Why I Like Talking to You About the Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day
By Annie Boggess on 09/10/2012 @ 11:07 AM
When I received an offer letter for this internship back in May, I was excited to say the least -- just ask anyone who witnessed the high-fiving spree I went on the moment after I read the e-mail. Now, as I start my third week at FCNL, my passion and commitment to this job have only grown since that first, thrilling moment.
I’m excited about a lot of things at my new job. My co-workers are incredibly smart, interesting people who care about what they do and make the office a fun place to work. I get to live in a beautiful city and have the chance to learn about the joys and challenges here more intimately. But perhaps most of all, I spend my days discussing issues I care about deeply and working to change them for the better.
Last week, I had the chance to talk with some of you about our Quaker Public Policy Institute, the massive lobbying event to take place November 15th and 16th of this year and kick off our Annual Meeting.
The lobby day, or “QPPI,” as we’re calling it in the office, is exciting because, as I understand it, it comes at a critical time – as members of Congress are making decisions about whether to enforce a trillion dollar cut of the Pentagon budget or to find that trillion in non-military programs that are already underfunded. My coworkers can explain why these cuts are on the table better than I can -- find the full story on the Our Nation's Checkbook page -- but suffice it to say that November 16th will be one of the last chances for constituents to influence their members of Congress in a budgeting decision that will affect everyone for years to come.
This is the right time and the right place to make a difference – and constituents across the country are the key. That’s one of the first things I learned here – our professional lobbyists do important work, but constituent engagement is just as crucial to influencing members of Congress. We all have the power, the opportunity, and the responsibility to interact with our representatives. This is why I came to FCNL – we’re talking about effecting real change here in Washington, and my job is to make sure you’re all taking part in a conversation that leads to real change.
Last Thursday, I had the chance to engage with some of you in a tangible way. My cubicle-mate and one of the primary coordinators of the QPPI, Tim Cullen, invited the new program assistants to do a call night after work last week. This was a moment to connect with our constituents and spread the message about QPPI.
I have to admit I was nervous at first. While I enjoy talking to people -- I even listed it as one of my hobbies in my official FCNL biography -- I have less experience calling folks up to talk about the federal budget and how they can get involved in changing it.
But I soon figured out that I had nothing to worry about -- other than having to learn how to make long distance calls on my office phone for the first time. Tim and Lauren, our Business Manager and another coordinator of QPPI, did a great job briefing us on the goals of the institute and why there is a sense of urgency that as many people as possible come to lobby with us. We got settled on the second floor, I scanned my lists, took a deep breath, and made my first call. Though I had to leave some messages, I was lucky enough to speak with many FCNL constituents directly, and I must say, the pleasure was mine. Over the course of the evening I heard first-hand that our network is made up of kind, open people, who care about the issues and are interested in learning more and taking action.
Back in May, I knew that FCNL was an important, effective, well-respected Quaker organization working to further the causes of peace and justice in the world. Now that I work here, I’ve learned that our constituents at the grass roots are key to the success of our work. People like you are the heart and soul of FCNL – I am so looking forward to building this community over the next three weeks, three months, and beyond.
Did this blog post get you fired up about lobbying? Still have questions about QPPI? Want to join us and bring a friend? Visit < http://fcnl.org/events/annual_meeting/Lobby2012/> or write to Tim Cullen at email@example.com.