Building Our Collective Power | Leadership Collaborative 2023

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. Last week, more than 40 Local Progress member leaders and partner organizations from across the country came together for our first Leadership Collaborative: Elected Officials as an Organized Force. 

These members have been leaders in the national network, on our state organizing committees, issue-based steering committees, and identity caucus leadership committees. These leaders are truly special – both in how they bring their full selves into their elected roles and in the clear belief that we have the power to change what government looks like and what it can do. Many are the first from their communities to serve in local office – the first woman, the first person of color, the first queer person, first immigrant. Most come from community organizing, understanding the government as an arena in which we must build, own, and share power together; most never imagined themselves ever running for office but stepped up because they believe in something bigger than themselves.

“My biggest takeaway is the perseverance that exists in this room. The stories of fighting, falling down, getting back up, growing from up, taking on more strength, and organizing because of it, changing over time and getting more wins. As someone who has been involved since 2016, this organization has been that backbone for me at times when I was the only person fighting the battle. To see how we’ve grown and how we’ve supported each other across jurisdictions makes us stronger.”

Photos courtesy of Mariah Miranda Photography

At the Leadership Collaborative, members discussed ways to organize within their councils or boards, across their states, and at the national level. We discussed strategies for how members can advance racial and economic justice whether they’re the only progressives on their councils or boards, they have a minority bloc, or they’re in the majority. With the GRACE Act moving across Texas to mobilizations against HB1 in Florida to LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina, Local Progress members are advancing local policies on reproductive rights, democracy, housing, public safety, labor, and more. Even when faced with limited means to pass transformative policies in the short term, Local Progress leaders are building out progressive organizing infrastructure to shift their government bodies and the national landscape for the long term. In the face of preemption, bureaucracy, and other obstacles. 

“I felt really agitated around strategy building. There are a lot of bureaucratic tools that are trying to lessen our power and I’ve been inspired by folks who do amazing things in the face of intimidation.”

Photos courtesy of Mariah Miranda Photography

The attendees were joined by leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus including Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), and Ilhan Omar (MN-5), all of whom reflected on the importance of local government, both as a means for moving bold policy and as a pipeline to state and federal office.

“Government is the great equalizer of opportunity. You have the power to change millions of lives with one action. You are the few who lead to the many.”

This event was just the first of four Leadership Collaboratives. Future convenings will focus on the other pillars of the Strategic Framework:

  • Racial Justice as a Beacon for All 
  • Collaborative Governing to Build Power
  • Adaptive Change from the Ground Up 

At Local Progress, we understand that we are all stronger when we collectively organize as local electeds across the country and in deep partnership with grassroots allies towards a shared vision. The Leadership Collaborative is how we deepen that work.

“Our issues in Dallas exist in other places. It’s refreshing to know that you’re not alone and it’s also enlightening how these things have been navigated. This continues to reassure me that our collaboration is extremely effective.”

Interested in getting involved? Get in touch with the LP team.