Pushing Past Polarization
Finding Abundance at the Professional Women in Advocacy Summit 2019
This fall, I shared a couple of days with women who knew their place: at the forefront of change, walking in the footsteps of the other sheroes who have gone before.
The story of addressing inequality and injustice over the decades is headlined with women activists. Suffrage aside, women have been fearsome forces for abolition, the Civil Rights Movement, fair labor policy, education, healthcare—and the list rolls on. So it was no surprise but nonetheless inspiring to find myself surrounded by women leading today’s charge for change.
The theme of this year’s Professional Women in Advocacy (PWIA) conference was “Breakthrough Advocacy: Innovating Change in a Transforming Industry.” The question we were looking at was how we can organize for impact, learning from the past and leaning into the future. That’s really always the truth of advocacy, isn’t it?—building on the muscle we’ve grown and pushing forward on today’s issues. How can we pursue relevance relentlessly, while making sure we aren’t forgetting where we came from, and keeping our eyes trained on the horizon?
Photo: Sylvia Balfour speaks to PWIA attendees about developing emotional intelligence.
The answer to that question depends on everything from high-level strategy to the tactical details, so the PWIA program allowed us to hear from experts across the spectrum. We heard from the lady who literally wrote the book on Congressional procedure, Judy Schneider; from a panel of experts on how to focus on the human factor in advocacy; from author and speaker Allison Shapira on how to speak with impact—and from other leaders across the industry.
Some of us were just beginning in our careers, some of us were in the midst of them, and some of us able to give advice from places of vast experience. And all of us had something to learn and something to teach one another.
There is the temptation to look at the field of good causes and operate from a scarcity mindset: how do I get my content out there first, how do I show people why my cause is the most important, how do I put my organization first on the moral docket? But at PWIA, meeting all of these women leading in good work, I was reminded that there is definite space for abundance. In fact, things work better when we can all approach issues that way.
Working from an abundance mindset allows us to see collaborative opportunities, think more openly about things outside of our own spaces, and freely share learnings and experiences that will help all of us do more good.
One of my favorite sessions was during lunch on the first day of the conference, when we heard from Sylvia Baffour. Though not from an advocacy background, she is certainly a woman who uses her voice in a powerful way, as an author, motivational speaker, and executive coach. (Fun fact: she also had the privilege of spending over 10 Thanksgivings with Maya Angelou. Serious envy.)
Sylvia spoke to us about developing our emotional intelligence—pretty key in a game like advocacy where the whole objective is to influence others. She reinforced this idea of abundance mindset, encouraging us to thrive with those who differ, and recognize one another’s value.
In this time of polarization (and while our ice caps are melting), it was refreshing to be in a room where I could feel solidarity with the women around me, all of us working to bring about the change we need to address the problems we have. And since we have so many of them, it will truly take all of us doing what we can, working alongside one another and operating from an abundance mindset.
How can we help?
Thinking ahead to next year and planning your advocacy campaigns and events? Media Cause now has a full advocacy shop that can help you craft strategic communications and tell your story in a clear and compelling way. Let’s start a conversation about how we might leverage our strategic, creative, and marketing expertise to achieve your goals.
To find out more about the event and sign up for the PWIA emails, visit their website: https://womeninadvocacy.com/.