It Takes More than a Hashtag to Build a Movement: Network Building for Change

Movement leaders are constantly seeking powerful ways to connect resources to people and people to each other in order to create change — but social change cannot happen when individual leaders in grassroots groups and organizations are fractured from one another and campaign in isolation. Network structures do this job efficiently and effectively.

Today, successful movements are driven by many leaders with a wide range of skills and backgrounds who forge meaningful and strategic connections. Through these connections, they share information and resources, and coordinate to link campaigns toward a common vision and goal. Insights and experiences from the world of advocacy network-building can help civic technology builders and designers better develop a framework for their work, and understand the difference it can make when all of the elements come together.

Participants will learn about seven elements of network design successfully used by nonprofits and foundations at local, state, and national scales. Collaboration is key in a networked world. This session opens a discussion about the mechanics of network building for social change, and offers a framework for discussion and an opportunity to make sense of it all through a mix of large groups, peer learning, and small groups.


Marty Kearns

Founder and President

Netcentric Campaigns
Marty Kearns pioneered integration of network-centric principles into civic organizing and social change work. He drives the strategy, vision and development of Netcentric Campaigns, working with advocacy leaders from nonprofits and foundations to further their understanding of the powerful role networks of people can play in all elements of their work.

Jackie Mahendra

Founding Director, OPEN-US Network; Partner

Citizen Engagement Laboratory
Jackie is the Founding Director of a network initiative called OPEN-US (Online Progressive Engagement Network, US), whose aim is to strengthen the ecosystem of tech-savvy groups pushing for progressive change in the United States. Before launching this strategic collaboration initiative based at Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL), Jackie served as Director of Organizing and then Director of Storytelling at, the world’s largest campaigning platform. Prior to that, she led online strategy for the immigration reform advocacy group America's Voice, where she helped seed changes in deportation policy that now protect millions of immigrant families. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Netroots Nation and CodeWalker Academy, whose social mission is to build the pipeline of women and minorities into tech, and co-founded ethical clothing company ishi.

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