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AdvocacyFebruary 7, 2023

Creating Great First Impressions with Members of Congress

Start your vaccine advocacy by creating or reigniting relationships with your members of Congress.

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During our recent webinar, Shot@Life advocates heard from experts Peter Yeo, UN Foundation Senior Vice President and President of the Better World Campaign; Brian Massa, Shot@Life Global Health Advocacy Director; and Bridget Dotson, New Member Outreach Associate at the UN Foundation. They answered questions on how to best build and support relationships with congressional offices in preparation for Shot@Life’s 2023 Summit Hill Day and Advocate to Vaccinate advocacy push later this spring.  

During the webinar, Peter Yeo highlighted the positive impacts of establishing relationships between constituents and Congress when it comes to funding global health programs, including childhood vaccines. This spring brings a range of new opportunities to build relationships with newly elected members of Congress and members who are new to constituents following re-districting.

Building relationships can start with small actions, such as an email or tweet. You can then request meetings with your policymakers. By cultivating these relationships, you become a trusted voice for childhood vaccines.  

Quote from Brian Massa, Global Health Advocacy Director

The fireside chat with Brian Massa and Bridget Dodson was moderated by a longtime champion, Katie Lesser, MPH, Student Services Assistant at Cornell University Public Health. Topics included how to take the first steps to get to know your member, different approaches to engagement, and methods to maintaining connection throughout the year.

They offered the following tips for advocates: 

  • It is extremely impactful to learn about and establish rapport with staffers. They are the “eyes and ears” of their bosses.  
  • Maintain a relationship with the office by periodically sending information and resources that may be of interest, particularly as they form their legislative philosophies and begin to build knowledge of the issue area.  
  • Consider the Congressional Calendar when members are not in session, also known as “recess period.” That is a time period when lawmakers are back in district, hosting towns halls, and participating in community events. They are often more accessible to constituents then. This is a great time to invite them to attend an event you are hosting. 

To hear the full conversation, watch “Expert Advice on Establishing Relationships with New Members of Congress” on YouTube. When building relationships with members of Congress is an arc requiring persistence, communication, and politeness as the connection evolves over time.

Interested in becoming an advocate with Shot@Life?  

Sign up for a training here, and read more about how to advocate here. 

Have additional question? Email 

Jenesca William