When a close-knit group of conservative church friends who had known each other for decades asked themselves in January what they could do to make a difference in their community, little did they know how quickly their idea would grow in size and influence.
Under the banner We The People Allen, seven longtime residents of Allen, Texas, converted their “girls’ night in” into a juggernaut of grassroots activism that in a matter of months has already impacted the local political landscape.
“The ladies are all exceptionally smart, strong, and each with different gifts, which God is clearly working through,” says Michelle Bishop, one of the founders of WTPA, who now serves as the group’s president.
“We had been getting together monthly for years to drink wine and fellowship, and it developed into a conservative girls’ night in,” she said. “As our frustrations grew over the current political climate, we knew we needed to take action but were unsure what direction to take.”
Michelle said she regularly listens to the Chicks on the Right, who are always encouraging people to start at the local level, so that’s where they focused their involvement:
We began attending conservative meetings and tried to decide what organization to join to make a difference, but there were so many options and it was very confusing. In the meantime, I was having conversations with Dani Bishop, another very conservative friend who was encouraging me to run for the upcoming city council election. I had zero experience in that arena and was not inclined to run, but that spurred on the idea of reaching out to one of the current candidates to see if we wanted to try and support him.
We The People Allen ended up actively supporting three conservative first-time candidates. All three won, and with continued citizen support from WTPA members, they became instrumental in adopting a city budget that didn’t raise Allen homeowners’ property taxes for the first time in years.
“And that’s how it all started,” Michelle said. “The meet-and-greets, creating the PAC, the block walks, the candidate forum, the door hangers and mailers, the poll greeting and poll watching—everything!”
“It was a whirlwind and a learning experience, and we ran before we walked,” she said. “As we added more and more people to our group, we realized that we had become much more than a conservative PAC supporting candidates, but also a lifeboat for conservatives to hang onto in Allen.”
Once the local campaigns were over, WTPA regrouped and laid more of a foundation with a formal executive board and committees that serve as liaisons with the local city council, school board, and community members.
But the group’s grounding runs much deeper.
“God is our foundation,” says Jan Baldwin, WTPA’s vice president. Jan and three other founding members now serve on the board with Michelle: Paula Cheek, Debbie Krafcheck, and Joyce Voss. Heather Garrett and Patrick Devine round out the board.
Jan says Michelle has a gift for placing volunteers in just the right spot for them to thrive and use their know-how to the fullest.
“Her ability to coax, coach, and convince a very diverse group of people is impressive and always done professionally and positively,” Jan said. “I have no doubt—and I believe I can speak for the rest of the board—that much of our success can be attributed to Michelle’s abilities, drive, and enthusiasm.”
We The People Allen now has scores of active members. Most didn’t know each other prior to joining the group, and many weren’t involved in organized politics.
That’s all changed.
“I believe in strength in numbers and the power of community,” said WTPA volunteer Angela Martinez at a recent Saturday afternoon neighborhood meet-and-greet that was packed with enthusiastic members and prospective members.
It’s a message that resonates and motivates.
WTPA members attend and speak at every city council and school board meeting. They block walk most weekends and have hosted several community events and organized rallies.
They’ve also received help from experienced activists like Terry Wade, a longtime conservative leader in Collin County, and work closely with local precinct chairs.
And they’ve stayed true to their foundation.
“Without the grace of God and his continued blessings, this would not be possible,” Michelle said. “How else can you explain that seven strong women, who have remained friends through this process, were able to grow to become a true conservative voice in Allen?”
“It has definitely been a journey,” she added. “One I personally am proud of and am confident will continue to grow.”