By Tyra Fennell, Class of 2014


It was a proud moment for me and my co-Fellows to have raised the most money to date for the San Francisco NLC Chapter which has a “pay it forward model” where each class is responsible for raising money for next year’s Fellows. This allows the program to remain free while putting into practice learned fundraising strategies. My co-Fellows and I can all see the finish line with our last weekend of workshops upon us. During our training we engaged in sessions to learn about the San Francisco political landscape including the campaign fundraising, public speaking skills, effective research and data strategies and my personal favorite, campaign budgeting (that was sarcasm). Special guests to the themed Progressive Prom fundraiser included State Senator Mark Leno, Assemblyman Phil Ting, former Supervisor and candidate for the California Board of Equalization Fiona Ma and my NLC mentor, prom date and District 8 Supervisor, Scott Wiener.

NLC was formed in 2005 to address a gap in progressive leadership development. The mission of New Leaders Council (NLC) is to train and support the next generation of progressive entrepreneurs and civic leaders: those who are leading industries, setting trends, and building institutions that support robust civic and political life in a global America. NLC believes in recruiting emerging leaders from outside of the traditional power structures, engaging them on both local and national levels, and equipping them to be civic leaders — in the private sector, in the public sector, for elective office, and in their communities and workplaces. Tyra-Fennell-Brian-Goldman-NLC-San-Francisco-Class-of-2014.jpg

One of favorite experiences during the Fellowship was learning from my mentor, Supervisor Scott Wiener. Scott does have a reputation for being a “policy wonk” and taciturn. I requested Scott as my mentor because as the Chair of the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, I felt he would be able to strengthen my understanding of how these policies impact our City. I was right! Regarding his taciturn reputation, I found that to be far from the truth. The Supervisor is reserved however when he is engaged about land use policy including sidewalk use, he lit up and was forceful and clear. He recommended I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. This formed the foundation of our discussions.

I still have one more session with Scott and hope to continue learning more about how to effectively utilize sidewalk space to promote fluid foot traffic along commercial corridors and encourage pedestrian safety. Supervisor Wiener has been pushing against the San Francisco Fire Department’s opposition to widen sidewalks for years, amplified when the Fire Department began advocating for streets at the Hunters Point and Candlestick Point developments to widen 6 feet beyond what is legally required. Widening sidewalks according to Wiener and public safety advocates means better pedestrian safety. According to the SFGate, Supervisor Wiener recently turned up the heat (pun intended) asking the board’s budget and legislative analyst to examine whether the Fire Department could use smaller trucks citywide, something he said it already does in Bernal Heights and on Telegraph Hill. Supervisor Wiener is also working to amend city law to “clarify” street widths and make sure that they comply with pedestrian-friendly policies. In 2012, the Supervisor acquired funding to widen sidewalks in the Castro where during critical mass, pedestrians have had to often times walk in the street. I have experienced this first hand.

I have grown fruitful relationships with my Fellows and NLC Board Members during this process and hope to utilize those relationships both personally and professionally as my career grows and changes. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to examine my own attributes and flaws during my Fellowship and hope to utilize all that I have learned to continue by work in the community. Thanks NLC!