The Top 1%

A lot of the talk in this country recently has focused around the 99%, in the context of the haves and have-nots. I was treated to a different understanding of who could be described as the 1% this week during the Hospice Action Network’s ongoing Hill Day webinar series by presenter Brad Fitch. Brad is the President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, which focuses on best practices in citizen advocacy, something of great importance to my work here at the Hospice Action Network.

In his presentation “Communicating with Congress: How to Turn 10-Minute Meeting with a Legislator into a Life-Long Relationship,” Brad talked about the practices that turned someone into the top 1% of citizen advocates- he spent about an hour discussing those techniques and tips that help someone really connect with their Member of Congress. The thing that always surprises me is how simple it is to really develop an effective and mutually beneficial relationship with a Member of Congress- it’s very easy to make it into the top 1% of citizen advocates.

This week, I talked with our good friends and great Hospice Advocates at Hospice of the Western Reserve in Ohio. They have a great program, which boasts a robust We Honor Veterans program, as well as one of the few pediatric palliative care programs in the country. They also take the steps necessary to really work with their Ohio Congressional delegation. Last fall, Chief Executive Officer Bill Finn and Government Relations Manager, Justin Reiter flew in for the day to visit with their Senators and Representatives. And just last week, they hosted a site visit with Representative Steve LaTourette from the 14th district. Rep. LaTourette has a history of working with Hospice of the Western Reserve–he co-sponsored hospice-friendly legislation in 2008, and his office has been instrumental in securing several flags that have been flown above the U.S. Capitol for veterans at HWR.

Rep. LaTourette visiting with a Hospice patient and her family at Hospice of the Western Reserve

Hospice of the Western Reserve has plans to visit Rep. LaTourette again at Hill Day this year, and while several representatives will be here at the Capitol in person, they told me that they’ll also leave instructions at home for other folks to participate in Virtual Hill Day to underscore the same messages. It is this focus on developing the relationship with Rep. LaTourette on a variety of levels that helps when Hospice of the Western Reserve asks him to co-sponsor the HELP Hospice Act, as they did during his site visit, and as they plan to again on Hill Day.

All of which brings me back to the 1%. Hospice of the Western Reserve is working their advocacy on many fronts: they are having site visits with Members of Congress in their districts, they are participating in Virtual Advocacy, and they’re also taking the time to fly in to Washington to visit with their Representatives. When a program takes these steps, they make that leap into the top 1% of citizen advocates. It takes a multifaceted approach to develop a relationship with a Member of Congress. By working in several different ways with Rep. LaTourette, Hospice of the Western Reserve is more involved in the process than 99% of the country, and has a much higher chance of getting Rep. LaTourette’s attention and support.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m here to help you with this process. As HAN’s Program Coordinator for Grassroots Advocacy, I help folks connect on many levels with their Members of Congress. Need help with a site visit? I have a toolkit for you. Want to schedule a meeting here in D.C.? I’m a phone call away. Want to participate in Virtual Hill Day? Shoot me an email; I’ll get you set up! I’d love to help you move from the 99% into the top 1% of citizen advocates.