Working with the Parkland Students

It’s hard to do your own work-related social media. And although, all my clients are compelling and exciting (#chooseyourwork), one of my newer clients really got to me this week and I think worthy of kicking off a long overdue Strat Labs social debut.

About two years ago, while at ROMP, I started getting pulled into projects that were outside of the nonprofit world, but somehow related. In my “free time”, I began consulting with clients interested in taking a more strategic approach to their programs, products, and client development.

This took the form of a five step process that I had been developing which strategically audits, measures, evaluates, designs, and engages “audiences” to create internal change, tell a more compelling story, and ultimately sell more products, reach more customers, and raise more capital.

Enter: @thestratlabs.

During the developing and prototyping of this model, I have had the fortune and opportunity to meet, work for, and consult with some very talented and incredibly smart individuals, including those working at conscious brands, philanthropic foundations, school districts, municipalities, nonprofits, hospitals, and medical related industries.

In April, a colleague, mentor, and friend of mine (hi, Robert Wolfe), who like me, hides on social media and does a terrible job promoting all of his inspiring work, called to ask if I would speak with a group of students from Parkland, Florida, who were re-organizing after the march and needed some guidance.

Of course.

After our first with students from Parkland, I hung up and immediately called Robert. While I paced around my backyard, too excited to sit down, Robert and I spoke about how those students were some of the smartest people we had ever spoken to—smarter then any CEO, CMO, ED, CTO, MD, or whatever other title either of our clients had listed on their LinkedIn profiles. I mean no disrespect to those individuals, especially those clients that are currently reading. I both admire and have great respect all of the incredible contributions that I get to be part of, but if they had been on that call, they too would have said the same thing. These 15-17 year old students were so well spoken, so organized, and incredibly poised. Not only that they were getting shit done. It was clear that they were going somewhere and I was hoping they picked me to tag along.

Fast forward to this week, where I got to spend the afternoon in Parkland, Florida leading a strategic workshop with a group of students, who after being shot at, seeing friends die, having their worlds turned upside down, their youth stripped away, and their lives changed forever, got together to start Empower The People, which is an organization bent on proving to the world that the youth vote, maybe the only vote that matters both in this election and beyond.

While working in parallel with the other incredible organizations that have come out of the tragic events of February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, these students are barreling ahead with a nonpartisan mission of empowering every youth in this country to vote, especially those from areas that are underserved, ignored, purged from voter registration rolls, and generally unheard in this country.

And @thestratlabs is here to help advise, counsel, and guide them on their way.


The work centers around a partnership strategy (more is more) with groups that have incredible, existing infrastructure in this space, such as Inspire USA and others. Empower The People isn’t looking to recreate what is already there, but rather inspire and co-create a model of civic engagement that will inspire youth from around the country to take five minutes, look up from their screens, and see that a simple act such as registering to vote and subsequently voting, has the power to change this world. It really does only takes five minutes. They hope that in turn, each youth then encourages their parents, relatives, friends, and teachers to also VOTE. Not just in the big elections, but in every election. They recognize that sometimes voting can be hard (even and especially for adults) because of inability to understand the issues or to trust candidates. So as part of their work starting in 2019, they will be looking at ways to help educate youth on how to better understand current issues and candidates, all through a nonpartisan lens.

I am proud to advise on this project and proud to have some incredible co-consultants, who make the work lighter and easier and who contribute expertise, contacts, and humor. Thank you PSB Research (Jason Boxt, Alexis Bluestone, and John McTernan)

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing stories of inspiration, change, and leadership both on social media and on the Strat Labs blog. Please follow @thestratlabs on social media for further updates from Empower The People and other very smart, very worthy, and very incredibly hardworking clients.

If interested in how to partner with @thestratlabs, please email us hello@stratlabs.us. We love advising, counseling, and co-creating with smart and dedicated individuals, companies, and fellow consultants on projects that have the potential to create change.

With Respect,

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Neufeld

Elizabeth NeufeldComment