Learnings from Our First Virtual Fireside Chat

Learnings from Our First Virtual Fireside Chat

Almost everything we do within a social justice movement is about influencing people and getting them to take an action. That might mean getting the truth out about an issue campaign, and urging people to vote out legislators who blocked a key bill’s passage. It might mean encouraging folks to care about their health and the health of their partners, and getting tested. Or, it could mean asking a community to pay attention to each other, and to lean in when there is trouble, hardship, or conflict.

At the core, there is almost always a sequence that looks like this:

  1. Believe.
  2. Act.

This hit home for me when watching Move to End Violence’s first virtual fireside chat, a live webinar conversation held on September 26, 2013 with leaders in the immigrant rights movement.

Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO Assistant to the President and Director of Immigration and Community Action, Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair of We Belong Together, and Gaby Pacheco, Executive Director of the Bridge Project shared transformational stories – moments in their work for social justice that helped move people to believe in their cause, and then to act.

One thing the speakers addressed was how they shaped specific messages for different audiences. Pramila explained that her organization saw the potential that women have to transform the immigration debates, and they put women at the center. Similarly, some of Gaby’s work focused on young people, and pursued messages and actions that would resonate with them.

Pramila then shared what her organization needed to do in order to build a base of women. They developed a strong analysis to shape a compelling public narrative of the problem, rooted in data. And they found the importance of getting the right messenger: every poll testing immigration messages that they reviewed had used a man’s voice. They found that when they tested the same messages delivered by a woman, there was a 9% shift among women in supporting immigration reform.

Once someone is engaged and activated, the speakers spoke about different strategies to transform belief into action – referring to “the entry point of self,” which recognizes that the actions for each individual will be tailored to her situation and circumstances. Ana shared the story of using the power and position that the AFL-CIO had to represent the concerns of more marginalized communities, who literally did not have a seat at the table. Gaby spoke to the power of sharing a personal story that carries inherent risks – like how her decision to speak out resulted in ICE coming to her family’s home. By confronting that risk, she was able to do “the most powerful thing” – to lose fear. Pramila also shared a powerful story of how one allied movement leader’s experience in civil disobedience cemented her commitment to fight for immigration reform.

All of these stories demonstrate how commitment and action can fuel more action, and contribute to a larger community of individuals with a shared set of values. This is how movements are built.

All of us can learn so much from listening to Gaby, Pramila, and Ana’s stories, especially as immigration reform gains traction on a national level with legislative reform and powerful public demonstrations. Research conducted last year by Move to End Violence shows that the movement to end violence against girls and women has broad appeal – people agree with us – but more needs to be done to create intensity, both in attitude and action. Let’s keep learning from each other and build our capacity to make change.

What other questions would you want to ask Ana, Gaby, and Pramila?


Emily Napalo Cavanaugh
Emily Napalo Cavanaugh
Director of Operations
Move to End Violence

Emily Napalo Cavanaugh (She, Her, Hers) is the Director of Operations for Move to End Violence. With a background in women’s rights and reproductive health, Emily supports the program’s development, including convening design and materials production, and runs many of the operational aspects of Move to End Violence. Learn More

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