Who We Are

Public relations professional

Amy Losak

I’ve worked as a public relations professional for decades. I specialize in health-care media relations, but I’ve done media relations in a variety of sectors and industries. My job is to get my clients into the press. I help them shape, craft and pitch their messages and stories to journalists.

I’ve always worked in New York City public-relations firms, but in early 2017, I was laid off along with a number of colleagues. I hoped to get another full- or part-time staff position commensurate with my decades of knowledge and experience. I thought of freelancing as a stopgap, a bridge to my next staff role.

I soon came to realize how difficult finding a new job was going to be, as an older woman. Over time, I have come to prefer freelancing. While there are trade-offs and disadvantages (my income is less; assignments are irregular and unpredictable), I like the flexibility and autonomy of my current situation. I have more time and stamina to work on projects that I find rewarding, and where I feel I can make a difference. I can reject projects that I don’t like. I no longer have to deal with a horrendously stressful two-way commute that is, frankly, hellish beyond words. I am mostly free now of company politics, bureaucracies and insane client demands that have eaten into my precious personal time and caused me to lose sleep. I have a home life now.

I don’t know what I will do if I can’t earn a decent living to pay my outrageously high property taxes and other bills, and to save for my and my husband’s futures.

We matter. We count. Please don’t rip away our desire, need and ability to work productively and gainfully, and to provide for ourselves and our families.

Online ESL Teacher

Jessica Ramos

I’m an online English as a second language teacher. I wake up at 3 a.m., and I teach from about 3:30 until 8 a.m.

While some people might find that schedule ridiculous, for me, it’s terrific. Traditional employment does not work for my family. I suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome and chronic depression, and my youngest child has cerebral palsy and other medical issues. She is sick a lot and stays home from school.

This work has allowed me to teach, as I have always wanted to do. It also allows me to care for my family, and it has contributed greatly to the medical expenses that insurance does not cover.

Church choir director, Editor, Virtual assistant

Susan Schneider

My freelance jobs are varied. I work as a virtual assistant, transcribing interviews for medical-device journalists, and I’m a church choir director. I also do some word processing and editing.

I have metastatic breast cancer and would find it impossible to work in an office. Making my own hours and working at home is the only viable way for me to function. I am also 63 years old, and no company is going to hire me, other than on a consulting basis.

My husband also has a business that functions as a consultant to a large company, and he is paid commission only. They would not take on the extra expense of hiring him. We literally would lose our home and our health insurance if our businesses were no longer viable.

Content strategist, Editor, Writer

Brittany Risher

I’m a freelance content strategist, editor, and writer specializing in health and wellness content. I do a combination of writing and editing for publications and websites, as well as for brands (usually on their blogs). I also create and manage the editorial strategy for websites and brands, which means managing their editorial calendars, assigning freelance writers, editing and loading content, analyzing the performance of content, and refining the strategy accordingly.

Why I’m a freelancer: First, let me be clear about something: I chose to go freelance. I left my last full-time job of my own will. I wanted to be able to do a variety of work rather than just one thing. I also needed the flexibility to be able to manage a long-term eating disorder and see my doctor, therapist and dietitian. (I’m very happy to report that, in part because of the flexibility freelancing gives me, I am the healthiest I have been in more than 20 years.)

Another reason I’m freelance is that, despite the constant hustle and paying for my own health insurance and having no employer 401(k) plan, I make more money. This allows me to save more for my future family.

Going freelance simply made me happier and reduced my anxiety incredibly.

What I want lawmakers to know: Please allow people like me — people who choose to freelance — to do the work that we want to do. I’ve already heard way too many stories from freelance journalists in California, where similar legislation recently passed, about how nobody will hire them now. This could happen to me and my colleagues in New Jersey.

Shouldn’t everyone be able to live the life they want to live? Please do not keep us from living out our dreams.

Online ESL Teacher

Kathy Wilder Bichler

I’m an online teacher of English as a second language for children who are 4 to 16 years old in China. I contract with a company called VIPKid. The company provides the online platform, the curriculum and the students. I choose the times I teach and how I will teach the curriculum. My day starts at 3 a.m. and ends at 8:30 a.m.

There are multiple reasons why working this way is important to me. First and foremost is that I am the caretaker for my disabled husband. The hours that I work are outside of normal business hours in the United States, which means I can take my husband to the doctor as needed without having to worry about taking too much time off from work for personal needs.

I also like this work because Social Security disability payments are not enough to live on. I need to bring in whatever income I can to assist with our basic needs: food, clothes, lodging, medical expenses, college tuition for our children, utilities, car expenses, health insurance, home maintenance and more.

