Meshawn is a veteran of canvass offices across the country, and recently took on a key role at the great preservation nonprofit, Friends of the Chicago River. Canvassing Works is proud to call her a friend, and she was kind enough to share some insight into how canvassing influenced her career:
"When I first started canvassing for the Fund for the Public Interest right after college, I thought I wouldn't last long. After two weeks though, I considered myself an expert canvasser - training new staff and training to become a leader in the office. A month later we won our campaign and I never turned back. Canvassing was one of the most challenging things I've done, and one of the most rewarding. I started doing it as just temporary work while I was job hunting, but more than 10 years later I'm still working on these important issues that I first got into as a canvasser. I'm still using what I learned."
Meshawn Ayala is the Constituency Relations Director at Friends of the Chicago River, a nonprofit that works to preserve and protect the health and vitality of the Chicago River. At Friends, Meshawn focuses on organizational development through building coalitions, doing community outreach, and expanding social media. She is currently working on a campaign to remove two of the oldest dams on the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Her career with the Fund started in 1999 as a canvasser in Berkeley, CA, where she thought she would canvass until she found a "real job." One week later she was a Field Manager and one month later she was a Canvass Director. Meshawn directed offices in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego before moving to Chicago to be the Midwest Regional Director in 2005.
Keep up the great work Meshawn!