The Austin Chronicle

“Quaker Lobbyist” Visits Austin

Diane Randall plans Austin stop to talk public policy

By Michael King, January 27, 2017, News

"What now?" is a question millions of people are asking right now, facing the prospect of a very difficult political era. Diane Randall, executive director of the Friends Committee on National Legislation – colloquially known as the "Quaker Lobby" – has an answer simple to declare but difficult to maintain: to go on doing as she has done. Randall leads the Religious Society of Friends' efforts to affect federal legislation, in the service of the Quaker principle to see God "in every one we meet." That means she and her colleagues "work across partisan divides" to "prevent a deterioration of the laws and regulations that foster equality and human rights in society: civil liberties, peaceful solutions to deadly conflict, environmental protections, and the safety net for people who are poor."

The FCNL has been at this work since 1943, when church members concluded that if they were to help prevent yet another world war, they needed to be more directly engaged in shaping public policy. And though the lobbying by an offshoot of an organization of pacifist churchgoers might seem the definition of quixotic, FCNL reports that their work in coalition with other progressive organizations has led to remarkable successes: "From the creation of the Peace Corps and passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, FCNL has been pivotal to some of our country's landmark legislation."

Randall will be in Austin Jan. 28 to discuss FCNL's work with local Quakers and all others interested. Doing advance work on her behalf is Lon Burnam, former state House member from Ft. Worth, who's been splitting his volunteer time with FCNL projects and Public Citizen, with whom he's lobbying at the Capitol on energy and ethics issues. Burnam says that while we can't anticipate "peace in our time," nevertheless, "friendly, persuasive, persistent, nonpartisan lobbying" can make a crucial difference for peace and progress.

Diane Randall will be speaking on “The World We Seek: We Can Live It,” Sat., Jan. 28, at 11am at the Palm Door, 401 Sabine. For more information or to register for the event, visit “Capital Campaign Events” at

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