Ep 151: Using Pop Culture for Social Good (with Noelani Pearl Hernandez)

by Joan Garry

In this episode, my colleague, Noelani Pearl Hernandez and I dig into the popular Netflix series, MAID, and how you can use pop culture as a tool for nonprofit storytelling and media advocacy.


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Can nonprofit leaders use popular culture and media advocacy to raise awareness for the work that we do and the people we serve?

We can, and we should.

It is no secret that media images and stories play a huge role in how we see the world and other people — and the nonprofit sector and nonprofit leaders are no exception.

This is one of the main reasons why we need to talk about one of the hottest shows on Netflix right now — MAID.

Based on Stephanie Land’s powerful memoir of the same name, this limited series follows the journey of a young woman named Alex who flees her abusive husband in search of a safe space for herself and her beautiful daughter, Maddy.

Naturally, they turn to the nonprofit sector and social services for help — and that is where you come into the story.

Not only does this series give viewers a glimpse at the lived experience of domestic abuse survivors, but it also highlights the very real challenges that nonprofit leaders and staff members — especially in the social service sector — face every single day.

My colleague Noelani Pearl Hernandez, who has over two decades of nonprofit and political campaign management experience, joins me on this episode to discuss how we can use popular media like MAID to impact how folks see nonprofits and nonprofit leaders.

We also share some practical advice about how you can use pop culture as a tool for nonprofit storytelling and media advocacy.

Listen in to Learn:

  • How does MAID depict the nonprofit sector and nonprofit leaders? (5:46)
  • How does lived experience impact social service? (11:18)
  • Does white privilege impact access to social services? (18:27)
  • Which social issues that the nonprofit sector deals with come up in MAID? (30:54)
  • How can media like MAID help nonprofits share their stories? (32:07)


Connect With Joan Garry

About Noelani Pearl Hernandez:

Noelani Pearl Hernandez has over two decades of nonprofit and political campaign management experience. Her work in development, public relations, board management, nonprofit/ campaign strategy, civil rights, social justice, and diversity/ inclusion gives her a broad view to help her clients’ organizations succeed.

She is the Director of Community, Diversity and Belonging for Joan Garry’s Nonprofit Leadership Lab. Her leadership roles in public service and professional efforts give her the well-rounded experience needed to successfully coach nonprofit leaders and executives.

Over a decade ago, she started coaching nonprofit and community leaders, as well as political candidates. This experience gives her a unique view of the world, helping her clients thrive and pivot. She has a distinctive coaching style that combines therapeutic modalities, coaching methods, and experienced strategic advice.

She is most proud of was during her tenure on the school board, where she spearheaded projects that focused on equity in education. Noelani was the first Filipina America elected to the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Education, and served as the board’s first woman of color President.

Noelani and the Love of her Life, Albert Hernandez, live with their blended families, her daughter, and her three bonus children in Bay Area, CA.