I had certainly heard of Julie Erfle. She had become a very vocal immigration reform advocate after the death of her husband, a Phoenix police officer, at the hands of a previously deported undocumented immigrant. A journalist by trade, albeit behind-the-scenes at a local television station, she was fast-becoming a recognized authority on one of our state’s most contentious issues. She put pen to paper (or more realistically fingers to keyboard) and starting writing about it. And that writing turned to other issues that were important to her and to our community.
And she’s found a new home for her writing, at the Arizona Mirror, that according to its website “is an independent, nonprofit news organization that is focused on connecting public policy with the people it affects and bringing a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.”
She shared a lot of about her work with the Mirror and some future plans for more long-form writing. I asked her to share with us a little bit more about herself in today’s #MediaMonday.
I grew up in rural North Dakota—you betcha!—in a town so small it lacked a stoplight. I was the nerdy kid who excelled at speech and debate, watched the evening news and read the newspaper from cover to cover. But I had no intention of becoming a journalist. I was more L.A. Law than Murphy Brown. I was going to be an attorney.
During my freshman year of college, my older sister convinced me to change my degree to “anything other than political science,” so I chose broadcast journalism on the advice of a friend. I worked a variety of comms jobs those years, including as a radio DJ, a production assistant with a film company, and a production crew member at the local PBS affiliate.
After graduation, mounting debt convinced me to put law school on hold and follow my husband to the desert. I landed a job at Channel 5 as a promotions producer, and a year later, moved over to Channel 3. I worked behind the scenes, crafting television and radio commercials to shape and enhance our station’s brand identity and image.
After my sons were born, I put my career on hold, and a short time later, took on the additional role of caregiver for my husband who nearly lost his life while battling testicular cancer. He eventually recovered but was killed in the line of duty just one year later.
I had never imagined myself as an activist. I always preferred my role behind the camera to one in front of it. But the circumstances surrounding my husband’s death and the corresponding turmoil it created in my community convinced me I could not remain silent.
My activism began with immigration reform but quickly spread into other areas, including voting rights and educational equality. I launched a political blog and eventually became the communications director for a statewide campaign. Three years ago, I decided to go out on my own as an independent communications consultant, handling media and PR for campaigns, nonprofits and foundations. I also write a column for the Arizona Mirror.
A little more than a year ago, I took on another personal challenge: writing the lengthier version of my story. To date, I’ve had more stops then starts, and I’m not sure if the book will ever move beyond the confines of my home. But at least I’ll know the story was written.
When I’m not writing or debating the merits of Arizona policy, I can usually be found brunching with my girlfriends or releasing my inner G.I. Jane at a Jabz studio. Since I didn’t have much of an opportunity to travel beyond the Dakotas when I was young, I’m also taking every chance I can to explore the world around me with my travel and life companion, Alan, and our four sons.
For those who wish to follow my daily rants, you can connect with me on Twitter @erfleuncuffed or on Facebook @politicsuncuffed. And be sure to follow me and the incredibly talented reporters at the Arizona Mirror by subscribing at azmirror.com.