Search icon
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Stephanie Gasca walking with a large smile and microphone in hand

Stephanie Gasca Por Siempre: Stories of Love and Resilience

July 21, 2023

An Ode to a Real One: Stephanie Gasca - Rest in Power

Read More
Plus icon
Stephanie Gasca in a museum reading displays on the wall
Stephanie peering into exhibit at the DuSable Museum in Chicago during the Narrative Power Now opening convening in 2023.

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you Stephanie Gasca was a real one – a take no shits, fierce mother and tía, organizer, and powerhouse. Stephanie did not care about performance politics; she cared about loving her people and getting her people free. 

Stephanie, dedicated her time as a basketball mom, a community organizer, and a great purveyor of flair and personal style. She ran for office, organized for local change, and served as the former Director of Communications for CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha). Stephanie graduated from ReFrame’s second class of the ReFrame Mentorship in 2016. In 2017, she led the Fight for $15 victory in Minneapolis  and helped pass a citywide ordinance raising the minimum wage. She continued to be a part of Team ReFrame after the mentorship as an active member of our alumni network and joined the ReFrame staff team in 2020. Stephanie’s impact on ReFrame and movement work in Minnesota and beyond was deep and wide

Over the last few years, Stephanie brought her brilliance, care, and love for the people front and center, embedding it in work that we do every day. Her leadership has strengthened our systems in a way that cares for the people: participants in our programs; Reframe coaches, trainers, and mentors; and of course, her comrades here at ReFrame. We are better as a result of her leadership, friendship, and contributions and her passing leaves a hole in all of our hearts. 

ReFrame staff smiling in a group photo, including Stephanie Gasca
ReFrame staff at an event in New York in April 2023. Stephanie Gasca on far right.

We sit in celebration for Stephanie and her contributions. We  continue to push our work forward among grief yet we continue to find gems and treasures that she left behind for us.  I hope she knew how much she was cared for, valued and held, and continues to be missed.

-Dulce Rojas

Stephanie was such a joy to work with. She brought realness, laughter and creativity and was such a special person. She will be deeply missed.

-Raine Brandon

There are the people you see daily, and their absence stings whenever you don't see them. And there are those people you don't see every day, but you are assured and eased knowing that they are out there, making this world bearable simply by being who they are. For me, Stephanie was the latter. Our lives couldn't be much more different, yet we found a connection in our shared work of making the world better. We nurtured that connection with laughs, some good shade, mutual encouragement, and movement. I ache knowing Stephanie is not out there being a fierce and proud mama, a leader in her community, a smart and creative force in the lives of those she touched, and ultimately unapologetically herself.
Stephanie Gasca -Tiocfaidh ár lá

- Joseph Phelan

Stephanie Gasca indoors with a mask on
Stephanie Gasca at Narrative Power Now in Spring 2023 in Chicago.

Stephanie was more than a leader and a comrade; she was a dear friend who operated out of a deep sense of care for people. While I had the extreme privilege of witnessing and experiencing the care during our time together at ReFrame, it was just how she operated with her family, the sports teams her children played on, her neighbors whose cars got stuck in the snow during harsh Minneapolis winters and in the way she organized. I close my eyes and see her dancing to Tina Turner in the back of a party bus with her gold signature bamboo hoops shimmering in the light, her vibrant smile and laughter in the toasts people shared over dinner, and the excitement she shared with me in witnessing the iteration of ReFrame's work. Stephanie, I will miss you forever, friend.

- Jess St. Louis

I admire and will always remember Stephanie's fierce and indomitable spirit, her communication prowess, and the love and devotion she poured into her community. I'm so grateful I got to know her during our time together at ReFrame and I am sending her loved ones my deepest thoughts and condolences in her transition. May her legacy and self-effacing love for others and for justice continue to inspire and move us.

- Keith Brooks

Please save the date for August 15 and join ReFrame in honoring Stephanie’s memory. You can register here.

