We have big news to share.

Marissa Martin is joining as Executive Director of the Advocacy Institute.

The Advocacy Institute is committed to supporting the legislative advocacy of social justice and movement-building organizations in New York City and State.

We develop talent, build networks, and provide tools and information to support successful legislative advocacy. We produce powerful trainings, creative visual aids and cutting-edge, interactive resources making it possible for organizations to become self-reliant in navigating key government contacts. Throughout, we build a collaborative community to learn from and support each other’s work.

We began by designing and distributing maps that helped small social justice and grassroots organizations successfully understand local and state government structures, timelines and power relations.

We’ve since hosted a series of trainings and multi-week courses on advocacy for groups actively engaged in legislative campaigns. We’ve steadily developed our curriculum and community of speakers: government insiders, seasoned advocates, organizers and journalists.

Our goal remains to clarify government structures and relationships, as well as reveal who holds power, who works for them, and how they fit within a coherent, if opaque, landscape.

We’ve identified several opportunities to clarify complex information and preserve institutional knowledge. As a result, we committed to developing tools to address these scenarios.

Our Legislative Directory and Legislative Maps are resources that help organizers and advocates identify targets, strategize opportunities to influence legislation, schedule legislative meetings, track their relationships with elected officials and staff, as well as pool information with allies.

We’re deepening our collaborative networks by using a cohort model that develops trust across issue areas.

Meet the Team

The Advocacy Institute is a well-respected advocacy resource, trusted by progressive foundations, local and statewide coalitions, and grassroots organizations. With a community of government insiders, seasoned advocates, organizers and journalists, our team knows what resources are missing and what opportunities exist.

Woven into our cohort model is a commitment to developing collaborative networks, trust across issue areas, and an understanding of the dynamics of privilege and oppression in legislative advocacy. All this serves to build infrastructure that lasts from one campaign to the next and helps shift the balance of power.

Marissa Martin

Ali Mullin

James Schaffer

Maggie Williams

Staff Biographies

Executive Director

Marissa Martin is the Executive Director of the Advocacy Institute. Prior to joining the Advocacy Institute, she served as the Northeast Director of Young Invincibles, leading policy and advocacy efforts around higher education, workforce development and healthcare for young adults.

Marissa has always had a passion for social justice and making larger systemic change to increase access and equity, holding several leadership positions overseeing Policy, Operations and Data teams. These positions include serving as the Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at the NYC Public Engagement Unit; the Director of Policy and Government Relations at ExpandED Schools (formerly TASC), as well as the Director of Government Affairs for the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families where she led CACF’s New York State and City budget advocacy campaigns.

Marissa is a Licensed Social Worker (LMSW) and holds a Masters in Social Work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, with concentrations in Community Organizing, Planning and Development.

Marissa is a founding member of 100 New Yorkers Who Care and lives in Hell’s Kitchen, NY with her partner.

Web Developer & Data Engineer

Ali is a Web Developer and Data Engineer at the Advocacy Institute. She maintains and advances the portfolio of tools used by our members and clients to optimize their legislative advocacy.

She holds an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University, and is a graduate of The Flatiron School’s full stack web development program. Originally from Colorado, Ali relocated to the East Coast to work in the criminal justice system before joining Teach for America, Miami-Dade, where she taught high school math and coached soccer in Liberty City, Florida. She brings to the Advocacy Institute leadership, communication and technical skills gained through her experiences in the education and non-profit sectors.

Ali lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Driven by a love of data, spreadsheets and infographics, James directs our operations, management systems and product/tool development. He brings a popular education approach to the curriculum team and facilitates tech trainings.

James serves on the Board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), also a proud alum of its Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship, and has organized within movements for migrant justice and domestic worker rights. Prior to co-founding the Advocacy Institute, James spent eight years helping small businesses, funders and non-profits strengthen their financial management and strategic planning.

Born and raised in New York City, he is a graduate of Harvard College, a student of Karate, Aikido and somatics, and lives in Brooklyn, NY with two wonderful humans and two wonderful cats.


Maggie develops the curriculum for the Advocacy Institute. She is the lead trainer, and oversees the development of relationships with partner organizations and funders. For nearly two decades, Maggie has worked to support progressive policy issues as a lawyer, legislative counsel, and advocate. She has extensive experience with community organizing and working to ensure that all communities have their voices heard in the political and legislative process.

Prior to starting the Advocacy Institute, Maggie applied her experience collaborating with grassroots organizations to analyzing and drafting legislation and making policy decisions in the New York State Senate. During the Democratic majority of the State Senate, Maggie was lead counsel on two key bills that were signed into law: then-Senator Eric Schneiderman’s bill to end prison-based gerrymandering and Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson’s bill to establish no-fault divorce. Before joining the Senate, Maggie worked as an advocate on criminal justice issues at the Correctional Association of New York and The Bronx Defenders.

Maggie holds a B.A. from Yale College and J.D. from Columbia Law School and is a student and teacher of somatics. She currently serves on the board of directors of the North Star Fund and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner.

Advisory Board

Rolando Brown

AI Board Member

Ethan Fletcher

AI Board Member

Jessica García

AI Board Member

Sunshine Ludder

AI Board Member

Anthonine Pierre

AI Board Member

Kate Rubin

AI Board Member

Contact Us!

We work statewide but we're based in Brooklyn, NY.

The Advocacy Institute
c/o Brooklyn Creative League

540 President Street, 3rd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11215