Action Circles is a political strategy firm that offers trainings in all aspects of strategy and campaigning, offers clients guidance and assistance in growing their organizations, running their campaigns, speaking their truth in a way that is heard, and getting to their happy ending.

Action Circles is a member of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance and the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce


Amy Shollenberger

Amy Shollenberger has more than 20 years of experience grassroots organizing, developing political strategy, influencing policy, and running political issue campaigns. She has worked on a variety of campaigns, ranging in scope from local community issues to state and national issues. She started Action Circles in 2010 and along with the Action Circles Team has served clients and offered training ever since. When not working (and sometimes for work), she loves to travel with her life partner David in “Vanny” a 1986 Chevy TransVan, exploring interesting places across the U.S. and dancing whenever and wherever possible. She also loves to cook and especially enjoys the challenge of making a delicious and nutritious meal starting with random ingredients found in the fridge or pantry. She takes fitness and nutrition seriously so that she can fully enjoy life and bring her best self to her work. She has a commitment to have fun every day and to act from hope in all aspects of her life. Learn more about Amy.
View Amy’s LinkedIn profile
Cell: (802) 793-1114
Twitter: @amyaction

Cindy Metcalf

Cindy Willard Metcalf has twenty five years of experience in community organizing, project development, issue promotion and political campaigning. Her experience includes coordinating the complexities of large community events, managing successful election and re-election campaigns at the county and state-wide levels, administering the Lt. Governor’s office, chairing the Vermont Democratic Party, organizing and managing grassroots issue promotion and lobbying efforts, and administering and arranging projects for a nonprofit organization.
Cell: (802) 793-7800

Megan Fuerst is a Cleveland native who moved to the Upper Valley of Vermont in 2017 to earn her Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. She came to Vermont with five years of non-profit and advocacy experience from her previous career with Turning Green, a youth-oriented environmental advocacy organization based in the Bay Area of California, where she started working when she was just 18 years old and became Chief of Staff at age 21. During her graduate studies, Megan held an internship at a U.S. Senate Office and focused her research on sustainable food systems. She is now a lobbyist with Action Circles, where she helps manage client work both inside and out of the State House. Megan also stays actively involved in her community, where she is the lead coordinator of the Royalton Mutual Aid Group and Co-Manages the South Royalton Community Garden.

Matthew DeGroot has 20 years of experience in Vermont’s non-profit sector, focusing on issues like climate change, disability rights, and sustainable community development.  Prior to joining Action Circles, he served as Executive Director for Global Campuses Foundation, an organization that works with adults with disabilities to offer rich educational experiences after high school; and as Asia Program Director for the Institute for Sustainable Communities, an international non-profit based in Montpelier.  When he’s not at work, Matthew can usually be found in his small fruit orchard talking with the trees and murmuring at the brambles.  When not in the orchard, he’s at his dining room table playing ludicrously complex board games with his kids.

Carlin Molander is a Connecticut native who moved to Vermont to pursue a B.S. in Food Systems at the University of Vermont (UVM). While at UVM, Carlin enjoyed working with a variety of organizations including a stint as co-director of Student Legal Services (SLS), a long-term research fellowship with the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Collective (ALC), and research assistant on a variety of sustainable agriculture projects. Directly following her undergraduate studies she went on to work at UVM Extension in Middlebury, VT as a water quality research technician. The culmination of these experiences led Carlin to Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) where she recently completed her masters in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP).

Colin Gunn

Colin Gunn has worked with Action Circles since 2011, managing technical and administrative systems for Action Circles and clients. When he’s not working, he loves building with blocks, doing simple puzzles, and drawing with markers. He has two young children.
Cell: (802) 793-1133

About Amy Shollenberger

Amy Speaking at EIV Summit 2016

Amy Shollenberger has more than 20 years of grassroots organizing, policy, and political issue campaign experience, including work as a press secretary for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as a senior policy analyst for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. As Rural Vermont’s executive director, she worked to help members successfully lobby for several bills. In 2010, she was the campaign manager for a gubernatorial primary candidate in Vermont. She currently serves multiple clients through her Action Circles firm, offering help with political strategy, organizational capacity building, and meeting facilitation.

