Building Collective Power to Strengthen Collaboration

What does it mean to build “collective power” and what could that look like?

In this episode, we talk about building “collective power,” including what it means to build collective power and what factors can contribute to building it.

To explore those questions and more, we learn about the Child Care NEXT coalition and how through advocacy work, they have developed a culture of collective power amongst their wide spectrum of partners and advocates. Joining us for this conversation is Alissa Marchant from Innovation Network and Jacy Montoya Price from Alliance for Early Success. They discuss several of the factors that have been most helpful in supporting a culture of collective power, and what challenges they have faced along the way.

Ways to listen: You can listen below or on your preferred podcast streaming service, including Itunes, Spotify, Simplecast, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Amazon, and other podcast apps.

Please find a transcript of this talk further down this page.

References and Footnotes

More on Collective Impact


The Intro music, entitled “Running,” was composed by Rafael Krux, and can be found here and is licensed under CC: By 4.0.

The outro music, entitled “Deliberate Thought,” was composed by Kevin Macleod. Licensed under CC: By.

Listen to Past Episodes: You can listen and subscribe via Itunes, Spotify, Simplecast, Sticher, iHeartRadio, Amazon, and other podcast apps.

Podcast Transcript

(Intro) Welcome to the Collective Impact Forum podcast, here to share resources to support social change makers working on cross-sector collaboration.

The Collective Impact Forum is a nonprofit field-building initiative that is co-hosted in partnership by the nonprofit consulting firm FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.

In this episode, we talk about building “collective power,” including what it means to build collective power and what factors can contribute to building it.

To explore those questions and more, we learn about the Child Care NEXT coalition and how through advocacy work, they have developed a culture of collective power amongst their wide spectrum of partners and advocates. Joining us for this conversation is Alissa Marchant from Innovation Network and Jacy Montoya Price from Alliance for Early Success. They discuss several of the factors that have been most helpful in supporting a culture of collective power, and what challenges they have faced along the way. Interviewing Alissa and Jacy is my Collective Impact Forum colleague Cindy Santos, who serves as Senior Associate of Strategic Partnerships at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. Let’s listen in.

Cindy Santos: Today we have two wonderful guests joining us, Alissa Marchant of the Innovation Network, and Jacy Montoya Price of Alliance for Early Success. Thank you both for joining us today. Before we get started let’s share with listeners a little bit about each of you. Please tell us about yourself and the focus of your work.

Alissa Marchant: Thank you so much for having us. My name is Alissa Marchant. I lead Innovation Network, a nonprofit consulting group that specializes in learning and evaluation for advocacy initiatives. We see learning and evaluation as a tool for social justice. So while the learning that we gain can be used to improve advocacy work, it’s really the process that we also put emphasis on believing that that process itself can further equity.

Jacy Montoya Price: Thanks, Cindy. Really glad to be here today. My name is Jacy Montoya Price and I’m with the Alliance for Early Success. We’re a national nonprofit that works with early childhood policy advocates at the state level to ensure that every child in every state has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed. In addition to making grants to traditional advocacy organizations in each state, we add our special sauce, as we like to call it, which is technical assistance and a network of advocates who share their expertise and learn from each other on best ways to advance early childhood policy.

Cindy Santos: Thank you, both, and I love that you’re using the word special sauce. Today we’re going to be talking about shifting power towards grassroots groups and community members, that working collaboratives and the themes that have emerged in your work around creating collective power. Alissa, I was hoping that you could share with us, what is your definition of power in this particular context?

Alissa Marchant: Great question, and it’s one that we answered by asking advocates themselves. The Alliance for Early Success hired us in 2021 as their learning partner for Child Care NEXT. The Alliance was impressed by what states were already doing. They were six states brought in to Child Care NEXT and they were bringing together diverse groups in their coalition, especially grassroots groups, together with traditional policy groups in these coalitions.

The Alliance saw the best practice that was happening in these states and wanted to know what does it takes to build this collective power, to see these groups come together in new ways to elevate the power of parents and providers. What does the progress look like to do that to make it possible for that to happen in other states as well.

