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Skillsbuilding Program Highlights

Up your game through hands-on learning from experienced trainers and practitioners.

Citizen Lobbying Training

Don’t let special interests be the only groups politicians hear from. Lobbying is a valuable skill that can be used by grassroots campaigns to build relationships with lawmakers and pressure them to act. In this session you’ll learn how to work with and influence elected officials to achieve your policy outcomes – and what to do when politicians don’t listen to you.

Facilitated by:

  • Michael Pollack, Executive Director, March on Harrisburg
  • Nora Utech, Organizer, March on Harrisburg

How to Get Media Coverage

Getting media attention is a powerful tool to rally support and influence decision makers. Find out what reporters look for when they’re choosing their next story, how to build relationships with them, and how to develop media plan that lands you in the news.

Facilitated by:

Jennifer Pae, Vice President of Trainings & Leadership Development, re:power

How to Develop a Message That Sticks

You can’t win unless you deliver a message that sticks with people days, weeks and months after they hear it. But what facts should you share and how can you connect with your audience – especially someone who disagrees with you? In this interactive training, you’ll learn the recipe for creating persuasive messages that will help you win over skeptics, pitch to funders, motivate volunteers, and more.

Facilitated by:

Cathy McNally, Founder of Women Speak Up!

How to Create a Social Media Strategy from Scratch

Social media channels are increasingly where voters, volunteers, and donors hear about campaigns – or even start them. But how can you use each channel to bring in and engage supporters? In this session, you’ll learn the different advantages of each social media platform and how to create your social media strategy from scratch.

Facilitated by:

  • Grace Harvey, Digital Content and Design Associate of the Democracy Collaborative at ReThink Media
  • Manuela Ekowo, Media Associate of the Democracy Collaborative at ReThink Media
  • Spencer Olson, Associate Director of the Democracy Collaborative at ReThink Media

Grassroots Fundraising 101

To win any campaign, you need the funds to make it happen. Not sure where to start? Come learn the best practices for launching a fundraising campaign – from goal-setting to identifying prospective donors to making your pitch. You’ll leave empowered to take grassroots fundraising head on.

Facilitated by:

Irene Shin, Political Director, Crowdpac

Making the Case for Reform With Data

Everyone knows money in politics is a problem – but how exactly does it work, and what data can you use to make the case for reform in your community? In this session you’ll learn where to find campaign finance data, how to pick out relevant information, and how to present data to make an evidence-based, compelling case for reform.

Facilitated by:

  • Hamsini Sridharan, Program Director, MapLight
  • Laura Curlin, Data Director, MapLight

Set the Internet on Fire: How to Make Online Content that Goes Viral

Why do some videos and social media posts go viral, while others reach only a few people? It’s not just luck — some campaigns truly are designed and released in a way that makes them more shareable. Join two creative and marketing experts who drove the success of multi-million view political videos like Unbreaking America and Honest Gil to find out how you can create content that goes viral. In this session, you’ll learn what makes things shareable and why, and advanced promotion tricks that will give your content the best chance at reaching a larger audience.

Facilitated by:

  • Ryan Kleier, Director/Producer, RepresentUs
  • Jamie Bronczyk, Online Community Manager, RepresentUs

Stepping Up to Lead: How to Build Volunteer Power for Your Cause

Whether you’re working on a campaign or growing a grassroots organization, your volunteer program can make or break your success. In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn the conversational secrets to enroll new volunteers, methods for unlocking the leadership of your existing supporters, and tips for building grassroots people power both online and in-person.

Facilitated by:

  • Pavitra Abraham, Director of Live Training & Political Partnerships, National Democratic Training Committee
  • Collyn Warner, Deputy Live Training Director, National Democratic Training Committee

Democracy Tech Showcase

The internet hasn’t yet ushered in the golden age of democracy we were promised – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful! Come see the cutting edge of democracy technology showcased by voting, disclosure, and political tech experts. Through a series of short, accessible presentations, you’ll be introduced to innovative tools and organizations that are powering cutting‐edge campaigns and arming voters with information to Unrig the System.

