Author Archives: Sondra Cosgrove

About Sondra Cosgrove

Executive Director Vote Nevada

Vote Nevada 3/6/2021 Update

Vote Nevada Supporters,

If you are like me and have now watched everything on Netflix, Hulu, and STARS, here is a suggestion for filling your viewing time.  The National Constitution Center hosts engaging town halls on constitutional issues that the public can view live or in a recorded format.  You can access the recordings and the Center’s RSVP system, if you see future events or town halls you’d like to watch, here:

We had a good meeting today on this election cycle’s election and voting bills as well as the large number of Bill Draft Requests still remaining with an election topic.  According to the official legislative calendar, the last day for new bills to be introduced, which do not have an exemption, is March 15th.  So, unless most of the remaining election BDRs are  going to die, we will have a large wave of new bills arriving at the same time.  Consequently, we must rely on each other to review and share information on new election bills so we can all effectively organize our advocacy efforts. 

You can watch the meeting recording here:

We also discussed H.R.1, the Fair Maps Nevada redistricting commission amendment, a new approach to running ballot questions, and two ideas for future democracy reform.

The version of H.R. 1 that passed in the House included amendments that mandate redistricting commissions for Congressional maps now, not in 2031.  You can read more here:

Some Updates:

We met with Assemblywoman Thomas and representatives from North Las Vegas to clarify that the city will be creating a stand-alone veterans court to address the specific needs of our veteran community. So, whoo! 

On the redistricting front, we are still waiting for Senator Kieckhefer’s resolution to become a bill, which will advance our redistricting commission amendment, but we know the language will be the same as our ballot question.  You can read an op ed I wrote for the Nevada Current requesting a hearing on the resolution here:

The Census Bureau is now estimating it will release the 2020 census data at the end of September, so our official redistricting process will most likely happen in a special legislative session in October.  We had planned to run redistricting software training for community members in June and July, but the Reno Gazette Journal Solutions Board asked if we would consider running mock redistricting commissions in July.  (The Solutions Board endorsed our redistricting commission amendment: )

We thought that was a great idea, so, we will not only be offering training for the software that allows the public to draw communities of interest maps and redistricting maps, but Vote Nevada will also partner with anyone interested in running mock redistricting commissions to draw maps. Stay tuned.

Lastly, If you are interested in our upcoming meetings, you can RSVP through any of these links:

3/8 via Zoom: Status of Women Conference: Workforce Development is a Women’s Issue:

3/27 via Zoom: Inclusive Workforce Development for Every Nevadan:

NEW 4/24 via Zoom: Earth Day: Why are the birds starving? What birds tell us about climate change:

Thanks for being Nevadans with me,


Mission Statement:

Vote Nevada is an advocacy engine coupled with a grassroots think tank.  While we offer familiar civics education and engagement activities, we also provide a creative edge for developing solutions for persistent civic issues.  

Vote Nevada is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit civic engagement organization.  Anyone can become a supporter by emailing, we have no membership dues.  We do, however, accept donations Here

Vote Nevada 2/26/2021 Update

Vote Nevada Supporters,

I hope you are all doing well and are staying abreast of vaccination news.  The latest news as well as information on transportation to and from vaccination sites in Clark County is on the Regional Transportation System website:

If you are outside of Clark County and needs transportation to a vaccination site, please respond and I will help you connect with a ride.

We are still in the slow part of the legislative session, but I am happy to report we do now have some bills of substance on mental health, veteran services, and justice reform.   

You can see the bills Vote Nevada is currently tracking here:

If you are interested in providing feedback on any of these bills, our advocacy training recordings are here:

There is still time to RSVP for tomorrow’s meeting on supporting our veteran community.  We are discussing a new community court currently being implemented in North Las Vegas as well as the grant process that funds these types of programs.  Our existing grant procurement process is haphazard at best and is allowing grants that could be helping our veteran community to slip away.  You can RSVP here:

We have quite a few election-related bills submitted this session, so we are hosting a meeting on March 6th, via Zoom, 9-11 am, to review these bills and other possible changes in our election processes.  You can RSVP here:

