Agency for Change- Danielle Conrad, Executive Director, ACLU Nebraska » KidGlov

Announcer:

Welcome to Agency For Change. A podcast from KidGlov that brings you the stories of changemakers who are actively working to improve our communities. In every episode, we’ll meet with people who are making a lasting impact in the places we call home.

Lyn Wineman:

Help us defend civil rights and individual freedoms. This is an organization’s mission and main goal and I’m chatting with that organization’s leader today. Hello everyone! This is Lyn Wineman, president of KidGlov. And today on the Agency For Change podcast, I am pleased to be talking with Danielle Conrad, executive director of ACLU Nebraska. So Danielle’s been with the organization since 2014. A lot of changes since then, I imagine. And before that she served as a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature. Danielle, I’m eager to talk with you today and learn more about the great impact you’re making on the world and the community.

Danielle Conrad:

Well, Lyn, thank you so much for that kind introduction and for the generous invitation to join you and your listeners today. We were absolutely delighted to receive it and I’m really excited to dig in and talk about what we’ve been up to at the ACLU, and talk a little bit about my perspectives and style on leadership and how it’s so important to stay nimble and agile in this social change work that we’re a part of. And I know you have a really smart set of questions to tease out the best insights for your listeners.

Lyn Wineman:

Thank you for that. What a great start. What a great start right there. I think a lot of people are familiar with the ACLU, and maybe they’re familiar but don’t even fully understand. Can you tell us more about ACLU Nebraska and the work that you do?

Danielle Conrad:

Sure, absolutely. Well, this is definitely something that was a bit of a surprise to me when I came on eight years ago and still continues to be an issue that we work through day-to-day at the ACLU. But I thought, “Well gosh, everybody knows what the ACLU is.” We are a 100-year-old civil rights civil liberties organization on the national scene, and we’ve been around for over 50 years in Nebraska. So, people have a pretty good understanding of who we are and what we do. But actually, as they’ve crisscrossed the state in this capacity over the last eight years, I find that a lot of people kind of know who we are and kind of know what we do but maybe they don’t have the full scope or the full breadth. So it’s always really nice to reset the table and invite people warmly into our work. We’re civil liberties organization and we really work the waterfront on so many complex, and important and sometimes controversial issues that impact people’s civil liberties and civil rights.

Danielle Conrad:

So that’s First Amendment, that’s police practice, that’s separation of church and state, that’s immigrants’ rights, reproductive justice, racial justice, voting rights, and the list goes on and on. So it is a big and wide body of work that we’re tasked with in our day-to-day and in our overall mission. And we really do our work through three primary ways. And this is like a very nonprofity, jargon thing. You have a system of integrated advocacy.

Lyn Wineman:

Oh, wow. Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

Right? It means that we’re in the courts. And most people know the ACLU based on our seminal work in defending civil rights and civil liberties in courtrooms. But we’ve also evolved and added additional strategies and policy advocacy and community education in organizing to really complement that bread and butter legal work. And then to also have important pivots available. If, for example, one strategy does not pan out or come to fruition then that we’re able to shift to advance the work in another way.

Lyn Wineman:

So Danielle, you started by talking about being a 100 year organization but yet people don’t fully know what you do. And we actually see that a lot. Sometimes that’s the downside of having a lot of name recognition and longevity. People think they know but they don’t really know and I know what you do has evolved a lot and maybe even very rapidly in recent years. So, what are some of the services that the ACLU offers that many Nebraskans might not even know about?

Danielle Conrad:

Yeah, that’s such an insightful question because there’s so much of our work that grabs headlines and there’s a lot of our work that doesn’t that’s equally important in shaping people’s lives and changing hearts and minds. And so, again most people really know us for our legal acumen, for work in the courtroom, setting key legal precedents on a seminal host of cases before the Supreme Court of The United States. And then in state courts through our affiliate network and of course, right here in Nebraska, before the Nebraska Supreme Court. So that’s usually our best-known work. And our free speech work is really, the importance and a huge part of our origin story over the last 100 years and 50 years in Nebraska.

