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 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.
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.
Curriculum and Engagement Designer
Web Developer and Data Engineer
Director of Training and Curriculum
Finance and Program Manager
Akina Younge is a Curriculum and Engagement Designer at the Advocacy Institute. She facilitates members’ and clients’ successful use of the Advocacy Institute’s tools and technology. Aki creates curriculum and guides outlining where tools and technology can be strategically leveraged to achieve legislative wins.
Aki first came to Advocacy Institute as a participant when she was a Legislative Advocacy Specialist at the Urban Justice Center Community Development Project. In this role, she was a key member of the Rent Justice Coalition, which successfully advocated for the first ever rent freeze for rent stabilized apartments.
After her work at the Community Development Project, she continued her work in policy and change making by joining the Coro Fellowship. As a Coro Fellow, she used her previous experiences and her sociology degree from Yale to explore how society and people’s identity affects what motivates individuals to act.
Aki is also a competitive Ultimate frisbee player and coach. She lives in East Harlem, NY.
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.
Director of Training and Curriculum
Guisela develops curriculum for the Advocacy Institute, ensuring trainings address the needs of legislative advocates across multiple regions, issues, and sectors in New York. She oversees relationships with partner organizations, facilitates AI curriculum, and engages in strategic campaign consultation with AI members.
Guisela recently served as the regional organizer for the Long Island and Lower Hudson Valley chapters of the New York Civil Liberties Union and focused on statewide campaigns relating to educational justice, police reform and accountability, and immigrant rights, including the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign.
Her Latinx heritage has informed her ability to make connections between obstacles she has overcome and issues that affect other marginalized groups. Guisela is an immigrant from Guatemala and a fluent Spanish speaker and writer. Coming to the United States as an eight-year-old immigrant from Guatemala City, Guisela grew up striving to shape her identity in an unfamiliar world and help others navigate similar struggles.
Prior to joining the NYCLU in 2013 Guisela delivered direct services to low-income families in Westchester County, NY, helping them gain access to educational opportunities from early childhood through college. In addition, she supported families with language barriers in gaining a better understanding of the college entrance process.
Guisela holds a B.A. in Behavioral Science and a Masters in Organizing, Planning & Development from the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. She currently lives in Mamaroneck, NY.
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 currently serves on the board of directors for the North Star Fund and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Sadia manages our bookkeeping, financial and membership operations. She also oversees logistics for our trainings and events.
Born and raised in London, UK, Sadia earned degrees in history and law before immigrating to New York City in 2008. She holds a Master of Social Work from Lehman College, a Master of Laws from Cardozo School of Law in New York City, and a deep commitment to social justice and criminal justice reform.
Sadia is a member of several coalitions and groups providing social justice, social work and legal and trainings. Whether doing work with the Campaign Against Isolated Confinement (CAIC), Challenging Incarceration collective, or her engagement with the Correctional Association advocacy for the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), she brings drive and commitment to all her endeavors.
Sadia loves salsa dancing and also works as a personal trainer and spin instructor. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Lead Community Organizer
Brooklyn Movement Center
Applied Behavioral Scientist
Deputy Political Director
RWDSU (Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union)
Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives
Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives, Public Engagement Unit
City of New York
Growth Strategist & Engineer
Made To Grow
Rip & Roy
The Advocacy Institute is fiscally sponsored by The Center for Popular Democracy.