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Issues & Victories

Voter Engagement

VOICE Winning in 2019 – And Bringing Success into 2020

In 2019, Virginia’s election received national media attention and a flood of out of state money because it was the only contested race that would determine who would control power at the state level in the Senate and House. VOICE /IAF had 1,332 election volunteers over the last three years knocking on their neighbor’s doors in Virginia’s 2017, 2018, & 2019 elections. In 2019, VOICE once again secured major results through its non-partisan GOTV work in low voter turnout swing districts. VOICE leaders strategically focused in Prince William County in VA as it’s precincts were home to some of the most contested races of the 2019 election and located near VOICE member institutions.
VOICE’s non-partisan GOTV volunteers have --

  • Remarkable results with Infrequent Voters. Many VOICE leaders get 15-25 yes commitments in a 2-hour period, instead of the more common 6-10 in a 2-hour period that other groups report.
  • Increased voter turnout between 32% and 100% over the last 3 years.

Some examples include---

  • In the 2019 General Assembly election, voter turnout increased by 49% across the entire 51st District. But the two VOICE precincts, Old Bridge and Springwoods, increased by 100.66% and 82.68%, respectively.
  • In the 2018 Congressional election, voter turnout increased by 33% across Loudoun County in the VA-10 Congressional District. But in the VOICE precincts, Rolling Ridge, Mirror Ridger, Sterling and Ridgetop, voter turnout increased by 65%, 59%, 68%, and 96%, respectively.
  • In the 2017 election, voter turnout increased by 5% in the Prince William County section of VA 2nd House of Delegates district. But in the VOICE precincts, Freedom and River Oaks, voter turnout increased by 39% and 28%, respectively.
  • Engaged hundreds of Muslim leaders, who are historically swing voters. VOICE has trained over 350 Muslim leaders from some of the largest mosques in the US in our democracy building work.

Major Commitments Made by All 4 Fairfax Chair Candidates

Photos by David F. Choy

VOICE held the largest Action of the Spring Election Season, it was over 6 times larger than the second largest forum. VOICE moved the Candidates on the central issues facing Fairfax County. This is the first of a series of VOICE Actions in Northern Virginia this Election season.

In Gum Springs, on May 19th, at Bethlehem Baptist Church, over 625 VOICE leaders challenged four candidates running for Fairfax Board of Supervisor Chair to move from rhetoric to action on the County’s policy of "One Fairfax.”  

VOICE leaders celebrate that ALL four Candidates committed to lead with VOICE on VOICE’s key issue priorities including--  
  • Renovate the sorely neglected Gum Springs Community Center, located in the historic African American community of Gum Springs which was founded by free Blacks from George Washington's plantation Mt. Vernon and by runaway slaves.  
  • Ensure that 4-year-olds from low-income families have access to PreK. Over the past 5 years, Fairfax County has left $13 million from the state on the table, funds that could have been put toward the creation of 862 needed preschool slots for 4-year-olds from low-income households;
  • Increase affordable housing from the current $15 million to $60 million in 4 years and then move to $120M in the next 10 to ensure that communities that have lived here for decades can continue to afford to remain AND to allow for anticipated population growth;
  • Invest $875,000 from the current $200,000 for a Legal Defense Fund to Keep Immigrant Families Together, in order to meet the actual need. 
  • Create after-school & summer programs in Title One Schools & at Gum Springs Community Centers.
VOICE leaders took commitment to turn out 3,465 to VOTE on Primary Day, June 11th which might very well be the difference in who wins this election. The last time there was a similar election for Board Chair was in 2009 when Chairman Boluva won a special election by just 1,206 votes.
VOICE is strictly non-partisan. VOICE believes in people not parties. This is the first of a series of VOICE Actions in Northern Virginia this Election season. 

