AI in Policy Advocacy: Mastering Digital Storytelling for Transformative Impact

Last week, I had the privilege of delivering a guest lecture on AI in policy advocacy in the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, led by Associate Dean Carolyn Kissane. This post delves into how AI and digital storytelling are transforming policy debates and decisions in today’s dynamic world.

The Lecture Overview

My presentation, titled “Unlocking the Potential of AI in Policy Advocacy,” highlighted AI’s critical role in modern policy-making. I provided insights into how both AI and generative AI are revolutionizing the policy landscape with new analysis, decision-making, and public engagement dimensions. In addition to recording a demo of ChatGPT and Canva Magic Design to illustrate their ability to enhance stakeholder engagement, I offered the students an opportunity to suggest case studies for a live ChatGPT demonstration.

One student requested generating five policy ideas, while another provided access to her LinkedIn profile. I downloaded this as a PDF and uploaded it into ChatGPT to create a new “About” section and tagline, and then used Canva Magic Design to generate a LinkedIn profile background image, demonstrating the practical applications of these tools in real-time.

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Insights from the Presentation

A pivotal part of the presentation revolved around the power of storytelling and AI in policy advocacy. We drew thought-provoking parallels between the simplicity of childhood storybooks and the complexity of policy narratives. This comparison emphasized how generative AI can transform dense policy topics into engaging and relatable stories, akin to the captivating nature of storybooks.

During the discussion, student reactions varied significantly. Some expressed concerns about the challenges of AI, as frequently highlighted in the media, voicing discomfort with using AI which they felt could be perceived as “cheating”. Conversely, several students acknowledged the utility of AI in their work and academic assignments, citing its effectiveness in enhancing their output and understanding.

The application of generative AI in narrative creation opens up opportunities to distill complex policy issues into more digestible forms. Policymakers and advocates, leveraging AI, can craft narratives that deeply resonate with stakeholders, thereby making intricate policy subjects more accessible and engaging.

Additionally, we explored the capability of generative AI to customize narratives for varied audiences. This adaptability ensures that the essence of policy initiatives is not only comprehended but also emotionally felt. The capacity of AI-enhanced storytelling to evoke empathy and understanding represents a significant shift in policy advocacy. It underscores the importance of connecting with a diverse range of stakeholders, a critical aspect of successful policy engagement.

Remember-the-Impact-of-Storybooks - slide - screenshot from presentation

This lecture segment highlighted the transformative role of generative AI in narrowing the gap between complex policy terminology and effective storytelling, an essential skill for today’s policy professionals.

The Broader Course Context

In the NYU “Energy, Environment, and Resource Security” course, I was privileged to contribute alongside a series of esteemed experts. The curriculum spanned a broad array of critical topics: Jackson Ewing offered insights into climate finance, Steve LeVine delved into the evolving landscape of the EV battery industry, and DeLaine Mayer provided an intriguing perspective on the geopolitics of space resources. The course was further enriched by Yorke Rhodes III’s expertise in supply chain traceability and Sarah Busch’s in-depth look at ESG investing.

My lecture on AI in policy advocacy added a new dimension to these varied discussions. It presented an integrative view at the convergence of technology and policy, intertwining the dynamics of technological innovation, policy formulation challenges, and the impactful art of storytelling. This lecture did not just complement the diversity of subjects covered but also synthesized them, offering students a holistic understanding and an actionable toolkit for applying their insights in the fields of energy, environment, and resource security. For a deeper dive into the course’s highlights and reflections on my guest lecture, I encourage you to read Carolyn Kissane’s insightful LinkedIn post.

The Importance of AI in Professional Development

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In this segment of the lecture, we delved deeply into the transformative role of AI in enhancing professional skills, particularly focusing on tools for personal branding and stakeholder engagement in the realm of policy advocacy. We explored how leveraging AI can provide a significant edge in crafting compelling personal narratives and professional profiles, especially for graduate students poised to enter the competitive professional world.

Our discussion included practical demonstrations on how AI technologies can optimize LinkedIn profiles, turning them into powerful tools that showcase individual skills and experiences in the most impactful way. This aspect of AI application is crucial for students and professionals alike, ensuring that their digital presence aligns with their career aspirations and industry demands.

Furthermore, we discussed the increasing importance of integrating AI in personal branding and stakeholder engagement strategies. In dynamic sectors such as energy, environment, and resource security, the ability to effectively communicate and engage with diverse audiences is paramount. AI tools offer novel ways to achieve this, from personalized content creation to data-driven insights that inform engagement strategies.

