Protests are mounting but do NOT forget to vote!

Occupy Wall Street is now entering its 12th day.
A social activist in India brought many together during his 13-day fast.
In July, protestors in Isreal set up shop on one of their busiest streets.
In May & June, protestors in Spain gathered – “at one point 28,000 protesters spent the night in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.”

Yesterday, thanks to a tweet from @Splashlife, I started to learn more about each of the protests listed above.  Each having to do something with the financial situation in that particular country.  And the question that Splashlife posed had me start thinking…

Does voting matter?

photo by AlanCleaver_2000 on flickr

Of course it matters!  While the Occupy Wall Street protest did not begin aimed at legislators, it is slowly picking up pace from protestors speaking about other social disagreements aimed at certain legislation.

But, the question struck a chord and had me thinking for a WHILE… does voting matter?

The reason for the question was because of this article written in the New York Times about younger people’s lack of faith in leaders because of corruption and the power special interest groups have over legislators.

I never thought voting mattered.  In high school, in college, I didn’t think I needed to vote because I didn’t CARE for politics.  That same feeling still comes back during election years because I can’t stand campaigning.  But in the past year, I have realized the power of voting.

Whether you are a protestor, an active advocate, or even someone who thinks all is right with the government, if you vote, then you have a greater say in what is going on than someone who didn’t.  This isn’t because you are better or that people who don’t vote, don’t matter.

It’s because legislators take VOTERS more seriously than residents.

Just because you live in a legislator’s district doesn’t mean they will listen, but if you can look them in the eye and say “I am a constituent, and I have voted time in and time out”, then they should listen (they will if they are a good legislator).

The Occupy Wall Street group has a more impactful opinion, if each one of them has voted.  And, I am wondering what other’s think about this.


  • Do you think voting matters?
  • Is there ever a point where it is better NOT to have voted?
  • What do you think about the protests?

Leave a comment below.  Let me know what you think.


How important is planning ahead in an immediate results world like social media?

Summer is over. Fall is here. And before we know it, next week is October and we are in the final quarter of 2011!

Time has FLOWN for me this year, I don’t know about you, but I feel like it was hard to keep up.  It has really been a learning experience all year with the launch of HealthNet‘s social media campaign, starting our first annual fund program, and the grand openings for a few health centers!  No, I was not in charge of ALL of this, but pushing out all of the social media content for these events made me feel like I was just keeping my head above water.

I will always remember 2011 because this year has FINALLY taught me the importance of…

starting early and planning ahead!

As many times as my mom, teachers, and mentors would tell me that planning ahead is important, I honestly would try, but coming up with a plan is not the same as FOLLOWING that plan.

Social media is AWESOME because it gives you instant results.  Ask the right question, and you can get answers in seconds.  So why do you need a plan if you can just log-in, post, and get feedback?

Because people don’t respond to any and all brands just because you are using social media.

Starting early and planning ahead may not affect your open rate for your email marketing campaign, but it just might improve how many click throughs and increase goal conversion.

Starting early and planning ahead isn’t the sole reason you will push enough content but it is a HUGE reason in how much engagement you receive from that content.

Starting early and planning ahead IS the difference between success and just presence in social media.

2011 has taught me a valuable lesson… what has it taught you so far?
Comment below

So the House didn’t pass any legislation to maintain gov’t funding past next week… what next?

I don’t know!

I remember last year when Congress kept passing Continuing Resolution after Continuing Resolution until they finally decided to stop continuing and finalize a FY2011 budget!  Well, the House tried to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep all funding level until November 18, but it got blocked worse than someone coming into the paint against Dikembe Mutombo.  So, what happens next for Congress? I have no clue. They have a scheduled week-long recess next week, which means today and tomorrow is the time frame to figure something out.

What I do know!

Continuing Resolution or not, advocacy definitely needs to continue!

I have talked before about The EASY way to advocate through Social Media, Three ways to breakout of your silo and become a better advocate, and How to be an Effective Advocate on the Individual Level

As much as this possible government shutdown makes me want to lose faith in our legislators, advocates need to stay hot on their tails or else our members of Congress will have no idea how to represent us.