Facilitated by:

  • Wesley Panek, Investor, New Media Ventures
  • Brandi Collins-Dexter, Media Justice Director, Color of Change

Unrig Unconference

It’s time for you to set the agenda! Sunday morning, you’re in charge. The Unrig Unconference will feature more than a dozen trainings and talks that are 100% proposed, designed and led by you or your fellow attendees. Vote for your favorite proposals on Saturday afternoon before the schedule is announced that night. Then, on Sunday, come ready to learn, build and connect.

Unconference proposals are now open – learn more and submit an application!

Hosted by RepresentUs

Facilitated by You, and the Unrig Summit community!

Ballot Initiatives: A Powerful Tool to Unrig Your State

In the 22 states that allow them, ballot initiatives are a powerful form of direct democracy and one of the most promising strategies for passing meaningful reforms. In this training, you’ll learn from experts at Ballot Initiative Strategy Center the role ballot measures can play in building power, the process you need to follow to succeed, and real-life examples of regular people taking on the establishment… and winning.

Facilitated by:

  • Kellie Dupree, Director of Partnerships & Training, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center
  • Dana Laurent, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center

One Conversation at a Time: Using Canvassing to Win Campaigns

From signature collection drives to Get Out the Vote efforts, canvassing is an essential tool for launching and winning campaigns. In this interactive training, you’ll learn the fundamentals of canvassing and petition circulation that Voters Not Politicians used to collect 425,000 signatures and knock on 465,000 doors – resulting in a historic victory against gerrymandering in Michigan.

Facilitated by:

Jamie Lyons-Eddy, State Field Director, Voters Not Politicians Michigan

How to Use Compelling and Inclusive Visuals to Galvanize the Movement

Powerful imagery can inspire change, galvanize movements, and shift the balance of power. This session will teach you what makes compelling visual imagery while discussing opportunities to improve our awareness and reach of our diverse communities. You’ll leave this session with the tools and inspiration you need to make movement-changing, inclusive visual imagery.

Facilitated by:

  • Colin Mutchler, Entrepreneur & Product Manager,

How to Run for Office (Because You Should)

The national conversation about who a candidate can and should be is changing, prompted by a wave of citizen participation, demands for increased representation and the growing power of small dollar donors. Whether you’re planning to run for office already or you’re just secretly curious, this training will introduce you to the key considerations, supports and skills you’ll need to be successful.

Facilitated by:

Sarah Horvitz, National Political Director, Run for Something

How Telling Your Story Can Help Your Campaign Win

From gaining new recruits to getting press coverage, so much of what we do relies on our ability to tell a compelling story about our work and ourselves. In this session, you’ll develop and workshop your own personal narrative and learn how to leverage your connection to the campaigns you’re working on to help drive them forward.

Facilitated by:

  • Elizabeth Lindquist, Litesa Wallace, Sameena Mustafa, Anthony Clark, and Stuart Abram from Illinois for All

Persuasive Storytelling Workshop

Storytelling is a powerful vehicle for social change – but we’re not all born storytellers. What sets apart an impactful story from a dud? In this interactive workshop you’ll learn the key theories behind persuasive communication, and how to build a meaningful connection with your audience. Then we’ll apply this model to building a compelling personal narrative you can use to tell your story.

Facilitated by:

Kaveh Sadeghian, Creative Director, University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy

Non-Violent Direct Action & Civil Disobedience

From the founding revolution to abolition, women’s suffrage, and civil rights, no major struggle in American history has been won without nonviolent direct action. The fight to unrig our democracy will be no different. Join leaders from Democracy Spring, organizers of the largest single American civil disobedience action of the 21st century, and leaders from March on Harrisburg for an introduction to nonviolent direct action. You’ll learn the basics of this strategic field, including core theory, historic examples, essential skills, and actual practice that will empower you to start bringing this tool to bear in your campaigns.