Danielle Conrad:

But as our work has evolved and change, we’ve really built up our muscles in terms of expanding into women’s rights and reproductive justice, LGBTQIA rights and freedoms, racial justice, police practices, and immigrants’ rights, and voting rights. And again, that list goes on and on. Anything that would be protected under the state or federal constitutions that impact people’s individual civil rights and civil liberties. And so, a few examples that I wanted to share with your listeners about some of that work that doesn’t grab headlines like a big court case that is really important and would be exemplified through a few of these examples, but we do a lot of community empowerment work, public education work, public outreach work, community work. Where we are literally pre-COVID and more Zoom based during the COVID period, crisscross the state and talk to church groups, and school groups, and civic groups and really empower people to know and understand their rights.

Danielle Conrad:

So that includes things like, “What are your rights and responsibilities when you’re shot by police? What do you need to do? What should you be thinking about?” And that really helps to empower people to know where those lines are, it helps to keep all stakeholders safer in those really high tension points when everybody understands what their rights are so that things don’t escalate, and then it helps to protect individual rights and freedoms if that system impact does elongate into a court case or an immigration case or something like that.

Danielle Conrad:

Another good example of that community education work beyond the nuts and bolts Know Your Rights to general audiences is just this summer, we conducted a continuing legal education class for lawyers all across Nebraska about breastfeeding rights in Nebraska. And this is an issue when we talk about reproductive justice we cast a really wide net. We care deeply about access to family planning and abortion care. But we also care about the rights of pregnant people, the rights of breastfeeding parents in the workplace and in the community. And that was a really neat part of our work that we want to make sure to let people know more about. And we do that on a host of different topics to different audiences. But that community education work doesn’t always grab a lot of headlines. But it’s really an important component of our work.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah. Because you have to have an idea of what your rights are and what your options are before you hit that point where you’re in trouble, right? Once you’re in trouble or once you have an issue, then it gets a little bit harder. And you have discussed already so many hot, what I would call hot issues, and they’re hot because they’re timely. But wow, they’re hot because you’ve hit all the controversial stuff, right? From reproductive rights, to police, to all the things that you typically wouldn’t discuss at a cocktail party, right? But that are very important to talk about. And you probably do talk about them in cocktail party, don’t you? So you are serving so many people, so many issues, so many underserved groups across different communities. How do you dedicate time to all these different groups and issues and how do you prioritize what you’re going to tackle? Because as a nonprofit, I’m sure you don’t have unlimited resources.

Danielle Conrad:

Yeah, that’s exactly right. And probably one of the most significant challenges in our job particularly in a political landscape like Nebraska. But how we go about finding our North Star on a daily or weekly or yearly basis is working with our board and community stakeholders. We’re looking at where are the greatest threats to civil rights and civil liberties in this landscape in Nebraska? Where can we uniquely make a difference with the talents and skills and resources we have available? And then where is there space for us to do that to ensure that we’re not duplicating efforts by other advocacy organizations? For example. So those are some of the factors that we weigh in deciding where to enter and how to enter those spaces to make the most difference with limited resources.

Danielle Conrad:

And this is a fun point about getting to know the ACLU and I know a lot of my friends on the conservative side of the political spectrum really appreciate this about our work as well. But we’re 100% privately funded.

Lyn Wineman:

Oh my.

Danielle Conrad:

We don’t seek government in support. And as government watchdogs that makes a lot of sense to make sure that we’re objective and can speak truth to power without any entanglements with financial issues. But it also really keeps us grounded to community needs as well. So that’s something that is really important to factor into our work. And looking at where we are in Nebraska, we’re never going to walk away from free speech issues as the ACLU. Free expression, all of the rights and privileges under the First Amendment are always going to be a big part of our work. And actually, it was very shocking when I came to the ACLU I thought, “Free speech. First Amendment. That’s settled, right?” So I don’t think we’ll have to spend a lot of time and energy there. But boy, was I wrong. That has been such a rich and fast evolving area of law and just societal understanding of those rights and freedoms that we continue to do a lot of free expression work in Nebraska and beyond to this day.

