Advocacy Tips for HHS Leaders at Capacity Clinic

Last Thursday, The Center for Community Solutions hosted its first ever Advocacy Capacity Clinic. The Clinic offered an opportunity for health and human services leaders in the region to learn the ins and outs of advocacy, and then get specific questions answered about how their organizations could become more involved in the advocacy process.

A key takeaway: it’s important to start with an advocacy plan!

Community Solutions’ President and Executive Director, John Corlett, kicked off the morning with a quick, but thorough overview of developing an advocacy strategy. A key takeaway: it’s important to start with an advocacy plan! Corlett also identified ways that organizations can determine their capacity for advocacy.

Next up was Community Solutions’ Will Tarter, Public Policy Associate and Community Advocacy who walked through Advocacy 101. Tarter offered specific tips on how to actively engage with policymakers. It’s important to be yourself and provide personal stories about how policies impact real people.

Rounding out the presentations, Community Solutions’ Columbus team, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Tara Britton, and Public Policy Associate, Brie Lusheck, shared how they engage with the policymaking process and some “inside baseball” about how to track legislation in the Ohio Statehouse. A good tip: get on the email distribution lists for the committees you’re most interested in. This is a way to know as early as possible when a bill you’re tracking is up for a hearing.

Experts from @communitysols answered questions from HHS leaders at first ever Advocacy Capacity Clinic Click To Tweet

At the conclusion of the presentations, Community Solutions’ Associate Director, Emily Campbell, explained the next steps. Attendees had the chance to talk in small groups with one of the Community Solutions’ seven staff experts, organized according to what topics attendees expressed interest in. These conversations ranged from discussions about establishing legislative champions to infographics to Medicaid policy. If attendees asked, we did our best to answer! Some highlights from the discussions are recapped below:

At Britton’s table, the group talked about the state budget process: when it starts, the timeline from the Governor’s budget introduction through the House and Senate process, and how this process can vary from budget to budget, Administration to Administration.

Loren Anthes, a Public Policy Fellow for the Medicaid Policy Center, explained how attendees at his table were able to use their time with him to discuss advocacy strategy – using the tips provided at the beginning of the clinic.

“At my table, I think it was interesting to see how people identified their legislative champions. They explained that they usually just went to who they knew but, after some conversation, it was great to see the gears turning as they put their policies in the context of parties, committees and coalition building,” said Anthes.

Lusheck shared that the discussion at her table was focused on relationship building – discussing different ways individuals and organizations can better connect with legislators, both from Cuyahoga County and around the state.

“Focusing on building relationships and working with other organizations in your area to provide a thoughtful and enlightening day for a legislator can really highlight effective models in Cuyahoga County that can be replicated around the state,” said Lusheck.

The conversation at a table shared by Campbell and Dani Carlson, the director of communications and digital strategy, was all about the best way to craft a message and tell each nonprofit’s story. Campbell and Carlson answered multiple questions about what to highlight and how to present information in a compelling way to make sure each nonprofit’s unique, compelling story shines through in advocacy efforts.

Community Solutions staff enjoyed this opportunity to share what we do with others. We’re always happy to spend time talking about policy and advocacy!

Community Solutions is available for more specific, targeted consulting services – for more information check out our website!