Facilitated by:

Renaldo Pearson, Interim Mission Director-Elect, Democracy Spring

Michael Pollack, Executive Director, March on Harrisburg

Nora Utech, Western PA Organizer, March on Harrisburg

Kyle Moore, Outreach & Organizer, March on Harrisburg

How to Start a Local Group

In order to make big change, you’ve got start locally. In 2018, local organizing fueled a landslide of anti-corruption victories across the country. But how do you recruit and sustain a local group? Come learn what it takes to launch a local group and build power in your community.

Facilitated by:

  • Helen Humphreys, Organizer, RepresentUs
  • Gemeem Davis, Chapter Leader, Bridgeport United Against Corruption

Translating Vision to Action

A strong vision is an integral part of successfully driving systemic change — but most visioning exercises stop short of creating an actionable plan that connects your vision to the present. In this interactive session you’ll learn how to make your vision a reality using evidence-based strategies to develop actionable milestones.

Facilitated by:

Kaveh Sadeghian, Creative Director, University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy

Birddogging: The Art and Science of Extracting Public Commitments from Politicians

If you’re ready to get real policy commitments from politicians and candidates, it’s time to learn how to birddog. Birddogging is more than asking a question of a candidate in a public forum – it’s asking the right question, in the right way, to get an enforceable promise. In this practical training, Paul Davis, National Advocacy Coordinator at Housing Works, will share how he and a couple dozen activists were able to use birddogging to lower the cost of AIDS medicine around the world, and how you can apply these tactics to your own campaigns.

Facilitated by: 

Paul Davis, National Advocacy Coordinator, Housing Works

Pitching 101: How to Win Funds and Influence People

Whether you’re launching a new campaign, applying for funding, or securing a new partner, at some point you’ll need to convince funders or potential supporters to get involved. In other words, you’re going to need to pitch. In this interactive workshop with an experienced civic investor, you’ll get first-hand guidance on how to build a strong pitch presentation, and then will practice your pitch and share feedback with other participants in an open and collaborative environment. No preparation is required, but you should come with a project or something else in mind that you’d like to workshop.

Facilitated by:

Wesley Panek, New Media Ventures

Design Thinking for the Republic: How to Put People at the Center of Your Campaign

From volunteers to voters, every campaign seeks to engage diverse audiences in order to succeed. Too often, however, we make decisions without truly considering the perspectives of potential supporters. In this training, you’ll learn how design thinking – a repeatable problem-solving methodology that engages multiple stakeholders – can be leveraged for electoral and advocacy campaigns. Whether you’re starting a new public-facing campaign or project, reimagining an existing program, or are simply curious about innovation methods used in both the public and private sectors, join CivicMakers for this interactive, hands-on training.

Facilitated by:

Judi Brown, Co-founder & Chief Impact Officer

Campaign Planning 101: How to Get Started With a New Campaign

To jump-start any campaign, you’re going to need a strong plan — but it can be hard to know how to get started. Join this interactive training to learn from a lobbyist and non-profit executive what ingredients you need to kick off a viable campaign. For new and experienced campaigners alike, this session will provide a framework for developing core messages, identifying likely supporters, and other critical questions to answer every time you start a new initiative. Come with a cause, and leave with actionable steps to turn your vision into a winnable campaign.

Facilitated by:

Terri Broussard Williams, Founder, Movement Makers Tribe

Additional programming details coming soon!

Issues Program Highlights

Democracy reform leaders share their insights and level up your learning.

Overpriced and Overprescribed: Healthcare Costs in the Age of Big Money

Come learn how money in politics rigs the healthcare system and hear about the solutions that could bring down prices and save lives.


  • Wendell Potter, Author, Founder Of (Moderator)
  • Richard Master, CEO, MCS Industries, Founder, Business Initiative for Health Policy

Additional speakers to be announced.

Building Up Your Digital Defenses

In our brave new world of digital politics, learn how you can protect your data, avoid misinformation, and preserve American democracy.


