Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I’m going to Hill Day 2011. Are you?
This will be my 6th year of coming down to D.C. for Hill Day, and each year, the number of people from all over the country grows: from a handful of people six years ago, to 500 in 2010. Now, it’s become a giant national pep rally – it’s exciting, I get energized, I look forward to it every year, and it’s a lot of fun.
Anything that happens in Congress, or in state legislatures, or in human endeavors in general, is about building relationships. People relate to people, they don’t relate just to ideas. When my colleagues and I come down here for Hill Day and get to meet, not only with members of Congress, but with their key staffers, it builds relationships. When I need something, the staffers are responsive, because they know me.
I’ve seen the difference that Hill Day makes just in the way our congressional delegation relates to us, in the mental health and addictions field. We don’t just come traipsing down here saying, “give us money, give us money.” We spend a whole day learning from the National Council staff how these issues play out politically and how we can present our message in a very succinct and understandable way to our congressional delegation. That’s a really important part of Hill Day – not just meeting with our legislators on Wednesday, but also learning about the issues on Tuesday.
The most interesting thing I’ve seen at Hill Day over the years is that in the beginning, we came to D.C. with more of a policy wish list – but now our influence is tangible, and we’re seeing results. That’s why coming to Hill Day is so important: many voices speaking as one is important.
Hill Day works, Hill Day is important, and Hill Day is fun. I hope you all will join me this year in D.C. for what is sure to be a great event.
President & CEO, Rushford Center (CT)