Policy/Campaign Experience

  • Managed a gubernatorial primary campaign
  • Lobbied members of United States Congress and state legislatures regarding legislation
  • Coordinated local, state, and national coalitions
  • Facilitated meetings for consensus outcomes
  • Ensured effective communication between coalition members – both individual members and organizational members
  • Testified at agency and legislative hearings and participated in roundtable discussions
  • Presented at events, workshops, and rallies
  • Developed and coordinated local and national grass-roots organizing campaigns

Public and Media Relations Experience

  • Developed and implemented media strategies
  • Cultivated relationships with local and national press
  • Organized press conferences and other media events
  • Developed message and implemented marketing strategy to publicize message for grassroots campaigns and candidates
  • Developed and maintained web sites
  • Represented organizations and candidates in print interviews, radio call-in shows, television talk shows, and press conferences
  • Created press kits
  • Organized and publicized public events and forums

Strategy Implementation and Management Experience

  • Managed grant projects and budgets
  • Developed strategic plans and annual budgets
  • Developed volunteer programs, and recruited and supervised volunteers and employees
  • Raised funds to achieve goals (including a $200,000 annual budget)
  • Developed materials for campaigns and outreach and ensured appropriate distribution
  • Developed and maintained databases of members, donors, and volunteers
  • Collected information and wrote grant reports

Writing and Editing Experience

  • Created materials for campaigns, including letters, email updates, brochures, fact sheets, action alerts, and press kits and produced newsletters
  • Researched and wrote technical and legislative reports and issue briefs
  • Wrote speeches, press releases, editorials, and statements
  • Coordinated collaborative writing of 200-page environmental assessment report
  • Developed and presented multi-media presentations to various audiences
  • Researched and wrote successful grant proposals

Employment History

  • Campaign Manager, Racine for Governor, VT – August 2009 to August 2010
  • Director, Rural Vermont, Montpelier, VT – July 2006 to July 2009
  • Policy Director, Rural Vermont, Montpelier, VT – February 2003 to July 2006
  • Coordinator, Lamoille Valley Tobacco Task Force, Morrisville, VT – October 2000 to February 2003
  • Coordinator, Chittenden County Domestic Violence Task Force, Burlington, VT – March 2001 to November 2001
  • Communications Director, Rural Vermont, Montpelier, VT – July 2000 to March 2001
  • Senior Policy Analyst, Public Citizen, Washington, DC – September 1999 to June 2000
  • Communications Director, U.S. Representative Karen McCarthy (MO-05), Washington, DC – June 1998 to August 1999
  • Public Involvement Coordinator, Hamilton County Environmental Priorities Project, Cincinnati, OH – May 1997 to May 1998
  • Graduate Assistant, Miami University English Department, Oxford, OH – September 1996 to December 1997
  • Dean’s Assistant, Lebanon Valley College International Programs Office, Annville, PA – 1994 to 1996
  • Assistant Children’s Librarian, Pottsville Free Public Library, Pottsville, PA – 1989 to 1991
  • Independent Contractor/Consultant – 1994 to present

Action Circles Organizing Model

Action Circles

Amy Shollenberger has developed the Action Circles Model of Organizing over many years. Amy was originally trained at the Midwest Academy and has continued to use many of the fundamentals she learned there. Fifteen years of experience working with many groups and individuals engaged in organizing has strengthened and broadened her knowledge and skills. In the Action Circles Model of Organizing, Amy has captured the principles and methods that Action Circles uses in a systematic way so that others can learn this model and apply it to their own organizing. The model can be applied in many different ways, and has been tested in advocacy and political campaigns, fundraising efforts, and marketing plans.

