EDITOR: My name is Erica Shields and I am a Littleton, Colorado resident, Mom to four, wife to Ron, and Policy Circle Leader.

A Policy what?

Let’s start with the organization, The Policy Circle, fact-based, nonpartisan framework that inspires women living in the same community to connect, learn about and discuss public policies that impact creativity. The Policy Circle is an organization that is dedicated to advancing women’s leadership through expanding awareness for the impact of public policy in our society. Think: book club, but in lieu of a single author, series, or set, we read The Policy Circle-prepared briefs on topics like immigration, cybersecurity, and Venezuela. Each brief holds true to it’s non-partisan promise, having been vetted by researchers with industry and topical expertise!

A Policy Circle “Leader,” is the person who fosters an environment of discussions on these briefs and ensures that everyone —no matter their political point of view, is respected and heard. Typically, these groups are among neighbors, friends, shared office spaces, etc, and expands from there.

When I started my own “Circle,” my initial intention was to get my neighbors and friends more involved and civically engaged in the issues impacting our community. To my surprise, our Littleton, Colorado Policy Circle discussions, expanded very quickly, going from 8-20 in just a few short months. Not only were women from all over our area coming to our meetings, these women began to organize and rally around advocacy efforts that pointed right back to the heart of why we began in the first place: impact.

I would describe myself as a person who cares about the impact of community and the interrelationships among civic engagement and policy —I just wasn’t sure what the right first step was, for me. As I began my exploration into becoming more civically engaged, I began by enrolling in several leadership academies including, the Littleton Leadership Academy, the Dale Carnegie Leadership, and the Leadership Program of the Rockies —which led me to The Policy Circle.

In our Circle, there is a place for everyone, from the ladies who simply enjoy participation, to those like me who thrive in facilitation and building community. We are joined by women who are just getting their start in advocacy, to those who are carrying the flame of change for homelessness, poverty, education, and more.

Today, no one refers to me as “Senator” “Representative” “Congresswoman” or other — but I do think of myself as a fierce advocate for the principles of freedom, and The Policy Circle is among the many ways I do so.

Unlike many places, we have the simple rule that this is a safe space. All perspectives, principles, and points of view are welcome, always. Everyone has a turn, a voice, and a home here. The only rule is to show up, for yourself and for us.

Erica Shields — via letters@Sentinelcolorado.com