PATH GOTV Mobilizes More than 2,500 Voters, Wins Commitments on Immigration, Transportation and Education from County Executive and School Superintendent

PATH leaders pack First Baptist Church of Guilford in Howard County Maryland for a non-partisan GOTV assembly
A lively October non-partisan GOTV Assembly brought out over 500 PATH leaders to First Baptist Church of Guilford, Maryland.  PATH Co-Chairs got commitments from the next County Executive and the HCPSS School Superintendent to continue joint work on immigration inclusion, transportation improvement, and public education equity.  
PATH GOTV was a major part of large voter turnout in Howard County, the highest of any jurisdiction in Maryland. Leaders organized more than 2,500 voters in member institutions, for the June Primary and November General Election. The effort mobilized many to choose early voting, a factor in the upset victory of the Democratic candidate for County Executive, over the Republican incumbent predicted to win a second term.

WIN Organizes for Immigrant Legal Services, Affordable Housing

WIN Leaders demand action on affordable housing, living wage jobs, transit and legal defense for immigrants.
Over 353 Washington Interfaith Network leaders packed Holy Comforter Saint Cyprian Catholic Church in SouthWest DC with both candidates for DC Council Chair, the most contested race in this year’s primary. Leaders demanded action on affordable housing, living wage jobs, transit, and legal defense for immigrants. 
WIN secured public commitments from both candidates to make a significant investment in key affordable housing programs, meaning at least $300 million per year over the next four years; and to invest $2.5 million per year (or whatever it takes) towards legal defense for immigrants. This action helped to move the dial on key politics in DC. 
WIN leaders also launched a full-throated objection to DC DOT’s proposed contract for the continued privatization of the DC Circulator bus. The current chairperson, Phil Mendelson committed to vote no on any contract that does not have WIN’ protections for workers in it, protections won in a hard fought 2016 campaign. 

VOICE Wins Commitments from Alexandria Mayoral Candidates to Act on Affordable Housing

VOICE leaders present 1,400+ voter pledge cards and present issue agenda to Alexandria mayoral candidates.
VOICE and ARHA Resident Association Leaders presented the VOICE Issue Agenda in the context of the racial history of Old Town Alexandria. Following the presentation of 1,400+ voter pledge cards, VOICE received commitments from both mayoral candidates to work with VOICE on the following:
  • Working to enforce the affordable housing parameters set in the Housing Master Plan
  • Strengthening Resolution 830 to ensure preservation of public housing in the city
  • Ensuring a culture in public housing that encourages resident participation in the decision making of public housing
  • Increasing equity in public schools around suspension rates
  • Researching city contractors and sub-contractors to ensure that all people who work in the city can live in the city.
Both candidates also committed, if elected, to attend a VOICE action within a month of being inaugurated to share their 100-day plan to work on the VOICE Issue Agenda.

1,200 Leaders Turn Out for AIM’s GOTV and Candidate Assembly

AIM leaders in action, winning commitments to improve housing, education and immigration in Montgomery County, MD.
It was standing room only when AIM leaders gathered to clarify the commitments of the County Executive Candidates to AIM's bold proposals for the future of Montgomery County. The AIM demands were developed over a year of listening sessions with 3000 people throughout the county and the focus was on specific community solutions.
The evening started with spirit as Pastor Haywood Robinson led those congregated in the song "It Will Get Better," and put forth AIM's analysis of the county. "Montgomery County is at a cross roads, with enormous changes in politics, population and economics. . . AIM has been part of governing this county for nearly 20 years and we are committed to a vision of a county where all people can thrive, regardless of race, income, age or economic status."
Cheers went up during roll call of the 25 congregations and schools represented, with over 300 leaders from Bethel World Outreach Church, and more than 250 from The People's Community Baptist Church.
The evening turned more somber as AIM members shared their personal stories and stated AIM's specific Issue Agenda. Meghan Jones shared about her 6-year wait to get transit-accessible affordable housing that lets her to get to her two part time jobs so she can make ends meet. Ms. Patricia Vasquez shared the unacceptable conditions of South Lake Elementary, the 3rd highest poverty school in the county, where the heat and air conditioning don't work, 300 students share two bathrooms with non-working urinals and lunch is anywhere from 10:30am to 2pm for students. An anonymous 10-year old student disclosed how afraid she is of her mother being deported and how devastating that would be for her and her family.
Speakers challenged the candidates to make Montgomery County the leader in the country on protecting immigrant families from separation via deportation and affordable housing.
Bishop Darlingston Johnson of Bethel World Outreach and Rev. Abhi Janamanchi of Cedar Lane UU got to the central work of the evening. First, the 1,200 people assembled each texted 5 Montgomery County voters, telling them to vote on June 26, and committing to share with the voters a personal report-back on where the candidates stand on the AIM Issues.
The candidates stood, one by one, to answer AIM's questions on:
  • Doubling the production and preservation of affordable housing over the next four years by increasing funding to $100M/year, building on county and Metro land, and increasing density at transit hubs. 
  • Supporting congregation-issued IDs and funding 20 immigration lawyers and paralegals to reduce fear of going to the hospital or being in the community, and ensuring immigrant families who qualify for legal status can obtain it.
  • Expanding the Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary Program to 20 schools and renovating high poverty school particularly Burnt Mills and South Lake.

