Advocacy training expands scope

1391026314246The annual 2014 Advocacy Training linked staff from child-serving organizations with local experts to help prepare them for the upcoming 2014 legislative season. This year’s training, held January 29 at Jacksonville University, featured several new additions, including beginner and advanced tracks and a special training that introduced to teens the basics of advocacy.

Summer Pfeiffer, Vice President of Governmental Relations at Children’s Home Society of Florida, started the day off with a session on Tools for Advocacy. She covered a variety of topics, such as what to expect in Tallahassee and Jacksonville this year, strategic communications and developing an advocacy agenda/platform.

Over 50 participants had the choice to pick between a beginner track facilitated by Coalition Board Chair Dr. Stephen Baker, JU, and an advanced track led by Jason Roth, Director of Public Policy at the United Way of Northeast Florida. The two groups came back together at the end of this session and gave a lively update on what they learned, including a skit on the best ways to approach a busy legislator.

The training also included a panel discussion with local leaders. Angela Spears, Mayors Office, moderated the panel, which included local media personality Kent Justice of News4Jax; Deborah Gianoulis, Executive Director of the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership; and State Senator Aaron Bean. The panel covered a variety of topics and answered questions from participants on topics like utilizing your board, the effectiveness of press releases and getting to know your legislators and their staff.

Megan Folds, theYouth Programs Director at Leadership Jacksonville, facilitated a successful afternoon session specifically geared to teens. She addressed different aspects of advocacy and the role teens can take in advocacy efforts. More than 30 teens from several adolescent-serving organizations participated in the session.

The end of the training concluded with a “Continuing the Conversation” networking opportunity with coffee, tea and cookies. Attendees used this time to engage with other agency representatives and discussed what was learned and how best to advocate on behalf of children.

The training was presented by the Healthy Start Coalition, Jacksonville Kids Coalition, United Way of Northeast Florida, Partnership for Child Health and Mental Health America, with partnership from the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.