Special Needs Network, Inc.

LA Community Leaders Tackle Grassroots Organizing Post Ferguson

SNN president and founder Areva Martin with grassroots autism advocates on the Capitol steps in Sacramento hard at work advocating for positive change for individuals with disabilities.

Special Needs Network, California’s leading grassroots autism advocacy organization, will host a summit for community organizers and advocates during its 9th Annual Tools for Transformation conference to encourage “action after protest”.

Los Angeles, CA — Special Needs Network (SNN), together with Los Angeles County Office of Education, will host the 4th Annual Advocates’ Summit and Teach-In on Friday, April 10 from 1-4 p.m. during SNN’s Tools for Transformation Conference. This event is free, open to the public and will be held at the California African American Museum located at 600 State Drive in Los Angeles. This year’s event will feature several of California’s most influential elected officials as guest speakers including LA District Attorney, The Honorable Jackie Lacey and LA City Attorney, The Honorable Mike Feuer. The summit is designed to provide leadership training to nonprofit leaders, activists, student organizers and grassroots organizers.

A distinguished panel of community leaders will explore community organizing and grassroots leadership post Ferguson and the national protests that erupted following the shooting of Mike Brown and Eric Garner’s chokehold death. Panelists include LA Urban League President Nolan Rollins, LA Community College Board Member Sydney Kalgamer, California Community Foundation VP of Civic Engagement Efrain Escobedo, USC Professor Dr. Sharoni Little and Cal State LA Professor Dr. Nana Lawson Bush.

“We are peeling back the layers and examining how advocates, activists and nonprofit organizations harness the power of protest and build organizations which can effectuate sustainable and systemic change,” says SNN president and founder Areva Martin, Esq., who will moderate the panel.

Martin, a legal analyst and commentator, provided consistent commentary on national network and cable news stations for months following the August shooting of Brown in Ferguson. She was a frequent and outspoken voice calling to expand the dialogue and move from discourse to action. For Martin, the question always came back to infrastructure and sustainability, whether you are trying to move the needle on police excessive force, access to healthcare, jobs or education.

“The panelists will be challenged to respond to critics who say that the protestors lacked leadership and organization,” says Martin. By examining the critique of what some pundits are calling the “new civil rights movement,” the summit will provide participants an opportunity to access their organization’s assets and deficits including their effectiveness in setting clear objectives, developing core messages and funding policy advocacy campaigns and social justice initiatives.

Panelists will propose tangible action items that emerging and seasoned leaders can utilize to improve civic engagement, voter education and registration, social media, marketing and fundraising efforts. They also will look at the challenges of legislative advocacy, which SNN has been a leader in on a range of issues from insurance coverage for autism therapies to state spending on individuals with developmental disabilities. “Members of SNN’s policy team will be present to share their expertise and experience in engaging community, building support with elected officials and ultimately getting legislation passed,” says Martin.

“I’m excited to participate in the summit and share the lessons I’ve learned in organizing protests around the country, “ says Nicole Tinson, a Yale graduate student and panelist who will focus her remarks on how to use hashtags to build communities via social media. For Tinson, looking historically at social justice movements is critical as emerging leaders look to empower communities and build on past successes.

Participants can register at The event is free and open to the public.