More information about memorial services in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 23, can be found here

If you would like to support Stephanie’s family please contribute to the GoFundMe

Stephanie, may you rest in power, may your familia and comrades find peace and inspiration in your honor, and may all of us be able to channel that small light of chingona rage, joy and glory into magic and momentum on our shared journey to freedom. 

Con Cariño,

hermelinda and Team ReFrame

A diverse group of people posing in front of stairs smiling at the camera

Introducing the Narrative Power Now Cohort

June 1, 2023

A Collaboration between ReFrame & We Make the Future

Read More
Plus icon

If you hopped on to a virtual meeting room with ReFrame and members of We Make the Future’s State Narrative Cohort on a Tuesday afternoon this month, you would have noticed that the life-giving energy of the room could be palpably felt even from the computer screen. It wasn’t just the active chat thread with photos of an orange kitten that followed one of them home from a drag show but also the critical sharing of resources and contacts to support each other’s work to build narrative power across states. You could feel it in the rich discussions about how they could map the relationship between governing power and the power to make meaning in their communities. You would have observed it in their growing confidence in defining what narrative power is and why it’s important to win changes for their communities and the respect they have for each other as strategists, organizers, and leaders working to usher in a better world. In a world where many are exhausted and drained by Zoom, this is no small feat.

This aliveness and sense of connection amongst the cohort online didn’t happen out of happenstance. It was cultivated out of a commitment to invest in narrative infrastructure including fortifying the leaders with the skills, the strategic acumen, and the relationships they need so our movements build narrative power to win.. 

ReFrame and We Make the Future are collaborating to support a group of sixteen leaders in a state-based narrative cohort through a project called Narrative Power Now. This cohort is made of leaders hailing from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia, Texas, and Wisconsin who are working to build power and make narrative change around the country. The organizations they work with are advancing reproductive justice in Florida, flanking the organizing work in the wake of the train crash that spilled dangerous chemicals earlier this year in Ohio, building Black political power in Michigan - and so much more. 

“I feel more prepared to advocate for strategies that build narrative power. I feel like I have a new lens to analyze the work through. I hope I can be a part of leveling the playing field in Florida, help the movement be more proactive and really lead with and bring people in with our values.” - Narrative Power Now participant

Narrative Power Now is a cohort-based program designed in two parts.  Participants completed the Global Messaging Programme (GMP), which is being followed by ReFrame’s extended Academy program focusing on narrative strategy, power, and action. The cohort will graduate from this program in October 2023. The ReFrame extended Academy builds on lessons learned in the GMP and supports sharpening narrative and strategic communications skills through additional training, development, and practice. Narrative Power Now participants are growing their skills in identifying narratives and stories being spread in their landscape to assess risks and opportunities in their work.


After meeting for a few months virtually for the Global Messaging Programme, the Narrative Power Now cohort gathered in Chicago for a four-day ReFrame Academy to kick off the second phase of the program. The cohort brought the space to life through sharing their stories, thoughts, and work with each other; contributing to an altar and filling it up with names and objects honoring the lineages we come from; engaging in mock interviews and filling up many flipchart papers with post-its, leaving with more connections and understandings about the work than they entered the week with. One participant reflected that often in communications spaces like this, it felt rare and powerful for people of color to make up the majority of the room. Another participant reflected on how some of the training content and the approach to narrative power building was familiar  leadership of a colleague who is an alumna of the ReFrame Mentorship. These reflections are important indicators to the long work of investing in leaders across movements for racial, gender, economic, and climate justice and across individual cohorts as critical elements to building narrative infrastructure. The ripple effects of programming and collaborations like Narrative Power Now remind us why we don’t do training for training’s sake. We invest in people for the purpose of building - and winning - narrative power. To break through the isolation so that even in our toughest moments, we can lean on each other and the infrastructure we are creating, and do our best to win justice, healing, and liberation for all people and the Earth.

collage of two hands reaching toward each other doing a baton handoff against a black background with game strategy position marks and bright orange flowers announcing the publication of ReFrame’s Trans Athletes: A Narrative Analysis report

Trans Athletes: A Narrative Analysis

March 31, 2023

This Trans Day of Visibility, we’re releasing new narrative research on transgender athletes as one layer in this complex narrative contest. Find out more about who is driving the conversation and how critical narratives about fairness and safety shape the landscape.

