Today’s Write to Change the World seminar brought together local leaders from the Chicago area at the hip offices of WeWork River North. The backgrounds of today’s experts ranged from pediatrics to civic engagement in underrepresented communities.

FullSizeRender(4)Participants are working to shift public discussions on topics such as organizational psychology, child-rearing practices and socially conscious business. We are looking forward to hearing their voices influencing the public dialogue in Chicago and beyond.

A very special shout out to WeWork River North who hosted our group of thought leaders. WeWork provides small businesses, startups and freelancers with the workspace, community, and services they need.

Do you want your voice to be heard? Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 10 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis. Visit our website to find other upcoming cities and dates.

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So what’s it like to be a part of the Public Voices Greenhouse, Sean?

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld is the co-director of the Building Movement Project and a participant in the CGPS Public Voices Greenhouse.

Being part of Sean Thomas-Breitfeldthe Center for Global Policy Solutions Greenhouse has been great because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. Like most people working for social and policy change, I read the news and have opinions – sometimes they’re even well-reasoned arguments. But when I usually write about issues that matter, I don’t often try to reach beyond my progressive bubble. And when I have the chance to speak publicly about my work, I’m usually preaching to the choir.

Deborah Douglas and Michele Weldon – my cohort’s coaches for The Op Ed Project – have pushed me to think about the value my ideas can have beyond my small world of progressive activists and nonprofit organizations. They’ve challenged me to think bigger and reach broader when crafting my op-eds.

Here’s one example: I’m concerned about the imbalance in funding going to smaller grassroots organizations, which are often led by people of color, and big national groups that more often have white leadership. So at the first training session, I drafted a blog that basically spoke to foundation program officers – a narrow slice of the nonprofit sector, not to mention a completely obscure audience for the general public. Michele rightly pointed out that the piece was way too “inside baseball” and noted that the average reader has no idea or concern with the dynamics of nonprofit funding.

The training and coaching from Michele and Deborah challenged me to think about other examples of fundraising challenges that might be more relatable for people. It took a while for me to think through other examples and talk to people who were struggling with grassroots fundraising and crowd-funding the issues I care about. But eventually, I crafted an op-ed that compared the $220 million raised by the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS with the fundraising struggles of grassroots efforts connected to the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a harder piece to think through and write, but it was worth the effort.

CGPS Q2 Group


A gIMG_0615_2roup of influential experts came together today at the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) in Washington, DC. The backgrounds in the room ranged from cybersecurity to wildlife protection.

Participants are working to change the public conversation around topics such as US-Mexico border security, improving non-discrimination laws for LGBTQ people and advancing labor rights in the workplace. We’re so excited to hear their voices influencing the public sphere this year.

A special thanks to our host the International Labor Rights Forum!

Do you want your voice to be heard? Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 10 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis. Visit our website to find other upcoming cities and dates.


A love letter to my OpEd Project colleagues and community

ko and cbIt struck me that I just hit my 3 year milestone with OEP.

There’s a real opportunity here to reflect on what has happened the past 3 years – BIG picture because why not. I’m sentimental. Check it out: when I began on St. Patrick’s Day 2012, we were finishing up our very first fellowship at Yale.

In the 36 months that have passed, we’ve expanded to 15 institutions, many of which have turned into multi-year, renewable partnerships.  That’s hundreds and hundreds of fellows. We’ve worked directly with over 7,000 new alums.  We’ve travelled to 8+ countries within 4 continents. In early 2012, we averaged ten people on our weekly calls.  These days, over 30 of us dial-in and about 120 of us (including our fab Mentor-Editors) play a role each month. The new ideas that have been midwifed by the lot of you are in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

I’ve gotten to travel and help usher in programs at Dartmouth and Yale, in Norway, Phoenix, D.C., in Big Trees CA, Zanzibar and Cincinnati.  I’ve worked with Egyptian film activists at the UN and an array of European geoscientists in Bergen.  I had a piece published in the New York Times and then was invited to meet with Sheryl Sandberg. I got to go to Clinton Global Initiative and rub elbows with the top, top dogs.  I’ve run a half-marathon with some of you and spelunked in a cave with others. I have a few new gray hairs. zanz

But above all of that, the most important element of the past 3 years is that I’ve helped weave and become embedded in a network of some of the brightest and most incredible people I’ve ever known (that would be you).  You people are my church and tribe.  And day to day, week to week, year to year, I couldn’t be more excited of  what we’re building together. I don’t know about you but I’m in awe of it, in awe of you, and just so, so grateful.
In sum, you’ve made me better– thank you. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

big love,




FullSizeRender (25)Today’s New York City Write to Change the World seminar brought together experts from a wide range of fields and organizations. The group included faculty from Princeton, NYU and Columbia, representatives from the United Nations, a concert cellist, a Hip Hop Cultural Envoy, and Acting Executive Director of the Committee of 100, a leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans.

We were thrilled to have Jacqueline Musiitwa in the room, a 2014 Aspen New Voices Fellow.  The Aspen New Voices Fellowship, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, offers development experts from Africa and other parts of the developing world a year-long program of media support, training, research and writing under the guidance of experienced mentors and trainers. The OpEd Project has partnered with The Aspen Institute to provide OpEd Project curriculum to fellows, most recently in South Africa in February 2014. FullSizeRender (26)

Planned Parenthood’s Global Youth Advocacy Fellow, Isabel Reade, was also a participant in today’s program. Through the fellowship, Planned Parenthood provides the opportunity for exceptional student advocates to become deeply engaged with international reproductive health and lead local global advocacy efforts by creating and implementing campaigns in their communities. Isabel is one of five Global Youth Advocacy Fellows who will attend the Write to Change the World seminar this year on scholarship.

Do you want your voice to be heard? Come see us in action. We run Write to Change the World seminars in 10 major U.S. cities on a rotating basis. Visit our website to find other upcoming cities and dates.