Member Spotlight: Western Leaders Network

Member Spotlight



What is your organization’s issue focus?

WLN harnesses the power of local, tribal and state elected officials to address conservation and climate initiatives and protect our democracy.

What is something your organization is currently prioritizing? Can you tell our readers a little about the goals of the campaign/project?

WLN has been working to support legislation that will modernize New Mexico’s 88 year-old law that governs oil and gas development in the state. WLN is supporting Senate Bill 418 because it brings oversight of oil and gas development into the 21st Century. The current Oil & Gas Act was enacted in 1935. Taxpayers will no longer be left to pay the bills when antiquated “blanket bonds” don’t cover the cost of cleaning up old wells. Democratizing the Oil Conservation Commission will ensure frontline communities, the people who live with oil and gas 24/7, have fair representation on the commission.

Do you have an “Advocacy Tip” to share or “Lesson Learned” while organizing this or other campaigns? Do you have any general words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other staff engaged in advocacy? Speak peer to peer in this response.

When you work for a small but mighty organization, it’s important to have systems in place so important issue developments don’t fall through the cracks. New Mexico has short legislative sessions and bills can move fast. Sometimes there is very little time to alert your members (in our case, our members are elected officials) to opportunities to engage in the legislative process. We are part of a coalition of advocacy groups in New Mexico that actively participate in the legislative sessions. We keep one another updated moment to moment with opportunities to engage in committee hearings and floor actions. Being part of a coalition, even if you don’t agree 100% with different organization’s issue positions, is a great way to add capacity to the work of smaller organizations.

Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy initiative and our Justice program. How has either or both most helped you? How have you worked with either or both?

WLN staff have participated in AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy trainings on 501 c 3 lobbying requirements. The training has been really helpful for our staff to understand what we are allowed to do to support legislation that advances our mission.

Who inspires you??

My friend Gilda Yazzie inspires me. Gilda is running for Durango City Council. She is one of the first indigenous women to run for council. Her trailblazing campaign will inspire other indigenous people to run for office in the future[from Gwen Lachelt, Executive Director, Western Leaders Network].

All spotlights are written by AFJ members directly. Please reach out to if you’d like to complete a member spotlight.