Creating a Legacy: A Mother and Daughter Take On AAUW Lobby Day 2017
In many ways lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill is second nature to me: It was part of my responsibilities while serving as the executive director of a statewide nonprofit for 20 years and as a member of AAUW. Talking to legislators and their aides clarifies where they stand on AAUW’s issues, be they supportive, noncommittal, or less than enthusiastic. Once you know their stance on important issues, offering legislators research and information can bolster or change their position on those issues and influence their vote. Years ago a legislator told me that you can quote AAUW information on the Senate floor and know that it is accurate and trustworthy. It was gratifying to hear from congressional aides during the 2017 AAUW Lobby Day that lawmakers still trust and rely on AAUW’s research. You may never know how or when you changed a legislator’s mind about something, but I have seen it happen, often when least expected. That is why I keep calling, writing, and visiting legislators: to ensure a better future for my daughters.
After the election, feeling unheard on issues affecting women, my daughter Melissa and her friends were frustrated and longing to take action. I passed on my lobbying knowledge and suggested she could make her voice heard by joining me for the AAUW Lobby Day at the national convention in Washington, D.C. She agreed and joined AAUW as a member at large.
I was so excited to have my daughter with me on the Hill on Lobby Day. Though we were with different state delegations, Melissa texted and tweeted everything she did, so I was able to keep up with her progress and feel like we were together. Melissa said on Facebook and Twitter, “Legacy! For 136 years, AAUW has been fighting for gender equality. I’ve never known a world without AAUW and am a proud member, just like my mom before me! Now it’s time to get to work.”
At the beginning of her first Lobby Day Melissa was the only attendee present from her congressional district. She was tasked with talking to her congressman and his chief policy adviser. Eventually another AAUW member from Melissa’s state joined her, but Melissa took the lead in their discussion. AAUW provided the information that gave Melissa the confidence to speak on Title IX and the disproportionate effect of student loan debt on women. She took lots of pictures, tweeted the entire experience, and was pleased to report that AAUW had her congressman’s support. Melissa took what she learned about how to lobby successfully home with her in order to advocate for policies that support gender equity in her own state and has already gotten a friend to join AAUW to keep up the great work in their community. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Walking the halls of the Senate and congressional office buildings, you can almost feel the power in the air. I’ve always believed that the personal is political and that it is important to speak truth to power. When we raise our collective voices and pass on AAUW’s legacy of activism from one generation to the next, we have the power to change the future for women and girls.
Barbara Price is the state public policy chair for AAUW of Pennsylvania and the president of the AAUW Lower Bucks (PA) branch. Her daughter, Melissa Young, is a national member.
— Melissa (@Misseyme) June 15, 2017
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