Read More
Plus icon

Despite conservative and authoritarian forces in the U.S. and across the globe aiming to erase trans people from public life – trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people resist with joy and dignity not just for survival but to live whole lives. This Trans Day of Visibility we celebrate that ethos and our shared fight in countering violent narratives and messages targeting trans people in Tennessee and beyond. 

This Trans Day of Visibility, we’re releasing new narrative research on transgender athletes as one layer in this complex narrative contest. Find out more about who is driving the conversation and how critical narratives about fairness and safety shape the landscape.

Trans Athletes: A Narrative Analysis highlights trends and patterns we identified throughout our investigation.

Our devoted team of researchers and strategists, in partnership with other leaders, dug into the stories and narratives about trans athletes from January 1, 2021–January 23, 2023. Along the way, they uncovered networks of people and organizations operating within this contentious, complex terrain and highlighted trends and patterns - across ideology and belief. 

Our report will support anyone interested in the fight for trans rights and liberation to understand the narrative terrain and develop narrative strategies to win, whether you're an athlete, a coach, a policymaker, or an organizer.

Together, we can work towards a liberated future where every trans person can be who they are - athlete, artist, leader, parent - thriving and free from harm. 

Read or listen to the full report here.

alt="Two people smiling behind a we're hiring banner"

We’re Hiring, Again!

March 6, 2023

We're Hiring! Will you be a part of ReFrame’s next 10 years?

Read More
Plus icon

Will you be a part of ReFrame’s next 10 years?

Whether it’s at one of our training programs, a narrative research briefing, or in backrooms building and aligning narrative strategy, ReFrame’s daily work is powered by a brilliant, creative, high-aspiring, committed, and funny AF 😹, staff team working to build a narrative ecosystem capable of transforming the world around us toward a common sense rooted in multi-racial democracy and an economy that works for all of us.

As we near our ten-year anniversary and begin strategic planning for the next ten years, we’re investing in fortifying our team, program participants, and partners to have robust infrastructure and support to meet the vision of building narrative power to win!

We are actively seeking:

We’re accepting applications for all positions through March 31, 2023. You can find the full job announcements, hiring timeline, interview process and salary ranges at our hiring hub

We look forward to meeting our future teammates and all the candidates!

Co-founder and Outgoing Executive Director, Joseph Phelan back to back with Jen Soriano, ReFrame Co-Founder and Advisory Committee Chair

"We Did It!" Not a Solo Founder Story

February 10, 2023

A founding story grounded in movement values and a collective vision.

Read More
Plus icon

We are taking advantage of the Executive Director transition to reflect on what ReFrame has accomplished and learned about building an organization from the ground up. This first reflection is the origin story of ReFrame, placing it into a movement context and challenging the archetypal solo brilliant founder. You can read the first blog post about the transition here

Last fall I sat in the offices of LUCHA in Phoenix, Arizona.  Abril Gallardo, Communications Director at LUCHA - who happens to be ReFrame Alum and an Advisory Committee member - shared lessons from the organization’s dynamic work across the state. We were at the mid-point convening for ReFrame’s Senior Cohort. At the same time, some ReFrame staff were preparing for a Narrative Power 101 training with over 800 people registered from across the country and globe while other members of our team were resting after pulling off our first Narrative Power Summit we co-produced with RadComms. The summit brought together over 250 people for days of peer learning and relationship building. Still yet, other members of our team were working on a narrative power network analysis that would inform a power building strategy held by our close partners. 

