Interview with John McCarthy
by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo
John McCarthy is the Executive director of Future Civic Leaders and a blogger for National Catholic Reporter.
SR. CAMILLE: John, you came to my attention unsolicited but very welcome. Our mutual friend, Mercy Sr. Carol Conly, thinks the world of you. She said that you’re the CEO of a foundation to help disadvantaged young people understand the political process. What’s that about, and why is it important to you?
MCCARTHY: I’ve always seen politics as an effective way to harness the power of a community to serve the common good. It’s our collective way of deciding who gets what, when, where and how much, and it reflects the values of our society. Future Civic Leaders came about because there’s a part of our society that has been systematically left out of the process: those living on the margins of society.
SR. CAMILLE: Please explain that.
MCCARTHY: Young people from underserved communities are less likely to vote, join community organizations, have trust in their government’s effectiveness, or believe that they have a voice in their community process. The programs we offer focus on the skills required to actively engage with elected officials. These include speech-writing, message development, action plan building, and coalition organizing. By teaching this skills-oriented approach to politics, we empower students to engage the process on their own and change their neighborhoods for the better…