Danielle Conrad:

But the other priority areas that we really carved out are around police practices and criminal justice reform. Kind of that full spectrum from the first point of contact to key rights before the courts and then also looking at things like mass incarceration and racial injustice and solitary confinement. And as you will know, and I’m sure many of your listeners know, this is just such a huge area for Nebraska to be focused on. And for many many years, we’ve been at the top of one of those lists you don’t want to be at the top of. The second most overcrowded prison system in the country, we have a continuing crisis, cascading crisis when it comes to not only overcrowding but staffing our prison facilities and ensuring access to mental health care and physical health care and programs and services and we have some of the worst racial disparities in the country within that system as well. So that’s a really, really big part of our work that we’re focused on devoting time and energy and resources to.

Danielle Conrad:

The other areas including LGBTQIA rights. This is an area where the ACLU has really secured a lot of big wins in Nebraska on ensuring freedom and fairness for lesbian and gay Nebraskans but we still have a lot more work to do. So that’s another area where we’re really pouring in a lot of time and attention. And then when it comes to things like reproductive freedom. For many years Nebraska was in the middle of the pack. We had some restrictions on the books but we didn’t have the worst restrictions that you see in a lot of other states. And that has really changed quickly in Nebraska’s political landscape over the last many years. And now we are considered one of the few states in the country that’s labeled as extremely hostile to reproductive rights. And so, that includes things like sex education, family planning services, and then abortion care as well. So that’s an area where we continue to devote a lot of time, energy and resources.

Danielle Conrad:

When it comes to things like voting rights and immigrants’ rights. This is a very interesting recent evolution. In our last strategic planning, when I was getting started at the ACLU, we made a decision to say, “Okay, there’s really cool organizations in Nebraska doing work on voting rights and immigrants’ right and our policies and practices there are not the worst of the worst. So maybe we can play more of a supporting role in those spaces and then work on some of these other areas.” Well that really changed.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

In 2015. And so, as we saw a refueled war on immigrants emanate from our nation’s capital under the Trump administration, we really saw a significant amount of anti-immigrant activity at the state and local level which made us shift our priorities and resources to do more in those spaces. And the same holds true for voting rights. Again, Nebraska has long enjoyed a fairly moderate political landscape when you really look at the policies and practices on a lot of these issues and we haven’t had a lot of the worst restrictions on voting rights. But a lot of that is changing in Nebraska in a very very quick way, in a very concerning way. And so, we’ve really started to move more time and energy into protecting voting rights which are the cornerstone of all of our civil rights and civil liberties and really the key safeguard in a democracy. So, we have to always be nimble about those limited resources. So that’s how we go about deciding where to invest those resources.

Lyn Wineman:

Wow. Danielle that is a lot. That is a lot. I mean, I knew you did those things but it’s a lot to have on your plate all at once. And I’m always really impressed with organizations that are 100% community funded because I think that really speaks to the fact that the community values what you do. So I think that’s really great. So you have used both the term civil rights and civil liberties. And I know that two are interconnected but they’re different. Could you just tell me a little bit more about the difference between the two? Because I think it sheds some light on the work that you’re doing.

Danielle Conrad:

Yeah, that’s a great question. And we do use them pretty interchangeably so I should perhaps be more precise. And they are interlinked. So that’s definitely a part of it as well. But typically, generally when we talk about civil liberties, these are the rights that are enshrined and guaranteed to all of us really in the Bill of Rights which really acts as a restriction on government overreach on a personal individual freedoms and liberties. So that is that beautiful list of rights in the Bill of Rights that say, government can infringe upon your right to express yourself, government can’t entangle itself in private things like religion, government shouldn’t be making laws that infringe upon your right to privacy in your home or in your medical decision making. That libertarian strain that civil liberties strain is really about a check on government overreach, abuse or infringement on individual rights.

Danielle Conrad:

When we talk about civil rights in contrast to civil liberties, that’s really more about perhaps a protective role that government has established. Because, say for example, during the Civil Rights Movement in this country in the 50s and 60s and 70s, there was a mass outpouring based on a very real and demonstrated need that far too many Americans were being discriminated against because of their gender, because of their race, because of their status as a person with a disability. And so, really that protective set of laws whether it be Title Nine, or the ADA, or the Voting Rights Act really came to fruition to really protect individual’s rights and freedoms from an unlawful discrimination on all those different bases that are so core to identity and are important to who we are and our families and how we conduct ourselves. And really meant to draw a bright line to say, “In a democracy, in a vibrant diverse democracy like we have in America, it’s wrong to discriminate against somebody based on the color of their skin and to exclude them from public life, whether that’s voting or housing or a job or their gender.”