  • Ben Scott, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Luminate, part of the Omidyar Network (Moderator)
  • Brandi Collins-Dexter, Senior Campaign Director, Democracy & Economic Justice, Color of Change
  • Ash Bhat, CEO & Co-Founder, RoBhat Labs
  • Hamsini Sridharan, Program Director, MapLight

How Civic Engagement Can Rebuild America

America’s civic infrastructure is broken. As politics stepped in to fill the void left by other community-building activities, it’s led to divisiveness and political tension. How can Americans improve their relationship with politics—and each other?


  • Greg Lukianoff, CEO, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Moderator)
  • DeNora Getachew, NYC Executive Director, Generation Citizen
  • Shannon Martinez, Program Director, Free Radicals Project
  • Herb E Smith, Hands Across the Hills

Following the Money: Journalists and Media Pros Teach Their Tools

From holding officials accountable to following the money and amplifying stories of influence and injustice, the media plays a critical role in preserving our democracy. But with local newsrooms gutted, untraceable spending exploding across American elections, and an increasing number of news outlets shifting away from watchdog reporting, connecting the dots can feel more difficult than ever. There’s reason to be hopeful, however: These journalists and media experts know how to dig the dirt—and tell the story. Whether you’re an independent reporter or a concerned citizen, the pros on this panel are here to give you the tools and tricks you need to break the news and bring the truth to light.


  • Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director, Center for Responsive Politics (Moderator)
  • Steve Cavendish, Editor, Nashville Banner
  • John S. Adams, Founder/Editor, Montana Free Press; subject of the award-winning documentary, Dark Money
  • Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Manuela Ekowo, Media Associate, Democracy, ReThink Media

The Future of Voting is Here

We don’t have to wait for secure, convenient elections we can trust—they’re already here, and the experts and advocates who’ve helped bring them to states around the country are ready to show the way.


  • Seth Flaxman, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Democracy Works (Moderator)
  • Amber McReynolds, Executive Director, National Vote at Home Initiative
  • Elena Nunez, Director of State Operations & Ballot Measure Strategies, Common Cause
  • Kim Wyman, Secretary of State, Washington
  • Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, Michigan

Bipartisan Solutions for Ending the Prison-Industrial Complex Once and For All

Special interests exploit our corrupt political system to pad their bottom lines, maligning our criminal justice system and keeping Americans behind bars in the process. Hear from a cross-partisan panel of national and local leaders about how two particular reforms—tightening our lobbying laws and changing how we choose state court judges—can help unrig our criminal justice system once and for all.


  • Julie Warren, Tennessee State Director, Right on Crime; Fellow, Beacon Center
  • Rev. Jeannie Alexander, Director, No Exceptions Collective

Additional speakers to be announced. 

The 28th Amendment

A bipartisan discussion with current and former elected officials, hosted by American Promise.

  • Jeff Clemonts, President, American Promise (Introduction)
  • Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society (Moderator)
  • Ted Deutch, U.S. Representative (D-FL)
  • Jim Rubens, former New Hampshire State Senator (R)

Women Leading: Breaking Barriers to Equal Representation

The massive influx of money in politics corrupts our electoral system but the impact isn’t felt equally. In this panel, you’ll hear directly from top women leaders who will describe how money corrupts our election cycle, makes it more difficult for people at the intersection of one or more marginalized identities to run and win, and how fighting against money in politics will bring us closer to equal representation for all.


  • Zephyr Teachout, Professor of Law; Author, Corruption in America
  • Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative (D-HI)
  • Kerry Healey, President, Babson College; Former Lt. Governor of Massachusetts (R)

Additional speakers to be announced.

Strategies from the 2018 Frontlines

2018 was an unprecedented year for democracy reform. Since last year’s Unrig Summit, participants have gone on to lead successful campaigns to stop gerrymandering in Michigan and Utah, re-enfranchise 1.4M Floridians, close the revolving door between lawmakers and lobbyists in Missouri, and pass sweeping anti-corruption reform in North Dakota.

Join leaders from each of these stand-out campaigns to learn how you can become a part of the next wave of Unrig victories.


