The Basics of Advocacy for Community Change (Skills-based Advocacy Training – Part 1)

Sign up for this training if you’re new to advocacy and you want to raise a community issue and provide input to decision-makers. Through presentations, small-group discussions, and role-play activities, you will learn how to cultivate a civic voice and impact public policy, regulations, and laws.

After this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Explain, in general terms, what is meant by “advocacy”
  • Describe how advocates can influence values/culture leading to community change
  • Discuss the range of activities involved in advocacy, from simply showing up at a rally to understanding the policy levers that trigger a change in the law
  • Summarize components of a public policy advocacy campaign such as research, goal-setting, coalition-building, messaging, meeting with decision-makers, and utilizing data
  • Prepare arguments and counter-arguments for and against particular public policy proposals
  • Give examples of advocacy in other settings such as organizations and social groups


  • Aimee Wehmeier (Paraquad): Aimee Wehmeier grew up in St. Charles, MO with a belief she could change the world. While attending the University of Missouri, she found a shared sense of culture and empowerment and, for the for the first time, didn’t feel ashamed of her disability. After advocating at the state level about her personal experiences, she realized the power of her voice. Currently Aimee is the President of Paraquad, one of the first grass roots advocacy Centers for Independent Living in the United States. To this day, Aimee believes that by working together and standing up for what you believe in, we can create meaningful policy change and make the world a better place.
  • Jacque Knight and Joanne Martin (CBB Transportation Engineers + Planners):Joanne is dedicated to creating innovative, long-lasting solutions to challenges facing the community’s transportation system for all modes of transportation. She first started developing her passion for transportation as an undergraduate student at Saint Louis University. Through her employment with transportation agencies in both the public and private sector, she has been able to cultivate a deeper understanding of the transportation industry from varying perspectives. Joanne has contributed to projects focusing on a wide variety of transportation network. Some of the projects in her career include Tower Grove East Neighborhood Study focused on improving walkability, Zumbehl Corridor Study focused on maintaining vehicular and pedestrian safety as traffic volumes grow, and I-270 North Design-Build project focused on improving mobility and safety for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in St. Louis North County.
  • Ian Thomas (America Walks):Ian Thomas is a veteran of the walkable communities movement. He served on the America Walks Board of Directors for seven years, until his appointment as our State and Local Program Director in September, 2014.
    In 2000, he co-founded the PedNet Coalition of Columbia MO, and led the organization as its Executive Director for 13 years. Among several accomplishments, he coordinated the campaign to pass Columbia’s Complete Streets policy in 2004 – one of the earliest such policies in the U.S. In 2013, Ian was elected to the Columbia City Council, where he launched several new initiatives to expand healthy community policies, including an effort to expand the city’s bus system. He is a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.
    Ian and his wife, Ellen, a pediatrician, live in Columbia.

Note: This is a stand-alone workshop for Summit participants who are new to advocacy and who want to understand the basics. It is also the first of a two-part series for those who wish to engage more deeply in actual advocacy campaigns, going forward – Part 2 is on Weds., 10:45 am – 12:15 pm.