The exploration went beyond mere theory, as we delved into case studies and real-world examples where AI has been successfully used to elevate professional profiles and enhance stakeholder engagement. This practical approach helped bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application, giving students actionable insights they can apply in their careers.
In summary, the discussion underscored the critical role of AI in shaping the future of professional development and stakeholder engagement, highlighting its potential to not only enhance individual careers but also to drive more effective and impactful policy advocacy efforts.

Conclusion

The potential of AI in policy-making is immense. I concluded the presentation with this thought-provoking quote, encapsulating our discussion’s essence and vision for AI in policy.

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Dive deeper into the world of AI and policy advocacy. Visit my NYU Faculty profile for Spring 2024 courses on AI for Impact and Digital Storytelling for Fundraising, and join us in shaping the future of policy-making.

Unlocking Generative AI’s Potential: Revolutionizing Resource Mobilization for African CSOs

Introduction:

In an article published on the newly launched African CSO Platform, Liz Ngonzi, our CEO, explores the crucial role of resource mobilization for African civil society organizations (CSOs) in driving social impact and positive change. However, these organizations often face challenges in accessing sufficient funding and resources to support their initiatives. To overcome these barriers, Liz highlights the transformative potential of generative AI, a cutting-edge technology that offers versatile applications for solving complex problems and driving innovation.

The Power of Generative AI:

Generative AI can analyze large volumes of data and generate valuable insights, revolutionizing data analysis by automating processes and augmenting human decision-making. It powers virtual assistants that provide personalized support, content generation for efficient and cost-effective creation of various types of content, chatbots that engage in meaningful conversations, and design tools that offer novel ideas and automate aspects of the design process. In healthcare, generative AI aids in medical image analysis, disease diagnosis, and drug discovery.

Empowering Fundraising Efforts:

By leveraging generative AI, African CSOs can empower their fundraising efforts in several ways. They can create compelling narratives and personalized communication to resonate with potential donors, enhancing donor engagement and increasing funding opportunities. Generative AI streamlines grant proposal writing by automating certain aspects and providing templates or suggestions. Furthermore, it unlocks data-driven insights, enabling organizations to optimize their fundraising strategies and allocate resources effectively.

Driving Innovation and Social Impact:

Embracing generative AI offers African CSOs new avenues for innovation and the cultivation of vibrant civil society ecosystems. It strengthens community connections, fosters lasting social transformations, and addresses critical issues in the continent’s development journey. The future prospects of generative AI in Africa are promising, presenting opportunities for driving positive social impact and achieving greater effectiveness in resource mobilization efforts.

Read the Full Article on the link below, clicking on the tab “Articles”.

Read the Full Article »

Navigating Uncertainty: 7 Essential Lessons for Building a Successful Career

Hello, Class of 2023! As someone who graduated during a recession, I understand your concerns about stepping into the professional world during these uncertain times. I’m Elizabeth Ngonzi, and today, I’d like to share with you seven essential lessons that have guided my career. I hope they can provide you with a roadmap as you embark on your own journey.

1. Own Your Value

Never allow anyone to define your worth, be it professional, personal, or spiritual. By giving others the power to determine your potential, you risk limiting your own growth. Embrace your unique attributes and trust in your intrinsic value.

2. Choose the Right Life Partner

Seek a life partner with whom you share a genuine bond and aligned values. Find someone kind-hearted, someone who matches your ambition to make a significant impact on the world. A supportive partnership can enrich your personal and professional life in ways you can’t even imagine.

3. Balance Work and Life

Life extends beyond the confines of work. Cherish the company of your loved ones and immerse yourself in experiences that broaden your horizon. Hobbies, travel, or learning about diverse cultures can nourish your soul and widen your perspective.

4. People Matter in Job Selection

When considering a job, don’t solely focus on the company’s reputation or the salary package. Assess the people you’ll work with and those you’ll report to. A supportive team fosters a productive environment, driving your career satisfaction and growth.

5. Harness the Power of AI

Stay competitive by understanding and employing Generative AI in your line of work. Embracing such advanced technologies can boost your innovation capabilities and enhance your performance.

6. Network Effectively

Invest time in nurturing relationships with colleagues, mentors, and professionals in your field. Your network is a treasure trove of support, guidance, and opportunities waiting to be unlocked.

7. Take Calculated Risks

Embrace calculated risks. The courage to venture outside your comfort zone often leads to rewarding experiences and personal growth.

