“The Story We Tell Becomes the World We Live In.” – The OpEd Project

In January 2024, the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (TC CFAR) sponsored faculty members, community partners, and other stakeholders’ participation in “Write to Change the World” op-ed writing workshops. Hosted by The OpEd Project, these two-day virtual workshops promote thought leadership skills and emphasize dissemination of ideas from individuals historically underrepresented in the media. TC CFAR encouraged the participants it sponsored to consider what they wanted to say about HIV/AIDS using their unique voices.

Randi Singer, PhD, CNM, assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Nursing and a TC CFAR faculty member, participated in January’s writing workshops. Since then, she’s had two op-eds published: “Where are the voices of Black women and girls in HIV awareness?” and “The Reality of PrEP for Black Women: The Provider Disconnect.”

Writing Workshops CFAR

The purpose of the workshops is to help people with big ideas who don’t have traditional platforms for wide readerships realize the power of their ideas and help them get op-eds published and read.

“These workshops and organization far exceeded my high expectations – wholesome content and people along with amazing training on writing impactful op-eds,” said Ashley Knapp, PhD, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “This truly was a transformative experience leaving me feeling empowered, thankful, and inspired.”

During the workshops, facilitators guided participants to a destination of action. They conducted stimulating discussions about the development of thought leaders and provided key takeaways. Facilitators also posed many thought-provoking questions with ample time for answers from participants. Breakout sessions allowed participants to interact in small groups and pitch writing ideas to each other. The workshops provided additional resources offered by The Op-Ed Project on how to pitch an op-ed.

“I appreciated the candor of the facilitators along with the real experience that both facilitators and the past participants brought to the workshop,” said Anne Statton, executive director at Mother and Child Alliance in Chicago. “Not only do I feel better equipped to write an op-ed, but I also feel better about how to pitch it, how to consider my sources and evidence as well as the very real encouragement they provided to follow through with my ideas.”

TC CFAR investigators who previously completed The Op-Ed Project’s trainings have had op-eds and books published, podcast appearances, and increased media coverage and dissemination of their scholarly work.