In connecting "the personal with the political," Shapiro feels she can help steer people to other organizations, many of which Traction collaborates with on fundraising efforts and awareness-raising projects.
"People are influenced by what their friends and other people do," she said.
She said she gained that insight while obtaining her master's degree in social work and public health, and working with the American Social Health Association running campaigns to promote condom use and sexually transmitted disease testing.
"So what I'm doing with Traction," she explains, "is using that background in behavior change but in civic matters."
Shapiro devotes 100 percent of her time to what she calls her vision, earning only the small amount of money she can afford to pay herself from donations to Traction.
The group eventually will seek full nonprofit status, Shapiro said. But until then, all tax-deductible donations can go to the People's Alliance Fund.
"It's exhausting," Shapiro said of her work. "I think part of it is that I grew up in a family that cared a lot about speaking for the marginalized and we were marginalized."
Her passion she adds, comes from being raised in a Jewish family, and "knowing that we have to speak up for people whose voices aren't heard."
"There's something beautiful and romantic about purely encouraging to ... be part of the change," she said. "That's what democracy is all about."