Danielle Conrad:

And so, that’s really the way that we generally characterize civil rights in contrast to civil liberties.

Lyn Wineman:

That’s good, that’s helpful. Also, even a deeper understanding of the work that you do came from that. So thank you for that. So, Danielle we’re talking here it is fall of 2021. The last 12 to 18 months have been interesting to say the least, right? COVID-19 pandemic has affected many especially underserved populations. We had some major social justice issues with The Black Lives Matter movement, other monumental events. How did the ACLU respond to the pandemic and these big major social justice events?

Danielle Conrad:

Yeah. Well that’s such a great question. And I really think that for all of us who are living and working through this pandemic, that it’s going take some time for us to unpack really the gravity of what we’ve been through and are still living and working through at this moment in time. But I’ll tell you, it was definitely a defining moment for our organization and our team. And I just couldn’t be prouder of how brilliant and dedicated our team was in responding to that unprecedented set of issues that arose during the pandemic. And so, we’ve got our regular book of work, which is already significant and robust, and then the additional and new challenges that came with the pandemic. And looking at things like COVID data, for example.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

Nebraska is one of the very last states to report COVID data in a disaggregated way so that we had a clear-eyed understanding about how the pandemic was impacting communities of color across the state. And we can’t have a data driven solution to these really big issues like a pandemic if you don’t have the data.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

As seemingly small but critically as important as that was really an area where we had team members just lead the way and advocacy for ensuring that we had access to comprehensive data available. Things like language access, to public health information, and treatment information, and testing information, the hot spots, and the meatpacking plants that rose up which impact primarily black and brown Nebraskans who are working in those really closed facilities in a really shoulder to shoulder way which is so scary and risky for something like the COVID pandemic. Actually just today, our interim legal director Rose Godinez was invited to testify before Congress about the ACLU of Nebraska’s response to COVID and meatpacking plants which was an incredible honor and she did a wonderful job.

Danielle Conrad:

But from community organizing, to advocacy, to actually we filed the lawsuit, we try and bring public health protections to some meatpacking communities as well that ultimately was unsuccessful, but really bringing all those different strategies to bear on all these new challenges to civil rights and civil liberties in the pandemic. Things like access and equity for education, for homeschooling. Those issues started off tons of questions about restrictions on elective surgeries through the executive orders and whether or not Nebraska women would be able to access abortion care. And so, we were doing a lot of legal research and counseling and outreach and education about those kinds of issues as well. And then the pandemic not only lines up with a long overdue racial justice threatening sparked by the murder of George Floyd and James Scurlock closer to home but also a national election.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

So we were really operating on all cylinders to do support and education for the racial justice movement that was happening all across Nebraska. We stood up $100,000 Freedom fund to bring private attorneys into our work to represent young Nebraskans, primarily black and brown Nebraskans, at the forefront of that movement who were crying out for racial justice and met with criminalization and militarization in those protests. To try and protect their individual rights and those process and protect them from collateral consequences that come even from a misdemeanor citation sometimes.

Danielle Conrad:

And then we worked really hard to get vote by mail applications out to all Nebraska voters so that people didn’t have to choose between their health and their vote at such a critical time which sparked record turnout. And we’re really proud to be a part of that diverse coalition effort. Move to city elections in the spring of ‘21, we’re still in a pandemic, the election officials refused to send out vote by mail applications for critical city elections. And so, we took it upon ourselves and said, “Fine, if you’re not going to do it, we will. And we’ll take the message and the asset and the opportunity directly to all voters regardless of their political party registration.” Because we want people to participate in those local elections as well. So that’s just a little overview of COVID rapid response that we’re so proud of and I think was really meaningful in terms of how we engage to meet community needs.

Lyn Wineman:

Congratulations to you. It kind of feels like the last year has been the Super Bowl of defending civil rights and civil liberties except for nobody told you were going be in it. It just happened, right? It just happened.