When we asked these advocates who are already doing this work, they defined collective power as first building political strength by bringing these groups together in the first place. You have way more people who are on board with an issue area, you have more political power by having more voices.

Second is centering the most impacted populations, so in this case, we’re talking about parents and providers to lead those changes in child care because they’re the voices who really matter in this work, and they’re also the voices who have been ignored for so long in this work. It takes more intentional effort to bring them into these advocacy spaces.

We’re continuing to learn from advocates about what that really means and looks like to build that power and I think that they’re actually learning that too in these new spaces, especially now that parents and providers have a voice that they haven’t had in so long in these spaces. They’re also learning from them about what power means and what it should look like.

Cindy Santos: I love that you mentioned that these are practices that were already happening in states. I think it’s so important to really recognize that there is this amazing power sharing work that’s happening and that there’s so much that we can learn from folks that are engaged in this work already. Can you describe a bit what the Innovation Network is doing and what stakeholders and partners you’re working with?

Alissa Marchant: Absolutely. We are working very closely with participants of Child Care NEXT, those advocates in the states as well as the Alliance for Early Success. What we’re doing is creating learning opportunities together. Sometimes that means we’re coming into their existing spaces. There are six states who are part of Child Care NEXT and they come together periodically. We’re often able to enter those spaces to talk with advocates themselves, learn about what they’re doing, what they’re learning, being able to understand what’s working across states, what we’re seeing as common themes.

We are also working closely with Alliance for Early Success to understand from them what advocates are doing and how to bring some of that learning outside to Child Care NEXT and share that in like spaces like this with other advocates about what it takes to build collective power.

Cindy Santos: That’s great. I love that you’re talking about really creating those spaces and coming together with advocates themselves because I think it provides that opportunity really to elevate that lived expertise that they have and also to think about how might we come together and learn from each other across states and understand what it takes to really build this collective power that you’re talking about.

Jacy, in doing your work, how did you arrive at a place where you realized that addressing power imbalances is really crucial?

Jacy Montoya Price: During the pandemic we realized that at the Alliance that the incremental policy change that was happening at the state level wasn’t enough to really make the transformation that we saw necessary in the child care system. We realized that our grasstops traditional advocates, those people who have power in capitols, with policymakers, didn’t have enough people power to really sustain the change that was needed. That’s where the idea for Child Care NEXT came from.

We held a competitive RFP, a competitive RFP to identify state coalitions rather than individual organizations that we could support to make this transformational change. As part of that we realized that the traditional grantees that we have that are well funded, traditionally White-led organizations, exist in the world with more power than the grassroots groups, the parent-led, organizations led by communities of color, and that shared power or collective power rather would be the only and best way to really ensure that the change happened long term and in collaboration.

We’ve seen coalitions in the past where it’s almost a coalition in name only where the lead organization, again, traditionally a very powerful White-led organization, kind of dictates what is going to happen and expects everyone to come behind them, and that is able to make some change but doesn’t build the power of the people who can really keep policymakers accountable and demand that change over a long term.

That’s how we realized that collective power, shared power across the types of organizations was going to be the best bet to move the work forward in really transformational ways. I think what we also realized is we don’t know what that looks like. We don’t know how to define it, and that’s where our partnership with Innovation Network is so important because they’ve been able to work with our state teams, the coalitions, to examine that and see what’s working and perhaps not working as those teams work together to build power, not just with policymakers but also in some ways more importantly, with grassroots groups, with parents, with providers, with those folks who can demand accountability from the policymakers over time.

Cindy Santos: One thing that you noted that I think is important for every conversation when we talk about equity, particularly with nonprofit organizations and movement partners, I think it’s really important to note those disparities that you noted that exist between BIPOC and white-led organizations and I think it’s in terms of funding, in terms of the support that goes for infrastructure building, and really that potential of having more voices at the table that creates more power. That’s really important to note as we think about equity and the way that we work with partners.

