Bear with me. I’m writing after two rounds of Zacapa Centenario Rum (23 years old) capping a delicious and traditional dinner and drinks event at the Guatemalan Ambassador’s private residence in D.C.
West Group #3 A-Team:
**Mariela, West Coast wannabe
**Lynda, More magazine reader and psychiatric nurse working with adolescents
**Michael Franti, musician and social justice poet who hasn’t worn shoes in over one year in protest
**Dr. Lewis, reluctant-turned-fearless group leader
**Adam, big guy at CARE Corporate
**Edson, big guy in CARE Tanzania
**Karen, change consultant who joined the A-Team after being screamed away from another one. Lucky for us.
10AM: Office of Representative George Miller
Arrived early to find a kind but frazzled young staffer who led us into the hall to hear our asks. She thinks she was considering the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act just yesterday…but isn’t sure. She is a fan of More — and so is her mom. We had about seven minutes with her which were rushed but positive. Take off in the underground tunnel for the Cannon House Building.
11AM: Office of Representative Jackie Speier
Her new-ish spokesperson Alana was sharp, interested and engaging, and 20 minutes turned into 40 with her. While the Congresswoman is “compassionate” and very much for working to eradicate global poverty, she admits the economic downturn makes constituents reluctant to support international funding. She suggests that we tie hunger into global security issues (food scarcity = instability, riots and migration). She’s on-board with climate change legislation, especially after discussing how it can be part of our nation’s economic recovery because it will spur innovation and job creation in the U.S. She also shared that the Congresswoman supports the Uniting America’s Families Act and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which limits the amount of interest that credit card companies can charge, and is spearheading the need for a Presidential Commission on Women. Take off in the underground tunnel to the Rayburn House Building.
1PM: Office of Representative Lynn Woolsey
Woolsey spoke at the CARE Celebration evening event the night before so we knew she was pre-disposed to our messages. Plus, she recently visited Tanzania with CARE on a trip that clearly left an impression. Woolsey is a former welfare mom currently serving her eighth term in the house. She’s known for her “unambiguous liberalism” and her fiercely outspoken personality. Her helpful and personable aid Jennifer suggested that we continue sharing anecdotes that illustrate our points (i.e., the duck/chicken story); that’s where the messages become alive and Woolsey can take that back to her constituents. Back to the Cannon house, underground.
2PM: Office of Representative Pete Stark
Stark is one of Congress’ health policy experts and has been championing Universal Health Care for more than 34 years. His aid seemed a little disinterested, but we weren’t sure whether she just had a standoffish personality. She did share that she had worked for the Peace Corps so she was particularly interested in CARE’s development programs. I didn’t get a positive vibe from the meeting until she said: “It sounds like we’re on the same page.” Exit the House toward sunlight to head to the Senate – SUN!
3PM: Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein
Here, the four California groups banded together to advocate and it was packed. There was some confusion as to who was going to take the lead but we worked it out, and Feinstein’s aid Richard was incredibly supportive. His tips for successful lobbying: 1) meet with him once a year; 2) follow up via phone/email throughout; 3) share progress reports. Overall, his number one plea was that constituents continue to tell their representatives that foreign aid is still important to them in times of economic hardship. Walk to the Russell Building.
4PM: Russell Senate Office Building
This room is famous for being the site of many major public hearings including the Sinking of the Titanic, Watergate, Iran Contra and the Supreme Court Nomination of Clarence Thomas. Now, it’s the site of the Closing Reception and where we sit down to soak it all in.
Posted by: Mariela