  • Nora Gilbert, Director of Strategic Projects & Partnerships, RepresentUs (Moderator)
  • Katie Fahey, Executive Director, Voters Not Politicians
  • Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
  • Catherine Kanter, Campaign Manager, Yes on Prop 4
  • Sean Nicholson, Campaign Director, Clean Missouri
  • Dina Butcher, Campaign Director, President, North Dakotans for Public Integrity

Congressional Roundtable: Can Congress Fix Itself?

A bipartisan panel of politicians share their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of fighting to fix the system from the inside.


  • Meredith McGehee, Executive Director, Issue One (Moderator)
  • Tim Burchett, U.S. House of Representatives (R-TN)

Additional speakers to be announced.

Cast Out Corruption: Building a Better Tennessee

In 2005, the FBI carried out a landmark anti-corruption sting operation called the “Tennessee Waltz,” which led to the conviction of several Tennessee public officials and ushered in the creation of the Tennessee Ethics Commission. Fourteen years since the scandal, there’s still much work to be done. Come to hear experts on the past and present state of corruption in Tennessee and learn about the future fight against corruption right here in the Volunteer State.


  • Berit Berger, Executive Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity (CAPI)
  • Mark Cunningham, Vice President of Communications and Outreach, Beacon Center of Tennessee
  • Fabian Bedne, Nashville Council Member, District 31, Nashville Metro Council
  • Tequila Johnson, Co-Founder and Vice President of The Equity Alliance

Is Tennessee Dead Last in Democracy?

Prior to a surge in voter turnout this past November, Tennessee was ranked second-to-last for voter turnout and nearly as bad in voter registration. We’ll hear from experts to discuss why Tennesseans aren’t turning out to vote and what we can do to fix this black eye on the Volunteer State.


  • Shanna Hughey, Executive Director, Think Tennessee (Moderator)
  • Rep. Jim Cooper, U.S. House of Representatives (D-TN)
  • Charlane Oliver, Co-Founder and Executive Director, The Equity Alliance
  • Debra Cleaver, Founder and CEO,

Additional speakers to be announced.

The Champion Scale: Winning Cross-Partisan Support for the Next Constitutional Amendment

A series of Supreme Court decisions put our political system on a reckless path with billions of dollars from a tiny percentage of Americans, global corporations, unions and special interests flooding our elections. Addressing the problems caused by the flood of money in politics requires more than treating the symptoms; the 28th Amendment will go to root causes for a permanent solution that paves the way for widespread reforms.

This workshop focuses on grassroots lobbying and building cross-partisan support to secure our constitutional foundation. Participants will leave Unrig Summit with the critical tools necessary to build effective relationships with elected officials. During the workshop, participants will be engaged in an interactive session demonstrating how to get a meeting with a member of Congress, how to have a good meeting, and how to have good follow up.


  • Azor Cole, State Manager, American Promise (Moderator)
  • Wambui Gatheru, Outreach Manager, American Promise
  • Marie HenselderKimmel, Leader, American Promise Tri County, NJ
  • Ishwari Sollohub, Leader, American Promise Santa Fe, NM


Roll up your sleeves for one-of-a-kind masterclass trainings with top experts. Dive deep on gerrymandering, voting rights, ranked choice voting, and money in politics reforms.


  • Legal & Math Deep Dive, with Ruth Greenwood (Campaign Legal Center), Sam Wang (Princeton Gerrymandering Project), Daryl DeFord (Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group at MIT and Tufts), and Ra Joy (More Equitable Democracy)
  • Building Your Campaign, with Katie Fahey (Voters Not Politicians) and Kathay Feng (Common Cause)
  • Inside an Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission, with bipartisan members of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, featuring Jeanne Raya (D), Michelle DiGuilio (No Party Preference), Jodie Filkins Webber (R)

Voting Rights

  • Restoring the Vote, with Blair Bowie (Campaign Legal Center)
  • Modern and Secure Registration, with Sean Lund (Movement Advancement Project)

Money in Politics

  • Fighting Dark Money and Super PACs, with Tara Malloy (Campaign Legal Center), David Kolker (Campaign Legal Center), and Viki Harrison (Common Cause)
  • Fighting Big Money with Small Donor Systems, with Catie Kelley (Campaign Legal Center), and Paul Ryan (Common Cause)
  • Lobbying and Ethics Reform, with Meredith McGehee (Issue One), and Sean Nicholson (Clean Missouri)

