Helping Brands Create Change

An Interview with Greg Propper, founder and president of Propper Daley

Lawrence Bluestone
For those people contemplating working in social justice: the world needs you now more than ever.

For those people contemplating working in social justice: the world needs you now more than ever.

LordHenriVoton/E+ via GettyImages

In 2012, Greg Propper founded Propper Daley, a social impact agency that works with individuals, brands, and organizations on social impact strategy and corporate social responsibility. Below, Greg discusses why he founded a social impact agency and shares his advice for young lawyers who want to pursue a career in social justice. 

How did you go from law school to social impact work?

My background is in politics and non-profits. After law school, I helped found and ran Be the Change—a group focused on organizing impact campaigns around social issues. When we evaluated successful social and public health movements, we saw a familiar pattern: awareness, individual attitude shifts that led to changes in the collective norm, behavior shifts, and, finally, policy shifts. People tend to jump to the policy shift piece, but the real magic happens when you change hearts and minds. 

What drove you to found Propper Daley? 

In the 13 years since I graduated from law school, the world has changed drastically. Consumers demand that brands share their values, but consumers are skeptical of their marketing campaigns. Consumers expect brands to make a real impact—not just by donating money or running a splashy marketing campaign—and this is something that traditional marketing agencies are not always equipped to do. We founded Propper Daley as a “social impact agency” to provide holistic, full-service help for individuals, brands, and organizations to create measurable, outcome-oriented social impact that pierces the public’s consciousness.

Why did you go to law school?

I attended a conference. Paraphrasing philosopher John Rawls, the speaker asked: “Imagine it was 24 hours before you were born. A genie appeared and offered you the chance to set the economic, social, and political rules for you and your children’s lifetimes. But you don’t know if you’ll be born rich or poor, white or black, able-bodied or infirmed, gay or straight, intelligent or not. What rules do you want to have?”

That speech stuck with me. If you understand how to interpret, shape, and write laws, you can be just like the genie. I had been working with nonprofit organizations, but wanted to try to change rules! Lawyers aren’t genies, but my legal education allows me to understand legal and political systems and where the pressure points are. This comes in handy as we work on complicated social issues for our clients, from modern segregation to jobs of the future.

What is a typical workday like for you?

Organized chaos. My days involve business development, hiring, organizational growth and efficiency, client meetings, and meeting people doing the on-the-ground work. I am an introvert, but my job requires me to talk to people for 12 hours per day.

Is there a client or project at work that you found particularly memorable?

We’ve worked with some fantastic clients—Activision, Best Buy, the Clinton Foundation, Everytown for Gun Safety, the George W. Bush Presidential Center, John Legend, Kerry Washington, and UBS. I’m really proud of an annual charitable initiative we recently launched A Day of Unreasonable Conversation. We gather hundreds of television writers and producers with frontline activists and changemakers to discuss the most significant challenges and opportunities facing the world. The event’s goal is to “unlock progress through the power of stories.” Last year, some of our featured speakers were John Legend, Andrew Sullivan, Stacey Abrams, Dr. Joy Buolamini, Kerry Washington, Mitch Landrieu, and Tracee Ellis Ross. 

What advice do you have for young lawyers thinking of pursuing a career in social justice?

For those people contemplating working in social justice: the world needs you now more than ever. Social justice groups appreciate people with a legal education. Finding a good position starts with a good internship. Positions with social justice organizations are based on the relationships that you’ve developed. If you are passionate about a social justice issue, start developing relationships with individuals in social justice organizations in that area. Also, these organizations highly value good writing, so hone your writing skills!

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Greg Propper, a graduate of Cardozo School of Law, is president of Propper Daley and a member of the boards of LIFT—Los Angeles, New Politics, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. 

Lawrence Bluestone

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Lawrence Bluestone is counsel at Genova Burns LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.