The Candidates responded to the energy and spirit in the room, almost universally committing to the items on the AIM Agenda. This positions AIM well no matter who is in the County Executive seat next year to reach our goals on affordable housing, education, and immigration.

After a spirit-filled song from the Bethel World Outreach Choir, AIM Clergy Chair, Rev. Dr. Michael Armstrong gave a rousing Call To Action. He preached from Psalm 137, where the people of Israel were taken into captivity and asked by their captors to sing a song of Zion. Rev Armstrong agitated leaders to go forth and proclaim the song of justice AIM has created for Montgomery County, and to build our power to make it real.

Illinois IAF Wins Commitment from All 10 Attorney General Candidates to Meet with IL Affiliates Within 30 Days of November Election

Girls Scout troop from Islamic Foundation of Naperville leading the Pledge of Allegiance

The four Illinois IAF affiliates - DuPage United, Fox River Valley Initiative, Lake County United and United Power for Action and Justice - assembled 1,257 leaders from across the four counties in Northern Illinois to meet with all 10 candidates for Illinois Attorney General, which included 8 Democrats and 2 Republicans, in advance of the March 20th Primary election. This is the first time in 15 years that the office for Attorney General is truly up for grabs in Illinois. The four IL IAF affiliates were seeking to establish a mature, reciprocal and productive relationship with the next Attorney General. To that end, IL IAF won a commitment from each candidate to meet with the four organizations within 30 days of the November election, if elected.  IL IAF also heard each candidates' response to how they would work to address four key issue areas of the organizations: reducing incarceration of people with mental illness and/or addiction, affordable housing, engaging gun manufacturers to make us safer and stopping the flow of illegal guns and 24 hour response to any crisis or hate crime.


March 11th assembly:  Shot of the crowd

Attorney General candidates with co-chairs of the assembly seated to the right, Rev. Jay Risk, St. Mary's Episcopal Church (United Power) & Ms. Aliya Husain, Islamic Foundation Villa Park (DuPage United)


VOICE Holds One of the Largest GOTV Campaigns in Virginia, Increases Voter Turnout in Low-Voting Precincts

VOICE leaders getting out the vote in Virginia

375 VOICE volunteer leaders went door-to-door to speak with residents 4 weeks before Election Day and on Election Day. The GOTV effort followed VOICE’s assembly with both gubernatorial candidates in October. The assembly was the largest assembly of the election season that had both candidates in attendance. VOICE increased the voter turnout percentage between 24% and 39% in six precincts and between 9.5% and 11% in two others. VOICE worked in a total of 8 low-voting precincts in Prince William and Fairfax Counties. Prince William is a bellwether county in state and national politics and Fairfax has the most voters of any county in Virginia. VOICE also secured a commitment from Governor-Elect Northam to meet with leaders before he is sworn into office on January 13th.

PATH Leaders Commit to 900 Hours of GOTV in 2018, Wins Commitments on After-School Access

PATH leaders launch 2018 GOTV effort committing to mobilize 5 precincts

On Tuesday, September 26 at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, PATH held an action with more than 170 leaders to launch our 2018 Get Out The Vote effort. Leaders committed to over 900 hours of GOTV in 2018 in five precincts connected to PATH institutions! PATH also secured commitments from the Superintendent and Vice Chair of the Board of Education to champion after school access for low income families in Howard County and to create healthier breakfast options for students.