Given I am young, I have never seen anything like what has been going on in the federal government.  But, right now, the only solution I see is making sure we ALL do what we can on an individual level.

How our your members of Congress making YOU feel right now?
Do you believe there is anything you can do to help?
Comment below, I would love to hear some reactions.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself for ANYBODY!

Today’s Harvard Business Review Management Tip of the Day sparked my thoughts about becoming pigeonholed.  The ONE trap that no one wants to happen in their professional career, but I have found (in my short career life) it might just be the easiest trap to fall into.

Everyone wants to be the best at what they do. DUH.

But don’t sacrifice expertise for flexibility.  Having a fluid set of skills will help greatly in the long run.  And, social media can take you to either extreme.

Today’s management tip made me reflect on my own set of skills and why exactly I began using social media.  I have found it easy to get very focused on getting better at doing social media, meaning creating enough content, getting posts up, and asking people to retweet, repost and share! But this morning I asked myself:

Why did I begin using social media?

…………………………… OF COURSE! It was because I wanted to spread the word about my organization, HealthNet, and advocate for social change to better my community.  However, I have grown to love the in’s and out’s of an effective social marketing campaign, and creating a successful online fundraising event.

But going back to the management tip of the day, using social media can lend itself to getting wrapped up in the “social media” aspect of things.  Don’t forget to continue growing relationships made online, retweeting, reposting and sharing OTHER’S content, and paying attention to how other’s are using social media beyond posts and content.

How do you continue to better yourself while not getting pigeonholed?
Are there certain strategies you use to steer away from getting wrapped up in social media?
Comment below!

#MillennialChat: Sharing ideas, challenges, and best practices

Millennial Chat came into fruition during the Millennial Donor Summit (MDS) this year.  MDS was a conference held entirely online focusing on millennials and how nonprofits and other professionals can engage with our generation through new methods, technologies, and approaches. During MDS, you could follow the hashtag, #MDS11, to get insight from others who were tuned into the summit and who may have been listening in on other presentations.

Well, long story short, a few of us, millennials, who attended MDS were tired of hearing everyone talk about us. “Millennials do this…” and “Millennials think that…” were the beginning of quite a few tweets, with the  #MDS11 hashtag at the end.

So, we started using a different hashtag, #MDSmillennial, to talk with each other about our own generation, and it was refreshing to have a peer-to-peer conversation about things we are experiencing now.

And a thought sprung up during the middle of MDS:

“Why don’t we start our own Twitter chat?”

Read the rest of my guest post about @MillennialChat on Ragan Communications’ Millennial Mafia blog.

Four Challenges in Creating Advocacy Videos – and how to overcome them

While working on my final project to complete NACHC’s
Advocacy Leadership Program (ALP)and this is where I brag about being a part of the VERY FIRST ALP CLASS EVER
I encountered a few challenges.

The video was due on a Friday – I had pictures, captions, and a storyline ready the previous Monday, worked on creating a slideshow early in the week, and planned to video myself speaking about ‘My Health Center Advocacy Story’.

I thought, “This should be easy right, just talk about your past year working for HealthNet, Willie.  That can’t be too hard!”

IT WAS HARD! If you ever want to feature yourself in your own video, beware of over thinking.  This was one challenge I had while creating my video and it occurred to me that I couldn’t be the only person to face challenges while creating an advocacy video.  So I wanted to share some the challenges I faced and some ways to overcome these challenges:

You can read the rest of my guest post and view my video on The Campaign for America’s Health Center’s website.

A Millennial Advocate’s View on the Presidential Election

A few short years ago, I was not politically charged.
Even saying that…. is an overstatement.

I could be quoted many times – saying, “I don’t need to vote because I don’t really care what politicians & congressmen do, I’ll take care of myself on my own level and on my own time.”

Well, that all changed once I up and graduated from college and moved into the real world – specifically the real world including a career in the non-profit sector.  I still am politically undercharged in terms of rooting for a certain party or gung-ho volunteering for an official campaign, but I am politically charged in terms of advocacy.

As an advocate, paying attention to the presidential race is pretty important, and I try my best.
I did not catch the GOP Debate from last night because I wasn’t really looking forward
to it.

