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Reflections from AFC’s Policy Summit

• Jennifer Diaz

This week at the American Federation for Children’s Annual Policy Summit, my ExcelinEd colleagues and I heard from an array of speakers and leaders across the educational opportunity movement. We found that two themes threaded each conversation.

United We Stand

Father Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Ministries, said “There is no us and them, just us.” This is a powerful reminder that those of us working in and around education are here for the kids and giving each of them a great pathway to a bright future. We may have different ways of getting there, but we are all working toward same goal.

Passing the Torch

AFC recently launched Voices for Choice, where you can learn about the real students and families that have benefited from school choice programs in their states. These individuals, bravely sharing their stories of trial and hope, are inspiring. Hearing many of these Voices for Choice at the Summit, we felt energized to continue working to ensure all students have the opportunity to find a school that is the best fit for their success.

Takeaways from my ExcelinEd Colleagues

Tori Bell, Senior Policy Analyst

“I participated in the peer consultancy workshop, and this experience was a great reminder how important it is to listen and ask questions of our colleagues, partners and even people outside of our traditional professional network. Brainstorming solutions to a problem can be more productive and fruitful when we have diverse perspectives weighing in.

“A key takeaway for me was to keep our messaging simple. Many of our organizations are in the weeds of these issues every day, navigating different policies, strategies and more. However, most average American families aren’t in the weeds. When it comes to a child’s education, most families simply want to know: Is my child safe, and is my child being equipped to pursue a successful life?”

Ryan Mahoney, Senior Regional Advocacy Director

“For those of us who’ve been advocating on behalf of disadvantaged students for some time now, Father Gregory Boyle’s remarks on opening night were a great reminder of why we do what we do. His life’s work — of standing with those who have no voice, of going to the margins to serve the marginalized — was an inspiration to the entire audience.”

Nathan Hoffman, Regional Advocacy Director

“I appreciated AFC board member John Kirtley’s advice to attendees that even though reformers have a lot of bad days, we have to keep fighting the good fight because there are too many kids depending on it.”

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About the author

Jennifer Diaz @Jennformative

Jennifer serves as the Vice President of Communications, providing strategic advice and leading ExcelinEd’s external communications and marketing efforts. Previously, Jennifer served as ExcelinEd’s National Director of Advocacy, supporting the Advocacy Team in their work with state leaders to develop and adopt legislation and policies that transform education to ensure students are prepared for success in college, career and life, and as ExcelinEd’s State Communications Director, coordinating media and strategic communications in key education reform states across the nation, including legislative session rapid response and long term policy and advocacy communication campaigns.