Rules of the Game: How to Engage in the 2016 Election

There is too much at stake this election season to sit on the sidelines!

Do not shy away from being dynamic and vocal in an election year! While 501(c)(3) nonprofits are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity under federal law, there are many nonpartisan advocacy that HIV-focused organizations can engage in without fear.

Rules of the Game: How to Engage in the 2016 Election as a 501(c)(3), was a ninety-minute webinar that explored what you can and cannot do as a 501(c)(3) community-based organization while still being politically active during an election cycle. During the webinar, our expert panel discussed the do’s and don’t’s for non-profits who want to get involved, from: whether someone can engage in partisan political activity in a personal capacity, what it means to be nonpartisan, legislative scorecards, how to do candidate education and questionnaires, voter registration, and much more!

Download the slides here.


Max Boykin is the Community Organizer with AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), new Manager of the HIV Preventive Justice Alliance, Organizing Co-chair of the Chicago Chapter of Black Youth Project 100 and is on the steering committee for the Collaboration on Health Equity for Cook County. His organizing ranges from direct action, civic engagement, conscious raising, to coalition building. Originally from the Suburbs of Atlanta, Maxx along with his two sisters were raised by his parents who were raised in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. He has been an organizer for a wide arrange of issue based, political and union organizing. His first two years were in political organizing starting in Savannah, GA on local campaigns later moving to Virginia to work on four winning campaigns including the Governor and Presidential races. In Illinois he has worked on the Fight for 15 campaign and the Get Covered America Campaign around health insurance before finding a home at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. He has always worked in primarily Black and marginalized communities and loves working with his people in order to make sure they are uplifted and liberated.

Ramon Gardenhire is the Vice President of Policy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and oversees AFC’s advocacy and policy work at the federal, state and local level. His areas of focus include the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and ensuring that new federal and state health care systems meet the needs of people living with and affected by HIV, Medicaid policy, state budget and appropriations, health care and HIV-related legislation and policy, and the Illinois AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Gardenhire previously served as AFC’s Director of Government Relations from 2011 to 2013. Before coming to AFC, Gardenhire worked at the SEIU Healthcare Illinois-Indiana, Federation for Community Schools, Young Democrats of America, National Democratic Committee, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants, where he worked on state level political and legislative initiatives. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University and a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. Gardenhire was born and raised in Albion, MI, and lives in Chicago, IL.

Keely Monroe, JD, serves as Counsel for the Bolder Advocacy Initiative at Alliance for Justice (AFJ). She consults with and trains nonprofit organizations on the rules and strategies for legal and effective advocacy, including lobbying, election-related activity, and ballot measure advocacy. Before joining AFJ, Keely was the Director of Campus & Community Programs at the national office of Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) in Oakland, CA, where she provided guidance to over a hundred LSRJ chapters across the country and supported their advocacy at the state and community level. Prior to that, she was a Reproductive Justice Legal Fellow at the National Women’s Health Network in Washington, DC and worked on the national initiative, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, which focused on supporting state-based organizations in advocacy on implementation of the health care law. Keely holds a B.A. from Fordham University and graduated from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2011. She is licensed by the State Bar of California.

Matthew Pagnotti is the Civic Engagement Coordinator at AIDS Alabama, where he oversees the civic engagement program with persons living with HIV/AIDS and the broader HIV/AIDS community. Matthew has a B.S. degree in both Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in Social Inequality from Virginia Tech. Prior to working for AIDS Alabama, Matthew was the Assistant Director for Grassroots Campaigns in Philadelphia, PA, where he oversaw regional outreach campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Lambda Legal. He is also the Founding Board Member of The Change Project, a Birmingham-based nonprofit which elevates the visibility of LGBTQ people and advocates for their improved quality of life through the arts, strategic partnerships, and community programming in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.