April 25, 2017
by Barb Cardell, PWN-USA Board Chair, PWN-USA CO Co-Chair
Colorado Advocacy Day was a huge success on April 21st.
We had 25 people participate in our two day training early in April, some who traveled more than 400 miles to join us. This early chance to discuss the science of HIV, basics of advocacy, language and partnership with CORA organizations gave us a strong base from which to grow.
We followed this up with ongoing emails and communications through out the month of April, keeping our fires banked.
Then we sprang into action on Thursday, April 20. Many people were off celebrating this “alternative” holiday, but not us. We were buckled down with our fact sheets, our legislative Facebook pages and our asks. We practiced short 30-second intros and longer issue-driven conversations with legislators who were progressive, moderates and conservatives (yup–tailored for each). We were ready to share our stories, get hugs and even drop some knowledge bombs.
We had 18 advocates (and 1 mascot) show up at 7:30 in time for our constituents breakfast, hosted by our legislative champion Rep. Daneya Esgar, and were joined by Colorado state legislators Rep. Singer, Sen. Jones, Sen. Kefalas, Sen. Aquilar, Rep. Melton, Sen. Smallwood and Sen. Court.
We then took our cards, our “leave behind” packets and our enthusiasm to the Senate and House lobbies. We requested that our senators and representatives step off the floor to talk with us–and many did.
Some of my personal high points:
- Senator Aquilar invited us onto the Senate floor and spoke so movingly about HIV, the stigma and the science.
- The senators’ applause for the CORA advocates who bring the voices to people living with HIV and impacted by HIV to the capitol.
- A group of advocates followed a legislator down the side staircase to talk to him, expanding the 1 minute he could spare into a lengthy, 10-minute discussion.
- Another group literally using their elevator speech as they took an unplanned elevator ride with the senator they wanted to speak to.
- The inspired, empowered advocates who believed their stories and stories of their friends matter.
- All in all, we handed out 35 packets, meaning we connected with over a third of the Colorado General Assembly.
Not bad for our first Annual Colorado HIV Advocacy Day!!!
Special Thanks to John, Tenorio, Tammy Garret- Williams, Alexendria Abrams, Scott Irwin, MJ Maestas, Robert Riester, Debbie Egan, Bob Egan, Jenni Cardell, Bob Bongiovanni, Rebecca, Cranston, Darrell Vigil, Lisa Cohen, Jordan Anthony, Shannon Robinson, Tim Sliger, Alex Hayes, Jenise May, Jeff Thormodsgaard, Katie Wolf and Greg Brophy.
We ARE the change we are looking for in the world… and we kicked butt!!!!