Champions, Ambassadors, Fellows, and More: Introducing the Advocacy Ninjas

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today Fellow Allen Pope introduces his Project Team: the Advocacy Ninjas. You can follow Allen on Twitter @PopePolar and online at

Posted by Allen Pope, Executive Secretary for the International Arctic Science Committee

Two figures jumping with arms stretched up on a mountaintop
Community advocates help shout their communities’ missions from mountaintops! by Allen Pope

Earlier, we introduced the project teams that this year’s AAAS Community Engagement Fellows have formed, and today I’d like to share a bit about the team that I belong to – the Advocacy Ninjas.

Advocacy can be a dirty (or at least controversial) word to scientists. This contention is usually centered around the role of science with respect political advocacy. But to community managers “advocacy” means something entirely different. “Advocacy programs,” as the Advocacy Ninjas are talking about them, are ways that organizations empower community members to become more active in moving forward that community’s mission.

Why do we use advocacy programs? So many possible reasons, like…

– to broaden and deepen engagement

– to get in touch directly with members

– to produce new content from unique points of view

– to amplify the reach of activities

– to provide training

– to pilot initiatives

– to get more volunteer labor

…and the list goes on. And so “advocacy programs” can go by many names – fellows, ambassadors, champions, and more. With so many different uses, advocacy programs are central to many scientific communities and could help others better achieve their goals.

As one of the 2017 CEFP Cohort project teams, the Advocacy Ninjas want to know what makes a successful member advocacy program. We are exploring a range of internal and external program examples and talking about how these fall on a range of program description spectra (like volunteer vs. incentivized or individual vs. networked). We are planning to visually represent the diversity of scientific advocacy programs, develop an advocacy program scorecard, and produce detailed case studies of several successful programs.

Watch this space for more coming out of the CEFP Advocacy Ninjas!

You can find all of the CEFP Fellows’ posts here.

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