In essence, I encourage you to own your worth, find a meaningful partnership, balance your professional and personal life, value the human aspect in job selection, leverage cutting-edge technologies like AI, network effectively, and embrace calculated risks. Remember, these lessons are not rules but guiding principles that can help you navigate your career with confidence and purpose. Forge your own path, Class of 2023 – the future is yours!

Unlocking Your Personal Brand Story: Insights and Strategies from an Experienced Coach

In today’s competitive job market, building a personal brand is essential for professional success. In this booklet, Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, an experienced international speaker, trainer, and coach shares her personal journey in developing her brand, offering practical tips and strategies for readers to apply in their own lives and careers.

The booklet also introduces two purpose-driven frameworks to guide individuals towards a fulfilling and purposeful career, emphasizing the importance of activating one’s network and stakeholder engagement to create a positive impact. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out, this booklet provides valuable insights and strategies to help you differentiate yourself and achieve your personal and professional goals.

 

Read the booklet by clicking here »

 

Balancing People, Planet and Profit Series: Activating Conscious Consumers Online and In-person Part III

NY NOW hosted the third and final installment of the “Balancing People, Planet, and Profit” series, developed by The International Social Impact Institute® (The ISII) on December 14th, 2022. Titled “Activating Conscious Consumers Online and In-person,” the webinar was moderated by NY NOW’s Senior Producer Dondrill Glover and presented by The ISII’s Founder and CEO, Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi.

The webinar focused on the importance of connecting with buyers and consumers, both online and in-person, through a brand’s digital storytelling ecosystem, booth design and messaging, and in-person engagement. Liz shared best practices, case studies, and practical tips on how to create an unforgettable experience for consumers by balancing people, planet, and profit in one’s product and business model.

Liz highlighted that it makes business sense for brands to focus on people and planet, citing a study by Burrelles that revealed 66% of consumers want brands to take a stand on political and social issues, 64% make purchasing decisions based on whether a brand represents their beliefs, and 60% want companies to take a stand on social issues. She emphasized the importance of marketing and sales, reiterating how buyers and consumers feel when interacting with a brand.

Attendees were offered advice for balancing people, planet, and profit, and for engaging with consumers, with Liz and Dondrill facilitating an interactive conversation. They underscored that balancing people, planet, and profit and developing a complete story around this balance while conveying that message to consumers in-person and online can create significant brand differentiation and inspire brand loyalty.

To conclude, Liz invoked Dr. Maya Angelou’s words,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

You Matter And So Does Your Story; How To Attract The Right Opportunities To Live Your Best Life

On September 22nd, 2022, Nelson Mandela University and The International Social Impact Institute held an inspiring workshop titled “You Matter And So Does Your Story; How To Attract The Right Opportunities To Live Your Best Life,” in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela University Student Employability and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) project. This initiative aims to help students develop entrepreneurial thinking, improve their employability, and collaborate with like-minded individuals, while engaging with experienced peers through a customized mentorship program.

The workshop, presented by Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, Founder and CEO of The International Social Impact Institute and facilitated by Jonathan Najoe, Community Engagement Officer at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, discussed the importance of defining one’s purpose and values to develop a compelling story that can create real impact. Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy continue to inspire not only South Africa but humanity at large. His bravery, resourcefulness, and perseverance against oppression had a tremendously positive impact on his country and the world.

The workshop offered tools and knowledge to empower Nelson Mandela University students to create the kind of impact that can change the world. Although primarily designed for students, the material presented has relevance for professionals looking to engage with clients, investors, or donors.

The discussion centered around the idea of Purpose. Ms. Ngonzi emphasized the importance of defining one’s purpose and values, which will ultimately help inform the story. A personal SWOT analysis, a digital storytelling ecosystem, and methods of developing a network of collaborators and partners were presented as important tools to use in this process.

Ms. Ngonzi concluded by referring to a Ewe-Mina Proverb:

“Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story.”

This workshop offered lessons and tools to help audience members move forward with the process of becoming their own storytellers. By crafting their unique story, students and professionals can attract the right opportunities to live their best life, just as Nelson Mandela did.

 

Learn More About the Session Here »

 

Optimizing Stakeholder Engagement Through Events

On August 14th, 2022, The King Baudouin Foundation United States hosted an interactive webinar on optimizing stakeholder engagement through virtual and in-person events. The webinar was delivered by The International Social Impact Institute and focused on providing its successful, repeatable framework for planning, marketing, and executing an event, along with case studies that illustrate key concepts and methods to ensure strong stakeholder engagement.

Kady Sylla, Senior Advisor at The King Baudouin Foundation United States, opened the discussion by introducing KBFUS and its focus areas. She emphasized the importance of collaboration and highlighted the ongoing KBFUS partnership with The International Social Impact Institute and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Ngonzi.

