Everyone can participate in law and policy advocacy. Community members and front-line workers have significant expertise and can help dismantle barriers, challenge stigma and discrimination, and transform society for the good of all.
In my ideal not-for-profit sector, every organization would have a Director of Policy and Campaigns. Whether you provide front-line services, do research or allocate funds, to work effectively you need to understand proposed legislation, recent legal decisions, and institutional policies. In order to improve our communities and support clients, we all need to be engaged in decision-making processes, and to respond promptly and assertively to regressive actions and injustices.
Many organizations do not have a Director of Policy and Campaigns on staff however, which is where my “on-call” services come in. I am available to:
- monitor and summarize legal developments;
- recommend engagement strategies and media messages;
- draft briefing papers and policy submissions, organizational position papers, and campaign documents;
- liaise with partners, build coalitions and mobilize your supporters;
- facilitate conversations about legal and policy issues; and
- ensure the voices and experiences of your community are heard.
My business model is built around the recognition that policy work often must happen at unexpected and inopportune times. As civil society, we have no say in when a court will issue a decision or the timing of government consultations or bills. We have to respond whether we are ready or not. Put me on speed dial — I'll make sure you are able respond when you need to.
Did you know?
For many years, there were limits on the amount of “political activity” a Canadian charity could undertake. This was found to be unconstitutional in July 2018. The federal government therefore removed the limitations so that charities can engage in non-partisan political activities and the development of public policy in order to advance their mandates and benefit their communities.
Alison is a patient mentor who has broad knowledge of social justice issues and organizations. Working with her gave me the confidence and inspiration to transition into the non-profit social justice sector. She helped me to navigate a challenging career move, and continues to provide invaluable advice and support which she draws from her many years as an advocate.
Director of Education, Innocence Canada
The issue of “Dreamers” has received a lot of attention in the U.S., but few people are aware that childhood arrivals in Canada are arguably in a worse position. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) in June 2020, I knew I had a unique opportunity to focus attention on the issue in Canada — but I had to act fast. Alison stepped up to support me and within 24 hours we had drafted an Op Ed (which appeared in one of Canada’s largest newspapers) and formulated a media strategy. This blast of focus on the issue spurred further coverage of the difficulties facing childhood arrivals in GTA, and attracted supporters and donors to the CASA program. I could not have seized this pivotal opportunity without Alison’s guidance and drafting. For a small program like mine, her services are indispensable.
Director, Childhood Arrivals Support and Advocacy (CASA)
I have had the pleasure of working with Alison on and off over the last 15 years. She’s not only brilliant and conscientious, she’s also quietly hilarious, with her funny observations and straight talk. She’s also a creative person, always thinking about how to reach different audiences. Her work is peppered with what we came to call the “Alison magic".
Operations Lead, Spring
Our network was interested in speaking with communities across Ontario about a law reform initiative on an issue which is very important to our work and our communities; however, our network members are not legal experts. We wanted to be sure we all fully understood the campaign demands so we could hold conversations in our respective communities across Ontario. We asked Alison to facilitate a training amongst the members of our network. She did a excellent job of explaining the initiative and answering our questions. Her feminist and anti-oppressive analysis, and her particular attention to how this area of law affects our everyday work with women, was so valuable. We were able to respond confidently because of Alison's help.
Director, Women's HIV/AIDS Initiative
The WATCH study is a three-year CIHR-funded community-based research study using arts-based methods to explore the impacts of the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure on women living with HIV in Canada. When we were conceptualizing the grant, I invited Alison to be a Co-Principal Investigator because of her strong feminist jurisprudence analysis, excellent grant writing skills and commitment to engaging in legal advocacy for women living with HIV in Canada. Throughout the project, her contribution has been critical to our approach to developing and facilitating research activities that result in community-based education and activism. Working with Alison has been a highlight in my career as a community-based researcher and activist; I highly recommend her to anyone looking for someone who has strong skills in grant writing and planning advocacy campaigns.
Dr. Saara Greene
Associate Professor, School of Social Work, McMaster University
In late 2017, we became aware that an aggressive crackdown was taking place against LGBTQI activists in Egypt. This was an emergency situation and we needed to respond quickly. Alison looked into the situation on our behalf and interviewed several activists who had already fled the country in order to piece together precisely what was going on. She produced a succinct and insightful situation brief for us — complete with recommended actions.
We were able to intervene on behalf of the LGBTQI community in Egypt. Many thanks to Alison for stepping in at this critical time! Her support was instrumental in our response.