May 31, 2017
By Shyronn Jones, PWN-USA Policy Fellow
Positive Women’s Network-USA (PWN-USA) Policy Fellowship launched on April 7th2017. The yearlong Policy Fellowship training, is equipping 14 Policy Fellows-Thandi Harris (CA), Angela Hawkins (TX), Chunnika Hodges (MI), Stacy Jennings (SC), Andrea Johnson (TX), Kamaria Laffrey (FL), Arianna Lint (FL), Tiommi Luckett (PA), Danielle Pleasant (DC), Teresa Sullivan (PA), Evany Turk (TX), Brandi Velasquez (OR), Katie Willingham (AL) and myself Shyronn Jones (GA) with coaching and resource to assist us in demanding transformative social and political change. We have been assigned into teams based on five Policy Issues: Sexual and Reproductive Health; Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program; Affordable Care Act & Medicaid; HIV Prevention and Comprehensive Sex Education; and Structural Interventions.
We participate in web-based trainings including a review of the branches of government; how a bill becomes a law; how to identify key policymakers for legislative advocacy; and how to track legislation on www.congress.gov. We were informed of the official jurisdictions of power the federal and state governments have to make legal decisions and judgments. We have discussed the nuts and bolts of information to gather to gain leverage to win enough support for a bill. We have reviewed examples of strategic efforts to build momentum and collaborations, how federal policy shapes state and local policy, and the federal budget process. In addition, we’ve attended supplementary trainings on values-based messaging and self-care for advocates.
We complete post-session assignments, evaluations and readings designed to deepen our understanding, involvement and leadership in the federal policy advocacy arena. In our post-assignments we RESEARCH in-depth information about our House and Senate Representatives: their policy interests, sponsored and co-sponsored legislation, voting history, policy committees and caucuses they serve on, and much more. You can visit your state legislator’s website to discover more about your house and senate members, pending legislation, and other historical information related to the house and senate. Also, please visit www.congress.gov/legislative-process to watch videos on the legislation process.
Upon visiting my state legislator’s website to research my representative’s sponsored and co-sponsored legislation, I discovered my senate representative is diligent in recognizing education and awareness days. This prompted me to start drafting a proclamation to take action to reduce HIV related stigma, by EDUCATING the general public and elected officials on people-first language and the U=U campaign, in addition to demanding the removal of stigmatizing language used in Georgia’s criminalization law.
Before joining the policy fellowship, I had sporadically talked with elected officials. I’m now better equipped to follow and engage more effectively in the federal policy arena. My COMMUNICATION PLAN is to communicate with my representatives often via social media, in-person meetings, committee meetings and providing testimonies at public hearings. To examine if I’m utilizing enough strategies, I will EVALUATE my strength and identify areas for strengthening with ACT!Quick https://afj.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0Mzu29jtNv6Akew, a short version of the Advocacy Capacity Tool (ACT!) that’s designed to provide a quick diagnosis of strengths and areas for improvement.
Because I’m not a very talkative person, I DRESS FOR SUCCESS when I’m at the state capitol building. In addition to wearing my business casual attire, I sport my support for causes. Most often, I wear my Fight for $15 hat and my advocacy buttons on my lanyard neck wear.
The Policy Fellows have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months as we develop more advocacy strategies, skills in policy analysis, research, coalition and relationship building. Ahead, we will have one-on-one coaching sessions with policy experts, in-person trainings, opportunities to attend policy meetings and opportunities to engage with national advocacy coalitions. The inaugural classes of PWN-USA Policy Fellows Program are grateful to PWN-USA for creating and fostering this supportive environment for its emerging leaders to learn so that we will effectively promote the interests of women living with HIV.