Greater Birmingham
Observer Corps

Strengthening and protecting citizens’ right to know


Our Mission

The mission of the Greater Birmingham Observer Corps is to monitor governmental bodies for information of importance to the community.

What is the GBOC?

The purpose of the Greater Birmingham Observer Corps (GBOC) is to follow and observe the actions of governmental and quasi-governmental entities in the Greater Birmingham area. We objectively report on those activities through posts to our dedicated observer corps website (this website) and through social media. We hope to gain a much larger audience for this work through interaction with print and broadcast media.

The League of Women Voters is well qualified to do this work and to train others to assist. We have extensive experience in organizing and managing Observer Corps. Local Leagues across the nation observe – including the Greater Birmingham League of Women Voters. We have done this for decades right here in Jefferson County. The League of Women Voters has been a champion of government transparency since our founding in 1920. It is one of our core principles and a vital part of our mission.

So why are we seeking new volunteers?

If the League is so good at this, why are we reaching out to the community and calling for non-League members to observe? The fact is we need many more trained, well-qualified volunteers to observe our community government. As stated in the League’s observer resource guide, “Our government exists for our benefit and is accountable to us, its citizens.” In order to make it more accountable, we must be aware of government actions (or inactions). The media covers these activities, but they are spread thin. The Observer Corps is needed now more than ever to supplement media coverage at public meetings.

Lucky for us, some leading citizens have stepped forward to encourage and strengthen our League’s Observer Corps. People like Odessa Woolfolk, Carol Nunnelley, Ann Florie, Joyce Lanning, Carol Clarke, and Haley Colson Lewis. These people are visionaries who are helping the League organize and reach out beyond our membership to strengthen the observer program. With your help and with the League’s experience and reputation for fairness, nonpartisanship and trust, we will shed sunlight on our government actions. Together we can keep citizens informed about their government actions, and that can lead to an engaged, well-informed electorate. Win-win for a healthy democracy!

Is the Greater Birmingham Observer Corps right for you as a volunteer activity? Maybe. Read about our volunteer opportunities to see what is expected of GBOC volunteers and what are the benefits. We think you'll find that it is a very flexible and worthwhile public service and one that is very beneficial to you personally.