Meghan Markle’s top advisor has been working behind-the-scenes to promote the Duchess’s pet issue and get universal paid leave legislation passed using her links to the White House
Genevieve Roth, a senior strategic adviser for the Archewell Foundation, has lobbied the White House and members of Congress as part of her job with nonprofit advocacy group PL+US.
PL+US spokesperson Neil Sroka confirmed the group ‘have collaborated with her [Roth] and the Duchess’s team on the issue of paid leave,’ but declined to give details.
The advocacy group’s lobbying includes calls and emails with the co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein as well as staffers at the Office of Public Engagement, a Democratic strategist with ties to the Biden administration told Politico.
In October, Meghan penned a 1,030-word letter asked US Congress to consider making paid family leave law for all Americans.
The Duchess then caused controversy by cold-calling US senators on their private phones and using her royal title to urge them to vote in favor of the legislation.
Meghan Markle’s (left, with her husband Prince Harry) top advisor Genevieve Roth (right) has been working behind-the-scenes to promote the Duchess’s pet issue and get paid leave legislation passed using her links to the White House
Lobbying by Roth’s employer nonprofit advocacy group PL+US includes calls and emails with the co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein (pictured)
Who is Genevieve Roth?
Alaskan-born Genevieve Roth is the Founder and President of Invisible Hand, a social impact agency.
More recently, the mother-of-one was made the Senior Strategic Advisor to Archewell, the organization founded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
She is the former Features Director of Marie Claire Australia and before that, held editorial positions at GQ and Esquire.
She left her job in magazines to serve as the director of creative engagement for the 2016 Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.
The mother-of-one, whose husband is black, often speaks out about racism in America, and has written at length about the ‘racism in her own marriage’.
Ms Roth also worked as the executive director of special projects at Glamour magazine, and the producer of the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.
In 2014, Roth helped launch The Girl Project, Glamour’s ‘global philanthropic initiative’ supporting girls’ education.
Roth describes herself as an ‘expert on the intersection of narrative change, women’s empowerment, and social justice.’
Her agency Invisible Hand has created campaigns for clients including Archewell, PBS, The Obama Foundation, The XQ Institute, and The Girl Effect.
A graduate of Emerson College and the Columbia Journalism School Publishing Course, Roth also worked with The White House and Let Girls Learn, a US government initiative launched by former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle.
In the October letter, Meghan said she was writing to the Congress members not as an ‘elected official….[nor] a politician’ but as an ‘engaged citizen and a parent….and as a mom’.
It was written on the Sussexes new post-royal letterhead, which prominently uses their titles but not their official cyphers.
The letter pertained to historic legislation that was moving through Congress, which would have made 12 weeks of paid family and sick leave available to most workers as part of new federal policy.
The legislation approved by the House in November included a downgraded leave package of four weeks.
But the bill is yet to pass through the Senate, where paid family and sick leave could get cut entirely.
Markle wrote: ‘I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.
‘And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid leave.’
The extraordinary letter asked US congressmen Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to consider her plea ‘on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry’.
The duchess depicted humble beginnings, saying that her family struggled when she was young – despite her well-documented middle class upbringing in which she attended private primary and secondary schools on her Emmy award-winning lighting director father’s $200,000-a-year salary.
And she now lives in a $14million sprawling mansion in Montecito, California, complete with designer touches. She has also signed a series of lucrative deals with Spotify and Netflix thought to be worth well over $150million.
‘I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,’ Markle wrote.
‘I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky. I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13.
‘I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends,’ Markle said.
However, she failed to mention the $750,000 California state lottery win her father scooped in 1990, which funded her secondary education at $9,412-a-semester Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles.
Meghan also studied a private primary school – Hollywood’s Little Red Schoolhouse nursery, which she attended from the age of two.
The primary school now costs between $20,000 and $28,300-a-year, and was paid for by her father Thomas and her airline steward mother Doria’s salaries.
She went on to study at Northwestern, a college in Illinois, that would have cost $24,000-$28,000-a-year for tuition when Meghan studied there from 1999-2003.
But the duchess described working from the age of 13 doing several jobs ‘to cover odds and ends’ and said saving money was a ‘luxury’ in her family in her letter.
‘I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.
‘I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story,’ she continued.
She later spoke about the letter, which included the astonishing claim her family were impoverished even though her father was an Emmy award-winning lighting director and she was educated at private school, on Ellen.
Meghan told Ellen DeGeneres she would do ‘everything’ in her power to change US policy for millions of Americans.
Ellen DeGeneres (right) and Meghan Markle during a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show at the Warner Bros lot in Burbank
Meghan Markle’s 1030-word paid parental leave plea letter in full
Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,
I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.
And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s how I’m writing to you at this deeply important time – as a mom – to advocate for paid parental leave.
Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and day cares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.
For many, this sacrifice goes back furhter than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer – decades of giving time, body and endless energy not just in pursuit of the American dream, but simply in the dream of stability.
I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling; I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special and I felt lucky. And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go for dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory – because that’s what those families could afford to do too.
I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13. I waited tables, babysat, and piece-mealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. I worked all my life and saved when and where I could – but even that was a luxury – because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.
I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story. Perhaps you do too. People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft; for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream – what is fair, and equal and right. Many of our economic systems are past their expiration date, and as you well know, too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters to them.
In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work. We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so, we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.
No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).
In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country – because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line. Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes. I understand that with everything going on these days, people might find it easy to be apathetic about what’s happening in Washington D.C. And then equally, when it feels like your voice doesn’t matter, you tend to use it less often, but with stakes this high none of us can afford to let apathy win.
I’m writing to you on behalf millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate. In fact, most nations already have paid leave policies in place. Estonia, for example, offers over a year and a half of leave to be shared by new parents. Many other countries have robust programs that give months of time for both parents (birth or adoptive) to be at home with their child. The United States in stark contrast does not federally guarantee any person a single day of paid leave. And fewer than one in four workers has dedicated paid family leave through their employer. I’m sure you agree that if we are to continue to be exceptional, then we can’t be the exception.
The families you represent need your strong leadership. With paid leave on the cusp of becoming a national reality, I trust you will meet this moment. I know you must hear from your constituents about the choices they are facing every day to make ends meet and care for their families.
Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists. If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.
I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. But this isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.
So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex