Giving back by lending your voice

Each year, decisions that elected officials make at the local, state and federal level impact millions of lives – particularly, those of vulnerable populations. At UWATX, we’ve worked to inspire our supporters to make sure their voices heard on issues like local funding for early childhood education, tax incentives for giving back and state employee’s ability to give back.

Advocacy can mean anything from signing an online petition to putting your name down as a supporter for a bill at the Capitol, but we know that what matters most are individual conversations with law makers to help them understand how their choices affect their constituents.

Robyn Eckermann, a member of the UWATX Women’s Leadership Council Executive Committee and Vice President, Strategic Planning at St. David’s HealthCare, shares her experience of joining UWATX to meet face-to-face with local officials during this year’s budget cycle to advocate for increased funding for early childhood.

What advocacy visits did you attend this budget cycle? How was it different or similar to your expectations?

For my first advocacy visit, we met with Sherri Fleming and Brook Son with the Travis County Health and Human Services Department.  I expected a rather formal, almost-debate structured format whereas the visit was actually quite informal.  Both were extremely gracious listeners – allowing Sue Carpenter to really hit her stride as she ran through our dashboard.

Expecting a more formal environment, I equipped myself to be able to testify on behalf of childhood education.  I memorized all of our key asking points, some high-level demographics and was ready to give my spiel; however, I found that I certainly over-prepared for this visit.

How did Sherri and Brook respond to the visit?

They clearly absorbed and truly appreciated the message.  They also provided valuable feedback as to how we can refine the message to be best received by other key stakeholders.

What was your overall impression of the trip?

I was immensely impressed by how well United Way organized the visit from talking points, pictures of whom I would be meeting, to the collateral they reviewed with Sherri and Brook. I found the visit reaffirming and reinvigorating and highly suggest it to anyone who wants to better understand WLC’s motivations.  I am an analytical planner by nature and by trade so I very much enjoyed the opportunity to see the data behind our recommendations.  I look forward to the opportunity to revisit with these same stakeholders to share the results of their investments.

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