How to Leverage Effective Advocacy Communication

Recorded On: 06/30/2020

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Effective advocacy and communications strategies incorporate the ability to meaningfully connect with elected officials and engage the right stakeholders and partners to attain increased funding for your organization. This session will share such strategies and include successful advocacy examples that resulted in enhanced funding for Summit Metro Parks in Ohio and the Bozeman Parks and Rec Department in Montana. Join us to hear how to channel the power of your advocacy activities to boost your park and recreation resources.



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Lisa King

Executive Director, Summit Metro Parks

Appointed in September 2015, King is the seventh director of Summit Metro Parks and the first woman to lead the park. As director she serves as the chief executive and chief financial officer, leading the organization to ensure achievement of its mission, financial viability, growth, and stability.

An employee since 1998, King has also served as the park district’s landscape architect and its chief of planning and development. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, a state-registered landscape architect, a champion of sustainable design, and a certified parks and recreation professional through the National Recreation and Park Association.

Summit Metro Parks is known as a special park district organized under Chapter 1545 of the Ohio Revised Code as a metropolitan park district and was formed in 1921. Metro Parks is not part of any other local, county, state or Federal government. Funding for the park district is derived primarily from a small real estate property tax levy which makes up 90% of the park district’s budget. This levy is periodically voted on by taxpayers. The current levy is on a 9-year rotation and will next be voted on in 2030.

Roxanne Sutton

Director of Communications, National Recreation and Park Association

Roxanne Sutton is the Director of Communications at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Her responsibilities include overseeing social media strategy and content development and promoting the award-winning work of our partnerships and business development team. She is also the host of NRPA’s podcast, Open Space Radio. In her role, Roxanne is fortunate to communicate and work directly with many NRPA members to promote new opportunities and showcase the great work local parks and recreation are doing in their communities. Prior to her role at NRPA, she worked at a PR firm in D.C. on a multitude of accounts ranging from energy clients to non-profits. She graduated with honors and recognition from George Mason University with her bachelors in Communication specializing in Public Relations. She was a member of Lambda Pi Eta and recipient of the Excellence in Communication Award.

Elvis Cordova

Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, National Recreation and Park Association

Elvis Cordova is the Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which is the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recreation and conservation.  Mr. Cordova leads NRPA’s federal policymaking initiatives by providing strategic planning for enhancing community-based and capacity building programs, and stakeholder engagement to advance parks, recreation, and conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people. Mr. Cordova is a seasoned executive with over a decade of experience developing and implementing solutions for some of the most significant and high-profile challenges facing the U.S. public sector.  He has a unique combination of political, legal, economic, and international expertise.  He is a proven strategist and manager, adept at building coalitions and communicating effectively to diverse stakeholders.  He has built an intimate knowledge of the workings of the U.S. government and has developed strong relationships with a range of policymakers in key markets around the world. 

In 2012, Mr. Cordova was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Cordova served in various leadership roles at USDA, including Deputy Under Secretary and Acting Under Secretary.  He oversaw food labeling programs (including organic and biotechnology), international trade regulations, research & educational grant programs, nutrition programs, commodity procurement, plant & animal health regulations, process verification programs, conservation programs, and the expansion of local and regional food systems.  He served on the White Task Force for Puerto Rico, focusing on building public-private partnerships to aid in the economic recovery efforts for the island.  Mr. Cordova entered the federal government a Presidential Management Fellow at the Farm Credit Administration and at the U.S. Department of Energy where his work encompassed alternative energy, economic development, financial services, and congressional affairs. Outside of the federal government, he served as a consultant for the United Nations where he focused on trade development strategies for emerging markets in Southeast Asia.  He also served as Vice President of Public Relations at Tzolkin Media Inc., and Director for Latin American programs at the Self Reliance Foundation.  Mr. Cordova began his career as a financial analyst at the Harvard Management Company.

He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University.  He is a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate Fellowship and holds various professional certificates from Georgetown University, Harvard University, University of California at Berkeley, Universidad de Sevilla (Spain), Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), École Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'État (France), and Pontificia Universidade Catolica (Brazil). 
 
In his personal time, Mr. Cordova works with various national leadership organizations to create and expand opportunities for diverse communities in the Washington, D.C. area.  He has previously served on the Executive Board of the Washington D.C. Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (now known as Prospanica).  He has served as a senior advisor for the Aspen Institute’s International Career Advancement Program.  He is a graduate of Leadership Alexandria, which is an executive-level training program in the national capital area, as well as a graduate of the Political Leaders Program from the Sorensen Institute at the University of Virginia.  He is an alumnus of Project Interchange, which is an international leadership program of the American Jewish Committee and an alumnus of the Hispanic Leaders Program, a professional development program organized by the Foreign Ministry of Spain. Mr. Cordova presently lives with his family in Alexandria, VA and has previously lived in Latin America and Europe.  His language capabilities include Spanish, Portuguese, and French. 

Mitchell J. Overton, MS, CPRP

Director, Parks and Recreation Department, City of Bozeman, Montana

Mitch Overton is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Bozeman Montana.  He has served in this position for eight years.  During that time Mitch has helped to pass a Trails, Open Space and Parks Bond for 15 million dollars and leveraged those funds through partnerships and grants to build over 28 million dollars’ worth of new park and trail infrastructure for the Bozeman community.  Most recently he helped to pass a Parks and Trails District incorporating the city limits of Bozeman and removing that Division from the City’s General Fund Budget and creating a dedicated source of funding for Parks and Trails in Bozeman.

Prior to Bozeman, Mitch served as the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Lancaster, Ohio.  Before entering municipal government, Mitch worked as a Parks Superintendent for West Virginia State Parks.  He started his career in the private outdoor recreation industry, managing a large whitewater outfitter in West Virginia.

Mitch holds a B.S. and M.S in Recreation Administration from Ohio University.  He currently serves as the president elect for the Montana Trails, Recreation, and Parks Association (MTRPA) and enjoys spending time with his family in and on the mountains and rivers of Montana.

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