Civic Dinners: Be Brave Enough To Start A Conversation That Matters
Fast paced technology, the insatiable addiction to social media and a lack of in-person human connection have become a stark reality for most Americans. While looking to the future of Atlanta specifically, Jenn Graham created Civic Dinners, tapping into her passion for inclusivity and belonging. With her pilot program of 60 dinners in just 6 weeks, Jenn was able to bring diverse groups of millennials together around the common love of a shared meal and human connection. The purpose of “What do you love about Atlanta?” was to create a better understanding of what is important to the people of Atlanta as a whole and how to collectively create actionable items for a robust future all while creating a common bond over food.
Jenn gained powerful insight during the pilot project and was able to market the idea to one of her Aha! Strategy consulting clients, the Atlanta Regional Commission. Together they created the platform, “New Voices: Millennial Advisory Panel”, to gain a local millennial perspective focused on topics such as transportation and mobility, healthy-livable communities as well as innovation and workforce development.
“Millennials don’t want to attend a town hall or fill out a survey only. They want a human connection. They want their ideas heard and to know “What’s Next?”, states Jenn.
With the partnership of the Atlanta Regional Commission and launch of “New Voices”, Jenn and her team were astounded with the results of hosting 35 dinners over a 3 week period of time. 5 out of 135 Civic Dinners’ attendees ran for office including the school board and city council. Standout participant Bee Nguyen, ran for State Representative as the first Vietnamese woman in Georgia and won the election!
Nonprofit organizations emerged from Civic Dinners conversations such as “Advanced Atlanta” which is the only grassroots coalition around regional transit advocacy. Due to the hard work, networking and the newly formed resources, “Advanced Atlanta” was able to unlock funding, play a big role in getting 2.8 billion in referendums passed, and the Marta package passed on the ballot.
As Civic Dinners has taken on a life of its own, clients such as Teach for America and the Sierra Club have engaged the strategic dinner structure to create effective educational platforms and realistic renewable energy plans. Jenn looks forward to taking Civic Dinners around the country to build trust, connected communities on a human level and continue to follow her life’s purpose of creating inclusivity and action.
We are so proud to showcase Civic Dinners on our EnrichHER platform and share the values of celebrating diversity and building a strong robust community together. We are stronger together!
Katie Shannon is a team member of EnrichHER, a platform that helps women get debt funding to grow incredible ventures through ecosystem building (EnrichHER Spark) and capital (EnrichHER Funding). EnrichHER enables accredited and non-accredited investors to lend to women-led businesses
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