Lauren Hartnett ’06

DEGREES: B.A. in American studies, minor in human rights studies; M.S. in global affairs with a focus on human rights and humanitarian intervention, New York University

JOB TITLE: Humanitarian press officer at Oxfam America

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: There is no way to choose just one. Reading and talking with friends on the quad, exploring Hartford, our secret pet rabbit named Bunny Garcia, and, of course, meeting my husband, Walt, senior year.

What is Oxfam America?
Oxfam is a global organization that is devoted to ending poverty and injustice. Oxfam responds to urgent humanitarian crises and supports long-term development through direct response, partnerships with local organizations, and targeted advocacy with leaders in the United States and around the world. Our U.S. headquarters are in Boston.

What does your job entail?
My job is to work with my colleagues based where some of the worst humanitarian crises around the world are unfolding and to communicate to the media what they’re seeing and how Oxfam is responding. Our goal is to share our experiences and expertise with reporters so they are better able to report on these crises, how the United States is responding to them, and also how their audiences can learn more and get involved. I’m also able to travel to see our work and to meet with colleagues firsthand; during my three years with Oxfam, I’ve been able to travel to Haiti, El Salvador, Lebanon, Thailand, Nigeria, and South Sudan. I spent a month in South Sudan recently as part of our famine response — right now, 100,000 people there are in famine, and millions more families there and in Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen are on the brink.

How did you get started in your field?
It really began when I was growing up. My mom was very involved with community service projects with a global focus — she led the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and other initiatives in our town. I was always very involved in groups like Amnesty International, the group SUSHI (Students to Unite Science and Humanitarian Interests) at Trinity, and more. My first job after college was with a small nonprofit in NYC called Project Sunshine, where I worked in fundraising and communications. I then worked for the International Rescue Committee focusing on digital communications before moving to Boston and joining Oxfam.

What do you enjoy most about your position?
I’m really lucky that I feel like I’m making a difference when I go to work. What I value most is the opportunity to work with Oxfam colleagues, local partners, and the communities we serve around the world. I am surrounded by different languages and accents and cultures every single day, which is a beautiful thing.

What are the biggest challenges you face?
The biggest challenge I face is getting enough attention for the people who need urgent help. Especially in recent months, it’s hard to break through the fast-moving, politics-driven news cycle. So many of the problems we are facing feel so huge and so far away that it’s hard to convince people that they can fully understand them or make a difference. It’s our very difficult job to remind people that those in a place like South Sudan want and feel the same things as us — and that our attention, empathy, donations, and requests for our elected officials to act on their behalf can make a difference and save lives.

How did your experience at Trinity help prepare you for what you do now?
My classes in human rights and international law were the perfect foundation for my degree at NYU and serve me well every day. The Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement also offered great opportunities to stay interested and engaged with these issues. Perhaps most importantly, success in my role relies on my ability to write and communicate clearly and compellingly with colleagues and the media — skills that were emphasized and honed during my years at Trinity.

For more information about Oxfam America, please visit