Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Fall 2020

NSPE Today: Policy Perspectives
Looking Backward, Looking Forward

BY STEPHANIE HAMILTON

Computer gameThe Year in Review is always challenging for a policy and advocacy shop. How do we measure success or progress?

We can use hard data. For example:

  • NSPE members contacted their state and federal officials nearly 2,000 times this year. An impressive amount of outreach, especially considering both state and federal legislative action all but halted for a while because of the pandemic;
  • We’ve run 14 advocacy campaigns, targeting both state and federal legislation;
  • Your advocacy staff has communicated at least once with every member of Congress, including sending a letter from then President David Martini, P.E., F.NSPE, regarding economic relief for 501(c)(6) organizations like NSPE.

We can also use soft data, like influence.

  • The NSPE government relations team has been asked to provide feedback or suggested language on draft legislation from three congressional offices and two committees. Not a large number, but a sign of our elevated profile on Capitol Hill, and an excellent foundation on which to build going into next year;
  • As a result of President Martini’s economic relief letter, several congressional offices contacted us for input on proposed fixes;
  • Our relationships on Capitol Hill enabled us to secure members of Congress or their staff as participants in all three of the virtual fireside chats that were open to NSPE members.

These few examples tell a good story: that as NSPE members continue to increase their legislative involvement, the organization is able to increase its level of influence on public policy and policymakers.

We want to build on the momentum and good results we’ve experienced this year and focus next year on both quantity and quality of legislative engagement. We still have aggressive goals for the number of legislative actions we’re aiming for. But in addition, we’re going to try a few new things aimed at helping members take steps toward building influential relationships with their elected officials.

As we begin preparing for the next legislative session, here are some new things that we’ll be doing.

Introduce Yourself Campaign

We’ll kick off with an “Introduce Yourself” campaign, starting after the new Congress has been sworn in. The government relations team will develop resources and build several campaigns encouraging members to reach out to their members of Congress and either welcome them back or welcome them to the Hill. Outreach will include information about NSPE’s core issues and priorities, as well as opportunities for follow up.

Advocacy Levels

Think “Candy Crush” or “Words with Friends,” but for advocacy!

Next year, we’ll be introducing gamification to our Advocacy Center. Simply put, different types of actions will be assigned different point values, and each time you participate in a campaign, you’ll earn points! Earn enough points, and you’ll move up a level. The levels are important because they’re going to help us decide who gets invitations to our monthly roundtable discussions.

Monthly Roundtable

Each month, we’ll identify the top advocates from the previous month, and they will be invited to our virtual roundtable discussion. The roundtable will be an opportunity for us to congratulate and thank our most dedicated advocates, discuss best-practices, and hear from them about their challenges and successes. We’ll use the time together to strategize ways our advocates can continue building relationships with their elected officials and become real influencers. The roundtables will also occasionally include special guests.

More detail about each of these initiatives will be shared in November/December, along with a post-election summary of the landscape we expect to find ourselves in come January.

I’ll just wrap up by saying how grateful we are for all of you who have spoken up and lent your voices to the work of advocating for the profession. We need each and every one of you, and we’re excited to continue partnering with you in the new year.

Stephanie Hamilton is NSPE’s manager of government relations and advocacy.