2018 marked new grounds for The National Civic Leadership Training Summit

University of Alabama Vote Everywhere Ambassador, Stephen Grover, joins session discussion.

Four years ago, the inaugural National Civic Leadership Training Summit (NCLTS) was held on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Right Act. Since then, the NCLTS has served as the training ground for Vote Everywhere Ambassadors on the fundamentals of impact-oriented campus organizing and voter engagement. The 2018 summit was no different, continuing its tradition of incubating the next generation of civic leaders. As the biggest conference to date, this year’s NCLTS reached new grounds – convening more than 100 attendees over the course of six days.

Generously made possible by a grant from The Puffin Foundation, 2018 summit was kicked off with a panel discussion titled, “Andy’s Story, His Legacy, and Vote Everywhere” featuring AGF President, and Andy’s brother, David Goodman, AGF Executive Director Sylvia Goodman, AGF Board Member Robert Masters, and Queens College Vote Everywhere alumnus Joseph Hill. Robert Masters discussed his time volunteering during Freedom Summer of 1964 alongside Andy, amidst political turmoil and the edge of a new era of civil rights. David and Sylvia Goodman both reflected on Andy’s life and how their families’ upbringing inspired the Vote Everywhere program. Joseph Hill discussed attending Queen’s College, Andy’s alma mater, and how the experience of walking the same halls as Andrew informed his experience as a Vote Everywhere Ambassador.

Puffin Democracy Fellow, Valencia Richardson, presents her project, “A New Southern Strategy for College Voter Engagement”

Other sessions, led by civil and voting rights experts, AGF staff, Campus Champions, Vote Everywhere alumni and Ambassadors, addressed topics such as Alliance Building, Voter Registration, and GOTV, Connecting Civic Engagement to Career Planning, Campus Action Planning, and Data and Reporting. Dale Ho, Director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, delivered a keynote titled, “Trends in the Voting Rights Landscape.” Ho, who manages the ACLU’s voting rights litigation and advocacy work, and currently has active voting rights cases in over a dozen states throughout the country, was a big hit among the Ambassadors.   

“Young people have always been at the forefront of change and are uniquely positioned to reimagine American democracy,” says Karena Cronin, Vote Everywhere Program Director. Cronin spearheaded the planning and execution of this year’s NCLTS. She continues, “It is our hope that Vote Everywhere Ambassadors leave the summit with the skills and knowledge necessary to mobilize their peers into the political process, and civic engagement more broadly.”

Shaun King delivers “How to Make Change” keynote at the 2018 Hidden Hero Awards

The NCLTS concluded with the 2018 Hidden Hero Awards Ceremony. Five Vote Everywhere alumni were honored as the 2018 Hidden Heroes – Abree Dominguez (University of San Francisco), Louis Gremillion Jr. (Louisiana State University), Usjid Hameed (Towson University), Joseph Hill (Queens College), and Megan Newsome (University of Florida). Prior to the award presentations, civil rights activist and writer Shaun King delivered a keynote titled, “How to Make Change.” During his address, King discussed the four elements all social movements need to be successful; people who are energized about the cause, people who are organized, a plan of action that matches the scope of the problem at hand, and resources to fund the movement. Immediately following, Hidden Heroes Abree Dominguez and Usjid Hameed joined King and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, for a panel discussion titled, “Leadership in Defense of Our Democracy.”

According to Margaret Sasser, Program Development and Evaluation Manager, the NCLTS is the signature event of the Vote Everywhere program. The summit marks the onboarding of new Vote Everywhere teams. It is also a vital time for returning Ambassadors to prepare for the semester. Sasser says, “Each year, our national network gathers to learn from one another, make meaningful connections, and re-energize for the civic and voter engagement work to come. By the end of our week together, we are inspired and full of purpose.”

About the Author

Kevin Hurtado is the Communications and Development Associate at Andrew Goodman Foundation. He graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelor’s in International Studies and a minor in Human Rights and Genocide. Previously, Kevin worked as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Newark Charter School Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting educational equity in the city of Newark.