One thing I find unique about the way that you talk about power is that you’re talking not only about shifting your collaborative practices to share power, you’re really working to build collective power. How is collective power different from how other collaboratives might come together?

Alissa Marchant: Great question, Cindy. It’s one that we’ve seen in Child Care NEXT but we’ve also seen in other coalitions that we’re working with who are bringing together grassroots and traditional policy organizations. We noticed across these different coalitions that there are three characteristics for building collective power.

One is equity. I think equity is a word that we’re seeing show up a lot more in our spaces. What makes it different in coalitions striving for collective power is that it’s really a cornerstone. This is a true commitment and vision by all parties who are part of the coalition. It also means active elevation of grassroots voices and leadership, whatever the issue, to openly address and mitigate a lot of historical power differentials that we’ve seen.

The second is co-creation. Co-creation is where each person who is part of the coalition really is part of the decision-making practices. Every single state who is part of Child Care NEXT strives for a more group-based decision-making process, if not consensus, then everyone has a voice who’s part of it. It’s really valuing each person’s perspective. More than that, there really is a sense of the spirit of collaboration in the group. You see not competition but people advocating for each other and each other’s ideas in that space towards a common goal.

The third characteristic is transformation. I think that this comes actually a lot from involving more grassroots groups in these spaces because grassroots in particular they do not have a sense as much about specific policy wins that are important. It’s very much about how to change the everyday lived experience of the people that you’re working for, and that means that it may not be one specific policy that needs to change. It is a societal change that you’re striving for so it’s thinking from a higher level, bigger perspective of what this change really means and looks like. It’s that transformation that these coalitions are striving for.

Cindy Santos: Jacy, what would you say about that? What would you say about how building collective power is really different from the way that you’ve seen other collaboratives work?

Jacy Montoya Price: I would say that even the terminology, talking about it as collective power rather than shared power has been part of the difference. To us, shared power implies and acknowledges that one group has inherently more power than another and that they’re sharing it, their generosity or their benevolence that they’re sharing their power with others, whereas collective power really is about building it together and acknowledging that whereas maybe the grassroots groups don’t have that same power in terms of funding or in terms of influence with policymakers, they do have power in terms of their ability to relate to and bring in, invoke trust with communities that are closest to the issue. That is one way I would say that collective power looks different.

Another really is around people leaning into their areas of strengths and acknowledging things like lived experience as expertise and something that can’t be replicated by folks who are just working in the policy realm. Holding that up as an equal contributor, an equal value to the coalition is a really important component.

Cindy Santos: That is really important and what you’re talking about to me really about unlearning some of the ways that we work because of historical inequities and structural barriers. I really like that you talk about strength and lived experience as expertise because I think often when we think about power we’re thinking about positional power and we have to really think about who are those that have those positional power and how do we really move from that individual and really hoarding what expertise looks like to having expertise be something that’s lived and valuing what that looks like and how that shows up in our work and how those experiences really inform our strategies, how we create together, and that unlearning is something I’m sure that it takes time. It takes time to do that unlearning. And it’s hard. It’s hard to do that unlearning. We really have to challenge ourselves as individuals and as organizations.

What are some of the things that make collective power building hard and how have you been able to address those issues in your work?

Jacy Montoya Price: One of the big issues that comes up when we talk about this is time. Time is such an important component. We’re used to, especially under White supremacist cultural values, having urgency drive everything, and trying to get things done as quickly as possible on the shortest timeline possible so that’s really not possible when you’re trying to build relationships, create a sense of trust, and go at the pace of trust rather than going at the pace as dictated by some outside power. One way we’ve tried to mitigate that is by committing to multiyear funding, realizing that we’re talking decades-long change rather than change that can happen within a calendar year or even two so that long-term funding is a really important component of what we’re doing.

