Colleague of the Week: Jill Cook

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Jill Cook wants Braver Angels volunteers to know about all the info available to make their lives easier – and to make the organization that much more effective. “We have a fabulous gold mine of resources,” she says.

By that she means everything from Braver Angels’ programs for moderator training and protocols for planning workshops to rich databases for local outreach, and more. The volunteers she has most in mind are the state coordinators, alliance leaders, and local organizers now under her purview as the new Red regional coordinator for the South Atlantic region that ranges from her home state of Virginia down to Florida, where her Blue counterpart Paul Witte lives.

She highlights BA’s Trello board – a visual project-management software tool – as one invaluable go-to resource for Braver Angels leaders. “If you want to start an event, there’s a Trello card on how to find an organizer. If you need to know how to find a moderator, it’s there. No need for enthusiastic volunteers to reinvent the wheel,” she says.Cook is a committed Red. She is secretary of the Republican Party’s State Central Committee in Virginia, founder of a conservative political action committee, and Vice Regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She credits Braver Angels for helping her deal more effectively with disagreements within the Party – the types of disagreements found within almost every vibrant organization.

She started some years ago with Braver Angels, joining a local alliance and becoming its Red co-chair before long. In those early days, committed volunteers like Cook spanned multiple roles. “I did our event organizing too. People pretty much did it all back then,” she recalls.

Her regional coordinator job involves being the switchboard and support center for state coordinators and alliance leads. It’s a new role, designed not only to reinforce operational efficiencies and cross-pollinate good ideas but to uphold the Braver Angels brand in how members talk and act.

The regional jobs were introduced recently in a Zoom call with field operations leaders Steve Saltwick and Lynn Heady. Saltwick leaned in on the technicalities – for example, how to formally request resources using BA software – while Heady emphasized the opportunities for members to share information across the fast-growing organization.

For Cook and co-regional lead Witte, the immediate priority is to meet with each state leader on Zoom. “They’ll tell us what they expect of us, and we’ll position ourselves as valuable resources,” says Cook. Bearing in mind the brand, Cook adds that they want to give alliances the leeway to be creative in their programs and approaches, but she and Witte have to help make sure everyone stays on message.

Among Cook’s other goals is ensuring that Braver Angels’ Reds speak out – and know they can speak out. She’s pleased that the organization will have a booth at this week’s conservative-leaning FreedomFest event in South Dakota; the visibility in a largely Red state should help with recruiting right-leaning members. Also on her list: seeking volunteers at the local level who can help to publicize Braver Angels activities both online and in print. “We need a publicity person to let local communities know about us,” she says.  So if that describes you, please get in touch with Jill Cook at cooks471@gmail.com and she’ll connect you with the state coordinator or alliance leaders who can use your talents right away.

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