Staff Spotlight: Nichole Cruz Crafts Collateral Bringing Campaigns to LifeBy Shane Stahl • September 27, 2018 • 10:58 am
Graphic Designer and Video Manager Nichole Cruz has played a key role in creating powerful visuals that have been at the forefront of multiple campaigns, including Freedom New Hampshire, Yes on 3: Freedom for All Massachusetts, and Fair Anchorage. Nichole’s efforts have been featured in campaign materials like signs and flyers as well as fundraising emails and blog posts. Learn more about Nichole below, and click here to read previous Staff Spotlights from the Freedom for All Americans team!
FFAA: Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in New Jersey to a Mom and Dad who are both Puerto Rican. I grew up in Union City with my maternal grandmother and aunt for most of my youth, where I learned Spanish and a lot of other valuable life lessons. I have two younger half-siblings. I’ve always loved reading and learning, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Digital Design and Illustration from New Jersey City University. I decided to pursue graphic design because I am able to combine my love of learning with creative expression and use these skills for making the world a better place in many ways. I spend most of my time with my dogs searching for new parks and paths to explore whenever I’m away from my computer.
How did you get involved in the movement for LGBTQ non-discrimination?
I was first involved in the LGBTQ movement for nondiscrimination in college. Our Women’s Center had a really bad logo, so they eventually agreed to have a graphic design student recreate a new logo and branding for them. In addition to a new logo for the Women’s Center, we completed a logo revamp for another group: the LGBTQ Safe Zone. Having been a student at the campus for quite a few semesters, I previously had no idea about the Women’s Center and the various services they offered to our community, so it was very important for me to establish a visual presence through a prominent logo and consistent branding. Because of this work, I was chosen to design the invitation and event displays for our campus’ first-ever Lavender Graduation, the annual ceremony conducted on numerous campuses to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University.
Is there a particular moment you’ve experienced in your work that sticks with you? Why?
One moment I will never forget was our work in Anchorage in 2017 and 2018! I was involved in this campaign from the very beginning and really got to see how our work in Anchorage evolved into a tremendous victory. Folks on the ground said Fair Anchorage “looked” like a winning campaign, and others said our ads were “some of the most trans-inclusive ads ever used in a political campaign.” Having been a main contributor to this “look” makes me infinitely proud to use my abilities and skill to improve the lives of Americans both near and far.
What would you say to people who want to take action for LGBTQ equality? What are simple steps they can take?
Listen (this includes reading articles, research, keeping up with news, etc.) to LGBTQ people, especially those disproportionally prone to experiencing violence: transgender women of color. Look for local organizations in your area that you can volunteer for phone banks and canvassing—volunteers are always needed!!! READ or LISTEN to local/national news and keep a look out when you can call your senators, etc.
Why does nondiscrimination matter to you?
Nondiscrimination is important to me because freedom belongs to everyone. The thought of laws and regulations preventing anyone from pursuing employment, housing, education, etc. just because of who they love or how they feel or how they look is unsettling. Experiencing friends and family members who have to hide who they truly are from the people they love most is absolutely heartbreaking. No one should ever live with this fear and anxiety, whether personally or professionally.
Self-care is important in these fraught political times — what kind of self-care do you practice?
I personally enjoy time with my dogs! I have two large breed rescues who take up most of our apartment. I love to take them on walks and bake them homemade treats! If you don’t have a dog, you can always experience the love and joy of walking a dog in need by volunteering at your local pet rescue/humane society!