For some time now, at the end of each session of the Indiana General Assembly IFCL has recognized two legislators of the year. In keeping with our non-partisan approach to our work, we generally recognize a legislator from each party, as a reminder to the world and ourselves that no single party has a monopoly on truth or virtue.
In addition, we’ve recently decided to recognize a Lobbyist of the Year. Call it equal time for lobbyists. We are delighted to recognize, as our inaugural recipient of this award, Julia Vaughn for her work as Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana.
Our criteria for selection, while they may seem subjective to some, are grounded in our Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. Since the mission of IFCL is to relate these Quaker testimonies to help shape responsible decisions by our state government, we believe it is fitting to acknowledge lobbyists (as well as legislators) whose work exemplifies these testimonies.
And Julia’s career at Common Cause fits these testimonies to a “T.”
Quakers value simplicity, and if you know Julia, she is nothing if not direct in her speech. If you want the unvarnished truth, she is your person. When it comes to speaking directly and plainly, she could be a Quaker.
Quakers prize integrity. You don’t last as long and still have as many trusting colleagues and respectful adversaries as Julia has without a core of honesty.
Quakers seek community with others. Julia’s relentless efforts for redistricting reform in the coalition she co-founded, All IN for Democracy, is a model of cooperative effort. And her negotiation in earnest with legislators from both political parties is recognition that good government requires working with the entire community, not just those we choose.
Quakers yearn for wider acknowledgment of the God-given equality of all people. The portion of Julia’s career I have witnessed has been a pursuit of equal access to our electoral process for all Hoosiers, regardless of their social or economic station, their party affiliation, or their race, gender, or religious beliefs.
The Quaker calling to stewardship is usually understood in the context of Earthcare. In the context I’ve seen Julia work, she is a caretaker of democracy. Literally, for decades, she has been a steward of government that works better for more people.
Peace—this is the one Quaker testimony I had to pause over in Julia’s case. This lady does not shrink from a good fight. But the Quaker peace testimony should never be equated with negativity or neutrality. Instead, it is a responsibility (in the words of Elton Trueblood) to engage in imaginative acts of peace-making. In this spirit, Julia and Common Cause lean forward in their advocacy. Always positive, whether on defense, filing suit to protect the weakest members of society, or on offense, organizing public support or negotiating for improved language in a new bill. Always striving to respond–to an injustice, or a flawed policy, or a bad bill–with something fuller, fairer, better.
We at IFCL are privileged to partner with Julia on issues of the utmost importance to our state and nation. Redistricting reform. Ballot access. Improved voter turnout. Election protection. We are very pleased to recognize her good work with this award, and we look forward to making common cause with her in the future. Julia, thank you.