March is Women’s History Month, so if you’d like to RSVP for the College of Southern Nevada’s Status of Women Conference: Workforce Development is a Women’s Issue, Monday, March 8th, via Teams, 6-8 pm, you can do so here:

Our Vote Nevada March meeting on March 27th, via Zoom, 9-11 am, is also focused on access to good jobs.  We will discuss how to make workforce development programs inclusive of all Nevadans, which includes women, communities of color, our differently-abled neighbors, and anyone facing barriers to accessing good-paying jobs.  You can RSVP here:


Brain treat: The Clark County Library offers free ebooks here:

Thanks for being a Nevadan with me,



Mission Statement:

Vote Nevada is an advocacy engine coupled with a grassroots think tank.  While we offer familiar civics education and engagement activities, we also provide a creative edge for developing solutions for persistent civic issues.

Vote Nevada is a 501c3 nonprofit civic engagement organization.  Anyone can become a supporter by emailing, we have no membership dues.  We do, however, accept donations Here




Vote Nevada: Update 2/18/2021

Vote Nevada Supporters,

To start, I would like to share one of my favorite Instagram accounts with beautiful pictures of public lands:

And next, I would like to share our developing legislative priorities, which are firming-up based on bills currently submitted.  While we have a handful of specific bills we are supporting, this session is presenting many opportunities to support a wide range of bills that include parts of our goals.  What is included in this message, then, are goals that appear achievable this session.

And lastly, we have two events coming up.  On February 27th, via Zoom, 9 to 11 am, we will have a panel discussion about creative approaches to applying for grants that can support our veteran community.  You can RSVP for this event here:

Now that we have quite a few bills that address voting, elections, and governing process, I have added a March 6th Zoom meeting, 9 to 11 am, to review these proposals.  You can RSVP here:

In the 2021 legislative session, we are supporting:

Bills that address our severe shortage of behavioral and mental health providers, this includes:

  1. Creating education pathways for behavioral and mental health careers for Nevadans that are as close to tuition-free as possible and include mentoring and robust support services.
  2. Addressing licensing roadblocks for providers relocating to Nevada.
  3. Ensuring Medicaid continues to cover telehealth counseling services.
  4. Stabilizing Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental and behavioral health services.
  5. Ensuring every Nevadan has access to reliable broadband internet service for education and supportive counseling services.

Recreating Nevadan’s grant procurement philosophy and management:

  1. Every level of government and all public agencies must have the guidance and capacity to actively review all grant opportunities.
  2. County and municipal governments and public agencies must have incentives to create grant-funded plans that reorganize and repurpose existing programs.  The reorganization and repurposing should address vital needs in ways that are new, effective, and efficient.  
  3. Grant funds should cover reorganization and repurposing costs, such as training, purchasing new equipment, and adopting continuous evaluation and assessment practices.

Workforce development that aligns with Nevada’s culture and current conditions:

  1. Offer free short-term training for certifications and skill enhancements.
  2. Develop lasting connections between Nevadans and post-secondary education and training institutions.  Every Nevadan should feel welcome in training environments and higher education.
  3. Provide services to ensure every Nevadan can become qualified for new jobs; including internet access, childcare assistance, transportation, and career advising.
  4. Guarantee Nevadans maintain access to food, shelter, and healthcare if they accept temporary work to assist with emergency community needs.
  5. Add hiring requirements to industry abatement agreements for Nevadans who are differently-abled.


Mission Statement:

Vote Nevada is an advocacy engine coupled with a grassroots think tank.  While we offer familiar civics education and engagement activities, we also provide a creative edge for developing solutions for persistent civic issues.

Vote Nevada is a 501c3 nonprofit civic engagement organization.  Anyone can become a supporter by emailing, we have no membership dues.  We do, however, accept donations Here

Vote Nevada Update 2/10/2021

Vote Nevada Supporters,

I hope everyone is doing well and you have taken an opportunity to have a little fun to keep your brain happy and healthy. A new adventure I have discovered is virtual museum tours.  These Smithsonian tours are very good:

We are now mid-way through the legislature’s second week, so I wanted to share an observation about grants.  On February 5th the Department of Veteran Services presented to the Assembly Government Affairs Committee and the issue of not applying for available federal grants came up:

And on February 9th the Office of Grant Procurement, Coordination and Management presented to the Assembly Government Affairs Committee and the issue of Nevada being ranked 50th in bringing federal grant dollars to the state also came up:

For those of you who worked on legislative issues during the last economic downturn, you will remember that we had this exact same discussion ten years ago.  Apparently, we failed to fix this problem.  So, not only do we need to look for solutions to address our 50th ranking in grant procurement, but we also must ensure that this problem stays fixed.

