Activist Ally: Liz Wally

Public Citizen News / November-December 2019

By Molly Kozlowski and Elizabeth Gonzalez

This article appeared in the November/December 2019 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.

Indomitable. Dedicated. Passionate. Those are just some words that come to mind when colleagues are asked to describe Liz Wally.

Wally’s work with Public Citizen began in 2012, when she helped organize an event marking the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. FEC decision. Since then, Wally has partnered with the organization on a variety of mobilization initiatives, including and a voting rights coalition following the nationwide Democracy Awakening nationwide mobilization in 2016.

This year, Wally worked with Public Citizen’s Texas office to defeat S.B. 9 in the Texas state Senate. Among other things, the legislation would have made it a felony for Texans to vote when they’re ineligible – even if they do so unknowingly.

Wally also was instrumental in coordinating the Secure Our Vote rally with Public Citizen in Dallas this September, gathering activists in front of U.S. Sen. Cornyn’s (R-Texas) office to demand funding for election security and accountability.

A native Texan and Stanford alumna, Wally has always been drawn to solving problems, starting her career working as a conflict mediator in Texas elementary schools. However, it was a local movement in Dallas, Texas, focused on addressing money in politics that drew her to taking on election reform and working with Public Citizen.

“None of your issues will be taken care of unless you take care of money in politics,” Wally said.” I also came to the realization that if you haven’t voted in the right people to make the change, the [political] system will never change either.”

In 2007, Wally helped found Clean Elections Texas, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to promote transparent and responsible government in Texas by building statewide support for public funding and other campaign reform measures. As an activist, Wally has developed a reputation as a skilled networker and coalition builder, bringing together groups such as Democracy Matters and Democracy for America to tackle clean election reform in Texas.

“Liz sees where democracy needs defending and gets to work, finding and building up local leaders and coalitions, and getting things done. She is a joy to work with and a force to be reckoned with in Texas,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is for People campaign.

Wally’s advice for activists wishing to maintain their optimism in the face of challenges with organizing is to remember that “the people who are working toward the same vision are what makes your work worthwhile.”

As Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, has observed, Wally’s hopeful vision and spirit is often a source of inspiration for the activists she collaborates with.

“In a state where fighting for voters’ rights is an uphill battle, Liz Wally is a pleasure to work with. Her knowledge and depth of experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth area make her a valuable ally in our statewide coalition,” said Shelley.