Although Maricopa County voters may not know Beth Meyer’s name, they’ve seen the results of her work. And recently, at that.
The former vice president for state operations at the Center for Progressive Leadership, Meyer began training individuals for civic leadership positions in 2006. In 2013, she co-founded Leading for Change, where as president and CEO she continues to train community leaders.
For the 2018 election, 30 of her program graduates ran for office. Of the 30, 25 were elected, including Kathy Hoffman, elected as state superintendent of public instruction; Jennifer Longdon, elected to the Arizona state House; and Secretary of State-elect Katie Hobbs.
“Beth helps you focus on the issue that you care about and helps you come up with a plan on how you can solve it,” said Hobbs, a graduate of Meyer’s first class. “The thing that was the most helpful for me was the development of a leadership plan, which really helped me figure out where I was wanting to go.”
Hobbs credits Meyer and the program for helping her develop the skills she needed to be elected to represent Legislative District 24 in 2012.
Meyer, a former member of Temple Chai, emphasized that her organization is designed to “be nonpartisan, yet progressive.”
LFC offers various programs for potential leaders. The two most popular are the Leaders Fellowship program and the Candidate Training program. The Candidate Training program is
for individuals who are planning to run for a city, county or state-elected position. Many of the subjects covered in this class are aimed at framing a candidate’s vision and values, financing and marketing
Many of the previously enrolled students said the Candidate Training program was a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals. Longdon, who ran for Legislative District 24, discussed how she continued to contact and rely on her former classmates for ideas and to work on her campaign message.
“The biggest thing that I took away from my class was how to tell the story I needed to tell to move my policy points forward,” said Longdon, a graduate of the 2010 class. “Learning how to weave personal narrative and appropriate statistics into policy positions so that they’re easy for anyone to digest but compelling enough to push the issue forward is the most important thing
The Leaders Fellowship program offers the opportunity to learn how to advocate for political change without necessarily running for office.
“What people walk out with is called a Personal Political Leadership Plan,” Meyer said. “It’s their plan with all the steps for how to create the vision of change they want to see.”
Meyer described how the Leaders Fellowship program breaks down each individual’s vision into tangible goals that can be attained through political advocacy. Many of Meyer’s former students applaud her ability to help them identify a root problem and ways to address it.
Fellowship Leader graduate Jaclyn Boyes was looking to address homelessness in Maricopa County. While she is passionate about the issue, she admitted that it was a complicated and broad one to tackle. Meyer helped her dissect the topic further in order to focus on one aspect on which she could work.
Boyes then refocused her energy specifically on working to provide free identification documents for homeless veterans. This led her to join the board of directors for the Homeless ID Project, and help advocate for a recent law that took effect in September that authorizes the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division to waive fees associated with getting a state ID.
Local philanthropist Nestor Guzman, who was recently awarded the Arizona Jewish Historical Society Heritage Award, is a longtime financial supporter of the organization and has been amazed by Meyer’s work.
“Many people in the fellowship have taken this education and gone further in their careers and made a contribution to society by creating their own nonprofits,” Guzman said. “The current class has over 40 students who are very passionate in what they want to advocate for.” JN