Ohio IAF Runs Ohio's biggest volunteer-based GOTV drive in 2008.

In the 2008 Presidential Election, Ohio IAF projects in ColumbusDayton, and Lorain ran the largest volunteer-based non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign in Ohio.  Independent analysis found that unlikely voters contacted by our over 1400 local volunteers were 80% more likely to vote than those not contacted -- a tremendous result that has made our face-to-face civic participation work a national model.

In the News


Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Metro IAF

Metro IAF sister organizations Common Ground, Greater Cleveland Congregations, NC Congress of Latino Oranizations and ONE Wake are inviting us to help them in their strictly non-partisan efforts to Get Out The Vote!


  1. Ask any family, friends & colleagues who live in North Carolina, Ohio & Wisconsin to vote - document your commits & follow up information on our Voter Turn-Out Form. You can find the VOTER TURN-OUT FORM HERE Short video of How-To fill out VOTER TURN-OUT FORM HERE and Conversation Guide HERE;
  2. Ask your family, friends & colleagues if they can ask 3-5 of their family or friends to vote (have them fill out the Voter Turn-Out Form);
  3. Sign your congregation and/or organization up to do the same;
  4. Join Metro IAF organizations CG, GCC, NCCLO & ONE Wake virtually and help them directly with their non-partisan phone banking needs (see how you can help directly HERE).


Metro IAF is a 501(c)(3).  Metro IAF and its affiliates are strictly non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party.  We do not endorse or support candidates for office.

Metro IAF’s Mike Gecan addressing obstacles faced by remote populations who are underrepresented in Ohio

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
The Washington Post

Washington Post Opinion Piece:
How rural America can grab a bigger megaphone

HILLSBORO, Ohio — The geographic remoteness of the homes, farms and businesses of millions of rural Americans leaves them underrepresented in power centers such as state capitals and Washington and, too often, victims of stereotypical narratives in the media. That might sound wrong to anyone narrowly focused on the design of the electoral college and other aspects of our federal system, but it’s simply an obvious reality to those forced to watch from afar as one major public-policy decision after another gets made in urban locales. One person who recognizes this disparity is Mike Gecan, senior organizer at Metro Industrial Areas Foundation based in Chicago. In something of a unique social experiment, Gecan is attempting to address obstacles faced by populations who are disadvantaged by residing in far-off areas of the map.
Read full Opinion Piece HERE.

OP-ED IN NY DAILY NEWS: The politics we deserve

Saturday, May 11, 2019
NY Daily News

We desperately need to reinvent the way we think and talk about problem-solving in America today

by Mike Gecan, IAF Co-Director


You don’t have to choose between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren, or Jared Kushner and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or market capitalism and state socialism, or the far right and the far left, or Fox News and MSNBC.

While these are the dominant, incessant, compulsive polarities of modern public discourse, the demand and the tendency to choose are traps. You can take your hand off the nut (or nuts), loosen your grip, let them both drop. With a free hand, you can reach out and take hold of another way of doing things in the public arena: of thinking and acting and creating impact that rebuilds communities, saves and improves countless lives, and restores a sense of stability and forward motion in our country.

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE): Trains 100 Muslim Leaders

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In the last 3 weeks, VOICE trained 325+ leaders including 125 from eight Northern VA mosques and schools. (As of 2017, one-third of the people who attend VOICE member & discerning member institutions are Muslim, 60,000 Muslims.)  VOICE leaders took commitments to “twin” with an institution near them that has a community different than them (politically, racially, ethnically, religiously, etc.). VOICE leaders will do listening sessions with their “twinning” partner throughout 2017 to build closer bonds and figure out how we may want to act together locally and at the state level when VA will be one of only two states that will hold a state-wide election.

Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) - Calls for Leaders to Act on Criminal Justice, Housing and Healthcare

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
The Boston Globe

Over 900 people filled the main sanctuary pews and two overflow rooms at Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plains to call on elected officials to work with Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and the community to address equality and justice during these times of uncertainty. Testimonies of how the Affordable Care Act has saved lives of those in attendance were among the many stories told to pressure the city council, state leaders and those on the national scene to create more affordable housing, protect healthcare and to act on criminal justice reform.Over 900 Gather to Call Leaders to Act


Reclaiming Politics: Solving Problems Washington Won't (by Michael Gecan)

Thursday, October 4, 2012
The Boston Review

Isn’t the whole national political scene just so depressing?  Our politicians have lost the capacity to govern. Congress resembles a UN meeting—more showplace than workplace, where assemblies and debates are ritualized reenactments and individual showmen and sound bites are more important than the larger political process. Members of Congress are unable to devote the focused attention and consistent effort that long-term social and economic challenges require.

Barack and Mitt, as I knew them (By Arnie Graf)

Sunday, September 30, 2012
New York Daily News

In one of the more famous put-downs in modern political history, during a 1988 debate, vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle, who had just compared himself to JFK, “Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”  That is how I feel about the two candidates for President. I don’t mean that they aren’t the equals of JFK — only that they are not the equals of their own former selves. Both have had their optimism, basic decency and willingness to compromise dulled by the grind of the political machine.

In debate, mayoral candidates vow to double youth jobs

Friday, August 26, 2011
The Baltimore Sun

Candidates vying to be Baltimore's next mayor promised Thursday evening to double funding for after school programs, create 1,000 summer jobs for youth and renovate or rebuild all of the city's schools.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former city planning director Otis Rolley and State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh vowed to support an agenda drafted by the interfaith coalition BUILD that centers on the needs of children and the city's outlying neighborhoods.

Candidates pledge to bring jobs to Lorain County

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Morning Journal

ELYRIA — Area politicians are continuing their campaign pushes before Tuesday’s election as they came out for the Reclaim Lorain County event at St. Marys Church, in Elyria, last night.

Democrats Lee Fisher, running for U.S. senate; Betty Sutton, running for 13th Congressional district; Sue Morano, candidate for 13th state senate district; Matt Lundy, Ohio house candidate; Dan Ramos, candidate for the 56th Ohio House District and sole Republican, Rae Lynn Brady, facing off with Lundy for the 57th District, attended the forum.

Comprised of religious congregations and community organizations throughout Lorain County, the Reclaim Lorain County coalition asked candidates how they planned to create jobs, improve public safety and fix deteriorating neighborhoods...

An Ailing Factory Town Votes for Change

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Village Voice

Lorain, Ohio—The kind of hope Barack Obama promised to deliver was nowhere craved more deeply on Election Day than in this battered old manufacturing city on the shores of Lake Erie.

Hope got scores of local residents up before dawn to bounce over rutted streets that haven't been repaved in decades. Hope had them standing all day outside of polling sites at schools forced to lay off 300 staff members last month for lack of funds. Hope sent them scurrying back and forth across town, picking up voters in need of a lift. It sent them past the mammoth, mile-long steel mills by the Black River, mills that once offered their own brand of hope, employing more than 13,000 workers at gritty but solid jobs with benefits and pensions. Barely a tenth that many jobs remain...

In battleground Ohio, Community Building trumps cynicism

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Huffington Post

I left my inside-the-Beltway home in suburban Washington on Friday and spent the penultimate weekend before the 2008 election in Columbus, Ohio to get a first-hand look at one of the most intriguing, hopeful and yet, in some circles, controversial voter participation experiments of 2008.

More than two years in the making, the nonpartisan Faith Vote Columbus and two related interfaith organizations in Dayton and Lorain launched by the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), are challenging the conventional wisdom among many progressive strategists and funders. That conventional wisdom holds that the only realistic way to register and mobilize apathetic voters in low-income communities on a large scale is to import an army of mercenaries--the polite term is "paid canvassers"--who scour supermarket parking lots and other territory where poor people are likely to be found...

Interfaith coalition to rally for human services levy

Dayton Daily News

DAYTON — Lift Greater Dayton, a new regional advocacy coalition of 30 community organizations, will be launched in the Miami Valley on Sunday, Oct. 10.

Participants are primarily faith-based groups including churches, synagogues, and mosques; schools, unions and business associations are also involved. At Sunday’s kickoff event, slated for 3 p.m. at Temple Israel on Riverside Drive, hundreds are expected to rally for Issue 9, the Human Services Levy...