Danielle Conrad:

I always say we will sleep when we’re 80.

Lyn Wineman:

That’s right. That’s right. So Danielle, I can just hear the passion in your voice, I can just sense and hear the knowledge. I feel like I’ve learned so much. I’m curious and would like to switch gears a bit and talk about you and the past that maybe led you to the ACLU. Were you on the playground as an eight year old talking about civil liberties?

Danielle Conrad:

Not quite, but close. Not quite. And it’s funny because I have a five year old and a nine year old at home and my nine year old is very involved in petitioning her school for a better lunch opportunity or against dress codes and things like that. So it’s very funny to see youthful activism for our children. But I did have one of those lightning bolt moments very, very early in my life which I’m forever grateful for. I’m originally from rural Seward County and was out at my parents’ house and watching Channel 10 11, and Mel Mains. I don’t know if you remember-

Lyn Wineman:

I remember Mel Mains and Linda Pallet Rake. You remember Linda Pallet Rake was my idol for a long time and she just recently passed. Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

She did. Such a wonderful icon and dear friend of the ACLU. And so, I was there watching Channel 10 11. And I was in maybe about fourth grade. And we had this historic election in Nebraska where Kay Orr and Helen Boosalis were running for governor which was the first time in our country’s history that you women candidates were out in front. And I saw an interview with them and I knew. I just, I knew. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to learn more about that. And so, my parents were so sweet and we came to Lincoln and I decided I was Democrat and in Helen Boosali’s headquarters and got buttons and yard signs and T-shirts or whatever. I took them back home and walked them around my section and my neighbors, who many of them were Republican, were very kind to their young neighbor and very supportive of my early activism.

Danielle Conrad:

And then ultimately, my candidate was unsuccessful. But shortly thereafter my mom and I bumped into Helen when we were doing some school shopping in Lincoln. And the way my mom tells the story, I was speechless for like the first and last time in my life.

Lyn Wineman:

I love that.

Danielle Conrad:

And Helen was so gracious. And she came to my country school in Staplehurts and we had Helen Boosalis day. And we talked about government and politics and public service. My mom made me a new dress and matching scrunchie for the event

Lyn Wineman:

Nice.

Danielle Conrad:

And from that point forward, Helen and I stayed in contact. Back in the day before cell phones and social media and all of those things, we’d write letters back and forth. And she was a friend and a mentor to me throughout my young life and then stood with me when I ticked off my first campaign for the legislature. And so, Helen has always been in my head and in my heart for my work and my life. And that’s really what led me to law school. That’s really what led me to the legislature. And then once I was term limited, a continuation of public service opportunity that the ACLU provided and neat chance to just stop my law degree is really what led me to this place.

Lyn Wineman:

Danielle, that is such a great story. It’s such a great story about Helen Boosalis who was such a gracious and lovely, lovely person. And it makes me think though of the generation of young leaders that are inspired by Danielle Conrad, right? And I think that that is a neat thing to think about. As a matter of fact as a leader that defends civil rights and individual freedoms, what advice do you have Danielle for young leaders who want to do the same one day?

Danielle Conrad:

Well, that’s so kind and one of my favorite parts about being involved in public life is the chance to interact with so many young leaders. Whether that’s through school presentations, or our clerks and interns, or just more informal mentorship that has sparked through some of those public speaking engagements. And one thing I love about Nebraska, and there’s so many things, that civil separate class. But I just I love how accessible our leaders are in Nebraska, how accessible is to me over the years. And I really try and model that, make time, grab a cup of coffee, or jump on a quick call, or provide feedback to young leaders who are charting a strategy or struggling with an issue or campaign. Just to share insights, or share support or be a sounding board or let them Vent. And one thing that I also try to keep in mind when interacting with young leaders is, it always made me bristle as a young person, when somebody would come and talk to a civic group, or a church group, or school group I was involved in and it kind of had this pat you on the head mentality. Like, “One day you’ll be the next generation of leaders.”

