The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies will host its annual event titled “Where Mission Meets Advocacy” on Wednesday, April 24, at the Madison Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison.
“Based on individual projects and relationships, we really have a rich array of partners and examples that inform our work and we’re lucky enough, being a campus and academic entity that a lot of us are getting out into the national contacts and learning about these themes,” Mary Beth Collins, executive director of UW-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, tells Madison365. “Our goal is to really take all of that stuff that has been coalescing at our center and listen to the communities in Wisconsin that we want to work with and support and hopefully deliver them some new information or new inspiration or new connections that will augment their work.”
The UW Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, or the “CommNS,” is a hub for faculty, students, and community partners to collaborate on research, practice, and evaluation that examines and advances the well-being of communities, as well as the civic and nonprofit sectors.
The 2019 “Where Mission Meets Advocacy” event will be presented in partnership with the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. The theme, “Where Mission Meets Advocacy,” will explore the ways that mission-based work can result in the need to pursue various advocacy tactics to address needed change in systems, context, and policy.
“The Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies has historically had an annual event. We always try to focus the entire event around a theme that has been bubbling up as relevant to our stakeholders which include both campus and community partners,” Collins says. “This year, everybody is talking this idea of advocacy in a sector. People understand that even if they are working on hunger or homelessness or the environment or education at some point there’s a crossroads where looking at systemic change or context or policy tends to come up. And people are asking a lot of questions on how to do that well.”
At this year’s Annual Event, a diverse lunch panel will have “reflections from the field” from both a regional and global perspective, featuring outstanding panelists including:
◉ Anthony Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Reentry Services, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development;
◉ Jeffrey Lewis, Director of Natural Circles of Support;
◉ Toni Rivera-Joachin, Executive Director of Families and Schools Together and former Executive Director of Centro Hispano of Milwaukee and former Project Director of Project Ujimaof the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin;
◉ Audrey Wright, Chicago Peace Warrior;
◉ Robert J. Mayer, Director of Vida Marina Center for Conservation and Ecological Restoration, University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla;
◉ Eduardo Santana, Faculty, University of Guadalajara and Coordinator of the Museum of Environmental Science of Guadalajara;
◉ Araceli Alonso, co-director of 4W-STREETS (Social Transformation to End the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex) and founder and director of Health
◉ Linda Vakunta, PhD, Evaluator at ECE Partners LLC.
“The lunch panel should be very interesting. We are going to have eight experts on stage and they’re all going to talk about one very poignant anecdote about their life’s work where they had to pivot from mission to advocacy,” Collins says.
Collins says that one of the most compelling
“They are such a great example for our center because one of our areas is youth development and leadership,” Collins says. “That’s an area where we’ve always had faculty and community partners specifically looking at that issue. There’s tons of research that say that youth being involved in our civic processes really increases and improves the work. Also, if youth get involved in issues early, their life course tends to look a lot more civically engaged for the long term.”
There will be “How-to” sessions for nonprofit and community organizations on how to advocate and remain within compliance as a nonprofit organization with Attorney Melissa Auchard-Scholz and how to tell your story for advocacy purposes with Alan Talaga.
“There’s this concept that we’ve been really interested in called ‘tactical urbanism’ – basically the idea of having these groups in communities that instead of waiting for big-city projects to happen or beautification things to be approved, they just go and do things themselves,” Collins says. “They change a bus stop to be safer and cleaner, for example. We’ll be doing a virtual panel for part of the day with some of the leading groups in this in Nashville, Philadelphia, and Wisconsin.”
Collins says “Where Mission Meets Advocacy” will be a great opportunity to exchange and learn about how various forms of advocacy play a role in mission-based efforts.
“This is an event for everybody. Our general audience tend to be some students and some faculty and staff but then a lot of our partners from the center are community organizations. Last year, for example, we had a wide variety of folks,” she says. “To me, anybody volunteering or involved in their community should come – they don’t have to have a title. I think they would probably find some of this work really interesting.”
To register for this event, click here.