Flexibility is another huge element here. We set out the year or set out the project with certain expectations and then as the state teams work to build their coalitions or create their campaign plans, to establish their values and operating principles, they have competing demands, right? Last year we were talking about Build Back Better and thinking we’re going to have this increased revenue into the system that would solve a lot of our problems, and that brought people’s attention away from the campaign planning and the more specific Child Care NEXT work rather than seeing that as a fault or as a problem, we really tried to learn from it and realized that those lessons that folks were learning by working together, by advocating for large-scale policy change at the federal level could also then help them learn better how to work together and push for large-scale change at the state level as well.

Alissa Marchant: I think that’s a really good point, Jacy, especially around the time component. I think it’s something both funders and advocates can reflect on, of understanding that this takes time and it’s OK but you do need to be in a space with people to build trust. You have difficult conversations where you’re having some values alignment, like that just requires you understanding each other on a new level. I think that when I reflect on the Child Care NEXT states, there were a few states that came into Child Care NEXT who had already done a lot of grounding work too. There was one state, for example, who had been able to find some funding to do that grounding work together and to build shared values, to spend the time with each other, getting to know each other, find that alignment before they’re even ready to do some deep coalition work and the advocacy side. They were able to find funding for that. I think that’s hard but that allowed them more time and space to be together and have those alignment conversations, to grapple with each other around those things, to have those hard conversations so as they continue and get into the advocacy work as new challenges emerge in practice, they understand what it means to continually find that alignment and work together in new ways.

Jacy Montoya Price: I’d say another way that things are different is that coalitions are comfortable saying no which is something that’s very hard in our work as nonprofits. We try to please everyone but because the coalition had put together a shared set of values and principles, they’re able to have those hard conversations and talk to members of the coalition and say, you know, it doesn’t seem like you are really operating in keeping with our values. We’re not sure you’re a great fit for this coalition. That’s happened I think in a couple of different states, and interestingly, the group that was operating outside of the values of the coalition agreed and stepped back, and not seeing that as a weakness or as a problem but rather as a strength because the coalition is so clear on how they want to operate and the way that they want to make change, that commitment to equity and collective power, that they’re willing to let go of folks who are not able to operate under those same values.

Cindy Santos: Everything you said makes a lot of sense to me and I really love that you talked about urgency because I think we often want to move forward really quickly, and we want to jump to solutions and strategies and those very technical fixes around organizational structure and governance but I think that any long-term work that addresses structural inequities and that includes addressing those power imbalances, and that wants to be sustainable really needs to be based on deep relational work so that when things get hard, we can go back to aligning around the values that you mentioned.

So when we think about sharing power, it really isn’t just about changing those policies and practices, right? It’s really about that deep relational work that’s necessary. But when we’re thinking about that deep relational work, there are times that—there are many who would say that relational work is hard but it’s also hard to measure so as you’re doing your work and engaging in your learning journey, what are some of those indicators that you’re making progress towards sharing and building, shifting really, and building collective power? I love that you made that distinction between sharing.

Alissa Marchant: So when people talk to me about measuring advocacy work, the first thing that I like to share with people is that measuring advocacy work is telling a story because advocacy often is a roller coaster of a story where there is change in administration which affects maybe the policies that are possible to get passed in a legislature so your goals are changing. Maybe you were on the offense but now you’re on the defense in what you’re working for.

There’s also different state contexts so every one of the six states that Child Care NEXT works in is so different, and that’s not just the political context which we hear about in the news all the time. It’s also just the different organizations that are in the states. Some states have a statewide grassrootsorganization organizing providers or parents, and some do not. They all have a different context with what they work in, and what makes it possible, and what is possible to affect change so when people talk to me about measuring advocacy and progress, I always like to emphasize that story because the context matters so much.

And second is we’re all learning together about this still, right? As I said, grassroots groups are coming into these spaces where they haven’t had a voice before so they’re helping us learn more about what advocacy should be and should look like so a lot of our time is spent learning from advocates themselves to define concepts like what should transformation be and look like, what can collective power be so we’re starting to learn from them about what these milestones for progress can look like in advocacy work, and we’ve started to do that and will continue to do that.

