Anna Bakalis is an Executive Vice President of 617MediaGroup. She is a veteran campaigner and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in the labor movement and 10 years as a journalist. As a communications strategist, she creates bold content that resonates with national audiences to influence public opinion and win campaigns.
At 617MediaGroup, Anna supports the labor movement and progressive allies by conceiving hard-hitting campaigns for our client partners, and leading a dedicated team of designers, writers and digital storytellers to implement communications plans and content across all platforms, whether it is online, social media, earned, paid or traditional media.
Prior to 617MediaGroup, she was the Communications Director at United Teachers Los Angeles and SEIU Local 1021. She was a lead architect for the LA Teachers strike in 2019, creating the battle cries echoed across the city and around the nation: California ranks 46 out of 50 in per-pupil funding; 80% of LAUSD schools do not have a full-time nurse; teachers pay $1,000 out of pocket each year for classroom supplies while the employer sits on $2 billion in reserves. Her messaging resonated with the community over the six-day strike, as 30,000 joined the 35,000 educators on the picket lines. They won the strike and shifted the power dynamics of a city and indeed the teacher union movement.
The PR, social media and campaign strategies that she designed and implemented leading up to and during the 2019 strike have been studied and used as a model for other unions.
Her multi-year, award-winning “We Are Public Schools” paid media campaign included billboards, radio, video and online ads showcasing the undervalued but heroic work of LA educators, students and parents. The campaign helped UTLA’s broader goals to fund and support public education, which has been gutted by privatization schemes in LA and across the nation. Her use of story-based strategies to create compelling messaging is rooted in her experience as a journalist.
As a former award-winning journalist at newspapers in New Jersey and in California, she knows how to get media attention not just for direct actions but research-driven projects. At SEIU 1021, she built a public pressure campaign in 2015 to keep the region’s only substance abuse clinic in Alameda County Medical Hospital open, where it remains open to this day. At UTLA in March 2021 she garnered two exclusive stories in the Washington Post and launched a national campaign to get the federal government to fulfill the promise made in 1975 to America’s students to fund IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) at 40% and to provide a free and appropriate education and evaluation of unique learning needs for all children with disabilities. The launch included a robust web site with a petition, social media and remote press conference with mothers of children with disabilities, disability rights advocates, academics and teachers, which garnered international media attention. This positioned the multi-year campaign well for a win in order to reverse decades of underfunding.
Her work history as a social, racial and educational justice advocate highlights her unique skills in fighting for a safe, fair and dignified work environment for all workers.
She is a proud graduate of San Jose State University, where she received a BS in Journalism. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, California with her family and two dogs. She loves swimming, hiking and collecting jazz records.