Ms. Ngonzi presented core principles for optimizing stakeholder engagement and shared examples of successful stakeholder engagement across different types of organizations, donors, and events. She stressed the criticality of personalizing events and knowing the audience. She shared a strategic event management framework and an event support analysis framework, covering various types of support and how to align this to different supporters with a wide range of interests.

Ms. Ngonzi also discussed the importance of understanding the audience and their priorities to successfully market and engage donors. She concluded the webinar by sharing resources and creative ways to elevate stakeholder engagement, including follow-ups, thank-yous, and aligning events with special days on the calendar. She emphasized the significance of partnering with others, applying core principles, and using the frameworks outlined in the webinar to optimize stakeholder engagement across both in-person and virtual events.

 

WATCH THE WEBINAR ON-DEMAND »

Balancing People, Planet and Profit Series: Integrating Generosity into Social Impact-Driven Brand Stories

On June 28th, 2022, NY NOW hosted the second installment of their three-part social impact series, “Balancing People, Planet, and Profit,” titled “Integrating Generosity into Social Impact-Driven Brand Stories.” Moderated by NY NOW’s Senior Producer, Dondrill Glover, the webinar featured Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, the Founder and CEO of The International Social Impact Institute® (ISII), as presenter. The webinar focused on helping participants integrate social impact into their brand’s mission statement, using practical examples and showcasing the ISII’s Impact Story Development Framework.

The webinar built upon the first installment of the series and aimed to help participants identify which aspect(s) of the social impact equation – people, profit, and/or planet – they wanted to incorporate into their brand’s mission. Liz Ngonzi shared case studies of organizations that have successfully developed purpose-driven mission statements and corresponding brand stories. She emphasized the importance of having clear values that drive the brand’s story, attracting aligned stakeholders, including consumers, investors, and philanthropic partners.

The case studies presented highlighted the impact of having a mission statement that broadly aligns with the organization’s work and core values. Liz Ngonzi discussed the importance of identifying the challenge, offering solutions, and showing impact when developing an impact-driven mission statement and brand story. She shared multiple real-world examples of this template in practice and the impact it can have on an organization’s success.

In conclusion, Liz Ngonzi highlighted how these principles can affect stakeholder engagement, most importantly in finding and attracting stakeholders with aligned core values. The webinar offered a template for building a social impact-driven mission statement and brand story, providing significant advantages to organizations. The speakers highlighted simple and straightforward ways to get started incorporating social impact into brand stories.

 

Watch the recording of Part 2 HERE »

LEARN ABOUT AND WATCH PART 1 ON DEMAND »

LEARN ABOUT AND WATCH PART 3 ON DEMAND »

Balancing People, Planet and Profit Series: Developing Social Impact Driven Brands

On November 22nd, 2021, NY NOW kicked off its three-part social impact series titled “Balancing People, Planet, and Profit” with a webinar titled “Developing Social Impact-Driven Brand Stories.” The webinar was hosted by NY NOW’s Senior Producer, Dondrill Glover, and featured presenter Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, Founder and CEO of The International Social Impact Institute® (ISII). The series is designed to help individuals and organizations create a balance across people, planet, and profit, with the first session aimed at developing social-impact driven brands.

During the webinar, Liz Ngonzi stressed the importance of an organization’s brand, emphasizing that it’s the primary driver of consumer purchasing decisions. She shared statistics from PwC indicating that the majority of consumers prioritize purchasing from trustworthy, environmentally and socially responsible brands. Liz Ngonzi went on to explain the importance of an organization’s ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) story for consumers, highlighting socially and environmentally responsible retailers, labor practices of suppliers, environmental impact of production and delivery, and retailer’s diversity and inclusion practices as some of the most important factors.

Liz Ngonzi showcased six companies from different industries and geographic locations that have successfully balanced people, planet, and profit, and have strong brands that reflect their commitment to these values. She also emphasized the importance of long-term results and investing in the communities where an organization operates, as well as taking care of employees and understanding an organization’s environmental impact.

Liz Ngonzi concluded the webinar by introducing GivingTuesday as a way for organizations to integrate their values into their brand, and previewed the upcoming sessions in the series, which will focus on integrating generosity into social impact-driven brand stories, and activating social-impact driven consumers online.

 

WATCH THE RECORDING OF PART 1 HERE »

LEARN ABOUT AND WATCH PART 2 ON DEMAND »

LEARN ABOUT AND WATCH PART 3 ON DEMAND »