Honoring Black History Month

Honoring Black History Month

Dear FAV Community,

In honor of Black History Month, I thought it would be appropriate for FAV to emphasize the impact of African American leaders. They represent one third of our Board of Directors, Advisory Council members, Symposium speakers and many of our audiences. FAV strives for diversity in all of its aspects and mirrors our country’s founding motto, E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” To quote Alan Inman on our board of directors, “People need to see themselves in the picture.” Thus, we work hard to ensure that African Americans lead our organization, speak during our programs, and feel welcome at FAV hosted events. We value the struggles and sacrifices made by the African American community in the United States and lock arms with our brothers and sisters to strive for the aspirational goals in our founding documents, that all men (and women) are created equal.

We have a lot going on this month! Don’t wait until March 1st to nominate a community leader for the Lowry Award. Learn more at our website quicklink and inspire others to live up to the values of selfless community service, being willing to work across partisan divides, encouraging volunteerism, and other leadership traits. Learn more by watch this short Lowry Award video or going to our website.

Last month, we congratulated our amazing volunteers during our annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony. Congratulations to Tyler Boden, Volunteer of the Year, Aaron Johnson, Runner-up, and Kelly Kehoe, Honorable Mention. These amazing volunteers selflessly contributed hours and hours to ensuring that FAV content & programming delivered the same high quality you have come to expect. They represent the dozens of volunteers who helped make our programs, Symposium, and campaigns successful during the year. We couldn’t do it without them and greatly value their contributions. Read more from this San Clemente Times story.

Subscribe to FAV YouTube channel

Have you enjoyed watching some of our programs on video? Maybe you wanted to attend our recent Digital Detox program, but the timing didn’t work?  Check out the FAV YouTube channel and hit subscribe to stay up-to-date on all of our programs. Every fifth (public) subscriber gets a free FAV T-shirt! (Hint: get four of your family or friends to subscribe and guarantee you get a free T-shirt!) Don’t forget to click the thumbs up icon if you like any of our videos.

Membership Corner

Have you recently joined FAV as a member? Don’t forget all of the great benefits of membership: free attendance at coffee talks and workshops throughout the year, discounted attendance during the annual Symposium, quarterly member updates where you learn about new FAV programs, recognition, and get to ask questions, and much more. Sustaining members ($500 and up) get VIP passes during the Symposium in addition to learning about the impact of their donations, allowing us to produce products like the recent white paper on polarization in the U.S. Learn more at https://firstamendmentvoice.org/join/

FAV bids farewell to Alyx Wells, our membership coordinator. Many of you may have spoken to Alyx on the phone about your membership benefits or upcoming programming. She moves on to a sister nonprofit and will benefit them in amazing ways! We are equally excited to welcome Sydney Lantz. Sydney joins to enhance member benefits and value. Look to hear from her around the time your member renewal is due or to learn about new programming. Reach out at [email protected] to ask her a question.

Partner Spotlight

The 20th anniversary of religious freedom in faith-based and government partnerships, an essential cornerstone to advancing religious freedom for BOTH religious organizations and individuals receiving social services funded by the government. If you are interested in running it on First Amendment Voice, let me know: https://irfalliance.org/happy-20th-birthday-to-the-faith-based-initiative/

Announcing the Ed Lowry Memorial Award for Citizenship

We at FAV are pleased to announce that we will be awarding the Ed Lowry Memorial Award for Citizenship starting this year.


Honor the life and legacy of Edward D. Lowry by recognizing outstanding civic engagement and encouraging citizens to serve others and engage on issues of importance in their communities.


  • Relentless service to others
  • Able to work across ideological differences for the common good
  • Fearless advocate of the First Amendment and its champions
  • Overcomes setbacks; strives on in the face of adversity
  • Exhibits strategic thinking but able to translate that into results
  • Inspirational: encourages others to give of time, talent or resources
  • Consummate networking to connect organizations & people for community impact

Submissions Deadline: March 1st, 2021

Format: email [email protected] one page writeup on why the nominee best exemplifies the qualities above. Submissions will be considered for award and recognition during the annual Symposium. Self-nominations are not encouraged. We will consider nominations that best emulate the life and legacy of Ed Lowry whose tireless work benefited countless individuals and organizations within his community.

Nominators should provide their name, relationship to the nominee & contact information

Restrictions: FAV board and staff not eligible.


