On Friday, November 12th, we went to the City Club of Cleveland to attend a program titled “How Can We Collectively Work Towards a More Equitable Democracy? The Barriers, Myths, and the State of Democracy” that featured Ms. Erika Anthony who is the co-founder of Cleveland VOTES and in 2019 became the Executive Director of the Ohio Transformation Fund.
We investigated both organizations and learned that Cleveland VOTES “invests in entities working to expand voter registration, accessibility, and participation by integrating the practice of equitable civic engagement through the success and measurable outreach efforts of its partners, collaborators, and grantees.”
Likewise, the Ohio Transformation Fund is “a collaborative fund developed by national and local funders advocating for healthy communities and an equitable democracy across Ohio.”
During her presentation, Ms. Anthony challenged the myth of the “apathetic voter” by presenting findings that showed that the citizenry cares about its community very much but, oftentimes with good reason, does not trust elected officials and/or other local leaders.
Indeed, many issues are very important to community members, but they have become disillusioned because nothing they seem to do produces much progress.
In terms of solutions, Ms. Anthony emphasized that what happens between elections matters the most and that it is not a question of lacking power; instead, it is a matter of how to wisely share our special gifts with each other so that a process of “healing, restoring and thriving” can take place for the betterment of all.
Throughout the program consisting of her speech and the Q and A, Ms. Anthony recalled pathways that have provided positive results although she believed that such efforts must often be individualized depending upon the participants.
Regarding refugees and people who have immigrated to the United States, we learned that organizations that works with foreign-born are sometimes the recipients of grant funding from sources that Ms. Anthony is involved with.
In terms of partaking in the act of voting, Ms. Anthony didn’t want to make a blanket statement but recalled an instance wherein a new U.S. citizen finally got to fulfill his/her dream of registering to vote and subsequently great “joy” was expressed.