On Wednesday Nov. 13, 2013, 20 breast cancer advocates from across the country met in Washington, DC to deliver petitions to the President of the United States, asking him to commit to work with the National Breast Cancer Coalition to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. The advocates were met by Hallie Schneir, the Associate Director of White House Office of Public Engagement and Carole Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor, White House Domestic Policy Council.
Advocacy means different things to different people, but in the truest sense of the word, it means to support a cause, to exercise a right to be heard and to make a difference.
One person may feel powerless to bring about change. But, when individuals ban together for the greater cause they can and do make a difference.
GABCC works tirelessly each year to empower and arm citizen advocates with essential tools to impact breast cancer-focused legislative and public policy issues at the state and national levels. GABCC hosts targeted education workshops statewide and maintains an Advocacy Alert Network to respond quickly to legislative issues that impact access to medical treatment for those diagnosed with breast cancer and research funding for a cure. All of our advocacy efforts are instrumental in the fight against breast cancer. GABCC is dedicated to bringing awareness to issues impacting families who are living with and dying from breast cancer. By responding quickly to critical legislative and public policy issues on breast cancer, our advocates work to demand funding for research programs that will help us find the causes of breast cancer and bring us closer toward a cure.
GABCC’s advocacy efforts include:
- Meeting regularly with members of the Georgia General Assembly
- Maintaining a statewide network of citizen advocates
- Responding to critical legislation being considered in Congress and the Georgia General Assembly that impacts breast cancer patients
- Advocating on both the state and national level about the need for better funded research and quality patient care
- Organizing Advocacy Days at the Georgia General Assembly and participating in National Lobby Day in Washington, DC while attending the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Annual Advocate Summit
Keys to a Successful Advocacy
Register to vote. Keep track of all local and statewide elections. Make sure that you exercise your right to vote. Elected officials are most responsive to registered voters from their districts. There are also some elected officials that represent you through their service on a committee even though you do not live in their district.
Officials are people first and officials second. Remember to approach them in a cooperative, non-adversarial manner and treat their opinions with respect.
Officials respond more positively to people they know. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself, making sure to mention that you are a constituent. Don’t be afraid to approach elected officials. They work for you and want your input.
Increase your credibility with officials by knowing their background, positions on issues, committee assignments, and voting records. Most legislators publish biographies that will help you learn more about them.
Quick Tips for Developing & Maintaining Relationships with Your Elected Officials
- Elected officials get bombarded with constituent issues, and have thousands of bills to monitor.
- Understand legislator time constraints. Members of the Georgia General Assembly are full-time elected officials, with part-time salaries and little support staff.
- When a legislator is newly elected, introduce yourself and/or your organization.
- Be as knowledgeable as possible about the issues that interest you.
- Invite your legislator to an event or membership meeting.
Write or call your legislator to ask for information on issues.
- Write, call or visit to provide information on issues.
- Invite the legislator to speak to your organization or group on general government concerns or selected issues.
- Call, write or visit to ask for the legislator’s vote on specific issues.
Know Your Legislators
You can make a real difference for breast cancer patients and their families. Know the issues and learn who represents you in Congress. Visit votesmart.org or view a PDF file containing the House and Senate representatives for Georgia and their contact information. Call, write, or email your Congressman today.