Writing for Political Advocacy: How to sharpen your writing skills to communicate with politicians and maybe even make them listen (7/9-7/30)

Zahir Janmohamed

Instructor: Zahir Janmohamed
Contact: zahirj@gmail.com
Number of sessions: 4
Meeting time: Monday nights, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Dates: 7/9 – 7/30

Course fee: $200 for the session. $50 deposit

To register, contact the instructor. All deposits are nonrefundable.

Description: There is a way to get politicians to notice and it starts with lucid, succinct writing. Politicians love to tell stories. They love to invent them. And politicians respond to stories.

An Internet petition with ten thousands signatures is too blasé these days. But a well-placed letter to the editor, in a politician’s local newspaper, can sting as much as a negative campaign advertisement. Sound easy? The curious thing is that it is.

This class will help you find, develop, and articulate stories for use in letters to the editor, op-eds, petitions, press releases, and advocacy campaigns. We will comb through newspaper articles and send in responses. We will write letters to members of Congress and work on a draft Congressional resolution. And we will write—and place—op-eds about the 2012 election.

And if there is time, I will tell stories about what staffers really Blackerry during CSPAN televised hearings (hint: it is not policy related).

Bio: Zahir Janmohamed worked as the Advocacy Director for Amnesty International where he managed the organization’s lobbying, public outreach, and media work on the Middle East and South Asia.  While at Amnesty International, he appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC, NPR, and Al Jazeera. He has briefed senior officials at the White House, the State Department, and he has authored—and has helped introduce—numerous Congressional resolutions. In 2009, he was asked to testify before the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about human rights abuses in UAE. As a result of his work, he was given the UN Association Community Award for his commitment to human rights.

Most recently, Janmohamed was invited to serve as the Senior Foreign Policy Aide to Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress. Janmohamed drafted speeches, legislation, op-eds, and constituent correspondence for the Congressman, and briefed the Congressman daily on events in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. In 2010, The Nation magazine selected Congressman Ellison for its Progressive Honor Roll for his work on foreign policy.

Janmohamed’s articles and/or letters to the editor have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Politico, The Hill, and Outlook India. He previously served as the associate editor for the progressive online magazine, Alt Muslim, and he was a Bill Clinton Service Corp Fellow with the America India Foundation. He has traveled to 47 countries and he has conducted research missions in several countries. He is currently a fellow at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, writing a non-fiction book about the 2002 riots in Gujarat, India.