P.MAI Pioneer Spotlight: Emily Horne, Head of Global Policy Communications, Twitter

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Meet Emily Horne.

We had the chance to up with Emily while she was visiting Italy. She is one of those people who you would call if you were in trouble in a foreign country—she is incredibly poised and knowledgeable about foreign affairs after working as the assistant press secretary for the National Security Council. Now the fearless leader is using her communications skills to promote freedom of speech at Twitter. 


Tell us what you do. 

I oversee our global policy communications operations, which means running all public affairs and media relations related to our internal policies, like how Twitter deals with abuse and harassment online, to public policy positions like supporting Net Neutrality. A common theme throughout my career, whether I was in government, higher ed, or journalism, has been supporting freedom of expression at home and around the world. I am passionate about protecting and empowering all people to freely express themselves, even when that can lead to challenging conversations, because ultimately it is only through connecting with others that we can learn, grow, and evolve. Twitter has revolutionized the way people communicate and learn from one another, and I am proud to represent a company that both has such a strong commitment to free speech and approaches this issue with such care and thoughtfulness.

Before joining Twitter, you were the assistant press secretary for the NSC (cough, badass). How have your previous experiences prepared you for this role?

President Obama has said that public service is both a calling and a privilege, and I couldn’t agree more. I deeply believe in the importance of public service, and working on national security issues for over a decade was an incredible privilege and responsibility, never more so than when I was representing the United States overseas. I always joke that working in public affairs is the most fun job because you have carte blanche to call up any expert in your organization and ask them any question you want - but there’s some truth there!

But you have to walk before you can run, and I’m thankful that I had supportive environments early in my career in which I could safely learn basic but vital skills like writing a solid press release in under five minutes, running a meeting when you’re the youngest person in the room, and to never walk into your boss’ office without a notebook and pen.

What has been one of your biggest career challenges? How did you overcome it?

My tenure at the NSC included the 2016 election and transition, which was obviously a very intense experience for everyone involved, regardless of their political leanings. Even though I was a career civil servant and could have gone back to the State Department, I decided it was a good time to take a long break and then try out the private sector for the first time in my career. And while I was very lucky to get some good rest and time with family and friends after an intense couple of years, I went overnight from working in the White House to being unemployed, unsure of what I wanted to do next. I watched a lot of mediocre TV in my yoga pants. I learned definitively that I am not meant to be a stay-at-home parent. And ultimately, I wound up at Twitter in large part thanks to my community of former colleagues and friends who had undertaken their own transitions, shared their experiences, and generously offered their advice, support, and networks. The lesson from all of this: no person is an island. We all rely on our communities and our people, and we in turn are obliged to help our people when they need it.

What does women empowerment mean to you? How can we further it in our communities?

This is such a huge question, and so dependent on context! That’s actually good place to begin - start with asking women in a particular community or group what they need. What are the barriers, explicit or unspoken, that keep these women from achieving their full potential? And what in my own background and experience can I use to help make progress on these issues? This is a totally different mindset from a prescriptive, one-size-fits all approach to empowering women, and from the false dichotomy of “having it all” that sets everyone, not just women, up to fail at something.

I try to be particularly mindful of the *unspoken* rules, norms, and codes that hold women and minorities back. I have a toddler son, and my husband and I think a lot about how we can raise him to be aware of both the privileges and the attendant responsibilities he will likely have as a socioeconomically-fortunate white American male. I want him to be a natural ally and advocate for people who our culture has held back from their full potential.

Meet Emily Horne.

We had the chance to up with Emily while she was visiting Italy. She is one of those people who you would call if you were in trouble in a foreign country—she is incredibly poised and knowledgeable about foreign affairs after working as the assistant press secretary for the National Security Council. Now the fearless leader is using her communications skills to promote freedom of speech at Twitter. 


Tell us what you do. 

I oversee our global policy communications operations, which means running all public affairs and media relations related to our internal policies, like how Twitter deals with abuse and harassment online, to public policy positions like supporting Net Neutrality. A common theme throughout my career, whether I was in government, higher ed, or journalism, has been supporting freedom of expression at home and around the world. I am passionate about protecting and empowering all people to freely express themselves, even when that can lead to challenging conversations, because ultimately it is only through connecting with others that we can learn, grow, and evolve. Twitter has revolutionized the way people communicate and learn from one another, and I am proud to represent a company that both has such a strong commitment to free speech and approaches this issue with such care and thoughtfulness.

Before joining Twitter, you were the assistant press secretary for the NSC (cough, badass). How have your previous experiences prepared you for this role?

President Obama has said that public service is both a calling and a privilege, and I couldn’t agree more. I deeply believe in the importance of public service, and working on national security issues for over a decade was an incredible privilege and responsibility, never more so than when I was representing the United States overseas. I always joke that working in public affairs is the most fun job because you have carte blanche to call up any expert in your organization and ask them any question you want - but there’s some truth there!

But you have to walk before you can run, and I’m thankful that I had supportive environments early in my career in which I could safely learn basic but vital skills like writing a solid press release in under five minutes, running a meeting when you’re the youngest person in the room, and to never walk into your boss’ office without a notebook and pen.

What has been one of your biggest career challenges? How did you overcome it?

My tenure at the NSC included the 2016 election and transition, which was obviously a very intense experience for everyone involved, regardless of their political leanings. Even though I was a career civil servant and could have gone back to the State Department, I decided it was a good time to take a long break and then try out the private sector for the first time in my career. And while I was very lucky to get some good rest and time with family and friends after an intense couple of years, I went overnight from working in the White House to being unemployed, unsure of what I wanted to do next. I watched a lot of mediocre TV in my yoga pants. I learned definitively that I am not meant to be a stay-at-home parent. And ultimately, I wound up at Twitter in large part thanks to my community of former colleagues and friends who had undertaken their own transitions, shared their experiences, and generously offered their advice, support, and networks. The lesson from all of this: no person is an island. We all rely on our communities and our people, and we in turn are obliged to help our people when they need it.

What does women empowerment mean to you? How can we further it in our communities?

This is such a huge question, and so dependent on context! That’s actually good place to begin - start with asking women in a particular community or group what they need. What are the barriers, explicit or unspoken, that keep these women from achieving their full potential? And what in my own background and experience can I use to help make progress on these issues? This is a totally different mindset from a prescriptive, one-size-fits all approach to empowering women, and from the false dichotomy of “having it all” that sets everyone, not just women, up to fail at something.

I try to be particularly mindful of the *unspoken* rules, norms, and codes that hold women and minorities back. I have a toddler son, and my husband and I think a lot about how we can raise him to be aware of both the privileges and the attendant responsibilities he will likely have as a socioeconomically-fortunate white American male. I want him to be a natural ally and advocate for people who our culture has held back from their full potential.

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