'Unbought and Unbossed': Creating New Opportunities and Getting Results

Six years ago, I walked away from professional politics. I was feeling burned out and tokenized. It was time to take a leap of faith and create the opportunities that the parochial underbelly of Massachusetts often designates for the establishment. I took my talents and vision as both a political strategist and urban planner to focus on policy intervention, planning, and social change education. 2017 was a culmination point in this journey and a successful year for our clients.

In Santa Ana, Panama, the agent curriculum developed developed for Conservatorio  and AVACA (called “Convocatorias para el aprendizaje del cambio social) was funded by the United States Embassy, unleashing a new sustainability initiative, Santa Ana Lidera. This initiative is anchored by my clients in addition to Voces Vitales, Futbol con Corazon, FXB and Fundacion Esparanza de San Felipe. 

In Brooklyn, we successfully completed a second asset mapping and participatory action research led by 50 high school and undergraduate students from Central Brooklyn for Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, with a final report coming soon. What began as an experiment for Community Care Brooklyn in community-based research, has now become a permanent community engagement and cross sector collaboration strategy.

In Boston, we led the first all fare boarding pilot on the SL4/SL5 in coordination with the MBTA. (see Boston Globe: “All-door boarding made Silver Line buses move a little quicker.") In a matter of six weeks, Barr Foundation and our team of consultants hired outreach workers and designed a qualitative survey – supported by an integrated social media and communication campaign. Simultaneously, we launched a new pilot partnership program that will witness additional Gold Standard bus rapid transit pilots in Greater Boston while making the public policy case from the MBTA.

In Manhattan, we successfully designed a union dues campaign for the largest health care workers union in the country, 1199 Service Employees International Union.

In addition to watching my clients succeed, I also witnessed, along with other Americans of all stripes, mass youth-based and women of color led movements, a complicit Congress and an authoritarian President attack the fundamental values and institutions of our democracy. This unsettled me and brought me back to professional politics. The emergence of Trump did not begin in 2016, it is connected to decades of lost Democratic seats at the local, legislative, judicial and state level. This I know is true.

  • Democratic control of state legislative and governor’s offices is the lowest since the 1900s;

  • In 2008, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent;

  • Looking at the same time period, Democrats held 29 governor’s offices, and now we only have 16;

  • Be wary of those that want to hold the Electoral College solely responsible. Democrats lost over 1,000 seats over the course of the Obama Administration, most of which did not involve the Electoral College;

  • Finally, by successfully redrawing districts, Republicans have tilted the electoral map to their benefit;

The good news, is that the work is underway to transform our country and Rivera Consulting, Inc. is at the forefront, emerging as leaders that will support this generation of change agents – whether it’s changing hearts, helping elect more Democratic women and people of color, or transformative policy change to create a more sustainable earth.