Perspectives on Pathways for America - Overview

Posted on August 31, 2017 at 4:34 PM

A program with a new take on how to provide more Americans a cross-partisan, capacity-building, and independent environment to discover and accomplish their most important civic goals.

Since my own election in 2011, I have tried to find ways to help make participating in governance processes more accessible. I found being in government a unique opportunity to serve, learn, make real change in people’s lives, build long-term relationships with others, and ultimately prepare myself for doing more to help make government function better in the future. I’ve always tried to share that experience through talking about, teaching, mentoring, active outreach and engagement, support of organizations that do similar work, and doing things like speaking at lectures/workshops so that others can see what a great opportunity it is for them to do the same.

But I wanted to contribute to something more institutional and sustainable - something that could be created bringing in my own prior work, pulling in some of the best work already out there, and then taking a creative step forward in how we develop civic leadership in such a way that others can continue to build on it. This is what brought me to Run for America and, ultimately, creating Pathways.

Our long-term vision for Pathways was relatively simple: To create “a program to help promising leaders discover their potential to make change and become independently, intellectually, and politically empowered to more deeply engage in civics.

So that each of the participants could be better prepared, and more independently able to play whatever role they decided was best in working towards a better civic future, they would be:

  • Engaging with people from different parts of the country from different demographic and political backgrounds,

  • Be exposed to new processes, strategies, tactics, and tools for thinking critically through their ideas and plans related to community and public impact, and

  • Provided a low/no pressure environment where we, and they each, helped each other figure out what they most cared about, how to evaluate whether they are on track towards those long-term goals, and what to do going forward

The values we used to design and implement Pathways (Source: Pathways for America program materials):

  1. Participant-driven. The program is built on widely-tested methodologies in behavioral psychology and community-led development to facilitate greater participant ownership over the ideas, activities and eventual outcomes.

  2. True independence. We don’t instill any particular ideologies or policies in participants, but rather, help them gain the confidence, skills and resources they need to create independent frameworks that they can use for a lifetime of effective civic program/policy thinking and making.

  3. Connected and collaborative. We believe in curating diversity of background, thought, perspective and experience to ensure participants not only form long-term collaborative relationships with each other but also value and internalize the need and benefit of diversity in decision-making environments.

  4. Nonpartisan. We strive for a balanced cohort of individuals, and have designed our program to be as nonpartisan as possible, creating a truly inclusive and trusted space where participants are open to ideate, develop and argue for what they believe in.

  5. Pragmatic and innovative governance. We believe in better government through better governance. Pathways empowers participants to be truly results-driven, practical, creative, ethical, strategic, courageous leaders in public spaces – however they chose to do so.

Pathways was an experiment, and a truly exciting and rewarding one at that. We wanted to try and find at least one way to break through the gridlock of an increasingly politically and culturally divided country. Our program evaluations lead us to feel that we found some remarkable success, although there are still many challenges. But this for me, and for all of us, is a constant learning and development process, and in some subsequent posts I’d like to reflect on a few aspects of what this means.

You can find the first post here: Early Chain Engagement (Coming September 2017).

This overview post will be updated to reflect my evaluation and perspectives on additional subjects such as:

  • Partisanship and cross-partisanship

  • Remote learning

  • Critical planning

  • Keys to successful implementation

  • Capacity building

  • Governance opportunities

Thanks for checking it all out!