I had an overwhelming sense of ease. “We did it,” I thought. 

Before there was ReFrame 

By the time Jen Soriano and I started the ReFrame Mentorship in 2015, we’d spent years in conversations with an informal cohort of strategists in racial justice organizations who were actively engaging big questions about culture and narrative change and strategic communications in their work. We found each other at places like the Progressive Communicators Network annual gathering and the U.S. Social Forum connecting across rooms, sharing insights from our work, and grabbing coffee, drinks, and phone numbers. We supported each other 1:1 and through networks our organizations were a part of like Right to the City.  

These relationships - built on both personal trust AND principled political alignment - led to all sorts of collaboration - like Echoing Justice. They also became the infrastructure that we leveraged when movements needed and called for narrative and comms support - from Alto Arizona to the Ferguson Uprising. 

Over time this cohort identified an underlying challenge to building the narrative power we needed to win hearts and minds at scale: we needed more strategists grounded in power building organizing with an orientation to narrative; we needed resilient infrastructure to support these networked strategists; and we needed spaces for narrative strategy alignment. 

Jen and I set out to solve these problems and we were supported by this broader cohort to do so. Even the seed funding for the mentorship came through that informal cohort. Laine Romero-Alston, a long-time fellow traveler, shared the vision. She leveraged her position in philanthropy to support a whole variety of projects and experiments, including ReFrame. The mentorship was a step towards formalizing and growing what had been an informal and stretched narrative infrastructure built on an aligned vision. 

Staying the course in times of uprising

Even with the support of our people and aligned vision, Jen and I had a secret struggle when we started the mentorship. 

We knew the path to building narrative powerful movements relies on people first with a commitment to their development and their activation. It’s the organizers in us. We knew that it wasn’t just that we needed more strategists, we knew there were actually people who were eager and hungry to learn more. We also knew that the work of developing junior strategists is heart work - the transformation in leadership can be profoundly hopeful and inspiring. 

In addition, the work of building infrastructure could take a long time. The moment we were in required immediate action. It was in the early days of the Movement for Black Lives, on the eve of the #MeToo movement, and less than a year shy of Trumpisms rising tide. We were called to action in the fights that would define an era of politics and culture. A call we had been answering for years. 

Our elders - veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, anti-colonial movements in home countries, and Queer Liberation movements - taught us: without infrastructure that maintains narrative advances enshrined in policy, law, behavior, and scaled stories, movements crash into powerful opposition who will bludgeon us, scatter us, tire us out, and advance their own narrative strategies. 

We moved into long-term work, keeping our eyes on the ten and fifteen year horizon while doing what we could to support the day-to-day movement moments. 

It starts..

Our first year (incubated at the Center for Story-based Strategy), we built the plane as we flew. The amazing class of mentees extended trust and excitement, organizers from organizations like Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. Founding mentors - Jung Hee Choi and Mervyn Marcano, brought a tremendous spirit of collaboration and dedication. 

The first year ended with high fives, gratitude, empty pockets and questions. We asked the mentees and mentors what to do next. The resounding answer was - keep going. 

Kim Freeman Brown joined in the second year as a mentor and became a critical part of the  leadership team.  Alejandro Cantagallo joined as an event planner with expertise in prison abolition organizing and a deep practice of care in logistics. The mentor team grew over the years to include: Naomi Ishisaka, Shanelle Matthews, B Loewe, Chelsea Fuller, Natalia Jaramillo, and hermelinda cortés. The mentors found as much connection, meaning, and alignment through the program as the mentees. 

It grows… 

After the third year Kim, Jen, and I came together in Seattle to plan the next mentorship. Two days later we’d decided to start an organization that could hold the mentorship, but could also expand to bring strategy alignment and narrative development to partners working in coalition with one another across geography and issue, and experiment with narrative research and action. 

