Know Your Hubber: Zoë Reiter
Job Title and Organization
Interim Representative to the US and Senior Project Leader
Tell us what problems your organization is trying to solve and how they are doing that.
We’re trying to tackle corruption in its broadest sense, which is the abuse of power for private gain, legal or otherwise. I’m here in the US trying to figure out how Transparency International (TI) can support actors here tackling domestic corruption and better link them with TI’s national chapters and programs around the world to amp up international anti-corruption efforts.
How do you help in doing this?
These days, I see my role as connecting to amplify. In other words, I get the right people around the table to figure out how to better move the needle on issues of shared concern. Relatedly, I’m working to develop an approach that takes on the narratives of power that only serve the interests of the corrupt. I guess what I’m trying to say is that evidence-based advocacy has hit the punditry wall - it's a very high wall to scale and it can’t be scaled by facts alone. Many Americans across party lines are unsettled by the sense that the political system is not adequately serving the people’s interests - that’s likely in part why the call to "drain the swamp" or the statement that "the system is rigged" has so much lift. But simply tackling "the swamp" with evidence-based advocacy is not enough to break through partisan walls that are highly protected by media pundits. We need new narratives that engage people beyond the party line, beyond the urban/non-urban divide, and beyond the color line. As a New Yorker who has been tackling corruption issues in Latin America and around the world, it is tremendously exciting for me to come home, as it were, and work with some of the amazing folks here in the US to figure out how TI can contribute.
If I could organize an event at the Hub, it would be...
An afternoon Latin music rave every Thursday.
What do you like most about being a part of the Hub community?
I just said "hi" to Andrew at Development Gateway. Thirty seconds later, we realized that I might be able to connect our Senegal chapter to their new project grant on open contracting. This happens more often than you can imagine (you know, people throwing money at me...no not really).
What's the one topic you always wanted to find out more about?
Blockchain. I know that it's the flavour of the year, but I think TI needs to get its head around the potential impact of blockchain in reality and not in the male fantasy sort of way
Where is the most fascinating place you’ve traveled?
Guyana. It felt so, so far away. It feels forgotten by international development and democracy folks. I helped set up a chapter there with some very, very courageous people.
What keeps you motivated?
Corruption pisses me off. It's enough to get me out of bed in the morning.
What is the one book or article that inspires you?
“Strangers in Their Own Land", by Arlie Hochschild, which represents her research from years of working with communities in Louisiana to try and explain the paradox of why people would vote against their economic interests for populists like Trump. Hochschild is able to show how what she calls people's "deep story" determines how they interpret reality.
If you could have another career—sky’s the limit—what would it be and why?
A stylist for film.
It may surprise you that:
- I won $500 on Sabado Gigante way back when (back before video clips were available...but there is a tape!)
- I'm single!
- My hobby is fancy napkin folding!
I can’t live without:
- My friends and family