In October, we awarded the State Legislative Leaders Foundation with an American Civic Collaboration Award - or a Civvy - for their collaborative work with the National Foundation for Women Legislators and the National Institute for Civil Discourse. President Steven G. Lakis filled us in on what winning a Civvy meant to his organization, and their hopes for 2018 in America.
What are your hopes for the upcoming year?
Bringing together policy makers from across the political and ideological spectrum has long been the hallmark of SLLF programs, and it will continue to be so in the upcoming year. In the spring of 2018 we will be hosting a program at the University of North Carolina dedicated to helping legislative leaders bridge the generation gap, learning how to work more effectively with young legislators, voters and citizens. We will also coordinate programs for Speakers of the House, Majority Leaders and Minority Leaders (new) respectively. Each of these programs will be dedicated to providing legislative leaders with the will, the tools and the knowledge to work with colleagues in their chamber, the other chamber and the executive branch to pass laws that will address the many challenges facing their states. One such issue is the opioid crisis that is devastating our nation. In the fall of 2018, we will bring together Republican and Democratic leaders from across the country at Johns Hopkins University to explore how they can work together to end this scourge on our land. With the assistance of great partners like NWFL and NICD, we will continue to provide opportunities for policy makers of all political, ideological, ethnic and regional stripes to come together in 2018 and beyond.
Why is collaboration important in today’s politics?
The importance of collaboration is most evident today in its glaring absence, especially at the national level of government. Democrats refuse to work with Republicans and vice versa. Conservatives refuse to work with liberals. Senators refuse to work with members of the House and both are wary of members of the executive branch. Therefore, bills are not passed and problems are not solved. And yet, the challenges facing this nation and the need for collaboration have never been greater. We face present or looming crises at home, (education, health care, infrastructure, public safety), and abroad, (North Korea, Russia and an imploding European Union). No one person or party has the knowledge or votes to fix these problems. We have to collaborate, bringing together the best ideas from the right, center and left, to fix them.
What do you wish people who have lost hope knew?
That despite what they hear on the news and read in social media, there are thousands of good men and women across this great nation who are working hard and working together to make our country a better place to live. Further, there are many organizations like SLLF, NFWL and NICD that stand ready to help them do it. Finally, they should know that they too can be a part of that solution by engaging with others and sharing their own ideas and solutions. All hands on deck!
What does winning a Civvy mean to you?
Winning the Civvy was a great honor and it was confirmation that what we and our collaborators at NICD and NWFL have been doing is important and valued. Not only did our program this summer teach about collaboration, it was a shining example of collaboration. Each of the three organizations (SLLF, NFWL and NICD) brought unique and necessary talents to the project so that the program was much better than it would have been had any one of us tackled it alone. We believe that the program and the recognition provided by the Civvy exemplifies the unparalleled value of collaboration – there is no end to what we as groups and we as a nation can accomplish when we work together!