing an organization—and United for a Fair Economy is no different.

As development members, it is our job to tailor each donor interaction and ensure a steady, reliable string of communication. We have to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions and occasionally dismantle long-held norms–which can be challenging, but makes every hour all the more exciting!


Although I just made a big deal out of not jumping to conclusions, I have a feeling that I know a little something about YOU. If you care or are scared about our world right now, I get that.  I suggest finding the geographic gems that make your heart sing. Maybe even pay a visit to the Rose. (If you find me there, I’ll happily discuss the fact that we are highlighting artists of color and women in the art world or how we had an exhibit showcasing the economic environment in sub-Saharan Africa.)

I want to be a part of an amazing experience; and that’s what development and social justice are all about.

Ashley Loc

United for a Fair Economy: Philanthropy Demands More


When financial systems continue to oppress and policymakers walk hand in hand with corporations, we must ask ourselves if we are truly making as big a difference as we would like to believe. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to admit that pinning on a ribbon does nothing, but assessing the situation is so necessary.

It’s not enough to just peruse through info-graphics and sign the occasional petition; society demands so much more from us now.

A majority of us genuinely desire an inclusive community, so we can’t keep opting for slick solutions — our politicians are already following that route!

And this is precisely why I decided to intern at United for a Fair Economy this summer. I was tired of feeling like just another statistic, helpless and unheard. So, for these three months, I will be focusing my energies on the systemic causes of our political reality and work at the forefront of change.

This organization caught my attention in particular because even in high school, I had seen its logo at the corner of many educational materials. It was clear that this was a group that has affected real change and could project its message across many different wavelengths.

For 20 years, UFE has been one of our nation’s primary coalition builders, mobilizing activists across the country. The staff and its partners tackle economic inequality and advocate for a world without institutionalized racism, exorbitant CEO compensation and tax breaks for millionaires.

“Okay, that’s great and all, but what’s happening behind the scenes? We get the mission statement, so what is UFE actually doing to accomplish these goals?”

So far, my experience with the group has only been positive, since it seems as though the UFE office is one of the few hopeful corners of Boston (that is still intact.) Everyday, I have the privilege to brainstorm alongside individuals from all walks of life, and get a preview of a world we are aiming to create. One in which each worker is treated with dignity, regardless of skin tone, education level, or citizenship status.

We have been featured in many major publications, because of UFE’s annual report “State of the Dream” and an unwavering commitment to create a more level playing field. At any given moment, UFE has employees on the road, working from the ground up.

UFE offers training and support for individuals that do care but simply cannot comprehend the economic jargon that makes public policy so inaccessible. We use popular education methods, break language barriers, and connect leaders with the resources they need.


Just today, I finished my first week in the Boston office, but I am already getting a feel for the people around me and the mission that ties them together. As of now, I am drafting a thank you letter to send to foundation heads, working on distributional material, and updating UFE’s database.

Occasionally, I am assigned more secretarial tasks (like running to the bank or punching in numbers), but I ultimately acknowledge that this clears up some of the responsibilities of those around me. By taking on the copying machine every now and then, I’m allowing for others to make real change, and that in itself means so much to me.

In the coming weeks, I will be developing an e-mail series designed to increase all-around activism, as well as a monthly donation system.

UFE stands for values that many of us can get behind, and I finally feel like I’m taking a stand against the leaders that are trying to tear us down.