Danielle Conrad:

And I just really reject that because I think there’s so many people from all different age ranges that are leading already in their neighborhood, in their schools, in protest movements, in advocacy campaigns. And you see more and more young candidates running for office and really leading the way. I mean, one example that is just so top of mind for me right now is, we were a supportive partner in a campaign this summer where there was a proposal to ban critical race theory at the University of Nebraska. And the reason that campaign was successful was because of the young leaders in all across the university system who led the way, who organized, who advocated who really made the case about the kind of university they wanted to be a part of and that they were cultivating. And we were happy to provide resources and feedback and our two cents. But it was really about them and their leadership. And there’s no preconceived time where you know, then it’s time for the next generation to lead. They’re leading. And so, that’s the other thing that I always try to impress upon people as I’m having those interactions.

Lyn Wineman:

Really great advice. I think there was a time in my life when I was much younger and I had in my mind, “You have to pay your dues, you have to pay your dues, you have to pay your dues.” I’m not sure if that’s true as much anymore. You have to find your voice, and you have to work really hard, and you have to have clarity, but you don’t have to wait, right?

Danielle Conrad:

That’s right. You don’t need anybody’s permission to make a difference. And you don’t need a certain set of things on your resume or a certain set of resources to really be powerful. Some of those things help, right?

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

And I think I’ve grown as a leader over the years and learned from a lot of mistakes and failures along the way. But also giving people the opportunity to take risks and make mistakes and continue in the work. I think is something that’s important for all of us to really foster. And with the rise of social media that helps to… I mean it has a lot of downsides, don’t get me wrong, but in a lot of ways it does make organizing more efficient, it does give a platform to more voices that have been silenced for far too long. So I think that it’s just really cool to see how people are embracing those new technologies to make a difference right away.

Lyn Wineman:

That’s a good point. Danielle, you just said something golden that I wrote down. You said, “You don’t need anybody’s permission to make a difference.” I love that so much. And I think that’s great because it’s going to lead into my next and my favorite question that I ask of everyone I talked to on the podcast. I am really inspired by people’s quotes. And I’m wondering, could you give us a few of your own Danielle Conrad words of wisdom for our listeners?

Danielle Conrad:

This is such a hard question, right? Sometimes the hardest questions are talking about ourselves, I think. And I’m so inspired by so many incredible leaders that have gone before me. I mean, I love MLK quotes, I love quotes from Justice Ginsburg, The Man in the Arena quote, right?

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

The Brené Brown is very popular, has a lot of residence to me even though I like to make it the man or woman.

Lyn Wineman:

I like that. I like that. The human. The human.

Danielle Conrad:

Yes. The human in the arena. Exactly. But I think that one thing that I usually have top of mind and try and share with my team, and part of it is definitely a life lesson learned from Helen Boosalis, is to be present. And you mentioned this when you were reflecting upon her to. She was so present, she was such a busy and powerful person with so many responsibilities, but when you had the chance to talk to her you felt like you were the only person in the world.

Lyn Wineman:

Yeah.

Danielle Conrad:

And how special that gift is, that we can give to each other, whether it’s in an affinity space or whether it’s in a highly charged space. And I think that would really go a long way actually to tamping down some of the acrimony that is a part of our present politics. So one of my “be present” is definitely one of Danielleisms and definitely grounded in Helen. And the other is fight forward with love in your heart.

Lyn Wineman:

I love that. Fight forward with love in your heart. That’s beautiful.

Danielle Conrad:

Yes. No matter what the odds are, no matter if things don’t go our way, every act makes a difference. Every single act. And you pivot, and you learn, and you recalibrate, and you don’t give up. You can’t beat folks who don’t quit. And that’s us. That’s the ACLU. That’s who we are. That’s we’ve always been. We’re scrappy, we’re unafraid to speak truth to power, and just recognizing really optimism as who I really am but also as a political strategy. And as we stay positive and recognize the intention in our acts, every act matters. And we do our work with joy and love, ever looking forward. That’s how we win. And that’s how we make a difference. And even when things don’t go our way. That’s how to do it right with integrity, and love, and joy and energy. And to recognize what a privilege it is to do this work.

Lyn Wineman:

I’m telling you, Danielle, some of these words are going on my wall. Really great ones. Thank you for that. Thank you for that. So this has been such a fun conversation and informative conversation. For our listeners who would like to learn more about your work, maybe support you, maybe help you with this community funded funds that I’m sure you always need. How can they find out more about ACLU, Nebraska?