And, I should add, I am older than 50. Ageism is real. Who is going to hire me to do anything else that will allow me to live my life and help my husband?

What I want lawmakers to know: Anti-independent contractor laws punish those who are not able to work in a traditional work environment. These laws hurt the ill, who would like to be productive members of society. They hurt single parents who are trying to support their families while raising their kids. They hurt people who are managing their children’s medical needs, or taking care of spouses or elderly parents. They hurt the middle-aged and older workers who are denied full-time employment.

Lawmakers trying to push these policies through without meeting with the people they claim they are trying to protect should be ashamed of themselves. Real representatives would learn from the awful fallout that California is experiencing since passing similar legislation. Lawmakers who actually care would meet with the people, and listen.

I vote, and I am watching.


Joy Yagid

I photograph weddings, bah mitzvahs and families on weekends. During the week, I photograph events for companies and universities, take headshots for professionals, shoot homes for real estate agents, write hyper-local news pieces and teach photography. I create a bit of video, too. When I’m not with my camera, I’m with my Mac, editing everything.

For me, the great thing about being an independent contractor is the work-life balance. I like the autonomy, and I like that I’m able to do my work while also caring for my family members.


Krystle Dodge

I am the primary breadwinner in my family, and as the mom of a toddler, I love the work-life balance of being a freelance writer. I really enjoy the autonomy and freedom to take on new assignments (or to skip offers). I also love the variety of the work I do.

If I could no longer work as a freelancer, then I would have to find a traditional job (which would mean paying more for child care, having less time with my family and, in my industry, making considerably less money) or I would have to move out of New Jersey (which I would hate to do, because our family and friends are here and we just bought what we consider our forever home).

What I want lawmakers to know: Please think carefully before limiting the career options of those who choose to be self-employed. The state should not infringe on the right of individuals to work as they choose.


Caren Chesler

I love coming up with story ideas. I love pitching those ideas. I love talking to people, and I love writing. I also love the creative process in which I do all that, and I find doing it autonomously, all of those tasks, makes them more enjoyable. I write what I want when I want and for whom I want.

What I want lawmakers to know: I imagine you’re trying to help people who are being taken advantage of, but I’m not one of them. There has to be a way to let me keep what I’ve worked so long and hard to create, and for you to help the people you want to help.

I’ve been happy. I’ve loved my life and my career. And I’ve worked hard, really hard, to get where I am today in my career. I don’t want to lose all that. I’m older than 50, and the chance of a newspaper or magazine hiring me as a full-time employee, particularly given the state of my industry, is very small. I’d have to learn a new career at this stage of my life and not do the thing I love.

Please, don’t do this.

Small-business owner

Ron Adams

I started my advertising agency as a freelancer in 2011 and boot-strapped everything. My wife even went back to teaching to provide medical benefits for our family. Just this year, my team and I moved into an office where we are finally able to offer W2s, a 401(k), and even profit sharing. It has taken all of these years to make this a reality.

My advertising agency works with all types of media, such as video, audio, social, search, traditional and digital. In addition to our W2 staff, we use 1099 freelancers for projects or ongoing work not handled by our day-to-day employees. Much of the work is done off-site (home-based), at a client’s place of business, or during an occasional in-person meeting at our offices.

As a business owner, it is critically important to me to be able to hire freelancers to offer a service to meet a specific client’s need. Example: a video crew for a commercial shoot at a client’s retail store. These requirements change with each customer and can come and go in a moment’s notice. If I had to hire all of my freelancers as W2s, I would not be able to continue my business in New Jersey and would ultimately move out of state (Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida come to mind).

What lawmakers need to know: Starting a business from scratch is an extremely stressful undertaking. In addition to sales, I am responsible for state and federal regulations, IT, human resources, operations and even janitorial if needed. If this legislation had been in place in 2011, my company would not exist. Clients took a leap of faith in me, always as a 1099. With this opportunity, I was able to open a business, pay more taxes (both state and federal) than ever, and remain in New Jersey.

Editor, Proofreader

Vivian Fransen

I am a self-employed editor and proofreader. After three downsizings, I’ve found more work security in having a dozen clients who use my services on an as-needed basis, instead of having only one employer. I am not some sort of free-spirit moonlighter; this is how I make a living so I can afford to live in New Jersey.

My clients do business with me precisely because I offer flexibility to work on an as-needed basis, and because I’m not part of their head count. I am in compliance with all laws now in effect and pay all required taxes in a timely manner. By the way, I also pay out-of-pocket for my health care insurance coverage for a two-person household. There is no free ride for me as an independent contractor and LLC.

Please let me continue to work as a self-employed editor and proofreader