Jacy Montoya Price: Some of the milestones or indicators that we’ve identified in partnership with the state coalition are things like setting the table. Who is around the coalition and how are they working together to build power? I think so often coalitions, especially in early childhood, have the usual suspects. It’s the same folks who are always around the table to try to affect change, and in the case of Child Care NEXT the state teams were very intentional about who they brought in as decision makers.

In Oregon they brought around groups, cultural groups, who are organizers. They didn’t necessarily have a tradition of working in early childhood or in child care but they had deep connections, deep trust within their own communities, and were interested in working on the issue.

In Louisiana the decision makers around their table are very intentionally parents and providers. Fifty five percent of their steering committee, the decision makers in their coalition are parents and providers, and that intentionality of how the table is set can really make a difference and serve as an indicator of how and whether collective power is being built.

Another element is cohesion. I mentioned before that there’s a state that’s actually asked one of their members to step away because they weren’t adhering to those shared values, and the cohesion in terms of principles and values, the way that decisions are made, and the way that the coalition operates can be a really helpful or indicator or baseline of the opportunity to share power when things are clear. When there’s transparency, groups within the coalition can feel more powerful, more in power to be part of the coalition because they know how things are happening and they don’t have to question how decisions are being made.

Cindy Santos: So working in a way that builds—what I’m hearing is that working in a way that builds power is really transformational, not just for the folks that are around the table and the way that they work together but also for the systems that we’re trying to change. So what implications and applicability do you think that what you’re learning has for systems change?

Alissa Marchant: I mean this is a means for systems change. This is what we’re all about. We want to see a changed society, and we believe that in this case parents and providers are the ones who have the answers. So Child Care NEXT and these coalitions are a vehicle for those visions to come to be. They’re doing some amazing work right now in bringing parents and providers into the folds.

You asked about challenges earlier, I think that’s one challenge that we’re continuing to see in this space and in the field overall, is how do you center the people most impacted by an issue when they’re often struggling with a plethora of challenges? How do you now overburden them but still value and build their power in these spaces which can take their time and effort and energy when they have much more pressing priorities to deal with, so that’s a continual debate in the spaces we’re in about what that means and what that looks like, and how that also affects the time of advocates and what they’re able to do, especially given some of the limited capacity that so many of these groups have. It’s something that I think we’ll continue to see as time goes on but it’s absolutely a trend that will continue, I think as more community members, people who are affected by the issues in our society are able to step up and have a voice in what changes we see.

Jacy Montoya Price: I think the types of systems changes that the coalitions are asking for because they’re building collective power look a little different. Each of the coalitions has a specific focus on implementation as something separate from policy change. Often our policy experts, our policy advocates, will focus on getting that win, getting the bill passed, and then move on to the next issue without focusing on implementation. Because these coalitions have parents and providers around the table who have seen policy wins happen but not translate to any change at the local level, they have a really big emphasis on implementation, and I see that as one way that the collective power approach is going to change systems over time.

I also see the state teams demanding similar collective power within local governments and state governments that they have within their own coalitions, and so part of the policy platform for the Louisiana team, for example, is to require advisory groups to policymakers like parent councils or like early childhood advisory committees to be made up of 55 percent or more of parents and providers, replicating that collective and shared power that they have in their coalition because they know that the way that policies are implemented long term will look different and will have a different level of accountability when parents and providers are at the table throughout the process.

Cindy Santos: Could you give us an example of a place where this has really worked well or initiative where this has worked well?

Jacy Montoya Price: You know we’re at the very beginning stages. The coalitions have just started this year kind of in the implementation stage for their campaign plan so the way that we can talk about things working well isn’t necessarily about building paths or millions of dollars being allocated but rather some of those smaller things like asking a group to step away from the coalition because they’re not operating within the same values and principles.

Another example comes from our Oregon team who has a participatory budgeting process. They realized that to have collective power within the coalition, they needed to have absolute transparency about money because money is power in our society, and so they work together to establish values and principles about what the budget should look like, distributed the funding equitably across all of the lead organizations, and set aside a pool of funds for coalition collective work. When we asked this group about accountability, how are you making sure that the different organizations around the table are pulling their weight, they went back to trust. They talked about how they trust the groups around the table to be doing what’s right for their communities and for the coalition as a whole.