Danielle Conrad:

Oh that’s so kind. There’s so many ways to support our work and you can go to the ACLU’s website. aclunebraska.org. You can follow us on social media, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. Full disclosure I’m barely on Facebook. 

Lyn Wineman:

I don’t know how you’d have time. I don’t know how you’d have time for it at all.

Danielle Conrad:

But that’s a great way to stay abreast of breaking issues, key campaigns, key information. It’s a great way to cultivate community online and connect with like-minded Nebraskans. We have tons of assets and tips and tricks for contacting elected officials, organizing, Know Your Rights material. So there’s really just a plethora of rich information on our website and social media channels. We always appreciate donations and resources. You can become a member of the ACLU, you can provide financial support for the ACLU, or host a house party, or whatever. We I always appreciate that a great deal. And you know we have over 5,000 card carrying members the ACLU all across Nebraska. And we have about 20,000 Nebraskans that take action in support of our campaigns that are part of our ACLU family. So there’s a lot of ways to get involved. And one of the neat things about our organization is there’s always that one issue perhaps that you’re most passionate about or are really want to make a difference on. So you can learn more about that. And then once you feel empowered, you can take action, you can take that positive step to make a difference.

Danielle Conrad:

And far too often, I noticed in my time as a state senator, people undervalue the power of their voice and their vote. And it’s the most powerful communications that go into our elected officials offices are sometimes the most simple and authentic. You don’t need to write a law review article, or like quote and quote subject matter expert. If you do something like, “Hey, Senator Conrad, I care deeply about educational equity. What are you doing about it? Get back to me.” Something like that goes a really long way and cuts through white noise and all of the acrimony that’s out there. And is a great way to open a dialogue on the issues that you’re passionate about and what might be coming down the pipeline as well. So definitely check out those resources, let us know feedback about what’s missing, what issue should be on our radar screen. That’s definitely a way that helps enrich our work to get community feedback along the way.

Lyn Wineman:

That’s fantastic. And for anybody who didn’t catch that website, we’ll make sure we have it in the show notes on the KidGlov episode page as well. So Danielle, as we wrap up this conversation today, what is the most important thing you would like our listeners to remember about the work that you are doing at ACLU Nebraska?

Danielle Conrad:

Oh, my goodness. Well, this went so fast and it was so fun. Thank you again for thinking of me and thinking of ACLU and giving us and an opportunity to visit with your listeners. There’s so much going on I think in our world, in our state, in our communities, in our homes, our business places and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And it’s easy, I think sometimes to get cynical or a bit depressed when you’re doing some doom scrolling on social media or reading the headlines and cringing. But again, I guess the most important takeaway I would have is that all of that’s really not an accident. And it’s really incumbent upon us to be empowered to stand in our power, to utilize our voice, and to say no.

Danielle Conrad:

And if there are things that we are seeing or doing that we’re seeing in our community that doesn’t feel right to us, or that excludes other community members, that each of us has a part to play. Whether that’s sending an email, whether that’s writing a letter to the editor, whether that’s donating to causes you believe in or running for office yourself. We each have responsibilities as citizens in this democracy. And we each have power. And it’s important that we own that, that harness that and that we take in a permanent step to make a positive difference because that’s really the only way that we’re going to be and see the kind of change that we want in our present and our future.

Lyn Wineman:

Danielle, really important stuff. Thank you for that. And I just appreciate you taking the time. It’s been great to catch up with you today. And I fully believe the world needs more people like you. So thank you so much.

Danielle Conrad:

Well, thank you Lyn, so much and stay warm. And all of those things, but we really appreciate your time and all that you do.

Lyn Wineman:

Thanks so much. Thanks so much.

Announcer:

We hope you enjoyed today’s Agency For Change podcast. To hear all our interviews with those who are making a positive change in our communities, or to nominate a change maker you’d love to hear from. Visit kidglov.com at K-I-D-G-L-O-V.com to get in touch. As always, if you like what you’ve heard today be sure to rate, review, subscribe and share. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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