“When we engage in advocacy, we have the power to influence real change in our communities. As nonprofit organizations working directly with constituents, we have first-hand experience of some of our community’s biggest issues. We have vital information to share that can educate the public and policy makers on what we can do together to make our communities better for everyone.”, said Frank Martinelli, president of the The Center for Public Skills Training and facilitator of NPLI’s Leadership Forum, Stand For Your Mission Through Advocacy.

Frank Martinelli

Frank Martinelli

Nonprofit leaders sometimes make the mistake of deciding not to engage in advocacy because they believe they’re prohibited by law from doing so. This is simply not true. 

Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI) gathered 110 nonprofit leaders at its Leadership Forum, Stand For Your Mission Through Advocacy, on Wednesday, September 21. Nonprofit leaders spent the morning learning the information needed to empower themselves, their boards, and stakeholders to develop action plans that include advocacy elements, so they can be stronger champions for their mission and work towards positive change.

kim, sara, zach

Kimberly Stevens, Dyslexia Reading Connection, Sarah Wylie, and Zach Zabel, Fox Valley Veterans

 After learning about the broad range of legal advocacy activities, nonprofit leaders identified one or two forms of advocacy they could put into action. For example, Kimberly Stevens, Dyslexia Reading Connection shared her advocacy efforts will include educating the public, policy makers and members of the educational community on the facts about dyslexia.

There is a misperception on the number of students experiencing dyslexia symptoms – in fact, twenty percent of students can benefit from dyslexia services resulting in better outcomes in the classroom. 

Participants were also inspired by stories from local nonprofit leaders who are incorporating advocacy work alongside direct services. Nonprofits leaders, Michelle Devine Giese, Apricity; Nick Ross, Diverse & Resilient; Lynn Coriano, POINT and the Greater Fox Valley Child Care Alliance, Kristen Gondek, People of Progression, and Erin Schultz-Wege, SOAR Fox Cities, served as panelists and shared their organization’s advocacy stories.

Participants burst in to a round of applause as Michelle shared Apricity’s successful advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals with substance abuse disorders. Their work has resulted in legislation being passed which includes Medicaid funding for treatment plans to include recovery coaches. 


NPLI will be offering another Leadership Forum, February16, presented by Lake Effect Human Resources and Law. Learn more and Register.

The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region is a partnership of Fox Valley-area nonprofits, funders, educational institutions, and businesses dedicated to providing resources needed by effective nonprofit boards and executive leaders. Since its inception in 2015, NPLI has offered a wide range of leadership, management, and technical skill-building programs, as well as peer learning circles, to the entire nonprofit sector in the Fox Valley region. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, a Fox Cities-based nonprofit founded in 1986, helps people provide long-term support for favorite charities through endowments and other charitable funds. The second-largest certified community foundation in Wisconsin, its donors have allowed it to award more than $388.7 million to nonprofit organizations from more than 1,754 charitable funds. Affiliated community foundations operate in Brillion, Chilton, Clintonville, Shawano, and Waupaca. To learn more, go to cffoxvalley.org, subscribe to The Loop at cffoxvalley.org/loop or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.