We brought the historic SPIN academy into our new organization with the gracious support of the team who had been holding the project - Holly Minch, Claudette Silver, and Amanda Cooper. Hermelinda joined the staff and spent her first days at an international narrative power convening in England, followed quickly by a partner meeting in Florida, and a few weeks later she was running a Texas based ReFrame Academy. 

In no time we launched a 13-month Next Gen Fellowship with Power California. We ran deep experiments in narrative research, led by hermelinda, that became the foundation of our many narrative research and action projects. 

By 2020, Covid hit and racial justice uprisings rocked the country. We trained 5,000 people in one month in collaboration with Movement for Black Lives, we provided regular narrative weather reports to movement leaders, and we ran a daily narrative war room in Florida with a state-wide table of organizing and civic engagement organizations. We took the week-long academy and made it Zoom-proof, expanding the numbers of people we could train exponentially. 

Each year since, we’ve innovated our training model, thrown convenings for narrative power builders, and produced behind the scenes narrative landscape and network maps for partners in motion. We’ve also produced movement-wide narrative predictions and trained hundreds of people across philanthropy in narrative power building in order to crack doors open and push funding to organizing and narrative power work grounded in organizing. 

We did all of this while growing a staff team that is majority people of color, majority queer, majority women, and led by working class people and values. 

I was there for all of it, and as I recall it and list it I am amazed at what we have done.

The long term pay off
In the first three years of the mentorship program people would ask us - “Will mentees  get more press hits? Place more ads? Tell more stories? Etc Etc”.  Jen and I would say, “Sure but that’s not the point, that’s not the measure of success. In five years we will see graduates from this program leading scaled narrative fights across issues and geography. They will be critical leaders in a scaled narrative empower ecosystem.  And they will be in relation to each other.” This response was grounded in the work of Echoing Justice (see page 24) which brought a movement building and power building approach to metrics  in order to interrupt the trend of vanity metrics. 

In 2020 ReFrame saw alumni of the mentorship program lead scaled narrative battles across the country that were decisive in their states and set the long term narrative terrain. Many of them were directly working with narrative research everyday to take advantage of arising narrative openings. 

Now three years later we are finishing up the first Senior Narrative Cohort  - a nine month program for senior level narrative strategists already reaching audiences in the tens-of-thousands in relation to power building organizing. These strategists are engaging with dynamic narrative research and applying it to their work, building powerful peer relationships, and scoping future collaborations. ReFrame, putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to resourcing narrative strategy tied to organizing, moved over half--a-million dollars in stipends to the class of ten strategists to support narrative projects in relation to power building organizing. 

We see ReFrame as an important part of the overall ecosystem. Given this it makes sense that several of our staff leading narrative research, supporting on training, and shepherding the organization are also alumni of the mentorship program, including incoming Executive Director hermelinda cortés.

These numbers alone may seem small, but that is a matter of perspective. If you look at development over time it is clear - ten years ago this network of narrative strategists did not exist. If we shift perspective away from just the mentorship program we see a large network of leaders moving in the same direction. We see this in the work we did supporting Women’s March’s Digital Defenders in inoculating their communities against right-wing ideology to the thousands of people who now share core concepts and definitions of narrative power building learned in our trainings, to the thousands of organizers and leaders using our annual narrative predictions as a critical component in their strategies. 

It’s not over… 

From the beginning ReFrame has been a shared effort born from necessity, creativity, excitement, and deep nerdiness. The work of the organization is far from over. 

We are not simply trying to change narrative in a neutral environment, we are building narrative power in an environment where an organized opposition has invested 80 years and countless resources in shaping hearts and minds across society. Everyday we deal with the fallout from this oppositional investment in the form of violence, a hardened inequality, an emboldened and organized white-suprmecist and misogynist right-wing. 

ReFrame has done the most with what we have. The ecosystem is growing through our direct effort and through the collaborative efforts of so many we are in network with.  And there is plenty yet to be done. 

