My family has a long history of civic leadership. My grandfather, Don Aitken, was one of the founding members of Green Foothills. In 2015, I was 25 years old, wanting to make a difference on the issue of money in politics but not knowing exactly how. When I found out about the Community Advocates Leadership Academy, I knew that I had to apply.
The program gave me the courage to lead a San Francisco ballot initiative campaign in 2016. I championed Proposition T to ban lobbyist campaign contributions, gifts of travel, and bundling. But ballot initiative campaigns are a lot of hard work. The Community Advocates Leadership Academy equipped me with the toolset to draft the policy language, organize the campaign, and mobilize people to join the cause.
That being said, the most meaningful part of the program wasn’t what I learned but the friendships I made with 30 other local leaders in the program. The members of this cohort are from every walk of life and they care about so many issues, from climate, to public health, to education. Seeing these people every month invigorated me. We supported one another, improved one another, and reminded one other that we can each make an impact.
We did win our local ballot measure. But beyond that, it was the community of engaged citizens and our potential to create change that makes me grateful for this program and drives me forward with hope. My campaign team, RepresentUs, cannot wait for others to do the work we need in our communities, our country, and our world. To see change we must act together. I will always value the Community Advocates Leadership Academy and Committee for Green Foothills for teaching me how to do my part.