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.

AI-and-Generative-AI---Definitions -slide - from presentation

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


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.


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.


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 the Power of AI: A Journey into Generative AI for Nonprofits

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how organizations operate and engage their stakeholders. While AI often conjures images of complex algorithms and sci-fi robots, a new category called “generative AI” is making these technologies accessible for non-technical users.

In this blog post, we’ll explore my journey guiding nonprofit professionals to discover the possibilities of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Canva Magic.

Demystifying AI: What is Generative AI?

AI refers to computer systems that can analyze data, make decisions, and automate tasks. Generative AI takes this a step further by creating brand new content like text, images, video, and more.

Unlike AI systems designed for specific narrow tasks, generative AI models can adapt to a wide range of prompts and directions. With the right guidance, anyone can harness their creative power.

During an intensive one-day course at New York University, I introduced participants to essential concepts and real-world applications to make AI less intimidating.

Surprisingly, AI already plays a silent role in our daily lives. Features like virtual assistants, autocomplete, and content recommendations rely on basic AI. My goal was to build on this familiarity.

The (Human) Power Behind the AI

While AI tools can augment our capabilities, human guidance is indispensable. The quality of output depends heavily on providing clear, detailed prompts and directions.

We explored best practices for prompting ChatGPT effectively, including giving concrete examples and specifying the exact format required. This kind of guidance allows AI to produce surprisingly nuanced, high-quality content.

However, AI has limitations. It can hallucinate false information or perpetuate harmful biases. Humans must carefully review, edit where necessary, and approve anything generated by AI.

Creativity and Ethics: Core Considerations

To tap into the creative potential of AI while avoiding pitfalls, I introduced two frameworks.

  • First, the POWER storytelling framework helps craft compelling narratives by outlining the Problem, Outline of solutions, Worth or impact, and Eliciting a response or call-to-action.
  • Second is an ethics checklist covering consent, transparency, bias evaluation, and data privacy. This guidance helps nonprofits align AI applications with their values.

While AI can help scale efforts, the storytelling and relationships must remain authentically human.

The Magic of Generative Design

Beyond writing, we explored the power of Canva Magic to instantly generate visual assets. After describing a desired image or video, Canva’s AI creates original designs, scenes, and graphics.

Participants were stunned at the ease of creating professional social media posts, animated videos, and even entire presentations with a few clicks.

By handling repetitive design tasks, Canva’s AI lets nonprofits focus more energy on strategy and personalization. It opens new possibilities for resource-constrained organizations to elevate their storytelling.

Reflections on Our Shared Journey

While initially skeptical, participants gained first-hand experience with AI’s vast potential for social impact. From streamlining operations to unlocking creativity, generative AI places new capabilities into nonprofit professionals’ hands.

However, realizing this potential takes an investment in learning. I aim to continue guiding nonprofits to adopt these emerging tools through accessible education, mindful oversight, and participatory discussion.

What seemed like magic at first reveals itself as a collaborative human-AI process for augmenting our creativity. Our shared journey to responsibly embrace this new frontier has only just begun.

Learn more about my NYU course offerings and my Liz Ngonzi Transforms services to enable you to leverage the power of generative AI to amplify your impact.

Reflecting on the Transformative Power of Generative AI: Insights from the 8th East Africa Philanthropy Conference


Unlock the transformative power of generative AI in the article “Reflecting on the Transformative Power of Generative AI: Insights from the 8th East Africa Philanthropy Conference.” Gain valuable insights and reflections from the conference, where we discussed the immense potential of generative AI in empowering African nonprofits. Discover how data-driven insights, AI-powered analytics, and optimized storytelling can amplify social impact.

The article delves into key takeaways from the 8th East Africa Philanthropy Conference, highlighting the critical role of partnerships among philanthropy, the private sector, and the government in driving meaningful systems change. Explore the importance of donor engagement, cross-border collaborations, and inclusive problem-solving for sustainable systems transformation.

With a focus on AI for social impact, the article showcases inspiring organizations such as the Palmhouse Foundation, Next Step Foundation, and Generation Kenya, who are making a significant difference in their communities through dedication and innovation.

If you’re passionate about social impact and interested in harnessing the power of generative AI for African nonprofits, this article is a must-read. Dive into the insights and reflections from the conference and learn how AI can act as a catalyst for change.


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


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”.

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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!