In October, we awarded an inaugural American Civic Collaboration Award, or Civvy, to the National Foundation for Women Legislators, for their collaborative work with the State Legislative Leaders Foundation and the National Institute for Civil Discourse. This partnership has pioneered new, smart ways of bridging partisan divides and amplifying the power of citizens to act through their elected representatives. NFWL Executive Director Jody Thomas filled us in on the experience of winning the award and the collaborative process.
What are your hopes for the upcoming year?
NFWL is looking forward to a 2018 filled with the celebration of women's excellence. Our organization is celebrating the 80th year of our founding, and we're excited to continue our work on civility, human trafficking, and taking on issues of importance to elected women. We believe it is time to highlight the outstanding work that women are doing to lead positive change, by working cross party lines, and ensure that elected women are recognized and valued for their inspiring, role-model behavior.
Why is collaboration important in today’s politics?
We know that two heads are better than one, and we know that working together is the only way to better understand the needs of everyone who may be impacted by our political decisions. Unintended legislative consequences are often the result of a lack of collaboration as policy created in silos cannot withstand the complicated multi-directional pulls it must endure upon passage. We are so committed to collaboration, that we have partnered with the National Institute for Civil Discourse to train our members to be Civility Ambassadors.
What do you wish people who have lost hope knew?
I wish that those who have lost hope knew about the efforts everyday by women elected officials trying their best to represent their constituents. Balancing priorities is challenging. At NFWL conferences, elected women come to learn, work hard, and become more effective leaders. We dedicate hours to civility workshops where they can take the time to break barriers and work together, building collaboration skills. They participate in these activities not for fun, but because they know that they must better themselves to help better the institutions of which they serve. They are leading the charge for changing the current toxic political environment.
What does winning a Civvys mean to you?
Winning a Civvy was such a memorable moment for our organization. When we joined together with NICD and SLLF, we barely knew each other, but respected each other's work from afar. All our organizations work to build the skill-sets of elected officials, but what we weren't expecting in our collaboration was that we built our own collaborative skill-set. Working with these two organizations has taught our team so much, improved our communication skills, and helped us better hone in on our messaging for elected women. Not only did we develop great content and opportunities for the women we serve, but we developed ourselves professionally, and made great friends along the way. We are so proud and honored to have a Civvy commemorate that partnership, and we look forward to honoring with our actions moving forward.