Remembering The Year That Was: 2019 Was Challenging, But Full Of Victories.

Author:Laser, Rachel K.

As we come to the end of another year--almost my second full one at Americans United--I'd like to pause with you to reflect on the achievements of the past 12 months. First, a confession: It's hard to hit the pause button when the pace at AU continues to be fast and furious, as we fight constant attacks on church-state separation at the same time as we implement our own proactive plans. But it's so important for all of us to take stock of AU's accomplishments--especially during challenging times like this.

The truth is, there are way too many successes to fit into this column. So please know that the selection below is a mere sampling of what we have to celebrate.

We started this year with AU's Board of Trustees and senior staff working hard together to finalize a five-year strategic roadmap. This roadmap charts a course for increasing our revenue, igniting a national movement and raising the visibility of AU and our issue. To what end? So that we have the greatest strength and resources possible to continue to lead in safeguarding our constitutional promise of church-state separation. Creating this roadmap was a huge achievement in setting AU up for success.

Key to the roadmap is AU's first-ever National Advocacy Summit, which will take place in March. The Summit will bring together AU supporters from across the country to strengthen our movement and reclaim religious freedom. We'll also be debuting our first-ever Visibility Campaign, which will brand AU and our issue and tell a relatable story, particularly to millennials and members of Generation Z (audiences that are targeted in the roadmap), about why they should care about church-state separation. I'm extremely proud of the enormous amount of work that the Outreach and Engagement and Communications Departments have already put into these projects and grateful to all AU departments for their collaboration.

Our roadmap leads with the mandate to continue AU's leadership role in shaping and enforcing laws that protect church-state separation, and our Public Policy and Legal Departments have risen to this challenge. In July, AU helped shine a spotlight in the U.S. Capitol on the misuse of "religious freedom" to discriminate by assisting U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) in leading a House Education and Labor Committee hearing titled "Do No Harm: Examining the Misapplication of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." It was a personal highlight to testify at this hearing, even if I did have one...

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