Our February 27th community meeting is focused on this exact issue.  Our panel of speakers will address how we can ensure Nevada is applying for grants that enhance veteran services.  Too many of our veterans need services that could be available but are not, so it is imperative to address this problem.

Our panel is:

Veteran and Assemblywoman Claire Thomas

Veteran and Senator Pat Spearman

Reno Specialty Veteran Court and Private Attorney Henry Sotelo

You can RSVP for the meeting here:

If you are ready to engage with the legislature, our advocacy training videos are here:

Thank you for being Nevadans with me!


Vote Nevada is a 501c3 civics education and engagement organization. Anyone can become a Vote Nevada Supporter by emailing, there are no membership dues.  We do welcome donations here: Donate

Vote Nevada Workshops & Events Update

Vote Nevada Supporters,

We have added new training videos & How To Guides to our Recorded Meeting Resources page.  This includes a new Twitter Training video and a PDF Guide for Providing Virtual Public Comments during legislative committee hearings.

View these and other materials here:

UPDATE: Our NELIS Training session on 2/6, via Zoom, is now at 6 pm, not 10 am, so the time has changed. This session will be recorded and the recording will go on the Recorded Meeting Resources page if you cannot attend.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP here for the Zoom link:

Please also join us on 2/27, via Zoom, 9-11 am, for a meeting on how we can better serve our veteran community.  We will exam available resources that can be leveraged to ensure our veterans are treated with the respect they deserve.  You can RSVP here:

Thank you for being Nevadans with me!


Effective Legislative Communication Workshop Follow-up

I uploaded the meeting recording and the text file with the chat box transcript to the Vote Nevada blog along with the meeting presentation.

You can access them all here:

If you are interested in future meetings and training session, please email and ask to be added to our Google Group.  Based on this meeting, it looks like there is interest in a How to Use Social Media for Advocacy Work workshop and a Do We Need Annual Legislative Sessions? forum.

I will also be sending more information about the Vote Nevada Advisory Board soon.  Our advisory board members will each manage a committee working group to address an important issue.  Currently one of our supporters is putting together a youth group to work on issues such as homelessness and supporter Evelyn Pacheco, CEO of Women in Trades, is putting together a group to look at statistics on women in the workforce to ensure women have access to good paying jobs in Nevada.

If anyone else is interested in creating a committee working group, please let me know.


January 18, 2021 Update

Vote Nevada Supporters,

I wanted to provide some important updates. 

I spent some time today thinking about Dr. King’s legacy of selflessly giving to his community and our collective history. Under the continuing pandemic conditions, many of us are following his example by allocating more time to community service to address immediate emergency conditions and to cope with the long path of recovery ahead.  We have a bit to go before we leave this chapter of history behind, but I know we can make it if we do it together.

Please be sure to reach out to your health care provider if you need mental health help. Our brains need some extra TLC right now.

The legislative session starts on February 1st, but the Legislative Commission and the Legislative Commission Budget Subcommittee start meeting tomorrow.  These important pre-session hearings will indicate where the greatest need is for each of our public agencies.  Because these hearings will set the tone for the rest of the session, I will be watching.

If you would also like to watch either the live hearings or the hearing recordings once each post, you can do so from the Events page on the legislative website:

I am offering two more training workshops, via Zoom, to prepare for the session:

Effective Legislative Communication Strategies on January 30th, via Zoom, 9-11 am.

RSVP here:

Training on using the new version of NELIS on the legislative website on February 6th, via Zoom, 10-Noon am.

RSVP here:

And our February monthly meeting will focus on how we can better support our veteran community on February 27th, via Zoom, 9-11 am.

