Amanda Hite likes to incorporate her passions for ending childhood hunger and promoting LGBT equality into her work as co-founder and CEO of Be the Change Revolutions, an advertising and marketing company based in Washington.
She and co-founder Brandon Hill started Be the Change in 2012 as a “movement marketing agency dedicated to engaging communities and igniting movements.”
Working with clients from Applebee’s, Kellogg’s, Cinnabon and more, Be the Change has taken off. Over the summer, Inc. magazine ranked it the No. 1 fastest-growing private advertising and marketing company in the D.C. region. It hit No. 442 on the annual Inc. 500 list and was 37th overall for advertising and marketing.
“We moved our headquarters to D.C. to be in closer proximity to other talent and organizations rooted here,” Hite says. “I love that in this city, it’s an agency whose purpose is igniting do-good movements that ranked fastest growing in the advertising and marketing category.”
As an Army kid, Hite had lived in 32 homes by the age of 18 and says growing up in a family that benefited from food stamps and free school meals as well as being gay in a Southern Baptist family, shaped who she is today.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Hite came to Washington two years ago. She’s in a relationship and lives in the NOMA neighborhood. Hite enjoys music, politics, humanitarian work and reading in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out to most people since I was about 18. My sweet grandparents were probably the hardest to tell and yet their response was the most precious.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. From back when he was taking Prop 8 to the Supreme Court to when he was leading the fight for full federal equality under the law for the LGBT community, I have consistently found myself in awe of his strategic leadership chops. I am so impressed with his ability to stay maniacally focused on achieving the mission, even when he’s faced opposition from all sides.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m not a big club goer. I’m more the geeky type so I’d have to say the steps of the Lincoln memorial.
Describe your dream wedding.
I wish I could but, strangely, I can’t describe it yet. I think when you live most of your life believing marriage isn’t a possibility, it’s hard to develop much of an imagination around what your “dream wedding” would be. Now that it’s the law of the land though, it’s something I really look forward to experiencing.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Religion and politics. Ending childhood hunger in America. Helping the most vulnerable people in our nation and around the world.
What historical outcome would you change?
That the Crusades never happened. They are some of the worst examples in human history of trying to justify our behaviors of hate and violence in the name of God and religion, especially when most of our religions teach foundational messages of love like “love your enemy.”
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Probably the day that Prince died. His music was the soundtrack to so much of my life. That night I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning watching tributes on various TV stations, texting old friends, not-so-soberly Instagramming Prince pics. It triggered so many life memories of joy and pain and a flood of emotions.
On what do you insist?
Love and compassion.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“This is the place to understand how protest and love of country don’t just coexist, but inform one another.” (A quote from Barack Obama’s speech at the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Work In Progress”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
No, it would be an insult to all of those who have fought so hard for the principles that people should feel safe, loved and proud of being exactly who they are.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
It’s hard for me to imagine an afterlife of heaven or hell. I also know I’m not capable of comprehending something so complex and I’m OK with that. I’m happy to choose hope and faith. I feel it’s more important however to always choose love over fear and to love others well with the lives we have now. My commitment to my faith/religion isn’t motivated by fear of some eternal hell or a promise of a heaven. It’s because I believe that Jesus Christ modeled the most compelling way to live our lives here on earth. He set a remarkable and radical example of love and compassion.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
As hard as it can be, extend to others the love and acceptance we wish they would show us. To show unconditional love toward others doesn’t mean we have to unconditionally accept their behaviors. But demonstrating unconditional love in our own behavior is a powerful way to change hearts and minds. We also need to be allies with and advocates for other communities that are oppressed or marginalized.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I actually have walked over hot coals before in some leadership boot camp back in the day. It wasn’t that bad so I’d be up for doing it again, maybe to raise money for one of my favorite humanitarian organizations.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The stereotype that LGBT people aren’t Christians. Honestly many of the LGBT people I know behave more like Christ than many straight Christians I’ve come across.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
The documentary “The Case Against 8.” I can’t even begin to tell you how much I adore the plaintiffs they follow, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and of course Chad’s in it too.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I don’t know, but the most underrated is telling one another, “I love you.” I say it to my friends, family, team and clients every day.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
In 2011, I was recognized with No Kid Hungry’s Leadership Advocate of the Year award. My grandfather, who was one of the greatest loves of my life, proudly displayed it on his mantle.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Be authentically and unapologetically who you are and everything else will fall in place.
To grow roots and be in closer proximity to all the individuals and organizations here who are literally changing the world. I’m madly in love with the #DClife, I don’t intend on ever leaving.