How Activist-Extraordinaire Jess Morales Rocketto Unwinds: "Winning Is My Self-Care"
She's turned her attention onto voter enfranchisement ahead of the next election — so the sheet masks will have to wait.
As the political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), executive director of Care in Action, chair of the Families Belong Together coalition, and co-founder of political action group Supermajority, Jessica Morales Rocketto is on the front lines of change. In championing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, she has protected tens of thousands of nannies, house cleaners, and care workers across the United States. She has raised millions of dollars for families separated and detained at the Mexican border. And with elections on the horizon, Morales Rocketto is taking on voter suppression while encouraging more women of color to head to the polls. “This year is a make-or-break moment for our democracy,” she says. “I want women equal. That’s my north star. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been. I want to be part of making it happen.”
Bright Beginnings: Morales Rocketto’s first experience as a community organizer was during the student movement to end genocide in Darfur in the early 2000s. By the time she was helping to plan marches for the cause in Washington, D.C., she had gained superstar supporters like George Clooney. Years later, after earning a fellowship focused on political organizing, she went back to D.C. with just $24 in her pocket. Her career then took off. She worked on the Democratic National Committee for the 2010 midterms, on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, for economic-justice organization Rebuild the Dream, and on Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign. She also helped organize the airport protests against the Trump administration’s proposed Muslim ban before landing a role at the NDWA.
In It to Win It: When Morales Rocketto needs a respite, she meditates, does yoga, tests out new makeup, or reads romance novels. But her ultimate form of happiness? “Winning. Winning is my self-care,” she says. “If we win, I can take a vacation. If we win, I can try to pass proactive laws. If we win, we can focus on all the other things in life that don’t relate to the state of our country and its decay. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good sheet mask, but I would like to be able to do one just because it’s fun, not because I’m trying to escape all this other stuff that could be better if we changed the systems that make it hard for people to live their best lives.”
Harnessing Her Power: With all her political influence, Morales Rocketto says the most badass thing she’s ever done was follow Senator Ted Cruz into an elevator during the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings to share her personal story of sexual assault. “That moment transformed me because one of the worst things that ever happened to me became a source of strength and power,” she says.
Rocking the Vote: This year Morales Rocketto is making it easier for those having trouble casting their ballots to tweet their questions and have them answered in real time. She is also partnering with activist and artist Paola Mendoza to highlight the plight of family separation through a chilling art installation that depicts a mother and child reaching for each other through opposite sides of a cage. Morales Rocketto plans to take the piece on the road with her as she stops in battleground states across the country. “The exhibit sparks conversations that we need to have about how we think about immigrants,” she says. “But the piece is also about hope. There is a garden growing in the cage, and the palliative inspiration is, ‘They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.’”
For more stories like this, pick up the March issue of InStyle available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Feb. 14.