Agents of Change conference held at college


Aleäa Reyes

The Agents of Change conference was coordinated through a cooperative effort by Allegheny’s Center for Political Participation and the Year of Meadville organizers on Feb. 13, 2016.

As part of the Year of Meadville, organizers worked with the Center for Political Participation and the Office of Civic Engagement to hold a cooperative Agents of Change conference on Feb. 13, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The conference focused largely on political participation, organizing and activism. This is the second annual Agents of Change conference.

A variety of workshops were held throughout the day on subjects some of which were informal networking and mapping community issues. The keynote speaker, John Fetterman, has been mayor of Braddock since 2005 and has been working to improve the city by curbing violence, creating jobs and increasing youth involvement in the community.

Center for Political Participation fellows Heather Bosau, ’17, and Mikki Franklin, ‘16, worked together to lead a workshop at the Agents of Change conference.
Contributed by Mikki Franklin
Center for Political Participation fellows Heather Bosau, ’17, and Mikki Franklin, ‘16, worked together to lead a workshop at the Agents of Change conference.

“In a really general sense, it was about how to mobilize college campuses,” said Heather Bosau, ’17.

Bosau is a CPP fellow who helped lead one of the break-out sessions at the conference with Mikki Franklin, ’16. Bosau said that their break-out session was one of five, and was specifically designed for college students.

“It was really about connecting people and…how to organize and mobilize around issues,” she said.

Bosau said she and Franklin wrote up a scenario and those in attendance discussed different ways to address the made-up issue as a community and how to vote in ways that will improve it.

Although Bosau was unsure of the number of people who attended the conference because there were numerous workshops going on at once, she said many people came to Tippie Alumni Center to listen to Fetterman’s keynote address.

Franklin said many people left after the first session of workshops, she believes because of the bad weather. Even so, she did not think the conference attendance was poor.

“There was a decent amount of people,” she said.

During lunch, there was a panel led by five people, including two Allegheny professors, an Allegheny alumna and two community organizers, one from Pennsylvania and one from Iowa.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Andrew Bloeser was one of the Allegheny professors on the panel, and said although he could not speak on the panel’s success, he was impressed with the student response to it.

“I was just really impressed by [students’] level of engagement and the questions they were asking,” Bloeser said. “I feel like I was learning all day long.”

He also said he enjoyed the quality of the conference.

“One of the things that I found most exciting…was that students [and alumni] were at the forefront of organizing this conference,” said Bloeser.

One of these alumni was Paige Missel, ’14, who is an Americorps VISTA leader for the Lake Effect Leaders program based out of Allegheny. She invited Bloeser to the conference.

“[Missel] happened to know that before I came to Allegheny, I worked doing organizing in Champagne, Illinois,” Bloeser said.

Bloeser’s panel focused on the community organizing work the panelists had done. Bloeser specifically did canvassing, interviewing and community organizing in Illinois to gather cooperative efforts to challenge health issues that had come about.

“That was a rather powerful experience for me,” Bloeser said.

Bosau believes the conference was successful overall. As they frequently do at their events, the CPP fellows also had voter registration forms available for whoever wanted them. She also said that the CPP will likely hold more events about political participation in the near future.

“I think with the upcoming election, especially with the Year of Meadville, that’s where we’ll be focusing,” Bosau said.

Correction: The original title was “CPP hosts second annual Agents of Change conference.” Year of Meadville organizers hosted the event with some CPP collaboration.