with Danielle Ramacciotti, Maggie Carter, and Elizabeth M. Gore of the United Nations Foundation
and Nageeb Sumar of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Sunday-Tuesday Conference was filled with first-rate instruction, inspiring stories, and memorable experiences. I'm pleased to report that there were eight women (myself included) there representing Utah.
Utah Shot@Life Champions:
We were supposed to have had training on Monday and then visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday, but the schedule was changed last-minute due to Tuesday's schedule also including, you know, the State of the Union address (and the increased security that comes along with such an event). Monday morning brought an intense and abbreviated training, and on Monday afternoon we headed to Capitol Hill.
Credit: Daniel Cima/UN Foundation
You know, lobbying isn't as [difficult/scary/intimidating] as I thought it would be. For some reason, I had bought into an idea that because I had never lobbied, or because I don't have much experience with politics, or because I don't have a firm grasp on the finer details of government budget issues, that I somehow wasn't qualified for this task. I couldn't have been more wrong. We had appointments with Congressman Jason Chaffetz's office, as well as Senator Orrin Hatch's office, and we stopped by Senator Mike Lee's office. At each office we were able to talk with a Staffer (which is not uncommon), and each Staffer was so different in mannerism and personality I couldn't help but wonder how much their behavior(s) reflect the overall attitudes and character of their respective bosses.
In Jason Chaffetz's office with his Staffer Cindy Blackburn
As a group, the eight of us talked with the Staffers about how we had flown all the way to DC from Utah to talk about how important Global Health is, specifically in the form of life-saving vaccines for children. The reality is that a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that is preventable with a vaccine. Global Health affects Health in the United States because diseases and germs don't carry a passport. From a financial perspective, the ROI on vaccines is tremendous (compare the low cost of vaccines to the high cost of health care needed when a child falls prey to a disease). Polio is almost completely gone from this planet (it's only a problem in three countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria), and with the help of the United States, polio can be eradicated in our lifetime. Some in our Utah group excel at citing statistics while others convey their passion with story. I, of course, love a good story and felt most comfortable sharing my experiences on last year's trip to Uganda. We are a well-balanced group and, I think, a great representation of our state.
At Capitol Hill, minus Jyl, who may have been taking this picture
One special meeting we had -- actually, the first meeting we had that day on The Hill -- was with Charlotte Ivancic. Charlotte works as counsel and budget analyst with the House Budget Committee, specializing in Health Care. Her guidance and generosity in the counsel she gave during our meeting is invaluable and set the tone for a successful day for us. Full disclosure, Charlotte also happens to be my very close friend since we were in middle school. We hadn't seen each other in 22 years and when we finally reconnected in person, it was in DC. Magical.
just Charlotte and Jenny, being grown-ups
Tuesday brought a day of inspiring training on a variety of topics, including vaccine safety, and how to be a better Champion using the tools of fundraising, advocacy, and digital media. Digital media was/is my focus, and I'm thrilled to have been able to learn what I did that day.
There's much more to say about the trip, and I have a feeling I'll be sharing more of it with you in the months to come. For now, please let me know if you'd be interested in supporting Shot@Life - even if you don't live in Utah, you're more than welcomed to sign up. Your support is so important, whether you'd like to apply to receive Champion training or simply receive emails to let you know what's going on with the campaign. I'm happy to answer your questions. Also, I'd like to make you aware of our Team ImmUNITY page for Shot@Life Utah. It costs very little to save a child's life. I know that sounds like a commercial or something, but it's the truth.
Oh! Guess what! Some other places wrote about our experience. Wanna see?
Huffington Post Article
Time Magazine Article
New York Times Article