How do you build and sustain a national membership organization that elevates the voices of families? If you’re Marguerite Casey Foundation, you identify key people in the community and ask for their guidance.
Last July the Foundation hosted the first meeting of the Family Advisory Committee, formed to help build and sustain Equal Voice, a national membership organization that will represent the voices of families at the local, state and national level. As Advisory Committee members converged on Seattle, no one knew what to expect. They were all accomplished in their local communities, located in the 13 states where the Foundation makes grants. Yet they were 15 individuals, with varied interests and backgrounds, ranging in age from 18 to over 60. Members have worked on issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, criminal justice, the environment, education and immigration. None of them had met before. But, immediately, the group gelled. Their shared belief that no family should live in poverty and that every family should have an equal voice in determining polices that affect their lives served as the connector.
Over three days, they dug into the issues that would lay down a foundation for Equal Voice moving forward: How do you engage families and motivate them to join together? How do you structure an unprecedented organization like this? And how do you maintain its focus?
The questions were tough but the discussion was lively. Opinions were sought-and valued-in keeping with Equal Voice’s mission: giving working families a voice at the national level. Over the course of those three days, the Foundation mostly just listened.
In the coming year, the Foundation will provide opportunities and training to help Family Advisory Committee members amplify their voices, and become ambassadors for Equal Voice in their local communities. Our hope, and theirs, is that the echo soon will be heard from coast to coast.
Equal Voice Family Advisory Committee
|Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama|
|Arizona||Cindie Nahsonhoya||Tucson Indian Center|
|Arkansas||Rev. Steve Copley||National Council of Churches|
|California||Marisol Ocampo||Latino Health Access|
|Florida||Marcia Olivo||Miami Workers Center|
|Georgia||Lara Ann Evans|
|Illinois||Charles Jenkins||Chicago Coalition
for the Homeless
|Kentucky||Dana Beasley Brown||Kentucky Coalition/
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
|Louisiana||Ernest Johnson||Families and Friends of Louisiana’s
|Mississippi||Tisna Hall-Morris||Citizens for a Better Greenville|
|New Mexico||Aragon||Organizers in the
Land of Enchantment
|Tennessee||Melissa Gordon||Highlander Research
and Education Center