March 2020 – award announcement

1 March 2021 – nomination deadline

15 March 2021 – nomination committee selects top candidates

15 April 2021 – FAV announces 2021 Lowry Award Recipient

TBD May 2021 – Lowry Award Reception

Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

FAV Community,

On this day, I reflected about the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights advocates decades ago, realizing how much we have yet to achieve. I recall how even in combat in Iraq, we took time to pause on this day, considering the legacy and our own role furthering it. We compared the sectarian tension in Baghdad and other cities to the racial strife in our own country. Dr. King’s struggle was not just an African American struggle, but one on behalf of all Americans and many others around the world. He helped us inch forward toward the aspirations in our founding documents. I hope that you had time to reflect on the relevance of that struggle, 50 some odd years ago, to our contemporary challenges.

Keep inspiring each other and holding out a hand to your neighbors. During the health and economic crises, turning our attention to others not only brightens their day but brings health benefits to those in service. How appropriate that this day is designated a national day of service. Thank you for being a part of our community and inspiring us to continue on in the march to live up to the ideals of public service and civility.

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, we take you back a couple of years ago in Philadelphia when we reflected on why our individual voices matter to the contemporary struggles in our country. The speakers represent different generations, ethnicities and perspective, but they all encourage us to live up the FAV motto that “Citizenship is not a Spectator sport.” Enjoy! 

Upcoming Dates

January 21, 11:30am – 12:45pm PST join the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce as they sponsor Digital Detox, facilitated by Steve Miska – Register here (https://www.scchamber.com/events/details/digital-detox-educational-lunchinar-12918 )

January 28, noon – 1pm PST FAV Quarterly Members Update & Volunteer Recognition Ceremony – Register here (https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYud-CgrjkrEtIou00WYC33f3c2poKSJSoW)

First Amendment Voice Statement on Post-election Political Violence

January 15, 2021

SAN CLEMENTE, CA — First Amendment Voice stands with the many voices raised against the political violence at the Capitol building and other areas around the country on January 6th. While we steadfastly champion freedoms of expression, assembly and the ability to petition the government for grievance, we denounce those who would use violence as a weapon against the pillars of democracy due to an election outcome. As the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently announced, “We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.” The rioters, due to ignorance, arrogance, or some combination, have endangered the very rights they professed to defend. The First Amendment allows citizens to express themselves, assemble and petition the government for grievance. It does not afford the right to push through barricades, loot and destroy property, or endanger the lives of others. 

We mourn the loss of life, including police officers in the line of duty and others, due to violence and call on leaders to settle grievances at the ballot box and through legal means. The country faces myriad health and economic challenges without need for self-inflicted losses from illegal mob actions. 

We celebrate the thousands of heroes across the country who monitored the election, volunteered at the polls, served in the courts during legal challenges, and many other civic functions. These unsung citizens stepped forward during an international health crisis, despite the risks, to play their role in shepherding our democratic processes. Civic engagement is daily work, not something that occurs only  during elections. Thank you for leading by example.

We express gratitude to our elected leaders, military, first responders, and countless others involved in safeguarding our democratic process and our citizens. Stay resilient and keep moving our country inexorably toward the aspirations outlined in the Constitution. 

First Amendment Voice (FAV) is a non-profit, nonpartisan movement created to bring awareness, provide education and promote advocacy for citizens to exercise their First Amendment freedoms of religion, expression, press, assembly, and petition while encouraging citizens to understand, protect, and exercise those rights through ongoing programs and partnerships. Our board consists of veterans, lawyers, clergy, different ethnicities, genders, faiths, and three different generations.

Learn more about FAV at www.firstamendmentvoice.org. Subscribe to our free newsletter or YouTube channel to see previous programming. Inquire to [email protected] 

Citizenship is not a spectator sport!

What are you thankful for?

What are you thankful for?

FAV colleagues,

Thanksgiving conjures feelings of gratitude. We celebrate this time of year thinking of all we are thankful for, even during hard times like the current health crisis and other challenges. Personally, I have been grateful for the lack of travel during the last eight months. It has offered the opportunity to learn more about my new home town, including co-sponsoring two special Candidate Forums to help voters be more informed at the polls. Over 800 people had a chance to participate live or watch the videos prior to casting their ballots, allowing FAV to live out our tagline that “citizenship is not a spectator sport.” I am grateful to the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to be a co-sponsor.

As an organization, FAV is grateful for our members who invest in our programming to help reach a broader audience. We offered a free Difficult Conversations workshop to members last month. Based on a special request from University of San Diego, we programmed another workshop in December during the student recess. Basic members and above are welcome even if you have participated in Kern’s amazing workshop before. I’ve done it five times, and I’ve learned something every time! Kern leads us on a journey of self-discovery in our relationships and ourselves. Send an email to [email protected] to inquire about registration. We’ll let you know if we have a slot or put you on our waiting list.

With Deep Gratitude!

Steve & the FAV Team