Last Friday, the White House welcomed The Courage Campaign to participate in the Community Leaders Briefing Series, a weekly event where grassroots leaders come to Washington to engage with Administration officials. The Courage Campaign and its membership comprise an online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country.
The 100 plus Campaign members in attendance wasted no time engaging with top administration officials. They prompted active discussion on a wide array of hot button policy topics such as the economy, immigration, and the environment. The all-star lineup of White House officials provided Courage Campaign members the opportunity to present questions, concerns, and opinions directly to the source.
The day started with a candid and substantive conversation. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson provided her insight on the economic and environmental aspects of fracking and the President’s decision not to enact the new ozone regulations until 2013 due to the risk of creating more uncertainty in an already fragile economy. Her understanding of the current political landscape as well as the issues at stake made it clear there is no greater champion for the preservation of our environment.
Senior Advisor David Plouffe discussed the direction of the administration in the next year and highlighted the achievements of the administration so far. Critical times have called for critical measures, some of which have resulted in stabilizing the economy, ending the Iraq war and passing key legislation like the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” He made clear that the Administration’s main focus is on the current challenges the country faces, and heeded the call from participants to better utilize grassroots organizations to carry out the change this President believes in.
Home state favorite Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who devoted many years to advocating on behalf of Californians, shed light on the importance of the green job movement. She spoke strongly about the importance of utilizing scientific fact as the basis for policy decisions and encouraged greater involvement in the green sector of the economy.
Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy lead a lunch briefing which provided a casual environment for continued discussion and networking. Lunch was followed by topic specific breakout sessions ranging from education and immigration to the Affordable Care Act and the environment. Each breakout session was attended by policy experts which allowed for constructive collaboration between these amazing community leaders and the administration.
Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement closed the day by answering more questions and calling on these influential leaders to continue to mobilize behind the issues that matter most. He made clear that the administration is eager to work together with these vital community partnerships to create the positive change that will make a difference for the future.
Thanks to community leader Marta Evry for sharing her experience. Check out her amazing pictures and her insightful perspective.
Lauren Kelly is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.