Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

Build your own Quaker Advocacy Campaign

photo: Matthew Martyr
Workshop Number: 
Christine Ashley, Katie Breslin
Who may register?: 
Open to All
Experiential Activities: 
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

Friends will build a grassroots campaign based upon their leadings for specific legislative change with the support of Friends Committee on National Legislation staff members. Participants will hone a new set of advocacy skills, from how-to-build-a-local-community-of-advocates, how-to-lobby, to how-to-interact-with-the-media.

Workshop Description

Over the past 75 years, FCNL and Friends have effectively advocated for a world we seek, a world centered around peace and justice, equity, safety, health, and opportunity for all. 

We believe and have experienced, through grassroots organizing of thousands of F(r)iends, that Quakers have an imperative to be leaders for change. We want to expand pathways for Friends to positively impact and influence Congress towards peace. We have many resources already developed for Friends to independently access and employ in the pursuit of changemaking. During this workshop, we will share these resources and train Friends to become experts in grassroots organizing in their own communities.

The power of Quaker advocacy comes from building long-lasting and strong relationships with members of Congress, grounded in mutual respect and listening. Friends  will create strategies to:

  • build an ongoing relationship with their members of Congress;
  • work with the media to lift news we want to publicize as Friends;
  • foster a network of advocates in the local community;
  • help members of Congress become champions for peace and justice;

Over the course of the week, participants will identify their focus campaign for change, map strategies to move towards the arc of justice, formulate plans for recruitment. By the end of the week, each Friend should be able to articulate and share a well-thought out campaign for their identified focus.

Expectations and Objectives for the Week:

  • Create a strategic, practical and personalized action plan for legislative change, which can be set in motion with Friends and friends upon return from FGC gathering;
  • Learn and practice the skills needed to lead an advocacy campaign for legislative change;
  • Meet like-minded people who are interested in making social change and form an informal cohort of support and guidance.
  • Day 1: What is Quaker about Quaker advocacy? How do Friends stay spiritually-centered and remain resilient in the face of challenges and obstacles for peace and justice?
  • Day 2: What makes Friends effective lobbyists? 
  • Day 3: How can Friends use the media to shift policy and make way for legislative change? Staff will conduct a media training and use media as an effective tool for social change. Learn how to engage with reporters and media professionals, identify social media outlets and resources, write letters to the editor
  • Day 4: How are Friends effective as organizers and building an advocacy community? Trainings will include how to reach outside of your meeting. Train other people to lobby and engage your local community.
  • Day 5: Identify next steps to bring about pragmatic and powerful change.

Each day will begin and end with 10 minutes of worship sharing.

 We will structure learning modules for no longer than 20 minutes and then sprint in to groups for role playing, interactive exercises and small and large group discussions Individuals will spend at least 20% of the workshop time formatting and documenting their own handbook for change.

 Participants should bring a 3-ring binder as well as writing materials  

Day to Day schedule:

Day 1: What is Quaker about Quaker advocacy? How do Friends stay spiritually-centered and remain resilient in the face of challenges and obstacles for peace and justice? During our first day together, we will share our stories during worship sharing. Participants will then map personal strengths and resources and identify how the local community is impacted by public policy decisions. We will share our findings to the group.

Day 2: What makes Friends effective lobbyists?  We will train participants as Quaker advocates and draw upon our spiritual resources so that we can effectively speak truth to power. Using FCNL’s lobby visit road map, we will craft our stories as part of our advocacy “ask”. Participants will research their members of Congress and identify areas of opportunity to connect with congressional offices. We will review sample scenarios for legislative change and leave the day with a specific legislative ask for our members of Congress.

Day 3: How can Friends use the media to lift up legislative change?  Staff will conduct a media training, focusing on on letters to the editor and engaging with reporters and media professionals. We will also touch on how social media can be an effective tool for social change.

Day 4: How are Friends effective as organizers? Trainings will include how to reach out to your meeting and beyond to expand your people resources and build an advocacy cohort, train other people to lobby and engage your local community.

Day 5: Participants will present their change strategies and Quaker advocacy campaigns to the group for review and feedback. We will discuss next steps for how to turn those campaigns into action and identify ways we can take care of ourselves and remain resilient in the upcoming year ahead.

Leader Experience

Katie Breslin leads FCNL’s work with young adults and has trained thousands of people across the country on how to lobby Congress. She leads FCNL’s young adult lobby weekend, Spring Lobby Weekend, which has multiple interactive workshops on topics such as how to lobby, how to research your member of Congress and how to write letters to the editor. She has also led worship sharing groups about faith and activism in Quaker settings.

Christine Ashley has the honor of nurturing and deepening FCNL’s relationships with Friends across the United States. In her role as Quaker Field Secretary, Christine develops and sustains FCNL's engagement with individuals both within the Religious Society of Friends and with seekers for the Quaker way of living Faith in to action, travelling extensively amongst Friends, worshipping, leading workshops as well as speaking. Christine participates in monthly and yearly meetings and churches throughout the country, as well as connecting Friends to the myriad of ways Faith and Practice may meld in to daily life. Christine creates and organizes Quaker programming at the Quaker Welcome Center in DC for Friends across the country.

Christine came to FCNL after having served over 15 years as a Quaker educator. She has worked at Scattergood Friends School as Head of School in West Branch, Iowa. Her work in Quaker education also includes Thornton Friends Middle School as principal, and Thornton Friends Upper School (MD) as dean of students.