Despite large investments to get progressive candidates elected to office, very few resources exist to support elected officials once they begin to govern. The skills you need to win an election – like fielding, fundraising, communications – are not the same skills you need to govern effectively – such as policy analysis, constituent outreach, coalition management, and parliamentary procedure.
Recognizing this need, we collaborated with Bay Rising – a growing alliance of community-led organizations across the Bay Area – to launch the Progressive Governance Lab. The six-month leadership development program kicked off in December 2022 for a two-day convening – bringing together dozens of elected officials across the San Francisco Bay Area. Many were recently elected and do not have support staff or an existing community organizing infrastructure to lean on.
Over the course of six months, Progressive Governance Lab participants met at monthly trainings to advance a community-based agenda, working with local partners and grounded in a racial justice analysis. Training topics covered understanding budgets, land use and housing, policy creation and implementation, communications, and more.
By focusing on collaboration, the Progressive Governance Lab empowers local elected officials to work hand-in-hand, transcending traditional barriers and engaging in creative problem-solving regarding issues impacting all communities around the Bay Area such as housing, education, and public safety. By combining research-driven insights with real-world experience, the lab equips members with the tools needed to effect lasting change in their communities through policy, legislation, and community building.
In June, we held the final Progressive Governance Lab session followed by a graduation to celebrate the completion of the program.
The partnership between Bay Rising and Local Progress Impact Lab through the Progressive Governance Lab brings together the power of grassroots activism, collaborative governance strategy, and policy expertise. This intersectional fusion ensures that policy solutions are grounded in the needs and realities of the communities we serve. By pooling resources, knowledge, and networks, we are better equipped to address the complexities of governance and drive tangible results that support elected officials to thrive in their school board, city, and county offices.
“I have been able to build community with other progressive elected officials. I have also been able to develop skills to move my policy agenda forward. And I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to learn from people that have experience, as I transition into my role as an elected official myself.” – George Syrop, Hayward City Council
To build a truly inclusive, multi-racial democracy that improves people’s lives, we must govern in a new way – through collaborative governance (the continued practice and shared ownership of governing between elected officials inside institutions and workplace and community organizing on the outside). This work starts with and stands on the work we do every day at the local level.