RSVP here:


Vote Nevada: Checking In

Vote Nevada Supporters,

This has certainly been a difficult week.  We started with a well-run, highly-engaged demonstration of democracy in Georgia, but then we experienced another tragedy in the form of a devastating attack against one of our civic institutions.  Our nation and communities are strong, but the weight on our mental health, which is already overtaxed by the pandemic, felt particularly heavy this week.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health need, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness for support and help:

Mental illness is no different than any other ailment, you have a right to treatment, so please reach out for help if you need it.

Some other resources for this week, include:

A webinar on economic opportunity in 2021 hosted by the Vegas Chamber of Commerce:

New education information on redistricting and using the Representable program to draw communities of interest maps:

If you are interested in contributing a community of interest map, you can watch a Zoom training session and find the Vote Nevada account link for Representable here:

I was on a KNPR panel on 1/8 to discuss what Nevada can expect from the new administration and Congress in 2021, you can listen to the recording here:

There are ways to address needs outside of workforce development, such as mental health reforms, so do not worry too much about what panel members say about the legislative session.  We have many opportunities to work on our issues.

Related to this, Vote Nevada will soon offer opportunities to join our Advisory Board as committee chairs.  Joining the Advisory Board will include leadership training and issue advocacy guidance and support.  As soon as we have this opportunity finalized, I will send out process guidelines and forms.

We have monthly Zoom meetings planned for the 4th Saturday of each month, except for this month.  You can RSVP for our January 16th Advocacy During a Budget Crisis, via Zoom, 9-11 am, here:

Save the dates for our upcoming Zoom meetings:

February 27th, 9-11 am: Veteran Services: What’s Missing?

March 27th, 9-11 am: Providing Access to High Paying Jobs

April 24th, 9-11 am: Why are the birds starving? Gathering Evidence of Climate Change in the Desert

May 22nd, 9-11 am: Redistricting Software Training

June 26th, 9-11 am: The Status of Mental Health Care Reform

July 24, 9-11 am: Election Reforms: Ranked Choice Voting and Open Primary Systems

Stay in touch through our social media accounts:





Let’s take care of each other,

Sondra Cosgrove

Executive Director Vote Nevada

Vote Nevada Pre-Legislative Update: Pandemic Conditions Call for Unconventional Strategies

Vote Nevada Supporter:

If you remember the painfully slow recovery after the Great Recession, what we are hearing now about the upcoming legislative session sounds very familiar.  Legislative leadership has announced that due to the pandemic-caused revenue collapse to not expect bills with fiscal notes or any “heavy lift” policy reforms. 

For me and I am sure for some of you, this message triggers the usual frustration that comes with the snail’s pace of reform inherent in our normal biennial legislative sessions, while also compounding a COVID sense of panic as we face 120 days of bad news.

We must do something to help our most vulnerable community members who simply have no time left to waste.  Doing nothing is simply not an option, but what options are available?  

We can certainly track and advocate for all bills that specifically address our issues this legislative session.  To not lose time, however, we must also break down what we would like to accomplish into smaller, individual components and identify all bills that advance any part of our outcomes.  This will require a deeper than usual analysis of legislation as we search for individual trees in a very crowded forest; but if we are determined to make progress, reading every word of every bill is a necessary strategy.

If we engage in this way, determination will hopefully lead to collective creativity.  By identifying our desired outcomes down to their very essence, we may also find alternative modes of transmission to arrive at those outcomes. 

We could possibly overcome our dilemma by finding news methods for traveling from point A to point B.  Legislative bills might be the most efficient method, yet they are not the only means to get from here to there; we have a wide range of public agencies, governing boards, commissions, councils, and private organizations that could also help.

For instance, we desperately need more mental health and social services available for children, especially now under distance learning conditions.  A natural reaction would be, “We do not have funding to address this very real problem.”  Well, do any other governing bodies or agencies already have capacity to address this issue?  Is Nevada’s Health and Human Services agency already gathering data?  Are Nevada’s school districts, county commissions, or city governments looking at solutions?

Are there other ways to pay for these services?  What about Medicaid, federal grants, and private money?

We do have a free community college plan, it is the Nevada Promise program, which ties the federal Pell Grant to community college tuition rates.  But we need to ensure more of our students know about the Nevada Promise program and careers in behavioral and mental health. 