I feel discouraged during campaigns, especially when I am reading lead-up stories and news beats surrounding debates.  Now, this could be because I have always had a quasi-negative view on politics, but it seems as though everyone watching the presidential race is waiting for the candidate that they DON’T like to slip up.

One, specific tweet from President Obama’s Campaign Account illustrates this perception
very, very well-

We’ll follow along as the candidates backtrack, double down, and fail to mention important issues at all. #debatewatch
Barack Obama


I understand the importance of holding politicians, legislators, and leaders accountable, but to seek out where they “backtrack, double down, and fail to mention issues..” seems a bit over the top.  And, I am not calling out the President’s campaign.  Many candidates’ campaign staff do the same thing.

As a millennial, the direction of the nation in the upcoming years will define my career, life, and future.  That is a lot weighing on the government.  Obviously, it is up to me to create a path and worry about what I can control first, but public policy affects everyone.

As an advocate, the direction of the nation allows me to continue to serve the underserved or hinders the effectiveness of many social causes.

The two reasons above are why I get so discouraged when reading reports about what this candidate has NOT done and what this candidate FAILED to do.  I would love for campaign staffers to focus on promoting the plans, platforms, and particulars of their candidate.

Tell me about YOU, not the other guy.

So, as a millennial advocate, I hope to continue to track the specifics of the presidential race and will seek out where candidates take stances, stand up, and mention the policies they feel most strongly about.

My encouragement to other advocates: Stay focused on the end goal and realize that ALL politicians are potential legislators and all politicians and legislators listen to VOTERS seriously!  So – register to vote, encourage others to register to vote, then vote and encourage others to vote!!

What did you think about the GOP Debate last night?
Does anything discourage you when thinking about political campaigns?
Feel free to comment below!

A Human Right to Housing – Is this possible?

I have always wanted to tackle this issue in a blog, but it has simply not been on the forefront of my mind lately.  Until, I read this post yesterday by Kathryn Baer posted on the Poverty Insights blog.

Kathryn speaks on a recent report put out by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) that “assesses the current level of U.S. compliance with the human right to housing in the context of American homelessness”.  In the report, the NLCHP gives the U.S. a report card on areas defined by a United Nation’s committee interpretation on the right to adequate housing (a quick read).

Yes a human right to adequate housing.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on government policy or procedure, but a human right to adequate housing is a belief of mine that came to realization back in March when I attended NACHC‘s Policy & Issues Forum.  And, I am very glad I came across these articles to learn more about what exactly that would mean if it would happen.

Declaring housing to be a human right would mean one VERY BIG thing – governmental accountability.  If the United States’ government declared this a right, then government officials would be held accountable to make progress toward this goal and eliminate any obstacles that keep adequate housing from being available to all.

photo by Images_of_Money

Side note: An important thing to know is that
declaring adequate housing to be a human right
does not mean anyone can go to court and sue
the government to provide them a place to live.
(Read Kathryn’s post to see her explanation.)

In a post earlier this year on her personal blog (which I suggest everyone subscribe to if you are interested in gov’t policy that involves poverty) Kathryn spills some reality about policy and whether or not making housing a human right will actually cause anything to happen specifically to make adequate housing a priority.

She says, “it seems to me to make more sense to integrate housing into a broad anti-poverty strategy“.

She explains this well because many reasons for people becoming homeless are because of affordability – they have to pay medical bills, they lost their job and and can no longer pay rent or mortgage (and many other reasons).

But, I believe if housing is made a human right then it will become an end goal instead of getting lost as part of a broad strategy.  If the end goal is keeping adequate housing affordable, then other policies will fall into place.  Many organizations whose mission is to end homelessness have taken a ‘Housing First’ approach that focuses on getting homeless individuals in an affordable living space FIRST and then providing support services to further help them in their unique situation and out of poverty.

If adequate housing is made a human right, then I think policies will be made to reflect this Housing First model that has been very effective.

What do you think? Should housing be made a human right?
If it is made a human right, do you believe anything new will occur?
Comment below, tweet me, or comment on my FB page!