First Annual Wisconsin YAL Leadership Forum

On Saturday, April 25 I had the privilege of organizing the first annual Wisconsin YAL Leadership Forum hosted by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Although we only had about two weeks to create such an important event, at least 6 chapters were represented and nearly 20 people attended!

At the forum we had interactive sessions on organizing tabling and creating media plans. In these sessions, chapter leaders were grouped together and given a random topic that they had to table. They had 20 minutes to come up with a tabling plan and then about 3 minutes to present what they came up with. Following the tabling exercise, they had 10 minutes to do the same thing, but with creating a media plan for the event they just tabled.

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The event’s attendee surveys showed that this session was the most helpful because not only did it get people to work hands on as a group, but not every topic or strategy was the same.

We also had other presentations regarding transitioning, liberty events, student government, and building your base. Although many chapter leaders may not realize it, all of these subjects are important to the success of a chapter.

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In my opinion, transitioning from one executive board to another is the most challenging objective to overcome. This process takes a long time and should start at your recruitment drive when you start looking for new members. Without proper leadership a group can fail, which is why the transition period is so important. If you know your group is personally struggling with this, do not ever hesitate to seek help from your State Chairs or Regional Director. We do not want to see a perfectly capable group fail!

Attending liberty events is also important because they give you the tools to be successful. Not only do you learn more about the Libertarian philosophy from these events, but you get to build your network and your own personal brand. Most of the time you can learn about the philosophy of Liberty on your own, but what these events are supposed to show you is how to articulate these ideas to others.

The mission of Young Americans for Liberty is to identify, educate, train, and mobilize youth activists that are committed to “winning on principle”. Attending events like State Conventions are the educating and training part of that mission. It is then up to you as leaders to mobilize! 

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At one point we had a break-out session where groups could go to the presentation that best fit their level. This made it less redundant for groups who have already heard the basics at other events.

For groups that are already very involved we had a session about making change on campus through student government. In this session chapter leaders were taught how to get involved through student government and why this step is important to the liberty movement. This presentation was presented by the Leadership Institute.

For groups that are just starting out, we had a session all about building a strong chapter base. In this session we talked about building genuine relationships, having meetings, being consistent, learning what resources are available (on campus and off campus), having a constitution, finding media outlets, making a plan, and attending events/trainings.

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At the end of the Forum we had a really nice long group discussion about what can make our state better. Some ideas that came out of this were more events regarding liberty minded topics, informal events/trips, and better resources that are Wisconsin state specific. The whole point of the forum was to get everyone together as a group to come up with ideas such as these, so I was really happy to see everyone participate in this discussion.

Overall, the event went really well and got very good ratings! Everyone that took the survey said they would attend again next year. The only thing I would change is planning the event sooner to get the word out more and making it more interactive than it already was. At the end of the Forum everyone had the opportunity to attend the Milwaukee Brewers game. Although they lost, everyone had a great time. I’m excited to see how everything goes next year!

I would strongly recommend this event to other states. If anyone has any further questions regarding this Forum please do not hesitate to ask me! My email is lydia.schwertfeger@yaliberty.org and my phone number is (920) 299-0493.  

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