We know that when you’re on a shoestring budget and your organization is trying to do things like policy change but also address the very real day-to-day needs of your community, that capacity can ebb and flow over time. Within the Oregon coalition, they acknowledge that and embrace it, and are able to trust that if a group has to step away or be distracted by a more immediate need, they will be coming back and returning to the work and helping to build the power and build the work over time.

I think that’s where kind of timelines look a lot different within this work than they do within traditional policy advocacy, and it’s really that basis in trust, the relational element that allows the coalitions to stay strong even in face of so many other needs and demands on folks’ time, especially when you’re thinking about groups that are being affected by structural racism and violence within their communities. The hierarchy’s need is different, and within the coalition because of the trust and because of the transparency, they’re able to understand it’s a both/and situation and people are committed to the work even if they have to step forward and step back depending on what’s going on in their communities.

Alissa Marchant: I think a lot of what makes that possible, and I agree with everything that you said, Jacy, is all of these states have spent some time doing that grounding work. They have come together, they have shared values and principles, and that’s something that they can all refer back to. They have agreed on things and that the values become the accountability measure so they’re able to check each other and say, these are values, like how come you’ve acted this way or what was coming up for you, and so they’re able to reflect back with each other what they should be doing, what they want to be doing, their shared mission and goals, right? Because that was agreement that everyone made, and so when you have this agreement, then the partners who are part of that are able to hold each other accountable.

I think it also allows the Alliance for Early Success to do that too because Child Care NEXT itself has these core principles that were built into the initiative itself, and those core principles were built from advocates that they brought in as part of a steering committee so everyone who applies for the grant of Child Care NEXT also knew and was on board with. We also did an evaluation of that RFP process. They were on board with all of the core principles that were identified as part of that process so I think that is an important component of what makes it possible for those discussions and the cohesion, is having those shared values that you come back to.

Cindy Santos: That makes a lot of sense and I really like the relationship, Jacy, that you made between accountability and trust because when we have those trusting relationships, we are able to hold each other accountable in a different way, and we can really rely on each other to be active and equal partners.

When you talked about principles and really grounding in those principles, how have you seen—and values, right? So how have you seen that these groups have been able to agree upon these values? What types of conversations have you seen are necessary to really come to that understanding?

Jacy Montoya Price: Because we’re a little bit removed from the work, we hadn’t been present during those conversations but what we have learned from the space is that it really is partially about the core principles set forth in Child Care NEXT, and partially about what their unique state culture and landscape looks like.

Some of the groups brought in an external facilitator to help make that dialogue possible and open up discussion about the most important values. Others had kind of existing groups that they were able to bring forward the talk through and agree to the values and principles that they want. There’s some similarities across the six states in terms of centering people with lived experience, a commitment to racial equity. We know that the child care system was built upon racial inequities and so the only way we’re really going to transform the system is by addressing the sexism and racism that are both inherent in the system. They have also talked about a universality of the program. Right now, the way that the system was created is child care is offered to those people. Child care subsidies is seen as something for others, for people who are lower income, who don’t have the ability to pay out of pocket for child care, and many of these teams have a vision that child care needs to be supported just as public education is in our country so that it’s not a thing that’s there for other people but rather it’s our collective good, collective public good that we are committed to as a society because we know that it allows parents to work. It also allows children to have access to the learning and stimulation they need to grow up to be successful adults.

Cindy Santos: Based on what you’ve learned so far, what is one thing that you would recommend for our listeners related to this work, especially if they see themselves grappling with how to build collective power within their own collaboratives?