Goals of the Action Circles Model of Organizing:

  1. Build a strong movement with broad and deep leadership
  2. Build solidarity among people who are oppressed or are suffering an injustice
  3. Help people identify and use their personal power
  4. Provide safety and opportunity for everyone in the group to develop skills and experience
  5. Recognize all contributions both privately and publicly
  6. Accept everyone’s truth as equally valid
  7. Offer many opportunities for meaningful participation
  8. Use resources for maximum effectiveness
  9. Build accountability structures that are non-hierarchical and effective
  10. Develop a commitment to democratic principles that is expressed throughout your organization

Principles of Action Circles Organizing

  1. Respect (v. tolerance)
  2. Truth (v. fact)
  3. Transparency (v. hierarchy)
  4. Support (v. education)
  5. Accountability (v. blame)
  6. Democratic Decision Making (v. exclusion)
  7. Movement Building (v. mobilizing)
  8. Sharing Power (v. empowering)
  9. Solidarity (v. control)
  10. Acting from Hope (v. acting from fear)

View the full feed of our videos and blog posts about our principles here.


Policy Change Workshop 2016

AC has supported the VT Parent Child Center Network (PCC) for three years and I have served as their PCC point person during the legislative session. My level of interaction with Amy and her team has been extensive and has included strategy sessions, preparation of legislative materials, scheduling of testimony, frequent weekly contact during the session, and overall patterned communications to the PCC membership.
I hold AC in high regard for their diligent preparation, follow through, and coordinated teaming efforts that helped us manage and navigate successful exposure and funding with the legislature and administration. Amy is steady as a rock, firm in her convictions and politely tough as nails when it’s needed. Her team leaves no details unmanaged and produces excellent materials in support our of platform.
Scott Johnson, Lamoille Family Center

Citizens Awareness Network’s work with Action Circles was essential for us to move forward with a clear vision and effective goals. With Action Circles’ help we transformed our approach to organizing and created the necessary paradigm shift to accomplish our goals and protect our community. Deb Katz, Executive Director, Citizens Awareness Network

The difference between the network with Amy’s support and without Amy’s support-
With: the waters may be choppy but there is a Captain at the helm.  Lots will be learned, treasure may be acquired, and we will have friends in many ports when we take future voyages. 
Without: we are all in a barrel headed for the falls. Maybe we will come out okay, maybe we won’t.
I too am appreciative of the wisdom, support and guidance Amy and team have provided in these rough seas.
Mary Ellen Otis, former Executive Director of Orange County Parent Child Center

The Action Circles grassroots organizing training guided me through purposeful principles, goals, and ideas for action that are totally relevant for my organization’s advocacy campaign. The framework of the training is inclusive and intentional – all are welcome and all learn what kinds of power we have and how we can share it with others. I left the training energized and ready to hit the ground running on how to build our movement! – Cassie Willner, Communications and Operations Coordinator, VT Afterschool, Inc.

Common Good Vermont – Vermont’s nonprofit capacity support organization – was at a crossroads a few years ago. The Action Circles team came in and trained us in their model, which helped us to focus on what was important and think more strategically to better meet our mission, which is to help Vermont’s nonprofits be more effective and make our state a better place to live. Amy and her staff are fantastic. – Kathleen Swanson, Development Director, Common Good VT

A few years ago I took the Action Circles Organizing workshop. Since that time, I continue to use what I learned to increase and deepen meaningful participation by our members. One of the most important skills I learned was the value of reaching out to people on the periphery of my organization and looking for opportunities to engage them in a more meaningful way. As I still use the tools I learned from the 6 hour workshop, I can only imagine how valuable a 3 day, small group immersion with Amy and her professional, accommodating staff will be. – Elizabeth Jesdale, UE Northeast Region Secretary/Treasurer, UE National General Executive Board Member

View news articles and media Action Circles has appeared in here.

Clients and Past Clients