Sunday, August 14, 2011

Democracy Summer 6th Session

written by Bryan Troupe

Democracy Summer Session 6, hosted by Catalyst Miami, was very edifying and enlightening. There was a panel discussion which was facilitated by Catalyst Miami CEO, Daniella Levine.  The panel members were: Mario Artecona, CEO of Habitat for Humanity; Paul Hunt, Board Member of the March of Dimes Foundation; and Julia Dawson, Board Member of the Civil Liberties Union.

One of the questions posed by Daniella Levine to Mario Artecona was, “What would you recommend to nonprofit leaders in order to engage their board and advocacy directly; or to get their support for their staff to do advocacy?”

Mario’s response was that staff does not participate in board meetings enough, and should participate more. Staff members need to tell board members what it is that they need. Board members also need to know up front exactly what is expected of them and be provided a clear mission.

Paul Hunt was asked by Daniella, “What is the biggest challenge in promoting advocacy in your staff?”
Paul’s answer was one of the challenges “is having a clear agenda and one that is staff-oriented.”  Mr. Hunt also stated that staff needs to build a relationship with policymakers, which helps the staff to better advocate their position.

Daniella introduced Julia Dawson as “an icon of women’s rights.”  One of the points that Julia made during the panel discussion was that it is important for board members to know that they should help constituents, and important to find board members that are actually interested in the organization.

Wendy Wilson, Project Attorney for Dade Legal Aid, said this: “I really liked the panel discussion on board development because it emphasized the necessity for having specific goals for board members…”

The goal of Democracy Summer is to build strong social justice analysis, skills and strategy into the nonprofit sector of Miami-Dade County.

There are two more fantastic sessions to go! Session 7 of Democracy Summer will be held next Thursday, August 18.

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