Equity & Justice in Policymaking: How to Work with Historically Marginalized Communities

Presented by: Wasi Mohamed, Senior Policy Officer, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Synopsis: This workshop is meant to provide a space in which attendees can grapple with the challenges the nonprofit community often faces when attempting to build authentic relationships with marginalized communities. Specifically, we will discuss why this is especially important in policy and advocacy work. We will begin by discussing common pitfalls and then provide a few tips for improving these relationships. We’ll take time to discuss successes, failures, and strategies we’ve all employed in our own organizations. Finally, we’ll consider some examples of advocacy campaigns that were not successful and together determine, based upon our conversation, what went wrong.

Learning Goals:

  • Understand common mistakes made when attempting to work with marginalized communities
  • Understand “tips” for improving these relationships moving forward

Workshop Details

When: Wednesday, October 21,
10:45 am – 12:00 pm

Track: Advocacy

Target Audience: Those currently working with or hoping to work and/or advocate for marginalized communities.

Wasi Mohamed

Senior Policy Officer, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Wasi joined The Pittsburgh Foundation (TPF) in 2020 as the Senior Policy Officer. He develops short- and long-term policy agendas that parallel TPF grant-making efforts. To accomplish this, he works with elected officials, individual activists, nonprofit partners and advocacy organizations to bring about needed policy change.

Wasi is a life-long Pennsylvania resident and community advocate committed to changing systems and structures that perpetuate poverty and inequity. Wasi has focused his career on building bridges across diverse communities and developing campaigns of collective action. Prior to joining the Foundation, Wasi served as the Pittsburgh director of community entrepreneurship for Forward Cities, a national capacity-building and learning network working within and among large and small cities to create more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem development. 

From 2015 to 2019, Wasi served as the executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, where he worked to empower, educate and unite diverse communities through social services, in-reach, outreach and educational programs. In 2016, Wasi was named the executive director of Emgage PA, where he coordinated political education and organizing activities throughout the commonwealth. Also in 2016, Wasi was appointed by Mayor Bill Peduto to the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations and Welcoming Pittsburgh Steering Committee, and appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs; in each group, he was elected chair. He was also elected to the ACLU Pennsylvania State Board of Directors in 2018.  

Wasi received the Emerging Leader Award from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in 2018. In 2019, he was named the New Person of the Year by the Thomas Merton Center. In 2020, the Community Empowerment Association in Homewood awarded Wasi the Nation Builder Award. He met his fiancée, Amber, while volunteering at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Food Pantry. They plan to grow old together in Pittsburgh.

Check Out More Sessions.

Each day of the virtual conference will feature workshops in the following workshop tracks: Advocacy, Building the Plane While Flying It, Caring for Ourselves & Each Other, Fundraising & Communications, and Leading through Change.