I am beyond excited for hermelinda cortés to bring her talents, experience, and drive to the role of Executive Director. I am also excited for her move with her expanded cohort of strategists, networks, and lineage to level up the ecosystem. 

Outgoing Executive Director of ReFrame, Joseph Phelan

Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes... A Note from ReFrame's Outgoing ED

February 3, 2023

Co-founding Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, on why he is leaving ReFrame and what's next.

Read More
Plus icon

What are you going to do next?”

From friends, to neighbors, to colleagues - this is the first question I get when I tell people I am moving on from my job as Executive Director (ED) of ReFrame, an organization I co-founded with Jen Soriano and Kim Freeman-Brown

The question should not be a surprise. Kim told me this would be THE question I would get. I was like, “Nah Kim, there are far more interesting questions.”  Kim said, “You will see bro, you will see.“

The truth is, I don’t know. 

I am not leaving ReFrame because I have some other iron in the fire, some amazing opportunity I just can’t pass up, a book I need to write, etc. There is nothing wrong with these reasons for moving on, they just aren’t my reasons. 

The more interesting question to me is “WHY” am I leaving ReFrame?

When I started as the ED at ReFrame I would tell anyone who would listen - I’m out in three years, I am here to get this organization up and running, scale it a bit, and then pass it on to whoever is next in the ED seat. I was naive on timing (and Covid had other plans) - but my internal indicators remained; in order to move on from ReFrame I wanted:

ReFrame hits the mark on all three. Everyday I go to work at ReFrame and I’m blown away by the training, research, creative content, network weaving, advising, strategic direction setting, philanthropy shaping work the team is moving. Everyday I get to work with people dedicated to putting the vision of ReFrame into practice. 

On Being an ED and Transition 

In 2017, Jen, Kim and I looked at each other across a table where we’d been scheming the next phase of the ReFrame Mentorship, and we knew it was time to build an organization. I felt the call (loudly and vocally from Jen and Kim in the room and metaphorically and historically from the people who invested in me) to take on the role.

Like many of my peer executive directors who emerge from organizing and movement, I took on co-founding an organization and serving as ED because it was a path to the realization of a vision that I shared across movements. In being the ED of ReFrame I feel it did not belong to me, it belongs to movement, and I am simply a steward of it for a period of time. It is time for the next steward. 

There is a George Bernard Shaw quote that puts my time at ReFrame into a longer and larger context:

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

I am so excited that hermelinda cortés - a veteran of Southerners On New Ground, a ReFrame Mentorship Alum, a ReFrame Mentorship Mentor, ReFrame’s first program hire, and ReFrame’s current Deputy Director - is the incoming Executive Director. Beyond the credentials listed here, she brings creativity, a deep focus on developing those around her, a sustainable systems approach to building and organizing, and a dedication to getting her people free. With Alejandro Cantagallo - who brings decades in organizing, training, education, and private sector business development experience - as incoming Deputy Director of Operations, the organization maintains tremendous leadership.

The transition is serving as a great opportunity for ReFrame to reflect and set ourselves up for the next phase. Hermelinda will usher the organization through a ten year vision and strategy process and we will build out our staff bench - adding critical capacities at a variety of levels. 

Of course, moving on from an organization that I built with people I feel lucky to call friends and fellow travelers, comes with some grief and loss. I have been deeply lucky to share a vision with an extended set of leaders, and to be responsible for enacting that vision as best I could. I am buoyed by the lineage that came before me and inspired the creation of ReFrame, and I am excited for those that come after me to iterate, experiment, and win.

Read here for a more in depth history of ReFrame and what brought us to this moment of transition.

In the coming weeks and months we will share more about why we started ReFrame, lessons we’ve learned in building a movement facing organization, thoughts on the changing narrative landscape, and ideas about what ReFrame will do next to meet the moment, as well as introduce you more fully to the powerhouse that is hermelinda cortés.