Our Nevada System of Higher Education Regents oversee the Nevada Promise program as well as workforce development initiatives.   So, possibly we could work with the Higher Education Regents, our school boards, and the State Board of Education, in addition to the legislature, to advance this mental health goal.

To make these types of strategies work, however, we will all need to put our heads together to share information.  To help kick things off, I have broken down our goals into components.  And I have added a new tab on our legislative tracking spreadsheet to include out-of-the-box ideas, resources, and pathways.

If you would like to contribute to the spreadsheet, please become a Vote Nevada supporter by emailing:

Vote Nevada is focusing on assisting anyone living under these conditions:

1.      Mental illness

2.      Domestic violence

3.      Addiction

4.      Homelessness

5.      Trafficking

To improve the well-being of those impacted by these conditions, we must address some root problems.  We can creatively craft solution opportunities for these root problems by weaving together programs and resources:

1.      Workforce development opportunities that include:

a.      Skills training, certificates, and degrees

b.      Access to the trades

c.      Completion timelines between one weekend to two years

d.      Stackable skills that allow trainees to start working quickly

e.      Access to financial aid and affordable higher education

2.      Holistic support services that include access to affordable and reliable:

a.      Housing

b.      Healthy food

c.      Broadband internet service

d.      Technology

e.      Transportation

f.       Childcare

g.      Health care

h.      Mental health care

3.      Advisers who can provide:

a.      Assistance in accessing programs and services

b.      Rapid guidance and answers to questions

4.      Connections to:

a.      Employers who hire based on training and degree completion

b.      Paid internships

c.      Mentoring

d.      Training for writing resumes

e.      Training in industry-specific communication

f.       Training in interviewing  

g.      Training in time management

h.      Assistance with a range of life skills

5.      Social recognition that includes:

a.      Competent and compassionate treatment

b.      The right to live without mortal fear

c.      Self-determination

6.      Legislative and governing decisions based on:

a.      Competent use of data

b.      Modern and easily accessible databases

c.      Identifying sources of collaboration

d.      Transparent implementation of laws and programs

e.      Assessment and evaluation opportunities

f.       Regular and transparent evaluations

g.      Public input per the Open Meeting Law

If you know any agencies and/or organizations already providing these resources or services, please add them to our Solutions Opportunities tab on the spreadsheet. 

We will get there together,


Welcome to Vote Nevada

Visit our website:

In this new era of virtual tools and capabilities, now is exactly the right time to create a more inclusive and state-focused working group. Unlike other civic-engagement organizations, Vote Nevada is completely dedicated to Nevada and under no obligation to align with positions set by outsiders.  Instead, we hope Vote Nevada will develop organically and over time into what Nevadans need to make our state a better place.

Consequently, Vote Nevada’s structure is a little different from other organizations.  We have a small governing board to exercise fiduciary responsibility for maintaining compliance with all laws as well as an advisory board for community members who are interested in shaping our direction. Based on the needs of our supporters we will also create committees to work on projects or issues. 

An additional way Vote Nevada will be different from other civic engagement groups will be our approach to issue advocacy.  Our governing board will adopt a set of issues that supporters may help to advance and we will have a process to assist community members research and prepare advocacy materials for their own issues.

Two issues that have been adopted by our governing board to date are mental and behavioral health workforce development and redistricting reform.

As these issues will be heard during the upcoming legislative session, we will be offering advocacy training, redistricting software training, and mental and behavioral health information sessions soon. If you are interested in these two issues, please indicate so on the survey at the end of this message.

Embedded in all we do will be an emphasis on community education.

We sincerely hope Vote Nevada will reflect the needs of Nevadans, from leadership mentoring to workshops on running for office or managing a ballot question, to community outreach on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

While our 501c3 status will require some legal restrictions, if we can accommodate our supporters’ civic engagement and community improvement needs in any way, we will try.

I will be adding more detailed information to our website and blog this weekend and will send another email as soon as that information is available.

In the meantime, please accept our invitation to a holiday party on December 19th 11 to 1 pm, via Zoom, RSVP:


Sondra Cosgrove