Elected officials – like all people in our society – are more effective and powerful when they work together. By organizing together, we can share knowledge and strategies and build new ways of doing the work.
“Governing is a team sport,” says Executive Director Sarah Johnson. “We need to work together inside and outside of government and across our cities, counties and school districts. The Local Progress network is a part of your team.”
Take this example from North Carolina: In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 142, an anti-LGBTQ law that replaced the state’s infamous anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” At the end of 2020, a key section of the bill expired, clearing the path for localities to finally pass local nondiscrimination protections. In 2021, Local Progress members across the state worked alongside coalition partners to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in 15 municipalities. By connecting locally, elected officials coordinated strategies to build momentum and address regional issues that crossed municipal boundaries.
Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver – whose locality was the first in the state to pass the ordinance – notes that organizing across jurisdictions was critical in showing local power and protecting against the retaliatory preemption at the state level.
“Organizing together helped us figure out who could help clear the way for other localities. We were confident that we could pass it in Hillsborough so we went first, followed immediately by the other jurisdictions in our county, county included. This first wave provided a model for other electeds and communities to point to and say, ‘Hey, they did it. The sky didn’t fall. We should do this too. ’ That was really important in getting as many localities to pass this as we did. Most importantly, it showed unity across our communities and the strength that comes with that.”
At Local Progress, we know that by building on and replicating work across jurisdictions, we can redefine what is possible from the ground up. That’s why our role is to build a network that catalyzes and unlocks the collective power of elected officials to advance a shared vision.
This year we are building on that work by launching the Leadership Collaborative – a cross-organizational, multi-state, multi-issue, multi-racial space hosted as four convenings over the course of the next three years. Designed for LP members who hold leadership positions across the network (including our state organizing committees, program steering committees, and caucus leadership committees), each convening will focus on one of the key pillars of our Strategic Framework:
- Racial Justice as a Beacon for All
- Collaborative Governing to Build Power
- Adaptive Change from the Ground Up
- Elected Officials as an Organized Force
These convenings will create space for peer-to-peer workshopping, community building, leadership development and the chance to help shape and evolve LP’s organizational and network strategies.
The very first convening – focused on Elected Officials as an Organized Force – will be held on March 9 – 10 in Washington, DC. We’re excited to share out highlights and ways that this convening will help shape our strategies as a network moving forward.