Ranked Choice Voting

  • Building Your Coalition and Campaign, with Grace Ramsey (FairVote), Maria Perez (Common Cause), Jenn Pae (re:power), Jeanne Massey (FairVote Minnesota), and Adam Friedman (Voter Choice Massachusetts) (2 hour training)
  • Implementing for Success, with Karen Brinson Bell and Chris Hughes (Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center)


Every good idea begins with a spark. On the Spark Stage at Unrig Summit, leaders from Tennessee and across the United States will deliver 5-minute, TED-style presentations to share inspiration and insights from their bold work making change.

Spark Stage topics will include:

  • the fight for voting access
  • representation in office
  • post-partisanship
  • new political parties
  • groundbreaking electoral reforms
  • pragmatic solutions to running for office and building coalitions
  • gender, racial, and economic equality
  • housing
  • healthcare
  • criminal justice reform
  • mitigating violence
  • holding politicians accountable
  • unmasking dark money schemes

… and much more!

Additional programming details coming soon!

Networking Program Highlights

Community-building, social and networking events so you can meet the movement.

Regional Lunch Meetup

Looking to connect with people in your neck of the woods? At the regional lunch on Saturday, you’ll have the chance to meet other activists and practitioners in your region of the country. This lunch will be organized by region, so you can easily find people from your area. Join in, find out what people in your area are working on, and bring new connections back home with you.

  • Tennessee
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Midwest
  • Southwest
  • Mountain West
  • West Coast + AK/HI

Issue Area Meetup

Come meet other activists and practitioners working on the issues you care about most. Nerd out about gerrymandering, money in politics, voting reform and more. The meetup will be organized by topic, so you can easily find Summit attendees based on your interests.

  • 28th Amendment
  • Ranked Choice Voting
  • Gerrymandering
  • Voting Rights
  • Money in Politics
  • Racial Equity
  • Women in the Movement

How to Connect Across Ideological Differences

If you want to pass meaningful reform, you’ll have to build alliances and gain votes from people you disagree with. But it doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth to talk to someone with different views. This workshop will give you the tools and practice to you need to connect with people across differences. Turn that feeling of dread in meeting someone with different viewpoints into one of excitement!

Facilitated by:

  • Alicia Bonner Ness, Founder & CEO, Heptagon Productions
  • Zach Wamp, Co-Chair, Issue One ReFormers Caucus; Former U.S. Representative (R-TN)
  • Drisana Hughes, Associate Director, Serve America Movement

Collaboration Cafe for Campaigners

Want to tap into the collective wisdom of your fellow Unrig attendees and get rapid feedback on your projects? Join us for Collaboration Cafe, designed to connect people and projects in a fun, facilitated gathering. You’ll meet other Unrig attendees and learn about their inspiring work, while helping them to answer the “What? How? and Why?” of early stage projects or campaigns. This session is open to everyone, whether you have a project you’re ready to workshop or you want to hear pitches and give feedback.

Facilitated by:

Judi Brown, Co-founder & Chief Impact Officer, CivicMakers

Smart Networking Tools and Practice

Learn how to get the most out of Unrig at this facilitated networking workshop. We’ll leverage the “genius in the room” to catalyze connections and collaboration opportunities. Most “lucky breaks” come from casual acquaintances and people we don’t know very well (like your fellow Summit attendees). Join this session for a guided activity to distill one ask you’d like to make of the community, then form groups that will yield some lucky breaks.

Facilitated by:

Kaveh Sadeghian, Creative Director, University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy

Caucus Meetups

On Saturday at Unrig Summit, join a caucus to discuss issues facing specific communities you’re a part of.

  • LGTBQIA+ Caucus
  • People of Color Caucus
  • Under 25 Caucus
  • Independents Caucus
  • Locals Caucus
  • Veterans Caucus

Additional programming details coming soon!