Alissa Marchant: Well, I am about to get married in a couple weeks, and I’ve been getting some unsolicited advice, some of which is quite good, and one thing I’ve heard is never stop dating in a relationship, and I actually think this is so relevant for coalitions who are working to build collective power. Never stop talking about your values and finding alignment. That grounding work, as I mentioned, is so important. It’s the thing that allows folks to grapple with each other but come back to some commonality and alignment to maintain that cohesion and focus on the values that make collective power important, especially values around equity, centering parents and providers or whoever is affected by the issue that you’re working on. It’s that constant work of finding alignment with each other, and that does take time and commitment. It is another form of relationship where you consistently come back to that.

Jacy Montoya Price: I would recommend patience, and this is both for members of coalitions and especially for those folks like the Alliance who are supporting or funding coalitions. When we demand to see change within a year, we’re actually undermining the ability of coalitions to build collective power. Having multiyear funding that is committed allows those groups to really take the time to build relationships, to have the hard discussions, to reevaluate their values and reestablish their shared vision. So that multiyear funding is essential. The patience is also so essential. It can feel hard when you’re in month three, four, five, six of coming together and you’re still talking about some of those foundational principles like your theory of change, like your shared values, however, by being patient and really allowing that process to run its course, you’re creating a stronger foundation that will stand the test of time as you get into the nitty-gritty of policy change and debates with people who don’t share your values.

Collective power really requires humility on the part of those folks who have positional power who are used to coming in the room and being listened to. Being humble enough to step back and know that you are not the expert on perhaps how child care subsidies work in your state on the ground level and deferring to the people within your coalition who do have that shared power. So often people feel like they’re giving something up by sharing power or building collective power, and in my mind, you have to be humble enough to realize that the shared power, the collective power makes your own power that much more effective. You’re not giving things up but instead enhancing the overall power for your shared goals, in this case for creating transformational change for child care.

Cindy Santos: So thank you for this conversation today. It has been really great to hear about how you’ve been seeing collective power operationalize in the coalitions that you’re working with and their grantees, and one of the things I really got from this conversation, multiple things that I received from this conversation, is the importance of really considering the context and how context-specific this is, and really considering who is around the table and how you might begin to have conversations about your particular context and how that relates to your work moving forward together, how you work together collectively, and really building around a foundation of trust because that allows you to take a step back when things get hard and have the conversations that are necessary to really move the work forward, and the patience that it takes to build those relationships that this requires, and recognizing that this really takes time and how that might be in a learning of the way that we learn to do the work where we often center urgency, and lastly just really recognizing lived experience as a form of expertise, and really recognizing that the folks around the table really have the solutions.

This has been a really important conversation and it’s been just great talking with you both today to think about power so differently so we appreciate you being with us here today.

Alissa Marchant: Thanks so much, Cindy. It was nice to chat with you too.

Jacy Montoya Price: We’re so glad to be here. Thank you.

(Outro) And this closes out this episode of the Collective Impact Forum podcast. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, you can find links to resources in the footnotes for this episode.

We would like to acknowledge that this episode was produced and edited on the unceded, traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, including the Duwamish, Suquamish, Stillaguamish, and Muckleshoot tribes. We honor with gratitude the land itself and the past, present, and futures of these tribes.

The Intro music for this episode was composed by Rafael Krux and our outro music is composed by Kevin Macleod.

And for those interested in more learning events, registration is now open for three upcoming online workshops happening from May through July.

Our first workshop is Advancing Equity in Collective Impact, which will be held on May 31 and June 1 and will go over key strategies to embed equity practices within your collective impact work.

On June 21 and 22, we are hosting the workshop, Introduction to Collective Impact and the Backbone Role, which will go over the foundations of collective impact, and is a great workshop if you are new to thinking about collective impact work.

And on July 11 and 13, we are hosting the workshop Data and Learning in Collective Impact, which will be taking a deep dive into the various practices you can do to support data and learning within your collaborative work.

Please visit our events section of to learn more and register.

This is Tracy Timmons-Gray, Associate Director here at the Collective Impact Forum, and your podcast host. I want to say thank you so much for listening, and we look forward to connecting with you more in our next episode. Until next time, we hope you are safe and well.


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